What a great NARM this year! While a far cry from more rambunctious days (two words: Richard Cottrell), NARM provided a more sober backdrop to the business part of the music biz. The labels brought out some serious star power (Tyrese, Jeff Bridges & T Bone Burnett, Annie Lennox, Manilow, Al Jardine, Brian Wilson, a Pink Floyd remasters event at the Capitol studios) to remind us why we started in this business, introduced us to a few up & comers that we’ll be talking about later (Cherri Bomb, Jake Ryan, Jake Walden), and offered a few that are already on their way (Matt Nathanson, Fitz & the Tantrums).
But all the partying aside, and you see an industry adjusting to some painful changes, and focusing on taking steps towards a brighter future. Jim Urie’s anti-piracy initiatives are planting seeds to help stem intellectual theft of all types, and NARM’s Digital Think Tank has brought together some of the brightest from the label and tech sides to work on common goals. Even the panels were interesting this year — the Anatomy of a Sponsorship panel had me enthralled for the entire two hours, making me forget that I had one last meeting to catch before the day was done (all apologies!).
This year’s NARM was a great gathering, but what’s important now is what we all do moving forward — whether it be signing, cultivating, & efficiently Marketing (yes, capital M) the best possible talent that reflects the consumers’ needs (even if they don’t know it yet), and working with every partner imaginable to create a unified, multi-faceted platform for the next generation of legends to be created in this fractured marketplace.
Real quick, two things you’re gonna hear from me over & over in the coming weeks — 1) abandon text, go visual. And 2) reach out beyond the norm to establish yourself.
I know studies can tell you the actual percentage of engagement among text vs picture posts, but I see it every day in my own feeds. When I post text-only to my Facebook feed, I get a couple of replies. But I post an intesting pic, and damn if the replies & likes don’t go through the roof! Start using Instagram or PicPlz or Flickr ASAP, link to Twitter / Facebook / Foursquare / Tumblr, etc. so you can post on multiple platforms in one step. Instead of just saying “see you at the show tonight!” post a pic of the Space Needle or Portellos or Waterloo or Dreamland or In & Out or Waffle House, that tells fans in each town that you are there and that you get them. And THEN remind them of the show tonight by dropping a bit.ly ticket link in your post.
Chase radio and tv if it makes sense, those two mediums still sell a ton of music. Sometimes. But if you’re up & coming, you gotta reach out far beyond just the music blogs and show some freaking PERSONALITY. If you like to cook, write some musicians recipe corner on a food blog. If you like tattoos, participate in sites that gather tatt fans. If you’re known for your fashion sense, then post pretty pictures on Pinterest, drop your CD off at local boutiques, send SoundCloud or YouSendIt links to your favorite designers with pix of you wearing their designs.
In other words, leverage others’ traffic and popularity to bring attention to you, as long as the fit is natural. Rely on your publicist to pitch outlets if you really have to, but honest, direct relations go a long way. For instance, I like taking pictures using Instagram. I tag #cnnireport if I think CNN will dig it. Just last week they reposted one of my Jazzfest pix on their feed, which reaches over 25,000 followers. And that’s not the first time, they even re-posted some of my SXSW pix back in March. It doesn’t put a dollar in my pocket, but a little extra exposure never hurt. Something to think about.