As the internet increases the potential to connect emerging artists with potential fans, some niches of music that have been largely relegated to specialty stores or only available via mailorder have achieved new and unexpected levels of commerce and popularity. Musicians from a range of genres will discuss how new technologies have helped them develop their fan bases and build legitimate new musical communities.
Jean Cook Outreach Director, Future of Music Coalition
Henry Harris President , Spirit Enterprise Inc, Spiritco1.com
Ariel Hyatt President, Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR
Rachel Segal Artist Relations/Marketing Manager, MusicIP
Molly Sheridan Managing Editor, NewMusicBox.org/Producer, Counterstreamradio.org, American Music Center
Billy Zero Program Director, XMU, XM Satellite Radio
11:34AM EST - JC: What inspired you to start your radio station?
HH: I decided in 2003 to start my station after meeting with a number of independent gospel artists who were having a hard time getting terrestrial radio play.
AH: Ariel Publicity is a purely digital, social networking PR website. We work with a ton of bloggers, podcasts, internet radio stations, fanzines. It's been fun going fully digital, because we can pinpoint exactly who likes our fans.
MS: We started as a monthly publication with a handful of articles. We had interviews that get deep into the art in ways that other publications cannot. The magazine now works on a daily publishing schedule, and we've launched a radio station.
BZ: When I started at XM, I was playing CDs from my personal collection. Nobody sent us anything. Now we get about 500 packages a week.
RS: MusicIP started as a recommendation engine, but we've developed identification and reporting services in more recent years. We can give an artist a snapshot of where their music is being heard, and give them an idea of what the typical users music collection looks like. This helps artists to figure out who else they can target.
11:34AM EST - JC: Do you consider yourselves gatekeepers?
RS: Quite the opposite. I think we open music up to more and more people.
BZ: We call ourselves filters to find that good music and put it on the air. We have now an ease to enter the marketplace that simply wasn't there before.
HH: We think the internet has opened the gates for everyone. We used to take everything that was sent to us, put it on our playlist, and let the audience decide. We don't do a lot of filtering.
AH: I gave up on traditional media, on behalf of my clients, because the results were constantly diminishing. As broadband becomes more ubiquitous and people get unhappier with radio, they will turn to the net.
11:50AM EST - Questions from the audience
Q: Billy, if you are playing a hundred new tracks a week, what kind of familiarity are you really getting with these new artists?
BZ: At XM we have 170 channels. We are like internet radio stations in that we are people who care about music. We're not taking limo rides to steak dinners with major labels. We are opening packages and listening to music. Granted, we're not going to play music that isn't ready for the radio, and a large majority of what I receive is not. But I came to radio because of a fire in my belly to expose unsigned, unknown bands.
Q: Ariel, what baseline budget would you recommend to an artist for publicity?
AH: Our campaigns are flat-fee, there's a $500 package, a mid-level, and a $2500 package. There are no other PR firms that I know that are doing exclusively internet PR like we are. Put yourselves out there as a human, and you'd be surprised how many people become interested in you as an artist.
Q: How can we grow a niche community for our artists?
AH: Get on Eventful, JamBase, Upcoming.org. Brand yourself across these sites with a single username. Myspace and Facebook of course. Conquer these one at a time because its easy to get overwhelmed with all this stuff.
RS: And get a track on where your fans are. Target to their local markets.
BZ: Make sure you have your own domain. Even if it just directs to your myspace page until you get something up, you need to have a homebase as well as being spread across all these social networking sites.
AH: Get people on a mailing list, have your own personal database. Get a bribe on your homepage that will convince people to give you their email address. Create an interesting, engaging and fun newsletter. Update it regularly.