This weekend at SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, I caught a couple of cool panel discussions and presentations about how to grow on-line communities and how to leverage the strength and creativity of crowds. I wanted to share these learnings here on the Savvant Music blogs because it’s so important in what we’re trying to build here.
My vision is that Savvant Music will be influenced and really guided by the people who have always told their friends and neighbors about new cool, awesomely hip music. You know, the guy who always seems to have heard of the best groups or the chick who has tickets for the hottest concert because she knew they were great before anybody else did… A lot of these people are writing blogs now, and others are out there in chat rooms and fanzines still telling their buddies about great music via word of mouth. Some are disk jockeys playing late at night or early in the morning when the corporate monoliths aren’t mandating pop playlists from hell.
Well, these are the people we need to nurture and grow into a community which helps us find, support and promote great music of all kinds. And here’s what I learned at SXSW yesterday will help us to do just that.
The panel “Knowing the Audience: Improving Communication Between Artists and Fans” was made up of Steven Sesar, VP marketing and business development at WooMe, Ron Bloom of PodShow and WooMe, Slava Rubin, founder of Indiegogo, Raymond McGlamery, managing partner of Zen Mediagroup/Buddylube (trying really hard not to guess what that means), Vinvin, a french filmmaker and Steven Stokols, CEO and Co-Founder of WooMe.
During this session, McGlamery was waxing eloquently about the information overload coming from social networks and commented, “After awhile you get so much crap you just start deleting it all. You don’t even care if there’s a good band in it… Myspace is no longer a reliable source.” And I have to wonder… was MySpace ever a reliable source for good music? I don’t think so! Maybe at first you could at least get a feel for bands with a good “buzz”, but what does that tell you about whether the music is good? Not much, I’d say!
Ron Bloom commented that there are millions of internet-based programs including blogs, podcasts and internet radio, and there is a layer of people within those programs who are passionate about playing the music you love. Some may have 1000 listeners, may have a million. Once you get past 1000 listeners, you are talking about a show or program the size of an average radio station. Bloom recommends that we cross promote our music between these programs. Find the people who are promoting great music. There are some incredible broadcasts out there. Wow, Ron! That’s exactly what I’m thinking, and exactly why we started Savvant Music. Let me add that there are so many broadcasts, pod casts, video blogs, etc about music, that it becomes rather difficult to find the good amongst the ever increasing pile of, well, not-so-good. That’s where we at Savvant Music are looking for help from the savvy music community! What are the best programs out there? Who has the best ears, and who always recommends the best artists, no matter what the genre? If you are one, or if you know who they are, please share you knowledge here! Leave a comment! I’ll be on those sites tomorrow checking them out.
In fact, while I’ve diverged to this topic… If you know of any really incredible artists we should check out at SXSW 2008, please let us know asap!We check back on comments all day long and are dying for input on what artists to go see this week!
Back to the panel… Steven Sesar reminds artists to also remember to engage with your fan base. And Vinvin told us what we all should know — today, if you’re not on the internet, you’re dead. Vinvin recommends video blogging for artists. This enables fans to feel that they really get to know the artist — meet his cat, watch him play guitar. As an example, he mentioned Deepak Chopra – Chopra doesn’t need to talk to his fans, but he does, because it makes a difference to existing fans, and enables him to reach new people.
Steven Stokols pointed out that it’s the internet users who really want to engage with the artists. For example using Meebo where the artist is actually talking to you. And of course, he then plugged his company WooMe as being even better. I’ll have to look at WooMe more closely. The only thing it really asked me when I signed up was if I was interested in Girls or Boys or both. Does this mean it’s a dating site? I told it girls and boys, because I’m looking for people who care about music and I don’t care what gender they are!
McGlamery pointed out that in the mainstream music industry today, the record labels often force bands to do fan interaction work and that makes artists unhappy and resentful, especially when they don’t really see the value. Artists need to be sure the labels are using your site in a way that the you and your fans real benefit and appreciate. He claims that most artists really don’t search out and understand the fan interaction technologies, especially the bigger they get!
Ron Bloom pointed out that in the old days music was packaged in albums, and the album told a story from the music, to the artwork on the cover, to the liner notes on the inside. Now the technology online enables us to deliver these stories in a different way to our fans, if we but chose to do so! You can provide fans with a short, unplugged version of a song you’re working on – let your fans see what you’re working on; let them contribute to the second verse!
With today’s tools, independent artists have a real advantage — Blooms says “If you want to make a living as an artists, there’s no better time in history to do it.” Bet we could have some interesting discussions around that comment! But, in general, I think Bloom is right on!
McGlamery wrapped up by reminding artists not to underestimate your power to participate in that dialog between you and your fans.
Well, there was also a really cool panel called The Weird Turn Pro: Crowdsourcing For Creatives from Derek Powazek, CEO of Pixish and Fray, but I’m already late for today’s sessions so I have to run! I’ll be back with more soon!
Cheers! from Anny