Last week at SF Music Tech Summit, Ethan Kaplan said something very telling yet true: “The worst thing you can do to keep fans actively engaged… is to actually release the album.”
Think about that — just because the album comes out does not mean the campaign is over. Hell, at that point, the campaign just BEGAN! Unfortunately, too many acts waste their ammo in the weeks leading up to the Big Event, then have little salvo to offer in the weeks following, especially if the press, the airplay, film placement, or the tour do not come in as hoped.
That’s why it’s important to have the clever little brother or the aspiring cinematographer girlfriend in the studio recording every moment, so that you have stuff in the can to post when you have nothing to say — populate YouTube with making of, commentaries, notes on the road, random covers, then post it to your blog, promote it via Twitter & Facebook or whatever platform you like. Offer it as exclusive footage for Record Store Day, iTunes, Amazon, Starbucks, blogs, or whomever can help you spread the word — even if it’s HarleyRiders.com or CatFancy.com.
But keep a keen eye on one or two strong platforms for serious campaigns that allow measurement of activity and ability to identify key / influential fans. Map out enough breadcrumbs to keep people in the loop for the 8 weeks up to AND the 8 weeks after your release (and beyond, especially if the perpetual motion of an outside force (press, placement, tour, airplay) isn’t keeping you in the mind of your fans).
I know a lot of this sounds tooootally 101 to most folks. But it all bears repeating — I gotta tell ya, there are times when I have to do client research before submitting proposals and still see gaping holes in their strategies — it can be downright scary how many missed opportunites to connect (and potentially sell) there are. Seriously, take advantage of the upcoming downtime to take a hard look at your internal systems and get a solid protocol in place for 2012 — because for better or for worse, there ain’t some high-dollar label machine doing all the work for you anymore.
I know it’s a pain in the ass for artists to integrate social into their day to day on top of just being an artist, but for younger generations of kids and new iterations of software, updating all this stuff is becoming as easy as breathing. I personally use no less than a dozen social platforms to varying degrees, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Gowalla, Spotify (follow scottperryusa for weekly release playlists, last week’s posted here), Reddit (LOVE), Tumblr, WordPress, Yelp, Soundtracking, Google+, YouTube, Ping, and more. And as much as Facebook tries to fit them all under one roof, the fact of the matter is, even the social space is becoming fractured into a million little sub-circles before any single platform has a chance to stay king of the hill for more than two years at a time.
Jack Conte of Pomplamoose added quite a bit into the panel that tell the tale. To paraphrase:
Aggregating fans socially, to eventually lead to commerce, is a challenge as artists tire of chasing the next big platform.
But size & effect of social reach can be staggering, at no cost, which flies in the face of traditional (paid) marketing.
Social media = value now, conversion later.
Bands can get a ton of mileage on YouTube with immediate, messy, non-music vids (thank you, behind the scenes, etc) instead of shiny, overpriced productions that take forever to create — better to create lots of little things over time, vs spending lots of time & money on one big thing.
One last — if you have an iPad, by all means download the KCRW app to see music consumption reimagined. It displays content in a varied grid a la Aweditorium, then marries music from KCRW’s vast archives with photos, videos, blog postings, and bios pulled from across the web, all with buy & share links. This is not a linear consumption model we have all grown up with, but a discovery mode that draws you into their world, and a hint at more to come (see Flipboard) as the tablet space evolves.
The tiny grid reinforces the need for your artists to have compelling album imagery, and I do wish there was a favorites button (although I can always post my faves to Twitter or Facebook if I wanted to come back to them later). GOTYE is a great example — just heard him on KCRW for the first time last week, randomly came up on the app, click song for more info. Bam! 6 more songs came up, photos, a dozen blog headlines for the past 2 weeks. Ditto The Drums, Metronomy, Blind Pilot, Blood Orange, and many more KCRW mainstays.