Bobby Borg is a former major label, independent, and DIY recording/touring artist with over 25 years experience working alongside the most respected musicians, songwriters, managers, producers, and A&R executives in the music industry. He teaches DIY music marketing, music publishing, and general music business classes, and he speaks regularly at Berklee College of Music and other distinguished schools worldwide. Borg is the author of three widely read books: Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, Business Basics For Musicians, Five Star Music Makeover, and over 1,000 highly publicized magazine and blog articles for Billboard.com, etc.
1) What do you consider as the main challenges for independent musicians, labels, and management today?
Independent Musicians, labels, and management all face the same problem: breaking through the clutter and commanding the attention and loyalty of listeners in the overcrowded marketplace today. Let’s take something like Youtube, an important medium on which to promote your music. According to a stat on Fortunelords, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! That’s a lot of videos to compete with, so you better be doing something that is unique, attention-grabbing, and engaging, or your chances of getting noticed are slim.
2) How do you consider the importance of finding a publisher when being independent musicians/labels?
The Independent musicians/label must first focus on doing what independent musicians/labels are supposed to do first: 1) Write amazing songs that have hit song potential; 2) Utilize the various licensing techniques that are possible today in order to get their music into the ears of their target audience, and 3) Understand how to take care of the administration of their copyrights so that the legal stuff is taken care of and money is properly collected. Only after the above three things are done, should any independent musician/label even consider finding an outside established music publisher—-and note that if it is a major publisher you want—-you better add 4) getting signed to a label and 5) finding a reputable manager and attorney to the above list too. All of this stuff is discussed in detail in Business Basics For Musicians.
3) How can independent music business gain bigger market share through online-data?
Online data, or analytics, can provide a great deal of information about our target customers. We can learn about the time of day that they are on social networks, the part of the country or world that customers are located, and what fans respond—and do not—respond to. Having all of this information can help us to better communicate with our intended audiences. The better you communicate with your fans the more likely they will engage with you and become loyal. The more engaged and loyal the customer, usually the more interested they are in purchasing what you have to offer. The more fans that purchase what you have to offer and uphold their loyalty, the greater your market share will grow.
4) What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when using data to plan new promotion strategies?
You have to use enough data to be statistically significant. In other words, you can’t look at a small data set of customers to make decisions about promotion—17 people who respond to your email (out of your list of 5,000) doesn’t mean that your email was effective and you should run the campaign again. Remember this quote: “Half the money you spend on marketing is wasted, only you better know which half”. Or as Einstein said it another way, “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over again and expecting different results.” Data is king!
5) Is radio still important? And how do you consider the importance of being able to find radio airplay globally?
While it is true that digital Internet marketing (including social media, mobile, etc.) is the most popular and cost-effective form of promotion today, radio is certainly a viable option in the complete marketing mix of strategies available. The great thing about radio is that there are so many possible mediums: college radio, satellite radio, commercial specialty shows (i.e., local hero type shows that are on major stations), smaller market commercial radio, National Public Radio, and even Internet radio stations as well. An independent artist/label should investigate all of these opportunities. The more places that your fans come in contact with you, the more the possibility of you catching their attention. By the way, here is a list of the ten marketing mix strategies: 1) Internet, 2) Word of mouth, 3) Guerrilla, 4) Publicity, 5) Advertising, 6) Radio, 7) Sponsorships, 8) Direct, 9) Sales Promotions, and 10) Face to face. Musicians should use all of these strategies in some combination. By the way, I discuss all of these strategies in Music Marketing For The DIY Musician.
Now as far as global radio promotion is concerned, I think it is best to start with local radio promotion first. Start in your city where you can follow up any spins you get with radio interviews, an on-campus concert (if it is a college radio station) and even inviting the DJ to your next show to be the MC. Use the momentum of any success, to encourage the next radio station to play your music, and then the next radio station, and then the next radio station.
Look, the point is, no one should be thinking about global radio promotion until they are ready to go global. I mean, great, you are a band in Denmark that gets played once on a radio station in Florida. Now what? Are you ready to follow up that spin with more marketing dollars to encourage other stations to spin you? Are you ready to tour Florida to capitalize on any buzz that single spin created? Are you ready to seek out journalists in Miami who want to do an article on you?
Surely, you can hit up Internet radio stations around the world who are willing to accept your tracks by email, but to pay a radio promoter for global promotion when you are a local band that no one knows in your own city, that might be a waste of time and money.
Think of it this way—promotion is like lighting a BBQ grill. If you don’t blow repeatedly on that one coal that you partially lit, the fire will never catch. You have to promote the promotion to be successful.