Props to Dave Allen founder of Gang of Four for these suggestions below. Well considered (and annotated). I recommend that you do what he says.
“Humans are subconsciously moved by the emotion of music, it provides a link to their ancestry and to their tribes, it stirs not only positive but sometimes negative feelings linked to moments in time and is often steeped in nostalgia and memories. No other art form is ‘consumed’ as broadly and passionately as music on a daily basis around the world.
How music was delivered used to be in the hands of the few – bands, concert promoters, record companies and their retail distribution companies, radio, and video shows such as MTV. In tech-speak this system embraced ‘push’ – we the mighty and powerful will “provide you” [at a price determined by “us"] with access to our treasures when “we” feel like it. These days that system is rapidly breaking down as music fans now ‘pull’ what “they” want to listen to.
Control has moved from the few to the millions of many. Dull labels and dull bands offering dull, flat, non-experiential product – e.g. a CD, will go the way of the CD as it goes the way of the Dodo. Consider what Cirque Du Soleil provides as an experience compared to Barnum and Bailey’s circus. Or Burning Man compared to your average music festival. Even the Las Vegas Beatles-themed show ‘Across The Universe’ wipes the floor with most rock concerts these days.
Music fans are no longer patiently waiting for their favorite bands to deliver new music according to the old customary cycle – album, press release, video, radio, tour. No, the fan base has to be regularly and consistently engaged.
Some Ideas (for artists, managers and labels):
- First, communicate openly and ask your fans what they want from you
- Listen to what they have to say. Really listen
- Provide unique content such as early demos of new songs
- Never under estimate the power of a free MP3
- Forget completely the idea of an organizing principle (album). Invent a new one
- Use social media wisely. Twitter and Facebook Pages are best, MySpace is too cluttered
- Don’t push messages to your fans, have a two way interaction with them
- Invite them to share, join, support and build goodwill with you
- Scrap your web site and start a blog
- Remember to forget everything you know about the CD “business”
- Start to monetize the experience around your music
- Remember – the browser is the new iPod