I was talking with a client yesterday, and it was almost like some of the things I showed them were this big revelation. It was like, “Wow! If I would have only known this,“ or “If someone would have just shown me this before we had invested all this money.” And it got me to thinking about how being an artist is one of the only jobs where we just throw unqualified people out to work, and just expect them to succeed without properly equipping artists for success. In almost every other job there is some form of training and higher education. Doctors, lawyers, and teachers go through rigorous amounts of training to master their trade. Heck, even athletes have coaches to help make sure they are on top of their game. They are all trained to do their job and their odds of succeeding are, therefore, much greater.
Artists’ training includes vocal lessons, media trainings, and performances. They’re taught how to play musical instruments, but there’s no one really teaching artists how to be artists. Then, we get upset when the artist can’t figure it out on their own when they’re on radio tour, or when they’re already out on a major tour. That’s one of the major reasons why I started the Music Industry Blueprint in the first place – to teach artist development, and teach artists how to be artists!
So, what could we be doing to better prepare artists before they go on radio tour, before they go into a studio, before they get dropped into the limelight where we want to build them up and knock them down? What can we do as an industry to better prepare our artists for this journey? We need to think about these questions pretty hard, because we’re funding it. The industry is funding this kind of development but the development is happening at the absolute wrong time. Development needs to happen before the product has been recorded, or at the very least while the product is being recorded.
There are four pillars to any successful business. We have to start looking at the artist as a business, so let’s take a look at these pillars:
Let’s start with Brand: Who are you? What are you? Is there a market for what it is that you have?
Next is Build: We need to identify that audience and invite them to be a part of our world.
Then we can cultivate: We build a relationship. Do not sell in every email. E-mail open rates are so low because they all think we want to sell them something, so we can’t get anybody to hear our message. Only after the relationship has been made can you move on to the final pillar.
Which is to go sell.
Most people just make a record and then go directly to the sell mode and wonder why it didn’t sell. Or, they just get an artist and take some pictures or shoot a video, record some music and then put them out in the marketplace and wonder why they don’t sell. Well, because the two middle parts are what’s very important. It’s the two middle parts, the building of the audience and the cultivating of that audience, which actually determines the sell.
What we teach in the Music Industry Blueprint is to really start engaging your fan base on a daily basis. We teach how to segment your list and why that’s important. What I mean by that is not every single person should get every single message. No single person who is on your list is there for the same reasons, so why would you market to all of them the same way? And that’s one of the things that we’re really focusing on right now. I call it the three levels of fandom.
First, there are the people who just happen to see you on Twitter and think you’re good looking, liked you, and maybe decided to sign up for your list. These are First Level Fans. Then, there are people that maybe follow you on Facebook and Twitter. They comment on your Facebook posts every now and then, and they tell their friends about you. These are Second Level Fans. They are a little bit more engaged. Finally, there are fans that are there for everything you do, say, and sell. They come to every show and stand in the front row. They are Superfans. We want all fans to become Superfans. These are the people that we need to create more opportunities for. They are the ones that will change your life and they’re the ones that will move the needle for you. They want to buy, so we need to make sure they get that chance. Therefore, we can’t communicate with Superfans the same way we do with casual fans. We need to make sure the artists are staying engaged on a daily basis with their fans.
One of the things that we need to do is to make sure that we’re properly training the artist’s team. A lot of times the artist’s team can unknowingly sabotage all the efforts that you as the label, or somebody like myself is putting in place, if they don’t take the time to make sure that their artist is trained properly…but we’ll talk more about that later.