Got Good Music? Ten Tips from the Industry Pros

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Sadly, great music is often buried – by circumstance, poor marketing, bad timing, or the artists themselves.

That has been true for decades, though in the digital era, the dynamic obviously changes.  But despite instant word-of mouth and direct fan relationships, reaching a broader audience still requires a smart strategy, especially among a fragmented, distracted audience.

But what is that strategy?  In the 90s, labels could punch a promising artist through well-worn radio, marketing, production, and distribution paths, and hope for a lucrative result.  In the current decade, gaining exposure, traction and money is quite tricky, especially when time and money are scarce.  And nearly ten years after Napster, marketing and distribution across digital formats remains a formative craft.

Still, some best practices are starting to emerge.  Just recently, Digital Music News canvassed a number of top executives in the space, asking the question of what an emerging, DIY (do-it-yourself) artist should do to gain traction in today’s landscape.

*Spread your music in any and every way possible.
-Dave Ulmer, Senior Director, Multimedia Products and Services, Motorola

“Revenue comes from fans, not brands.  Therefore, spread your music in any and every way possible.  Unrestricted DRM-free via P2P, downloads on your web sites, on your MySpace page(s), etc.  But, make sure you also have an easy spot for anyone to buy your full collection, either as albums, 3-packs, or singles on Amazon or iTunes.  The more people hear your music the more sales, and merch, and tickets, and attention from larger benefactors.”

*Work hard.
-Ali Partovi, CEO, iLike

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  There is no free lunch.  The path to success is from working hard, and sticking with it even when it looks like success is impossible.”

*Personalize the attack, target your niche.
-Ali Partovi, CEO, iLike

“Use your mailing list and social networks and be as personal as possible in trying to spread your music.”

*Protect and project your image wisely.
-Kevin Arnold, CEO, IODA

“Pay attention to the image that you want to present, make sure that what you put online or send to people to represent yourself is unique and shows as much of your character and creativity as possible.  You’ve only got one chance to catch people’s eye.”

*Write great songs.  Record frequently.
-Scott Cohen, Cofounder, Vice President of International, The Orchard

*Give it away, and sell it at the same time.
-Scott Cohen, Cofounder, Vice President of International, The Orchard

“It used to be that you gave away a free track to sell the other stuff, like the album.  Now, when we give away a track, that track sells more.”

*Overnight success takes time.
-Robb McDaniels, CEO, INgrooves

“The most important thing for a new DIY artist is to develop a fan base over many months (or years) prior to releasing an album.  Hit the road, launch a cool website and blog and stay active on the social networks.”

*Make a good MySpace page.
-J. Scavo, General Manager, MySpace Records

“Spend time to make a MySpace page that reflects the aesthetics of your music, is compelling and engaging to look at, is up-to-date with the latest music, photos, blogs, etc., and loads easily (not too large of images or flash pieces).”

*Target writers that like your style of music.
-Mitch Schneider, President and Founder, MSO

“It’s like doing homework…”

*Align yourself with a cause you believe in.
-Terry McBride, CEO, Nettwerk Music Group

“Causes often have a bigger PR mechanism behind it that exposes your music.  But it has to be really authentic, and something you really believe in.”