It’s true that music can be a very profitable business, but unfortunately the success stories of the elite few who’ve made it like the Beyonces, Jay-Zs and Kanyes of the world are rare, particularly in a market where supply far exceeds demand and CD sales are a distant memory. Faced with lagging record sales and piracy, music artists of today must become innovative marketers or risk irrelevancy.
According to Chicago Music Commission executive director Paul Natkin, giving away music for free is key in today’s market. Yes, you read right: free. In our privileged society, where peer-to-peer file sharing is illegal, but the norm, consumers aren’t very eager to pay for music. He suggests that bands implement unique marketing models to generate revenue, including licensing music and merchandising.
Natkin cites Chicago-based rap duo, the Cool Kids, as a prime example of artists whose unique marketing methods have paid off. The group doesn’t charge for music. Instead, they give it away and make money by licensing their music. The Cool Kids’ music has been featured on a number of video games and TV shows, including “NBA Live ’08” and HBO’s “Entourage.”
Merchandising is another way to market your music brand and generate income. At shows, consider selling t-shirts, hats or other paraphernalia with your band’s logo on it. Fans love to be a part of a movement or “in” crowd. This works particularly well for new groups with exceptional talent. Just think about the last time you’ve heard someone brag about listening to an artist “before everyone else knew about him.”
Music industry record sales have taken a big hit over the past decade. There are countless ways to integrate unique marketing methods into your strategy. If you don’t, your band brand could just be one of thousands of bands that never make it to the major leagues.