About Robert Guerin

I’m a bilingual professional with a background in media production. Over the past 15 years, this background has allowed me to handle a number of different mandates, from program coordinator in a vocational college for sound designers, to freelance technical writer, to operations manager and product manager in a mobile content distribution company. More recently, I’ve taken on an account supervisor mandate in a digital media marketing company. Throughout these years, I’ve worked with, managed, guided and supervised small and large teams. From creative to technical, from sales to operations, with a strong focus on digital media. I have been (and still am) a business owner and have worked for companies of up to 200 people. I have one eye on the big picture and the other on the details of a project to ensure its success.

8-Step Guide to Social Marketing Your Digital Audio Career, Part 2

In this article, we’ll look at ways to craft the story you want to tell through your social media marketing efforts and how you can tell it through the different existing platforms.

Develop an Experience

Each day that we live, we go through experiences that help shape us. The next day, we can tell the story and live new ones. Music tells its own story with sound. Marketing, when done well, tells its own story. The more interesting the story is the more people will want to share it. You’ve experienced this online many time and have done so yourself. How many times have you liked something, sent an email to a friend or “Googled” something after finding out about it?

An experience will help you tell the story of your business, service or product. In order to develop this experience, you need to answer a few questions that will help you build that story in a way that meets your strategy’s goal.

  •  If you needed to narrow it down to one important thing you’d like to communicate, what would this be? Keep it simple. The more things you try to communicate, the harder it will be for people to understand quickly. People won’t be willing to spend more than a few seconds before they head somewhere else. This can be as simple as a statement saying “I am a music composer.”
  • The second question you need to answer is “what makes that statement true?” Do you have experience or work that can back this statement up? Are you well known in the field? Make a list and put in order of importance. You’ll want to integrate some if not all of these answers in your story.
  • Place yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask yourself, what might they think of this story? Is it something that might be useful to them? Would it interest them? Is it relevant to their reality or is it only relevant to yours? If you’re developing a story that’s only relevant to you, your audience will go away or not come back.
  • We discussed the importance of identifying the target audience, so you should keep this in mind when developing your experience. Building a fan site shouldn’t look the same as building a showcase for a movie director.
  • Does the story help in establishing your position or point of view, who you are and stand for? It’s important that the story reflects your identity in order to provide your audience with a sense of the person they can expect. This is especially true if you are offering professional services, like music composition, sound design, or arrangement. You can illustrate this through your sound aesthetics or as part of the story/experience. Whatever you do, consistency within the experience will play a great role in establishing your position as an expert.
  • Once the experience is done, what’s next? If you’re investing in your marketing efforts, it’s likely that you want some results. What these results should be in line with the marketing strategy we discussed earlier. How are you measuring the success of these efforts? Will the increased number of people listening to your music be one of the measures for your marketing effort? This is possibly something that you’ll need to think about quite a bit. If you’re treating your creative profession as a business, you’ll probably want to measure the increase in business the experience provides. The number of people listening to your music might lead to this increase in business. If that’s what you are counting, then it should be relevant to your business, otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

 Choose Your Tactics Carefully

Social media tactics, should they be part of your marketing strategy, should help in you achieving certain business goals. There are plenty of discussions about the “cool” and “fun” factor in social media and how it has become omnipresent on the web over the past decade, but if you’re looking at it from a business proposition, it has to help yours out.

Unless you’re name is recognized in the industry (you are a “brand name”), or a small business with substantial marketing funds available, or an individual with time on your hands, the social media tactic you choose to invest your time in developing should be easy to setup and have the greatest reach possible. This is especially true if reach is what you are going for. When choosing a social media tool for your music marketing strategy, keep the following questions in mind to help you determine what might be the best option for you:

  • Will you need to spend days to figure out how it works or lots of money to get someone to help you set something up? Most social media tools are easy to setup and have great reach. If you’re already savvy to the options available, you might want to setup profiles on different social media platforms. If you’re not savvy and don’t want to spend time learning and sharing, go with what you know and fits with your strategy.
  • Do you need to learn how to use the interface being proposed or an application in order to use a tool? If so, does that tool really help you to reach your target audience or does it help you reach others that share the same passion? The latter might be fun, but it might be less effective at bringing additional business. The former makes more business sense only if the resulting business outweighs the efforts you need to invest initially.

If you’re spending more time doing other things aside from being creative or doing your own thing (be it writing lyrics, songs, designing graphics, writing a column, or building a custom motorcycle), you’re wasting your time.

Tell me if this helps or if it brings upon additional questions. If you have some advice to share, please free to leave me your comments below.

 

Manage Your Business Separately in Social Media

Once you found the social media sites that you feel offers the best solution for your “creative business,” manage it as a separate entity. In other words, family pictures, weekend party videos with your buddies, or your favourite recipes shouldn’t be part of this space. They are part of your personal/social space. Google+ even uses the concept of “Circles” in order to segregate content by interest. Let’s take the example of a punk music band. You have tours or concerts to promote, pictures and music to share, albums and t-shirts sell, fans, promoters, sponsors and labels to thank. All of your postings in the social media space should be around and feed these pillars of interest. Posting about these topics will help build your band’s image, promote your shows, help sell tickets and merchandise. If wild after-show parties are part of the band’s image, go for it. The pictures of your last fishing trip with uncle Buck, not so much.

There are no rules that say you can’t mix and match, but it will make it easier for you to manage your business separately from your public profiles.

8-Step Guide to Social Marketing Your Digital Audio Career, Part 1

This is the first of a two-part article which is meant as a social marketing primer aimed at all of you working in the digital audio world. There’s a lot of talk about social media these days and there are several sites that offer great ways to interact with others and share what you do with friends, family, acquaintances, but also, with potential business partners, customers and clients.

The digital audio business has changed and I’ve already discussed how the Internet changed how we perceive digital audio creation and how we value this creation. But it also made it much easier to get your work known across a much wider area. How successful we are at using these new social media tools depends on many variables, but one of those variables is the thought process that goes into your marketing.

By definition, marketing is the action of promoting and selling products or services. You’re selling audio products and services. We’ll start by defining your marketing objectives through a marketing strategy and setting up realistic goals. I’ll provide some questions that should help you determine who your target audience is. Finally, we’ll look at ways to craft the story you want to tell through your social media marketing efforts and how you can tell it through the different existing platforms.

Get Your Priorities Straight!

Priorities are important because you can’t do everything at once and you’ll need to decide where you want to spend your time and efforts. It sounds simple enough, but if you’re an independent artist, musician, band or professional, many responsibilities fall on your plate. Your first instinct will be to say “I need to take care of everything.” In a larger production company, there’s a department or resource for most of key tasks: sales, production, promotion, marketing, creative, strategy, etc. When you are an army of one, there’s just so much you can do. Since this blog is written with music composers in mind, your priority should always be your music. People might hire you because of your connections, your smile, your price, but if they like your music, the chances they’ll hire you again increases.

The more music (read “experience in writing it”) you have, the better you become at it, the easier it gets and the more professional you become. It’s a simple logic to follow and I’m not the first one to mention it. Too often, we loose that focus and get overwhelmed by everything else. By doing so, we loose perspective and get our priorities crossed.

That being said, seeing the steps included in this marketing primer through, requires time and effort. That is why marketing companies have flourished over the past 50 years. If you have someone to help you out with this, it might be worth having a discussion or some kind of trade.

Develop a Marketing Strategy

If you’re reading this article, chances are, you’re trying to find a way to market yourself more efficiently. A common mistake is to start working on a website, business card, letterhead or something else before you have a strategy in place. A strategy answers the “why” question, not the “how,” so you should know what your goal is and understand that this is what you wish to achieve in the end. Why you do marketing campaign will help determine the best approach and subsequently, how to build it: which tools to use and that sort of thing.

Start by asking yourself why are you taking on this marketing effort? This should provide you with simple answers, like:

  • I want to increase the number of people who know my music/me (from a business perspective, not necessarily know about your personal life).
  • I want to promote tour dates.
  • I want to maximize the number of visits to my website when my new album comes out.
  • I want to support my offline efforts (cold calling companies, visiting contacts, etc) with online content.

Of course, these are just examples, but you should get the picture.

Setting up Realistic Goals For Your Campaign

Next, you should set realistic goals for your efforts and these goals should be measurable. If you can’t measure a goal, how will you know if it has been successful or not? If you’re trying to increase the number of people who know your music and want to increase that number by x new followers each month, this will provide you with a metric that you can track. In return, tracking will allow you to measure success. If you’re promoting tour dates, you’ll want to measure this in some way, so you can set a threshold against which you measure that success. This particular example is easier if you already have some information on previous tours, but if you don’t, now’s a good time to start thinking about how you are going to measure that success.

Targeting Your Audience

Targeting your audience sounds simple enough, but it will play a big role in your strategy and the subsequent tactics (the “how”), so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Let’s say you write music for film, video, television, your target market would be the people signing contracts with composers in a film, video or television production company. If you like or create a specific type of music, do you know that this audience buys it? If not, maybe you’re targeting the wrong audience? Maybe your mom, boyfriend/girlfriend, and close friends like what you do, but that’s not your audience because they are biased and they are not the reason why you are doing this exercise.

If you write punk rock, LinkedIn might not be the best place to target your audience to publicize tour dates or the release of your latest album, but a well targeted campaign aimed at record executives on LinkedIn might work in your favor. That being said, we’re not ready yet to discuss tactics (the “how”), but I wanted to provide you with some sense of relationship between your marketing campaign and the value of establishing who your target audience is for the kind of music you write and want to promote.

Targeting your audience will also help you determine the geography of your efforts and the languages you’ll need to work with. In the former case, your efforts might only make sense in a local environment like your home town or state/province. If that’s the case, the tools (tactics) you’ll choose might want to address this.

 Identify Your Competition

Chances are you’re probably not the only one doing what you do in your neck of the woods. They say humans aren’t creating anything new; they just transform what already exists, thus making it their own. Music and business certainly doesn’t escape this reality. It’s not to say you can’t be creative, but you might want to see what others do and learn from it. This should help identify what sets you apart. It also took a long time to invent the wheel, so there’s no point in re-inventing it…unless you are an inventor, of course. Look at what they are doing well, where they could improve. What you like and don’t like. What seems to work and what’s missing.

Did The Internet Kill The Music Composer?

I was recently introduced to a new tool called UJAM. A free cloud-based music composition tool that enables enthusiasts with tools to create, stylize and share their musical ideas over the web. Little or no experience is required to use this tool and it’s free. Once you publish your songs through UJAM, users can listen to them and share them on social media sites like Facebook. If you already have your songs ready for the internet, other sites like SoundCloud offer a great interface that can be used to embed your music in any site and also has some nice sharing, commenting and social components built into them.

Napster: the game changer

I suppose, since Napster, sharing audio and other media became an inevitable reality that all content owners have had to contend with ever since. Some bands have been successful in using the Internet to propagate their sound, making money mostly on tours and other channels, products or services, but not on the sales of their music.

There’s iTunes and Amazon to buy MP3 files (to name a few), but let’s face it, for each tile purchased legally, there’s probably 100 times the number being pirated. Those of you who remember mix tapes know that this isn’t new. There’s always been some pirating involved, but never to this magnitude.

The paradigm shift

These technological changes have made it easier for people to create and share their music. As a result, it has reduced the perceived value of their creation because there is more content offer available today than there ever was. Yet the demand for professional music has not grown at the same rate throughout the years. In other words, more music (or people available to do it) + less demand = less value. Whereas a few decades ago, technology was very expensive and complicated, the number of music composers with the means and the knowledge to produce an equivalent quality of music (and synchronize it to image in some case) was very small and the demand was there. The end result is that you could run a business, hire people to write the music and others to run the technical parts and still generate a profit. While that model still stands today, it can support a much smaller number of players; especially when you can run a one-person production studio with minimal investment in hardware, a few online YouTube tutorials to give you the basics and lots of trial and error.

For the love of music?

Going back to the UJAM example I was mentioning above and the social media sharing, it’s clear to me that little if no money can be made off these distribution channels. Once someone has something for free, it’s hard to go back and charge them for it. Yes, social media helps in making your creation more visible to a larger audience than your circle of close friends or your family. Yes, it’s possible someone will hear your music and want to buy it or hire you. But it’s more likely you’ll get something out of it. And that’s where a good marketing strategy comes into play and can help you determine the next steps of your business.

 What do you think?

Do you feel internet has affected your bottom line? If so, what have you been doing to help regain some of the value lost?

On The Fence: Where Music and Marketing Meet

A bit of history

When I finished my Master’s degree in musical composition 20 years ago, I had built myself a small studio in the basement of a commercial building with the help of a business partner. At the time, our goal was to knock on the door of every movie or tv production company in town, give them a copy of our demo tape and a provide them with a list of services we could provide. This was before blogs, Facebook, YouTube or any of the social media tools available today. Hell, it was even before the Internet was around or MP3 files existed. Computers were used to sequence music using MIDI software or print music sheets and that was it. When I look back, I see how the business has changed and how different the marketing tools for creative people are today. But aside from the music itself (and I’m not talking about specific styles that have evolved as the result of the technological changes made possible by computers), the challenge still remains the same: get a break in the business and make a living out of it.

Twenty years later, I work in the social marketing sphere.

What happened to my music career?

I did get some great music gigs, had some decent music under my belt. I also had some talent and worked hard at it for a number of years, but it wasn’t really enough to pay the bills. So I had to make the decision to work in “related” businesses, offering “transferable” skills. One thing led to another, and here I am. Obviously, I’m cutting out the juicy bits because that’s not the point of this article.

Is this a blog about fences?

Along the years, I realized the Internet made it easier to get your music out there, but it doesn’t really offer any “new” visibility to small content creators. Furthermore, the people who hire you want more quality than ever at a price that is below cost for a small shop. Volume (not loudness, but quantity) is the only savior in most cases.

On the other hand, social marketing is about making a mark, getting noticed, creating a story that people will want to share. Making a brand (you, in this case) stand out over all others. Transform an image/sound into something remarkable.

My goal will be to stay on the fence, like a cat between two yards and look at both sides until I see something of interest: comment on things I hear in my marketing career that can apply to someone trying to start in the music or sound business. But also provide some creative perspective to the sometimes result-driven marketing world.

As with all things on this earth, change is inevitable and growth is organic in nature, so I hope you will enjoy the discussion as it evolves and will participate with your own ideas and personal experiences.