6 Critical Insights Into Music Business Success

This post is by Hypebot intern Hisham Dahud. His Twitter: @HishamDahud.

MRI Pannel(2) This past Tuesday, San Francisco State University's Music and Recording Industry Program held a professional's panel consisting of prominent Bay Area music industry figures discussing strategies that artists could utilize to garner an audience and eventually sell directly to them. Here are the highlights:

1. On Building a Team…

Damian "Domino" Siguenza of the renowned Hieroglyphics Crew stresses the importance of doing as much as you can on your own before seeking out any external help. "Initially, it might be just your friends and other people who believe in you," he said. "Get the word out in the most cost effective and creative ways you can. Get as far as you can on your own, and only once you start gaining some momentum should you begin outsourcing."

Josh Goldstein of Machete Vox Records mentions that in the early stages, you may have a lot less time to put into your music, but all the grunt work is certainly needed. There are plenty of people who may not be as talented as you, but put in several times the amount of work and will be heard while you won't be. 

2. On Remaining Consistent…

J Sider, founder of Root Music points out that Facebook works well because it's a consistent platform where users share content that shows off their personality. In its prime, MySpace delivered two things perfectly: the music player and the upcoming shows section– both of which were easily located and identified. Now that users are enabled to rearrange content on MySpace, it's lost fluidity. The lesson is that if you do end up making changes to your website, be very clear as to why, and be sure to listen for feedback.

Mike Stevens of Temple Music Group feels that when it comes to branding strategies, it's always important to have your target audience in mind. Know exactly whom you're trying to reach, find who they are through analytical data, and then speak to them directly through email.  

3. On Getting Signed to a Label…

Mike Stevens mentions that for those artists looking to be signed to a label, they need to demonstrate that they already understand the fundamentals of direct-to-fan marketing and sales through their own independent business practices. If they don't do that, the majority of labels will look past them.

4. On Communicating with Fans…

Sider points out that when an artist is sending out content to their fans on Facebook, the message is not going to reach all those people who "like" them. It will only reach those who are active on their artist's page or those who are linked to people that are active. He goes on to suggest that when sending out something seeking any form of support from, it's best to send emails rather than posts.

Tyler Peterson of EventBrite suggests that artists should first identify and label their fans in their perspective tier (i.e. potential, casual, regular, and super fans), and then remember to communicate with each tier differently. Keep each group happy by offering segmented products lines. Don't push the higher tier products to fans that haven't invested enough of their time and/or money into your music.

Naomi Weisenburg of BlinkerActive advises to never "cast a wide net" in communicating fans and to make things as personal possible. 

5. On Merchandise…

Domino advises artists to protect their brand at all cost. When it comes to merchandise, it should be looked at as fans essentially paying you to promote you. He goes on to suggest stratifying your merchandise line and that it would behoove you to think in terms of profit margins. Smaller [cheaper] items like car fresheners and buttons can be thrown into bundles or they can be sold individually, but they'll eventually increase your overall returns. As an independent label, Domino's merchandise provided the bread and butter to fund other facets of his business. This is because merchandise was always consistent. The music acts as a medium in which other things that center around the music itself are monetized.

6. On Maximizing the Live Experience…

Tyler Peterson recommends using high quality videos of past live performances to give people a perspective of what your shows are actually like and to provide that content to your fans. He also mentions that artists can even use EventBrite to have fans RSVP to shows and capture their data for follow up efforts.

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  1. great post, summing up all the pertinent ideas we’ve heard for DIY artists in the last few months

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