In continuing with my exploration into the broad question of how the Internet has changed the playing field for musicians, I turned to my old friend Howie Kleinberg Senior VP of ElectricArtists.Although ElectricArtists started out exclusively as a music marketing firm, their deep knowledge of the culture of the Internet allowed them to handle all types of campaigns, from films and TV to books, DVDs and magazines. Their main specialty is building communities on the Internet.Q: How has the Internet shifted the playing field for musicians?Howie: The Internet has leveled it completely by creating a distribution platform didn’t exist before and it has given fans a way to communicate directly with artists. The process of building a community has sped up enormously.When you think about the old days when tape trading was a huge part of building communities (like The Grateful Dead for example). But this used to take time. Tapes had to be duplicated and then they were mailed from fan to fan or traded in parking lots at shows – hand to hand. Now with the ‘net a live show can be posted before the band even leaves the venue (or it can stream in real time) and a community gets created without everyone being together in the same physical place at the same time.Howie was a Deadhead in college and very into the emerging jam scene in New York City – This was how he got hooked on the concept of community. He started working on the first H.O.R.D.E. tour (a national tour featuring Phish, Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, and Spin Doctors).Howie: It was watching the crowds every night gather around H.O.R.D.E. that made me see that H.O.R.D.E. was just an extension of the NYC music community. This was a community out on the road and I learned how to respect that community.”People laughed at that community” – Rolling Stone wrote an article calling the scene the new hippie bands and teased the Nuevo hippies at Wetlands but Howie realized that there was something bubbling there and he saw a huge opportunity and he realized that there was a scene that would blow up. And blow up it did – Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors and Joan Osborne went on to become multi-platinum selling artists.Q: Indie label Vs Major label?Howie: Unless you want to be a huge pop star (in other words go after commercial radio) you just don’t need a major label deal.And, the best thing about Internet marketing is it’s authentic and organic vs. in your face marketing. As an artist, you have complete control over your message, which is not always the vision of the major labels.Q: Anything to say about the current state of the music industry?Howie: I’ve never seen an industry piss off their fans as much as the music industry has managed to.From an Apple/iPod user standpoint Steve Jobs is a god and the music industry comes along and fights him for not charging enough for music at i-tunes?This is crazy because the music industry have alienated people that really like their iPods and really like the system. You reward new fans by suing them and threatening them and scaring them away?Q: What would you advise an emerging artists who does not have a budget to hire an online marketing company to make an impact online?Howie: Let people have your music (not all of it just a track or two) – give it away and make it easy for them to receive it. Make your information (no matter where it is – your own site, MySpace, UBL etc) accessible and easy to navigate.Remember it’s not about today and right now – it’s about building a community and building fans. These fans are going put your music on their i-pods and go about their lives first – then become loyal to you second. Don’t restrict their ability to do that. Look how long it took a band like the Grateful Dead or Dave Matthews or even Hawthorne Heights to really build a community – it took years.Q: How Can an artist drive more traffic towards them online?- Constantly update your sites (all of them including MySpace, Pure Volume, your blog and your website)- Give away music- Keep it fresh and exciting, make people want to come back for more.Q: Do you recommend Podcasts?Howie: Yes! We do, it gives people a way to find out about you away from their computers they just download another piece of you and go – you can use a podcast to talk about your history, to talk about your process, to really show a personality behind the songs. We suggest a series of several 2-3 minute podcasts that can be downloaded and interspersed with songs.At this point in the interview, Marc, the CEO of ElecrticArtsists wandered into Howie’s office and joined in on the spirited conversation.Q: If you could choose only 3 online marketing things an artist should do what would they be?1. MySpace – Make friends & Update constantly.2. Upload videos onto Utube &Google – this is viral marketing because once you post it – other people help you to spread it out into the world.3. Get MP3s out to the MP3 Blogs and get people talking about you in as many places online as you can.Marc made a valid point when he warned against only existing on the Internet…Exist Offline As Well As OnlineThere is always a great Internet success story but it’s all about building offline as well. The Internet community should come second after the band has connected with a real audience. Even if the audience is small, it can be 30-40 fans in a bar. Bands that don’t focus on having an incredible live show will not get far.Music Is LifestyleRemember music is lifestyle for people – get great photos and get a look together without an image you will not stand out. Make QuickTime videos with your cell phone, create interesting angles that no one else is creating And remember – the Internet is not God’s gift to short tracking anything.The Push and The PullYou have two tools on the Internet the push and the pull.The Push refers to pushing yourself out towards the world. Most artists do not have a lot of money to access the push tools (PR campaigns, ad buys, contests and giveaways on major website, and cash to hire marketing companies) however using the pull tool you can fast track yourself to find a whole new audience.Use Utube and other user based tools like blogs. Skip building a costly website and instead use MySpace and also create a killer blog. Update it constantly.Q: What should an artist with only a $200 online marketing budget do?Marc: Get a good video camera on e-bay. Use it to make interesting movies and post them online.Howie: Use $100 and open up a band checking account. Your band is a business and you will need to pay for thing. Second buy a $100 video camera on e-bay, and then go post videos online.Q: Any final advice for artists?Howie: Work harder than those working for you – work like this is your job because it is your job and if you don’t work hard you will not succeed, and success is hard work.Let people see you and meet you – the Internet is the perfect place for this – answer every e-mail that comes your way – get into chat rooms and on message boards and into MySpace and meet other communities. Create a scene. Don’t be isolated. Know and respect your fans.More about Howie and Marc here: http://www.electricartists.com
Creating New Year’s Resolutions for your small business can be a daunting task. Where do you start? Keep in mind New Year’s Resolutions are simply goals for your small business. As a communication consultant, I suggest you consider thinking about the various ways you communicate in your business as a way to help you see success as a solo professional in 2008.Following are seven types of effective communication skills which will easily launch your business into 2008 and beyond with the results you want.1. Learn and implement a new content-related skill in your field of expertise. Keeping yourself current in your field by adding a new skill that can help your clients or learning a new technique to add greater dimension to what you offer is one great way to communicate that you are “cutting edge” and know the latest and greatest “stuff” when it comes to your industry.2. Learn and create or implement a new marketing skill. Have you always wanted to learn how to create a Signature Speech to market your business? Or maybe you’d like to add article writing to your marketing mix. Or how about learning the best ways to get free publicity through public relations? Whatever marketing skills you learn will help you effectively communicate what you offer.3. Practice extreme self-care. At first glance, taking care of yourself may not seem like it has anything to do with business, but as a small business owner, it has everything to do with your success. Most solo professionals tend to take care of everything and everyone else before they take care of their personal needs. And that can be a mistake, especially in business. If you get run down or ill, then your business suffers. If you get burnt out or overwhelmed, your business suffers. Taking care of yourself will make sure you stay on top of your work and continue to succeed.4. Focus on spending more time with family and friends: create systems. Spending more time with those we love is one reason many solo professionals started their businesses to begin with. We wanted the freedom to come and go as we please, along with the cash flow to support our lives. If you create systems where your business operates without you, you free more of your time to be and communicate with those you love most and spend less time working.5. Communicate with those in your industry by becoming more involved. Do you belong to a group or association of others in your field? Become known in your industry by getting active with those groups. Participate in online discussions, join committees, and get things done to help advance your industry. You’ll make a name for yourself by helping further your industry at the same time!6. Become active in your local community for networking and philanthropic causes. In the New Year, consider joining your local chamber of commerce, leads organization, or one of the myriad philanthropic local groups in your area. You’ll meet people who will have a unique opportunity to get to know, like, and trust you, and at the same time you’ll be working for a good cause.7. Brush up your brand image. Take a long hard look at your online presence and your printed pieces. Do you send a cohesive message about what you offer and who you are? When you communicate your business brand effectively, clients and customers will be drawn to you simply because it is clear what you’re all about.By focusing on the above 7 communication skills in 2008, your small business will be a great success!