You’ve probably heard of major artists pulling their music from streaming platforms, selling only one unique copy of an album, or some other creative stunt.
These are great ideas for major artists. But if you, as an independent artist, decide to withhold your music from Spotify you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Don’t do that!
We always like to say DIY musicians should watch major artists closely and learn from what they do, but today we’re presenting four things you should not copy from the major acts (yet).
That being said…
Major acts do some things you should focus on before turning to big marketing stunts.
Intrigued? Listen now to learn more!
What you’ll learn:
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The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Welcome to Episode 47 of the Bandhive Podcast.
It is time for another episode of the Bandhive podcast. My name is James Cross, and I'm here with Matt Hoos of Alive in Barcelona. How are you doing today, Matt? I'm doing pretty awesome today, James.
How are you doing over there on the East Side? That's great to hear. I'm also having a Knauss. Um, day. I know I said this last episode, but I just love fall. And it's at the point in Vermont where normally all the people would be driving through the state to see the leaves. I don't know how much of that is going on this year. With restrictions in place, we're still banning people from most counties outside of some very select counties that have low case counts per capita or whatever staff they're using.
So there's not a lot of tourism, which is unfortunate for tourism businesses in Vermont. But we have the best numbers in the country right now, so I shouldn't complain too much about that anyway. Living here, it's beautiful to look out the window and see all the orange and yellow and red and all that. I bet you've got some pretty nice leaves in Colorado too, huh? Yeah, actually, this last week I drove up through the mountains and all the aspens air changing to their beautiful golden color, which is Ah, it's a pretty iconic Colorado color.
And so it's It's really nice we don't get is much red here because we don't have a lot of maples or anything like that. But the aspens, the combination of the aspen with the evergreens is absolutely beautiful. My wife and I went and enjoyed that this last week. Uh, sounds like a fun day trip. It was It was perfect. Glad to hear it. Well, I gotta say, I think this is probably the most excited. I've been about a topic ever because we have some really cool examples, and it's actually all example based.
Basically, we're going to give four examples off things major artists have done that. You should not attempt at home to throw it back to the Mythbusters. Don't try this at home, and we say a lot that artists who are D i. Y. Or really any artist who wants to have a career in music should look at what the big acts are doing and emulate that. But there are some very big caveats to that. If you want to not make a fool of yourself or just shoot yourself in the foot by doing something like what we're going to talk about, so just to start things off, Matt, you had said it's the equivalent of running before you can walk, and I agree with that fully.
Do you want to jump right in with the first example and tell people what they should not copy? Absolutely. You know, there's there's a really long list of things you should not copy trapped just, you know, since way like to mention them. So there's a lot of things I know that we really like to harp on this three importance of our relationship between you and your fans, but that has to be in the forefront of your mind. in basically every marketing decision that you dio, you need to take a step back and say, Does this benefit me, or does this benefit them?
So there's a, you know, a very big opportunity for every decision that you make. If you're focusing on your listeners, every artist has some fantastic idea from marketing. We all dio. Now that doesn't mean that you will be able to implement it successfully. There are different types of marketing that you need to do at different stages in your career. Let's use Taylor Swift, for example. I'm not 100% sure, but I'd venture to guess that nobody in our group is large and artists is Taylor Swift. So when Taylor Swift money of you know, Taylor Swift has been a long time opponent of Spotify?
Jeez had multiple lawsuits with Spotify. She has been a out spoken voice about Spotify, about music streaming in general and not just for herself but also for the industry as a whole. She really feels is though the streaming industry has damaged artists in a irreversible way so much to the point where she has dedicated her time and resource is to fighting companies like Spotify Now I won't say whether or not I think she's right in that action. But what I will say is that she is at a stage in her career where she is so successful, and she is in such high demand that she can strong arm a billionaire business like Spotify.
When I can't remember the name of the album, I want to say the 2017 album she released and it was the first album of the year for any artist that actually went platinum. And ah, lot of people actually credit this to her not putting her music on Spotify. People were unable to stream it. She basically created an exclusive market. Now, obviously anybody could go to Best Buy and still buy her album, But that's what she was focusing on. So much of the music industry and the inner workings of the music industry rely on first week numbers.
First week numbers are incredibly crucial. Every touring artist knows this, and it's incredibly important that when you release an album, every single one of your first week sales air charted, so that way Mawr opportunities arise for you when you then turn around and reach out to other booking agencies. Promoters, uh, PR companies, record labels, anybody. They're gonna want to see your list of accomplishments. They're gonna want to see your numbers. This is the business side. What Taylor did is she said, I'm in demand. People want me.
They're going to come from my music regardless. So I'm not gonna put it on Spotify where I make 0. 3 cents per stream. I am going to try and push for that 12 to $15 price point for the entire album. Now Taylor puts a lot of work into her albums. And so, personally, I don't really feel bad about that because I think that all of you know, for the most part she puts out a new entire album of quality material, and she really focuses on delivering music to her fans that they love.
But because of the situation, because of the cloud that she had already gained, she essentially, as her own business, was able to go toe to toe with another major business, and this consequently earned her platinum status. This consequently caused a couple other artists in the industry to also not put their music on Spotify. Initially, she fought this so hard for so long that she actually didn't have her music on Spotify for multiple years. And I can't remember exactly how long it Waas I think maybe for three years and even once she came back to Spotify, her releases were still delayed.
I'm not sure if that was a part of her contract or if that's how she did it or if that was just bad blood between her and Spotify. But she basically strong armed an industry standard into giving her the money she deserved. You will not ever be able to do this at this stage you are at if you try to go to Spotify and say I'm not gonna put my music on Spotify. Well, congratulations. All you have done is not use the largest avenue for distribution of your music.
Right now Spotify is world radio, so you have to think of it like world radio. Touring artists know that a majority of your money comes in from touring. And so if you're getting you know your panties in a bundle about not getting paid very much from Spotify, then you need to adapt you need to find the right areas that you can kind of make this shift. Your goal should not be focusing on the greatest marketing ploy that you can implement. You're still trying to walk. You don't need to run yet.
Don't worry about running. This is just one example amongst many throughout the industry, where people of mass, you know, people who have massive followings, they have been able to basically pit their brand against somebody else's brand. And, you know, when rubber hits the road, you can kind of watch these things happen. And it's really interesting, especially for listeners, because we don't really know what's going on. Dr. Dre, he's another one. He put out two albums, The Chronic back in 1997 and then, uh, his latest album he put out in.
I think It was 2016. I can't quite remember, but it was nine or 10 years later, and he waited to put that out because he was in the process off partnering with Apple. For those of you who don't know, Dr Dre is the richest musician in the world. He is a billionaire. He is a partner at Apple. He owned beats by Dre, which is now Apple music. So for those of you who don't know, that's how Dre slowly, you know, he started off. You got the term doctor because he used to cut people's beats up and use beats on tape for other rappers artists in the Compton area.
So that's why they called him the Doctor. And then he slowly but surely built through a long time. He put his name on other people he worked in. He worked, he was in movies. He put his name on a whole bunch of other artists, such as the Game, You Know, Eminem, 50 Cent, the Snoop Dog, the D. O C. Ice Cube. I mean, there's there's so many artists that he came along and he basically that's how he built his brand Well, when it came time to release his album The Onley Place, that you could find it was Apple music.
To this day, I'm not sure if you can actually find his new record on Spotify. I know that this year was the first year that the chronic was added to Spotify. That album came out 13 years ago, and Dr Dre being a little bit comical, released the album on 4 2020 20. So he actually double down on a little bit of his subtle marketing by releasing the chronic album on 4 20. He also used a little bit of humor. But in this instance as well, both Dr Dre and Taylor Swift are using exclusivity to market to you.
They're saying There's only one place for you to get this, and because the demand is high, they're going to basically monopolize the supply and squeeze it to a bottleneck. And so all of the money comes in one single point. This is also a very poor idea for artists that are at a small size. Once you get to a certain threshold and depending on the type of audience that you have, this could be really, really powerful. I wish I could remember the name of the artist, but there was an artist.
It was a rapper, and he had a pretty dedicated 50,000 fans. Well, he had been releasing his music through all of the normal means for two or three albums cycles, and then, with his fourth album, cycle or third album cycle, I can remember, he said, Hey, everybody, I just recorded a new album and I'm selling it on Facebook if you want. Here's my Venmo. Send me your information and I will be the one who physically packages thes CDs and send him out. He sold 30,000 units from his house because he had a dedicated fan base.
Now that's insane, because you figure he probably still does cities for 10 to $15 apiece, so you could do a little bit of math. Long story short that gave him money to fuel his career. He basically just took a slightly different, ah, slightly less traditional method, and he was able to achieve success. However, if you only had 500 fans, he wouldn't be able to do that. And so, doing things like keeping your music off of Spotify doesn't actually help until you're at a certain point. Things that you should focus on is Taylor.
Swift and Dr Dre are fierce business people for Dr Dre to even be able to enter a boardroom with Apple Partners and hold his own. That is impressive because you're talking about a dude who was raised on the streets of Compton giving, you know, these business tycoons run for their money. That is admirable that somebody who sticks to his guns. That's somebody who believes in what he has and that somebody who fights for it, no matter what. It's also somebody who takes an immense amount of responsibility in the people that are underneath him and his brand as a whole.
Dr. Dre has always been about camaraderie, about brotherhood, about family, and it has been a parent through every one of his songs that he's ever put out ever. 100% of his career was literally built off, making beats for other people. Success was not inherent to what he was doing. Success was a byproduct of how hard other people worked their songs on his own album, where he doesn't have any vocals, he just made the beat, and he had another rapper come and wrap on it, and that's because he realizes, you know what a lot of people don't.
I think rappers are amongst the smartest musicians in the industry because a they bring features in constantly, and that's what people want. People want to hear their favorite artists playing together and be anyone that's ever been to a live rap show. What happens? They play the first verse on the first chorus, and then they switch songs. I've never been to a rap show and heard an entire song, except for maybe when I was, like 16. What's really powerful about that is they learned that starting into second verse, the crowd stops paying attention.
They get really excited when they hear the first verse because they know the song. They sing the first chorus, and then the second verse comes in and they turn to their friends and they start talking to him about the nostalgia and why they like the song. When I saw Snoop Dog, he literally paid verse chorus and then his D. J did some little interlude, and then they switched songs, and it was literally just hit after hit after hit after hit After Hit and Everybody Loved It. I've never seen a concert where the energy from start to finish was the same, except for rap shows, and that's because rappers have figured out Hey, I'm not gonna keep playing this song.
If people are gonna get bored, I'm going to switch it up. I'm gonna keep the party alive That's what Dr Dre has done essentially. But he's done it with his business. He's got up there and he's figured out exactly what people want. And then he doesn't budge on that. He uses exclusive marketing. The reason it benefits is because he focuses on everybody else's. Well, this kind of touches back on when James and I talk about the go giver and how to win friends and influence people. And you can read any book about millionaires becoming billionaires.
And everyone will talk about the shift in focus from How do I make money? How do I make my business well, too? How do I solve this issue for other people? Bill Gates was a billionaire from Microsoft, but it wasn't until he started getting into the health industry for the purpose of eradicating diseases and getting into the toilet industry, creating a waterless toilet for countries that don't have running water, things like that. It was really I mean, those were the things that really made him rich, and I'm not even talking about getting rich in general.
I'm just talking about the focus that he made that he switched from focusing on himself. Do you focusing on everyone else. This is what Dr Dre does. This is what Taylor Swift does. The reason that she's so constantly focused on in the industry is because she constantly is fighting against the big dogs on behalf of the little guys. She's an active voice. She goes into hospitals to sing kids without camera crews there these air actual human qualities that I think are more desirable. And so for me, I would say, Look at those big artists and find the moral qualities that you want to attach yourself to a Sfar as the big, huge marketing things that you should try and dio you're not at that stage yet.
Focus on the small marketing things. There's a couple different ways that you can do that. But the big thing to take from what these large artists are doing is you need to figure out the exact right time to use the exact right marketing strategy all time low at a new song, the birthday song or something to that effect. And so they started sending some of their fans birthday cakes as a means of promotion. Now sending a birthday cake to the males a little bit expensive and all time low, probably has the money, but this is a really good idea.
It's a little expensive, and so it's probably not what you would want to do right out of the gate. But birthday cards are infinitely cheaper than birthday cakes are panic at the disco sent potatoes. There's a website where you can go and have a potato sent to somebody. And so panic at the disco literally sent potatoes out to their fans on. There's been lots of other marketing things like this that have actually worked really, really, really well. And the trick is to find the price point to identify how much money you're going to spend in marketing and then to do it.
Follow through. This all boils down to what we always talk about making a plan following. You need to have money set aside for marketing, and there's a lot of different ways to market. So if you have $300 for a marketing budget, maybe you are going to spend $300 on Facebook AdWords because that's going to do really good for you. Or if you have $300 in marketing, maybe you're gonna spend 100 bucks on Facebook AdWords and you're gonna spend $100 sending potatoes out to people, and you're going to spend $100 on YouTube or Spotify marketing as well.
Now you're diversifying your platforms. You're reaching out to people on a more personal level. And who knows? Maybe potatoes don't work for you, and that's totally fine. That's kind of a joke. Maybe birthday cards. Maybe just sending a personalized message to your fans on their actual birthdays. Maybe having one person who's dedicated to doing outreach. There's different ways that you convey, basically make this work for your brand, and it's gonna tie in directly with your brand. Gerard way from my chemical romance, He constantly is doing art of all kinds.
He has umbrella academy. He actually has physical art that he sells. He does music. He works in, you know, does production. And most people that actually interact with him say that he's a very artistic person and he's a very, very nice man. This is somebody who never achieved Taylor swift level success or anything like that. But you know what he did dio. He diversified. He marketed. Now he has a trending show on Netflix. If you would've asked me when I was 16, if the guy who sings The Ghost of You is gonna have a hit comic book.
He made a comic book, and the comic book turned into a TV show. So this guy literally is a gold selling artist, a top trending writer for a Netflix show. He has a fantastic comic book, and he has a very, very, very dedicated following. And it was interesting because all of those kids who constantly followed jarred way because he was constantly pushing out art and things like that, constantly creating a safe haven for kids to come together and talk to and to really feel like they were a part of a community A soon as his other art came out.
Lo and behold, it blew up, you know? So these artists who people say, like, Oh, you know, they're done now they had two good albums. Well, maybe they did have two good albums, but they also had other things that really revitalized their career. And ironically, my chemical romance started touring again after Umbrella Academy came out. So that just goes to show you kind of the power of diversifying yourself and really developing this, like wonderful relationship with your fan base, just like your relationships with all your friends.
It's not one sided. It's two sided. You give them something. Your friends are only your friends because they add value to your life. And you are only your friends friends, because you add value to their life. And that's the beauty of this symbiotic relationship. If you can create those symbiotic relationships with all your fans, then whenever you go on release a new piece of art that's going to stimulate your brand is a whole, and especially if you're focusing on art as a whole rather than just music.
You know, I know a lot of artists you know. A really popular thing lately is like the tattoo world in the music world are pretty closely intertwined. And so I know of quite a few touring artists who actually give people tattoos, and that's the way that they make money while they're on the road. So with these crazy, different techniques that exist in the marketing world with theirs, anything that you can dio marketing is literally just what you can think up right now. You need to develop your most intimate relationships with your fans still, and so that's what you need to be focusing on.
Sending a birthday cake might not be that way, but when they come up to your merge table on like actually talking to them, actually learning something that, like is important to them. I couldn't tell you how many times people have come up to me to merge table and told me it's their birthday. So what do I do? I sing him Happy birthday on stage. People love that. It's free, and all it takes is starting a conversation. It turns into a quality relationship, and on top of that, I mean, I know for me.
When I was 16 years old, I went and saw Kyoto's at the Ogden Theater in Colorado and the end of one of their songs. Everything got quiet and Craig said, Denver, you guys rock. I said, You rock Craig. He looked at me. He said, No, you rock man and 16 year old me said, I'm gonna be a musician for the rest of my life because he created that moment for me. He marketed directly to me, and that has utterly changed the entire course of my life simply by him looking me in the eye and telling me that he thought I was awesome and that created something special for me.
There was absolutely no monetary investment at all, and I will always be a Cheetos fan. Always will be a Craig Owens fan, so focus on what's important. Focus on the people. Focus on how you could basically take your simple marketing tactics, done them down and turn them into something intimate with your listeners. Yeah, I think the main take away here is really focus on the repeatable things that are applicable to everyone. And don't do these massive publicity stunts or things that make business sense for a giant company, but not for you.
Before we wrap things up, I think I just want to toss one last example in here, which is Wu Tang Clan. This is our fourth example, and for their 2015 album, they released on Lee one single copy, which was auctioned off in private. I think it is like a silent auction. The agreement, basically was. The person who buys it can do whatever they want with it. They could keep it for themselves or release it. But if they release it, they have to just give it away for free.
And it sold for an estimated $2 million to the Pharma bro and convicted felon Martin Shkreli. So, first of all, most artists aren't gonna be able to sell a single copy of something for $2 million. That's just not a thing. But Wu Tang Clan did it. Now the funny thing is that Martin Shkreli, at the time I read the article about this, still had not listened to it because he was keeping it so he could convince Taylor Swift to go on a date with him. That's not how you do business.
That just shows that not only is he a bad businessman when it comes to pharmaceuticals and investments and things like that by being greedy and trying to rip people off on medications that they need to survive. But he thinks his way to get a date with Taylor Swift is to say, Hey, you can listen to the Wu Tang Clan album like that. Just that didn't that's not out things work that is not being ago giver. You know, I don't think I've ever heard of anybody. It's like, Oh, man, I got that new loot.
Tang, You wanna really Netflix and chill? Yeah, exactly. You know, he could have said, Hey, Taylor, do you want this? Like here? I'll give you the album. Maybe that would've worked. Maybe. But then she'd write a song about him and all that. Anyway, all that aside, Wu Tang Clan. When they found out that Martin Shkreli was the same person who bought the album and then was ripping off all these people by raising the prices on medication, they decided that they were going to donate most of the proceeds from what he had paid them to charities so they could help people almost in a Robin Hood way.
Obviously, they didn't steal the money from marking. He bade them. But they did kind of pull a Robin Hood there and redistribute that wealth because they didn't like that connection. They hadn't realized what was going on there with Martin, what he was doing, because there's something with, like Thursday to Martin was running ah, label with Jeff Rick Lee from Thursday, which was another thing like, Well, he's actually involved in music. But anyway, Wu Tang clan really did the right thing, thereby redistributing that wealth. So, looking at that, I think the main thing is, be creative with your marketing, but also be aware of how much clout you have.
And if you can combine those two things, you will find some amazing ideas to help not only your fans, but also yourself and your band that does it for another episode of the Bandhive podcast. Thanks for tuning in this week. We hope you will come up with some awesome marketing ideas for your band, and we would love to hear what you're going to do next. Because if you come up with a really interesting creative idea that fits the level you're at, that's amazing. So feel free to head on over to the Bandhive Facebook group, either by searching for us or typing it better dot band slash group into your browser to be automatically redirected and let us know what you've come up with to promote your band.
We'll be back with another new episode next Tuesday at 6 a.m. Eastern time. Until then, we hope you have an awesome week. Stay safe and, of course, as always, keep rockin
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