In 1982, Roland Swenson, a band manager in Austin, splurged $75 of his band’s budget to travel to New York City to attend a music conference. Knowing that his band wasn’t happy about the expenditure, he hustled to make sure the trip paid off. On the first day he successfully tracked down a booking agent and secured a $200 gig.
As Swenson told Texas Music Matters, he figured if this model worked in the Big Apple, it would work in Austin, so in 1987, he co-founded the SXSW Music Festival, which in its inaugural year hosted 172 acts and more than 700 attendees. For Austin bands, Swenson and his co-founders had created the most efficient way to connect with music fans, agents and distributors — ever. That is, until the arrival of the Internet.
In a recent blog, I talked about how recording artists are using the network to create new ways of nurturing customer (or fan) relationships while also building a great marketing base. But as we increasingly move into a world of borderless networks, where traditional, limiting boundaries fall away, we’re seeing a new cultural playground. One that allows us, as users, to connect with what enriches our lives. And that, too, is a powerful force in building relationships and community on the network.
As the explosion of mobile devices continues, and new forms of social media and tools emerge, we are entering an exciting new phase. Because when you start putting these together, along with innovative functionality in the routers and switches that bring those things to life, we have the opportunity to experience things that might have been out of reach in the past.
What do CEOS, market makers and Lady Gaga all have in common? The wisdom to know that to get ahead, or stand out, you need to drop any instincts of being reactive in favor of innovation.
In the world of technology, that means getting creative about how you use the network. Not just to keep business humming, but to create experiences. Take Lady Gaga, for instance. As Forbes reported this past week—and the New York Times reported recently—Lady Gaga is using the network to create a seamless and compelling experience for her fan base from online to offline, wherever they are. In fact, as Lisa Arthur reports in Forbes, “ Lady Gaga was the first artist to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. She has about 35 million Facebook fans. And, most recently, she made headlines as the first Twitter user ever to reach 10 million followers.” And the impact? According to Arthur’s article, Gaga sold 1,108,000 copies of her latest album in the US in its first week; 60 percent of those first week sales were digital downloads.
When you consider, as I mentioned in a recent blog, that the number of devices connecting to the Internet will climb to 25 billion by 2015, that’s a lot of potential fans or customers.
An independent label manager in the audience of the SXSW Music panel, complained there are too many social networks for musicians and label / artist managers to keep up with. He wondered which ones are the most important to maintain presences on. Moderator Bill Werde, Editorial Director of Billboard Magazine, Michael Fiebach of the digital marketing and management agency Fame House and Paul Sinclair, SVP of Digital Media of Atlantic Records offer some strategy for this independent label manager asking the question.
As Paul Sinclair pointed out, musicians shouldn’t chase every new social network that comes along. But at a minimum, musicians are expected to have a dialog with their fans on Facebook and Twitter, and then use the conversations there to drive fans back to the artist web site.
At another SXSW 2011 panel about social networks and musicians titled ‘Musicians and the Social Graph’, DJ and video producer Mike Relm offered to the audience that musicians should take the time to figure out which social networks and services lend themselves best to the kind of conversation they want to have with fans. Relm offers that he primarily focuses on YouTube because he’s focused mostly on the production of video content. Yet he still uses the videos to drive fans back to his web site – http://mikerelm.com :
If Facebook and Twitter are the main social networks musicians are expected to engage with fans on, which other social networking services are important to fans? At the ‘Social Graph’ panel, Jonathan Crowley, Director of Business Development for Foursquare, talked about how rock giants Soundgardenused the location based social network. Twitter’s Jonathan Adams and SF Music Tech’s Brian Zisk joined the conversation, explaining how messages from musicians over social networks can then be amplified by their own fans.
Personally, I wasn’t using Foursquare as a music fan at SXSW 2011. It turns out if I had been following some of my favorite bands on Foursquare, I would have been let on the news that they were playing some secret shows. Please use the comments section below for any thoughts on the video conversations offered in this post.