Mike King’s Direct-To-Fan Marketing Presentation, NARM 2011

This is a fantastic introduction to best practices for online, direct-to-fan marketing, presented by Berkleemusic instructor Mike King at NARM 2011. A must-see for musicians and anyone working to engage fans or develop a social media strategy for their business.

Video link: NARM video recap Embedded video below:

A fresh look at Artist-to-Audience Communication

In this video clip from the recent Rethink Music conference in Boston, KU’s Nancy Baym (see her new blog: Online Fandom) makes the point that artist – fan collaborations are creating  economic transactions that aren’t generally factored into discussions about declining music revenues.

There’s a lot of work that doesn’t have to get done anymore because audiences do it…fans want to help – Nancy Baym

Connecting with your most passionate fans…

The companies that understand how to genuinely connect with their customers, online, and offline, are the ones that will emerge over the next twenty-four to thirty-six months, putting significant distance between themselves and their competition. – Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy

Companies should also remember to focus on their passionate customers – both passionate fans and disappointed critics. These will be the customers who are most actively discussing your business, the ones who will share the most ideas, and influence others, and the ones whom you might easily convert from critics to lifelong supporters by giving them a little respect and attention. – David Rogers, The Network Is Your Customer

As you connect with your fans through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and online forums, keep in mind that the most passionate are the most active in the network and can easily become your advocates and emissaries if they are not already. Pay attention to them. Listen, and connect.

A customer or fan who is talking about you critically can become your greatest ally if you listen to them, understand their perspective, and respond with genuine caring. I’m not talking about trolls and sociopaths, but people that for one reason or another disagree with you or have had a bad experience. This is the best customer you could ever have. If you really take care of them, they can become a lifelong fan and evangelist for your company, your music, or your brand. Put your biggest supporters and your biggest critics at the top of the list and give them special attention.

What has your experience been connecting with your fans? How has listening to them and responding authentically changed your business? Share your stories!

Addressing the disruption of media release cycles

A huge challenge for media companies today is the disruption of the release cycle created by the Web.

Records are routinely leaked before their official distribution date. The financial risk for film studios is even more devastating, as Eric Garland points out in an interview with CNET News. A carefully planned and staggered release schedule is not only a revenue driver, but can be a huge part of the emotional impact of music and film. As Garland points out, once a product hits the Web prior to it’s release date, it’s buzz is largely neutralized regardless of the quality of the work.

This raises several important questions:

Does the audience have too much power?

How does this change not only the business reality for content owners, but also the nature of the relationship between artists and fans?

What can companies do to adapt? The music business has tried for years to dig in and hold on to their old models. We have a pretty good idea how that is turning out.

As Larry Kramer says, fans demand greater access to content, have an increasing sense of entitlement, and more choices than ever, including the choice not to commit.

Artists are approaching this in different ways. Guitarist Bill Frisell recently changed record labels so that he could accelerate his release schedule. He is also selling a series of live board tapes (in MP3 and Hi-Res formats) that augment his official label releases. This is a great solution for busy jazz musicians who are continually involved in multiple projects and create amazing music every day. Their output is not easily channeled into the typical once or twice a year record release schedule. Companies like Aderra are recording shows and selling to fans in an interactive format at the venue.

These approaches work for some artists but not others.The scale of the film industry creates an entirely new dimension to this challenge.

What are your thoughts?

How can musicians, record labels, and film studios maintain control of their distribution strategies while strengthening their relationship with fans?

Join the discussion!