Guest Article: Musicians, befriend the Internet

Carlton D’Silva, Creative Director, Hungama Digital Media, writes about how the Internet, usually seen as a monster by musicians as it promotes piracy and free downloading, can be used effectively by musicians to market themselves.

e4m by Carlton D’Silva
Updated: Jun 3, 2011 9:00 AM
Guest Article: Musicians, befriend the Internet

In this day of social media becoming a hygiene ingredient of most online marketeers, it is only natural that this transitions into an integral part of music marketing. When you meet musicians and ask them what they think about the Internet, the first thing that props up in their mind is free music and how they will have to think of ways to stop the piracy. But not many of them will see the medium for the opportunity that it puts forward to them.

Whilst the skeptics were busy concentrating on Peer to Peer networks and the increase in online piracy, a few of the smarter musicians looked at the medium as a way around the pirates and use it to their advantage.

Take Radiohead for instance, the first mainstream band to offer their music to their fans as a free download. What does this effectively do? For one, there is no longer any piracy of their music. Secondly, it creates such a big hue and cry about this move that people who do not necessarily listen to them, download their music and Radiohead increases their fan-base considerably. This increased fan base will come in handy when they go on tour.

The Bottom Line: Fans = Popularity = Revenue Opportunity
Mega bands like U2 have also reaped the benefits of this formula. U2 were the first band that decided to broadcast their concert at the Rose Bowl Live via YouTube free of cost. The Rose Bowl had 96,000 screaming fans, but about 1.3 million fans witnessed the 360 degree extravaganza on YouTube. Through this they not only cater to the fans that have the opportunity to see them at the venue itself, but also the millions out there that don’t have the opportunity but are equally ardent fans. This ‘Fans First’ mantra can also be rewarding – direct revenue from the concert plus advertising revenue from the broadcast on YouTube.

But acquiring fans online is not enough. You need a plan to keep them hooked to your music and your life. Fans are in awe of their mentors and, believe it or not, they want to know everything about you… every single detail (ask Britney Spears). You need to make good use of the medium you have at your disposal and create engaging content on a continuous basis so that the fans get a healthy dose of you or your music, keeping you on top of mind. Lady Antebellum does just that. Their YouTube channel not only showcases their music videos, but also interesting shows that keep the fans coming back on a regular basis. Whether it is ‘How to’ videos by lead guitarist Dave Haywood or simply Lyrics videos, there is always a healthy dose of content created to keep the fans entertained and wanting more. They also have a show called Webisode Wednesday, where the band respond to fans’ comments, making the show a lot more personal, along with engaging the fans too. The fan knows there is going to be a new episode every Wednesday and this works well for the band too as the visit to the YouTube channel makes it into the fans’ routine.

But what if you are an artist but not yet gone mainstream. I personally believe that you exist in an era that makes that stepping stone to success a lot more easier. Let me explain this with an example. Kevin Figs is a 19-year old drummer, producer, essentially a very talented musician. He has found a very interesting way to share that talent that he possesses with the world. Social Media. Kevin remixes tracks, with a dash of his flair for the drums, and creates rock remixes of popular pop/ rap tracks, and believe me, some of them are much, much better than the original. He engages with his fans on what track to remix next and delivers a remixed track once a month. The video merely shows him playing the drums with the remixed track, but one can feel the energy to be hooked to the creation. If you go through the comments, it’s hard to find a negative one. So famous are his remix videos that he has managed to bag an endorsement deal with Evans Drumheads and Meinl Cymbals. Perfect content to be associated with from a brand perspective and perfect for Kevin Figs too. What this, however, does for Kevin most importantly is that he has already acquired a captive fan base even before going pro.

The Internet is not the devil as it is made out to be for musicians. If you utilise it smartly, it could mean a whole lot of fame… and a pot of gold too.

(Carlton D’Silva is Creative Director at Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt Ltd.)

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