Music Marketing

Seth Godin On The New Music Industry – Part 1 [Video Interview w/ Ariel Hyatt]

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Guest post & video interview by Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR.

There’s a fierce rule that I live by that keeps me safe in the music business – it’s simple:  Never meet your idols.  I still stand by that … except today I’m changing this to: Never meet your idols…unless your idol is Seth Godin.

I feel more inspired, calm and clear than I have in a long time.

I was once called the “last enthusiastic person in the music business.” and I prided myself in that. But lately I’ve been feeling jaded and not quite so enthusiastic. I think that had something to do with:

1. Being empathic and sometimes feeling like an open receptacle to angry indie artists confronted by the amount of work ahead of them.
2. Reading one too many negative posts about the business and how we are all supposed to feel happy with less in the new model.
3. Traveling the world and hearing the collective gasp as artists scratch their heads and ask – how do we make money doing this??

Turns out Seth Godin has answers…

I’m going to change back into that enthusiastic girl today…

Thanks Seth.

Watch Part 1 of the interview below and be sure to watch Part 2 here.


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  1. His recent release, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, became an instant best-seller, and his 2010 Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? inspires audiences to overcome the resistance that holds them back from becoming an indispensable asset to any organization.

  2. I agree. Seth Godin IS bananas/nuts. What the F does he mean the bell curve of normalcy is leveling out? No its not. There have always been MANY opinions, groups, sub-cultures, genres, etc. Only NOW, the Internet allows marketers (to a degree) to more readily identify heretofore “weird” or fringe people. And even if it wasn’t so. So what?
    As a marketer all you’re saying is micro-target just like a sharp shooter. And if you hit the right demo, you just might cause an explosion. BFD.
    Look, I usually agree with a whole hell of a lot Seth has said in the past. This time however, he hasn’t thought the whole musician/artist digital dilemma through. He has some missing pieces for sure.

  3. Seth has had a scant handful of interesting ideas and brilliant insights in his career. Sadly, he’s chosen to write a dozen or more books, and pontificate endlessly when his accumulated wisdom could be conveyed in a dozen tweets.
    His vision for the arts and artists is nonsensical. Give your work away and magically form a “Tribe” of sycophants who will then pay you for reading them bedtime stories, while letting the rest of the world continue to consume your product without cost.
    Sure, and if I throw all my earthly goods in the “Goodwill Bin” the homeless will declare me their new God and become my servants in perpetuity. I’m so glad he’s illuminated my path!

  4. Substituting the part you haven’t grasped yet by the word ‘magically’ won’t help understanding it.
    It’s not about ‘giving your work away’. Firstly, because your work doesn’t stop when the song has been recorded. Secondly, it just depends on a per band/artist basis what works best in terms of generating attention. This does not necessarily mean giving your music away for free. A lot of people are not that interested in free downloads anymore. Many years ago, the labels Epitaph and Def Jux were offering free downloads of 1 or 2 tracks per release. I’d scour their websites and download whatever I could find… but nowadays we have YouTube and other kinds of streaming models. Downloading music someone gives away for free is too much work; it’s inconvenient.
    Anyway, the point is that you can learn how to form your tribe. Figure out a way to get a lot of attention, retain the attention by uniting fans around you (connect with them and connect them to each other), and then from that connection understand what these people would really like to pay for. That’s usually a music-related product, sometimes a CD, usually something more advanced/specific.

  5. Seth Godin is brilliant. The grateful dead used this model to create one of the most powerful fan driven ecosystems of its time. When labels were forcing their acts to not record their shows, these guys were encouraging fans to tape shows and trade tapes. This direct to fan model works, and the grateful dead (who collected physical addresses and sent newsletters to engage their fans) and countless others have proved it works.
    Create great content, engage your fans, give your fans free content to spread and create a infrastructure to make it easy to communicate directly with your fans. Don’t expect the labels to do it for you! Engage and own the relationship and cut out the middle man. It’s not just about the buck you make on a song, but the fan relationship that you can monetize to deliver merch, shows, whatever you can think of that fans will pay once you have created the ecosystem.
    Thanks Seth and Ariel for creating such great content.
    Cal Matthews

  6. the whole affair is slightly more complex. giving your music away for free don’t solve it all. we live in interesting times that’s for sure

  7. This is very interesting and straight forward. Be unique or get a day job. I quit my day job to be unique.. and I’m learning a lot about the new music biz. It’s about getting that fanbase increased at the end of the day with real fans…

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