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Liverpool Sound City: Think big by thinking small

By | Published on Friday 21 May 2010

While music marketers are paid to think big, when you’re launching a new band you need to think small, too. That was the key message from the digital marketing panel at Liverpool Sound City yesterday.

“The old model in the music business was based on selling one record to as many people as possible”, The Orchard’s Scott Cohen observed. “Because you only had one thing to sell any one fan, that was your latest album. Once you sold a new fan your record they were no use to you, unless they could persuade someone else to buy your record. Bands and labels were therefore seeking audiences of thousands and millions for commercial success. But many fans are willing to buy more than one product from you, if you only provide the right kind of products. Why go to the effort of selling two CDs to two fans, when you can sell two CDs to one?”

The importance and potential of a band finding and engaging a core fanbase, even if that fanbase is relatively modest in size, has been a key theme at LSC this year. “You increasingly meet new bands at events like this who have been sold on the importance of a big sync deal, and who are therefore desperately hoping to get the call from a TV boss or gaming exec”, SliceThePie’s David Courtier-Dutton added.

“But lets be realistic about this”, he continued, “there are 100 million tracks out there competing for a sync deal, the chances of a new band getting that kind of deal are remote. What new bands should be doing is building and learning about their fan base. That’s the starting point for everything that can follow. Even a modest fan base can be enough to turn your band into a viable business”.

And the “learning about” bit is very important. As with the similar panel at The Great Escape this year, the importance of fan analytics dominated as a key message. “Understanding your fanbase is key”, says Topspin co-founder Shamal Ranasinghe. “Know who your fans are, where they are, how they differ. Use free stuff to hook in casual fans, work out who will pay more, and who will pay most, and consider what products they will pay for, and make those products”.

Cliff Fluet of legal firm Lewis Silkin agreed. “We hear a lot about the monetisation of music, but we need to think about the productisation of music. Whether you’re the label working with recordings, or the artist with a wider range of things to sell, we need to get away from one size fits all, and when people want to spend more money, make it easy for them to do so”.

So, how do you use the internet to launch your band? Use analytic tools to find and learn about both your core and casual fanbase, and then devise products that the will buy and which some will pay a premium for. Thinking small in that way, it seems, could create big results.

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