There is the every day business side of what I
do, which I truly enjoy, and then there's the "fun" side to what I do
- or at least what I consider to be a lot of fun, and that's speaking at
different music conferences. I've spoken to people in Canada, the UK, and all
over the USA, and what I really enjoy is helping an artist get in to the groove
so they can maximize their presence on the web. I'd love it if every one who
heard me talk on a panel became a Section 101 client, but I am not lying when I
say it is truly gratifying to be able to (hopefully) set someone on the right
path so they can find the success they're looking for.
I recently spoke on a New Music Seminar Panel in
Los Angeles called The Music Business Isn't Over...Press the Reset
Button and Start All Over. It's a New Game and The Good News Is You Can Win. My fellow panelists were Michael Doernberg (ReverbNation), Eric Garland
(Big Champagne), and Jay Frank (CMT).
If you came to hear us
speak, you already know that we all felt strongly that the music business isn't
over, it's actually just beginning. There are huge opportunities available to
artists, and the key is to find your niche and build your audience from there.
In an article about the panel, Billboard quoted me as saying "Artists need to redefine success in order to
be successful in this new era," and that couldn't be more true. Whether
it's making a new song available for download every week for a month, or making hand screened tee shirts (like Section 101
artist Carina Round) that your fan base can collect or do 200 dates a year
playing the Ukulele like Victoria Vox, there are many chances for success that
didn't exist years ago. Take The Phenomenal Handclap Band (check them out on
youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NONo10bU67M),
whose CD was reviewed as "the kind of album
that gives cookie-cutter pop the thrashing it deserves" by the New York Post. From their sound, to
their live shows, to their videos, every thing about this act stands out. They
are a terrific example of identifying, and then staying true, to your brand.
PHC found a core base and have been expanding from there.
It isn't just new artists who have to experiment and change it up,
established acts have to do this to keep their audience interested and engaged.
Clive Davis was on to something when he paired Carlos Santana with younger acts
for the release of 1999's Supernatural,
which included collaborations with Rob Thomas,
Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Cee-Lo, Maná, Dave Matthews and more.
The lead single, "Smooth",
rode all the way to Number One, reinvigorating Santana's career. By pairing
with Elton John, Leon Russell (Look him up!) is having a career resurgence,
playing festivals and sheds from bars and casinos. Section 101's Duran Duran
recently took a chance by releasing their well reviewed "All You Need is Now"
exclusively with iTunes. The nine-track set did so well, an extended physical
release is coming out in March.
If you're reading this, and going to be in Austin in March (!), I
will be continuing parts of this discussion when I moderate my SXSW panel, Fan Analytics for Dummies, on March 16th. A key driver to success is
what works for your fan base, and what doesn't, and analytics provides that to
artists today in a way that's simple to process and understand, making it
easier to dial in to your fanbase.
Although Section 101 is a technology company, we are, if you haven't
noticed, very artist driven. We support and encourage anything our acts do that
will get their fans engaged, excited and talking! By re-defining what success
is (ie: not just a label deal), music makers finally have the chance to be
heard by people who are looking to embrace them. Brand is about being
authentic, unique and interesting, and myself and my fellow panelists agreed
that this is the year that will produce examples of these types of success.