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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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New Value in a Song for an Address

Follow the history of musicians and you'll find a time when the minstrel played and was paid, but not always in the currency of the day.

Go back a few decades. You'll find a time when musicians were led by record labels who would pick up the promotional tab and pay artists in cash. Far more groups were on the major circuits of shows. Merchandising became a major revenue source (for a few), and song sales succeeded because of thousands of record stores. As an artist, it was far easier to dream of striking it big.
"I went to see a local band last Saturday night. Great music. Enjoyed myself. Yet, at the end of the evening the wife and I got up from our table and left. The only revenue generated went to the bar."

Look around at what you have to work with today; fewer artists are getting broadcast radio play, song sales have crashed because music is everywhere, and merchandising is weak (except for those few major acts receiving major label support).

It's a different world needing a different approach, and requiring different expectations.

Over the past year I've had a major shift. Though the radio industry still holds my interest, it's in the form of dismay at what broadcast radio has become. Where once stood an industry built on breaking new artists, today we have one that supports short playlists and makes it nearly impossible for an indie act to gain reasonable airtime.

Indie artists are on their own, faced with a variety of reported consumer access points and lacking time to learn how each should be properly used. One sure thing is payment in a respectable amount of cash is getting harder to find. Selling songs is extremely difficult. Merchandising sounds good, but try it and you'll soon conclude - more times than not - that your effort is not worth the payout.

And that brings us to this question: What is worth the effort? Finding gigs is high on the list. Yet, nothing removes the work of booking, traveling, setup and breakdown that's wrapped around those 90 minutes on stage. Selling merchandise brings in additional cash after you've brokered a deal to produce those t-shirts (or whatever else fits this category).

I went to see a local band last Saturday night. Great music. Enjoyed myself. At the end of the evening the wife and I got up from our table and left. The only revenue generated went to the bar. Here's why: I don't believe this band realized the full potential of what we could give to them and they could offer to us.

Here are two missed points of contact that could have been created to generate more cash for the band.

1) This band was good, really good. Had it been offered at any time through the music sets to sell me a thumb drive of their songs I would have given them $10, or more. They didn't, so I gave them no money. How much cash could be made if each gig featured a thumb drive mention?

2) There is value in information. Not big data grabs, but little bits of information that can be used for followup contact. If I were to receive and email from that group we saw on Saturday, today I'd open it. Let's just say it's a perfect time to ask me how I liked the show, and point me to a web site where I could buy that thumb drive (or just download songs). Building a further relationship with an audience just doesn't seem important for the majority of bands I've seen.

The first item above is an exchange of cash for merchandise. The second item requires the band to have my email address. Let's finish this discussion on how to get that address, because it's something I've never seen done. During the performance that we witnessed last Saturday, it could have been mentioned that a free download of songs can be had by the audience if they just text their email address to "xxxxx."

Another way of getting an audience member's email address is to tell the folks that they can download songs at the band's web site - where an address is required to start the download.

Once you have this valuable piece of data, you have a method for building a relationship.

Does getting email or phone numbers work every time? No. But get it to work 30% of the time and you have an effective way for finding value in a previously under-valued piece of data.

A song for an email address (or a phone number for texting). It's the use of technology to enhance an artist's revenue. Just add knowledge to get this to work.

Go buy two dozen thumb drives and test the concept. Also, next time you're on stage, ask the crowd to text you for a free song. The response may surprise you. You may just find extra dollars that people are very willing to part with - especially if they liked the show.

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Today's indie introduction is to...
Country artist Terry Lee Spencer
sample song
American Dream

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When an artist has the power to please they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Terry Lee Spencer's "American Dream" a listen.

Add it to your playlist, free!

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