Management Technology The Business

Are You Keeping Up with the Media Cycle?

Jeff Schenck | The Metalluminati

I know that we talk about the power of giving your music away for free, and it is truly a good way to utilize the marketing model to get your music out into the world. You are truly trying to reach a largest possible audience with your music. Yet, the thing that most artists don’t realize is the ever increasing media cycle. The media cycle has hit every other form of media except movies and music — but I have seen it creep into both recently, and I want our members to be thinking of it a year ahead of time and getting a jump on it!! Cause that is what we do here — help our members not only succeed, but have the latest shit to consider before it happens…

First let me preface again, briefly, how I would suggest utilizing your music. The best case studies for music, in a variety of genres, is to give a portion of your music away for free (as we have said many times). Consider giving half of it or more away for free on the web, so that you can gather all the marketing information. Think of it as a marketing expense to not only reach new fans (even global fans you might not be able to, not be able to tour there, or reach otherwise), but also to gather great statistics for. If you have all the locations and downloads of your songs and merch, you can then know in each country, town, etc; where your fans are! This is valuable information! You might now skip that town where you had 10 downloads, and go to that city you wouldn’t have gone too that has 1000 downloads… with tight finances, this can truly help you configure a good tour, mini tour, or see where your fans truly are!

So giving away the section of music away for free, and then have a deluxe version that is signed or has something special  (like a special release on it, merch, etc) would be the optimum way to utilize both sales, marketing, and reaching more fans.

Okay, now with that said, it is time to discuss quickening the cycle of music. As with all media, not just music, the cycle has been increasing in speed. This is both a good thing and a challenging thing at the same time.  As you know, our attention spans are growing shorter, we want the next new one faster (video game, movie, album, etc.) The old way of releasing an album every year to 2 years is a stale proposition. Other genres, that are more mainstream, are releasing singles closer and closer together to get more money out of them, but for metal, it isn’t about the single. Yet, the same appetite for music from metal bands still exists… The best way to be ahead of this (besides constantly writing, which you should be doing anyway) is to not release 12 song albums! Yes, I said it, release 6 or 7 song albums more frequently!

The problem with being under a label is that you are at the mercy of the standard format… Write music… take the 20 songs or more you wrote… whittle them down to 12… record album… tour for a year or so… repeat. Now considering the freedom of DIY or Indie Label, you can actually record all of those 20+ songs… and release 6 – 7 songs every 6 months. This gives your fans new music to get excited about, and it allows you to add some cool avante garde experimental shit as well!

If you are constantly engaging your fans and new fans with new shit, they are always talking about you, always hungry for the next album, and you are moving quicker than all the other bands. You are getting them new shit every 6 mos while the rest of the industry is releasing every 18 months to 2 years. You are also giving a wider array of what you are as an artist! You might reach those select fans that love those obscure songs, like us artists do, and again…with a wider array of music, you reach more fans!

Here is a great example, but in a different media format, yet that is completely applicable to what I am talking about. Let’s consider television. Let’s think of network television (this is NBC, ABC, CBS – hoping that translates internationally, but you will see through the example) as the standard music industry labels, then let’s take the other basic cable networks as the DIY or Indie labels or individual bands. The networks had a basic and set business plan: 2 seasons – the Fall (Sept – November) and the Spring (February – May) that composed primarily of 16 episodes give or take. During the Winter and Summer seasons, they would replay these episodes in sequence again. When the lesser cable networks came into the world, they didn’t have the marketing or advertising to compete with the Networks, so the cable stations did something wise, they put their shows on the opposite seasons.

They put their new shows out during the winter and summer, knowing people didn’t want to see the same stuff again. This got viewers hooked to their shows! Then, wisely, as the shows grew in popularity, they put those that had good ratings directly against the network season AND pumped new shows into the opposite season. Think about how smart that is, they had new episodes going ALL YEAR ROUND. The networks scrambled and started putting on shows in the off seasons to compete with their viewership going down, and studios starting to take shows that would have in the past only go to a network to cable. They knowingly understood how viewers constantly want ‘NEW’, and gave it to them. Not only that, but they did it together as a group — sound familiar?