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    Tunecore CEO Jeff Price Responds: “When Artists Become The Product”

    Last week we published a post, “D.I.Y. Music - When Artists Become The Product” by William Gruger, first posted at Hypebot. The post questioned the value of the growing “online industry dedicated to earning money and exposure”. Tunecore CEO Jeff Price recently responded:

    The challenge with articles like this is they imply some sort of “magic wand” which, if waved, allows musicians to have instant fame and success. This is just not the case.

    The secret to success for a musician is in the art itself. If a snake oil salesman comes asking for money, promising, “Kid, I’m gonna make you a star”–it’s most likely utter bull. A case in point: 98% of what the major labels released and promoted failed. They spent billions of dollars over the years pushing music they hoped would cause reaction, and 98% of the time they failed and the artists still had to give up their rights ending up worse than when they started.

    Music needs to cause reaction. In other words, the thing that propelled Nirvana to superstardom was Nirvana’s music. If people didn’t react to the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” it wouldn’t have mattered how often they heard the song or seen the video: it was the song itself that caused the fame.Music needs to cause reaction. In other words, the thing that propelled Nirvana to superstardom was Nirvana’s music. If people didn’t react to the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” it wouldn’t have mattered how often they heard the song or seen the video: it was the song itself that caused the fame.

    Read the whole response by Jeff Price at Hypebot, here. Please, join the debate and let us know your opinion!


    D.I.Y. Music - When Artists Become The Product

    This article was first posted at Hypebot. The writer, William Gruger (@wgruger), brings up some bold questions and starts an important conversation. We don’t say that Gruger is right about everything he writes here.  Some of the things he says about  companies we highly respect are a bit controversial. But Gruger still highlights some major concerns worth giving an extra thought or two.

    It seems like there is an Internet outlet that allows individuals to be whoever you want to be.

    People who think they’re writers start blogs, photographers or fashionistas start Tumblrs, and people who think they’re film makers make YouTube accounts.

    For prospective musicians, however, there exists not just a smattering of sites, but an entire online industry dedicated to earning money and exposure.

    There has been endless press about how ReverbNation, TuneCore, SoundCloud, Kickstarter, etc., have innovated the landscape by crafting the tools to turn musicians into efficient and effective music businessmen, allowing everyday people to become full time musicians, or so it seems.


    However, this new type of exposure doesn’t necessarily lead to fans opening their wallets and, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s worth it for artists to invest any amount of money into online marketing.

    Anna Rose Beck, a folk singer/songwriter from North Carolina who first started with YouTube videos, was able to garner an audience and begin gigging in the area after heavily investing in a mix of these online tools. Her web efforts were effective in helping build an audience, but less so when it came to covering her first album’s production costs (the album is set to be released this April).

    Despite raising over $2,100 with a Kickstarter campaign, her Myspace and ReverbNation exposure failed to lift her out of the red.

    “Relatively nobody knows who I am, but if I’m going to start charging people online then absolutely nobody is ever going to know who I am.” she says.

    Devin Fry, a musician from Austin, Texas agrees. “You have to make convincing music, and lots of it, and talk about it, and give it away. If you’re a D.I.Y. musicmaker or bandleader and you’re worried about the lost revenue of someone downloading your songs for free, you’re ignoring the bigger picture.”

    Devin and his band Salesman play what Denver Thread describes as “What would’ve happened if Jeffrey Lee Pierce hadn’t died, and instead invested in a little voice coaching? Or – maybe a lot of voice coaching.”

    “I’m fed up with band self-starter programs, as you succinctly call them. Because they come at you trying to sell you shit you don’t need, promising to ‘increase your fan base,’” Fry says. “Insidiously enough, they’re targeting modest, broke, D.I.Y. musicmakers and bandleaders, people exactly like me.”

    Indeed, ReverbNation claims that a budding musician will accrue more fans with “an arsenal of free viral marketing tools for Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and your homepage.” As if a broadened fan base weren’t enough, musicians can profit directly by using the Reverb Store to hawk “T-shirts, CDs, downloads, hats and ringtones directly to fans on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and your home page or blog.”

    The way these companies phrase their offerings sound completely absurd.

    TuneCore sports even loftier promises that you’ll be able to, “Join Nine Inch Nails, Drake, Keith Richard, Jay-Z and tens of thousands more musicians just like you to get heard, shared and discovered.”

    People are all aware of the marvelously positive impact digital distribution has had for tens of thousands of musicians trying to get their material out there. Never before have music consumers had a better chance to discover artists and niches of flavor that appeal the most, but also never has the amount of noise and clutter been so high. The idea that an internet tool will provide hopeful musicians with the same marketing power as these major label signed artists is extremely over-ambitious.

    “I’ve wasted my time creating Salesman accounts at ReverbNation, Myspace, TuneCore, iLike, etc,” continues Fry, “and I’ve learned that my promotions time is better spent outside flyering. Talking to people and setting meetings with people I want to work with.”

    The bigger picture is gaining exposure, not trying to monetize every move with overcomplicated and cost ineffective online merchandise stores. While it may be true that “being a musician requires so much more motivation than it used to … motivation to be a self-promoter and an entrepreneur and to actually market for yourself” as Anna puts it, it doesn’t mean that musicians should buy into what are often lofty – and false – promises.

    “Baseline: it’s important for a band to have an online presence that looks and sounds the way you want it,” says Fry, “something that gives the flavor of what to expect at a live show. If your show is badass like it should be, you only need one such supplement.”

    And musicians can certainly supplement their online shows for free. Hell, the guys from Odd Future did it with just a Tumblr and YouTube, which are both free to use. Sure, D.I.Y. platforms can certainly increase a musician’s chances of being discovered, but on a mass scale, turning page views and video hits into sustainable income simply is not a reality.

    Are we simply spinning our wheels with trying to make an industry out of manufacturing musicians?


    Smirnoff extends its Nightlife Exchange Project

    In January, Diageo GB, which owns the Smirnoff brand, increased its year-on-year digital spend for the spirit by 115%, to build on the Nightlife Exchange Project (NEP), launched last year.


    The NEP was a global initiative, which discovered and celebrated the best nightlife from around the world in one night, on 27 November 2010. Following the launch of the NEP in London, Smirnoff will now be hosting three more events in the UK.

    Agency RPM, the event planner of the project, has approached students from Hatfield University and given them £4,000 to create a bespoke area at the Hatfield event, which will be held this Saturday (25 March). The project will also go to Edinburgh and yet another location that will be voted on through Smirnoff’s Facebook page in the UK, www.facebook.com/smirnoffgb.

    “The Smirnoff brand is all about originality and creativity, so what better place to look for inspiration than with imaginative students?” said Chris Lock, marketing director at Smirnoff.

    The Smirnoff NEP successfully involves its consumers by inspiring them to partake in the shaping of the best brand experience, created by the brand and shared with the consumers.

    In a move to cement its brand positioning around nightlife and music, Smirnoff is further staging a dance music event in the UK, which will be held in London on 13 August, featuring acrobats, lightshows and sets by well-known DJs.




    David Chang is a member of the Heartbeats Movement and founder of inmD Inc., the first and biggest social media marketing agency in Seoul, Korea. They work with many Korean leading brands, such as Samsung Imaging for social media marketing. David also leads the publishing of ‘Sounds like Branding’ in Korean. Below he shares his insights on marketing and social media with us.

    Get your copy of Heartbeats Trend Report : Seoul




    Verena Dauerer, who is a member of the Heartbeats Movement, divides her time between Tokyo and Berlin. She works as an editor at the intersection of technology with design/art/fashion/film. She is also freelancing for the Japan Times and BBC Radio. Read about the latest marketing trends in Tokyo, the Japanese ‘keitai’, innovative and memorable campaigns from 2010, and much more.

    Get your copy of Heartbeats Trend Report : Tokyo


    Where do you put your app money?

    A recent Nielsen report shows that innovative channels such as mobile music apps and streaming services are very much appreciated by consumers all over the world.


    During September 2010, Nielsen conducted a survey of 26,644 online consumers in 53 markets. The survey, done exclusively for Midem, covered questions about music purchasing and listening habits.

    The results?

    Globally, artist apps, music-discovery apps and streaming apps are doing best. In the US, music apps are the second most popular apps, and the best performing apps in Europe are artist apps.

    As for online, the survey shows that free ad-funded and daily or monthly subscription models are the most popular, and more than half of online consumers say they would use a free service in exchange for listening to and watching ads.

    So, where do you put your online and app development money?

    Want to learn more? Get the Nielsen Music mobile apps and music streaming report for free on the Midem blog.