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NestaMusic's Robby Towns Talks Marketing, Technology [INTERVIEW]

1In this interview Robby Towns, founder of the Nashville-based strategic consultancy firm NestaMusic, chats about the role of technology in helping artists to connect directly with and market to fans.

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Guest post by Sam Taylor of The Message

Behind The Artist is a Q&A style interview series featuring the people behind the artists; the marketing heroes you don’t hear about that often. They are the ones who help artists build a brand and a strong online presence. We decided to approach these marketing gurus and ask them all about their thoughts on online branding for artists, bots and strategies. They share their thoughts, expertise and their vision for the future.

Please tell us a little about who you are and what you do…

I’m Robby Towns, Founder of NestaMusic, a strategic consultancy firm based in Nashville, Tennessee. I started the company shortly after graduate school, nearly 8 years ago. I work with a variety of artists and songwriters, with genres ranging from country, singer/songwriter, acoustic pop and indie. Over the past year I’ve been privileged to work with artists/writers like Cassadee Pope, Dave Barnes, Austin Jenckes, Jacob Powell, Republican Hair aka Luke Dick, Jeff Hyde and Deryl Dodd.

Can you tell us more about the company you work for?

I set up NestaMusic when I had the opportunity to do a research project for PRS for Music. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could get some additional projects in a freelance capacity and see where it could go. This lead to working with companies like Columbia Records, Google, Music Business Association and Spotify where I eventually went to work full-time.

During my time there I saw an opportunity to help artists, songwriters and their teams build and optimize digital platforms for their releases. Since exiting the company, the core focus of my consultancy has been digital strategy, product management and digital platform development for a variety of artist/writer releases.

“It has been and forever will be critically important for artists/bands to connect and build a true community around their music…”

Helping artists build a strong brand through digital marketing is an important part of your role. How important do you think it is for musicians to reach and connect directly with fans online?

It has been and forever will be critically important for artists/bands to connect and build a true community around their music.

One of the key challenges that is very different now than just a few years ago is how do you curate the ever-growing tools, apps and services that you use to connect to your fans.

In addition to choosing those tools, it is important to make sure that you are utilizing them in a away that is effective and perpetually trying to optimize your marketing strategy through ongoing analysis. On top of that, working to write great songs, make amazing records, rehearsals, tour… daunting to say the least! There is also a massive amount of competition for getting people’s attention, so you have to find the balance between consistency and annoyance.

“Everything that surrounds a release needs to feel fresh and alive, fans seem to have sixth sense around manufactured “salesy” content and social stagnation…”

Do you think it’s important for musicians to be innovative when it comes to technology — and if so, why?

For sure, but again its a balance. Its better to have 5 digital tools that you are using well vs 10 that are only being partially executed. A Spotify pre-save campaign won’t work on its own, you have to incentivize and strategize on how to amplify the fan traffic to make it successful. Everything that surrounds a release needs to feel fresh and alive, fans seem to have sixth sense around manufactured “salesy” content and social stagnation. Artists and their teams have to be genuinely engaged to drive engagement.

One recent innovation is the ability to build and engage a fanbase on Facebook Messenger. Do you think that Messenger bots are a good way for artists to connect directly with fans?

Any tool that can allow for unfiltered access to your fans and community is worth exploring, especially one being used by over 1 billion people!

What do you think musicians can do using Messenger?

In addition to the obvious communication function, the Messenger channel can also serve as a mini-website for the fans in an app that many use on a daily basis. On top of that, contests, exclusives, promo codes, episodic content, a place for highly engaged fans and superfans to thrive and grow.

How do you see Messenger bots differing from “traditional” social media channels?

The delivery, when handled tactfully, can feel very ubiquitous in a way that is extremely positive. Hence, the consistent claims of open rates at 80–90%. I don’t know of another social channel where those numbers exist.

“these tools are starting to allow for things like a ‘Happy Birthday’ message to a segmented group of fans. For fans, that type of experience is priceless.”

What are the marketing advantages for artists using Messenger bots?

In addition to the standard updates for areas like shows, merchandise and music, these tools are starting to allow for things like a ‘Happy Birthday’ message to a segmented group of fans. For fans, that type of experience is priceless.

Do you think a Messenger bot can help artists build their brand online?

Absolutely, but the nuance of how your run your channel is critical, as is the case anywhere you are building your brand. Frequency of messages, channel structure, exclusive content, super fan experiences all need to be well executed pre and post launch. When done well, there is immense potential for a heightened level of fan experience, as well as key conversions for the artist or songwriter.

Want to talk to Robby direct? You can reach him using the contact info here.

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