Thursday, 29 December 2011

Is your music only popular because of marketing?

Matt at Liv 2 by kevinfeazey
Matt at Liv 2, a photo by kevinfeazey on Flickr.

Someone suggested that I have gained an audience only because I've invested in adverts and done lots of work on marketing. Even after investment in ads all my albums have turned a profit (unless you include the hours I've spent working on them and promoting them). If you're not going to invest in your own music who else is going to? I've never made a single claim myself about the quality of the music unless its a quote from a magazine or blog reviewer. Never, I think this sort of thing needs to be honest and credible. Integrity is essential.

The reason I learned these marketing skills was to give me more musical freedom, i thought working hard on building an audience would allow me to make interesting records rather than trying to appeal to an audience that slowly diminishes. I wanted to make the records I wanted to make, interesting records, stuff I wanted to hear. I wanted to retain my integrity and engage honestly with the audience. And I genuinely like the audience, bloody lovely people and their friendship is its own reward.

So by building it with hard work, what is wrong with that? I've reinvested the money made in ads in magazines and online, I've done my own PR and marketing and worked hard at social media. Done my own booking, artwork and web design and handed out flyers outside gigs in the freezing cold. Pretty much everything apart from drums by stu and Chrissie Caulfield who played Violin (both brilliantly) and Paul Mockford who is an amazing photographer and Kev Feazey who produced the records.

So yeah some of it was due to marketing and PR but NONE of that works without music that people genuinely like. People aren't idiots, they only tell their friends about music that they love.

I'm really proud of the relationship I have with listeners, I'm very lucky to have them and thanks for all your support in 2011.

16 comments:

Andy Long said...

Fair dos mwsh, no-one works as hard as you at promotion. Your investment of time and effort has paid off well, but if the music didn't back you up too you wouldn't get anywhere. You've got a quality product and a high profile campaign ;0)

Darren said...

Erm... All you've done is prove how the MusicBizTM works.

Well done!

Same as it ever was said...

It's really a definition of "popular", popular would be something like Adele's 21. Having sold a gazillion records this year I would say she is "popular". Maybe a bad choice because she is talented also. But there are many artists, especially here in the states who are "popular" who I wouldn't give the time of day to because they have no talent. They know how to manipulate electronic gadgets and they have a production team to process their outcome. But it is not something I would want to listen to. However because of Facebook, Twitter, the blogosphere nowadays we are able to find artists who are lesser known but doubly talented. Back when I was a teenager (late 50's) we had to rely on Radio Luxenburgh and the local record store, since the BBC was very stingy with their Rock n Roll playing. If for nothing else the internet has been a boon to real music lovers evrywhere. So to you Matt and all the other artists who don't appear on Top of the Pops (is that still running?) or on "radio stations" like Star 103, I thank you for the music you bring to this world and please keep up the good work.

Neil Palfreyman said...

My daughter is a piano student at the RNCM. She recently got to play solo at the Symphony Hall and had to put up with some snide comments from other students claiming she only "got the gig because of her contacts."

"Errr, ...yes" was my reply, but her contacts obviously thought she was good enough to perform in front of a few thousand people.

Being good at something doesn't mean you will be successful.

Success comes from promotion, contacts, persistent and a big slice of luck.

My point? There's absolutely nothing wrong with promotion. In fact it's essential if you want to get heard. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand how the music business works and are hence irrelevant!

Matt Stevens said...

Will do and yeah any definition of popular in my case would mean a small audience of a few thousand people :)

Matt Stevens said...

This is very true Neil "Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand how the music business works and are hence irrelevant!"

In the old days the marketing side was shielded from the audience and artist via the label but now you have to be honest and open about it, I reckon :)

Nick Tann said...

I must agree with Andy, if your product wasn't quality then people wouldn't have bought it.

MusicBizTM relies on established media contacts to promote artists. Matt has created his own and has always treated his fans with respect and never sells them short. Something that MusicBizTM rarely does, Glib comments are easy to make but not so easy to back up.

It's always "who you kno" but you do have to get out and find these people. It takes hard graft and you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince or princess..

Matt Stevens said...

Thanks Nick (and Andy) And yeah always easier to snipe from the sidelines than to play the game :) Risking failure frightens these people off.....

ROB M said...

Can only agree with previous comments. No amount of promotion will have a lasting effect unless the music is good enough,which of course yours is! And the kind of promotion you do Matt means that its a personal input that leaves a lasting impression,and word of mouth recommendation is the best kind.
I do get frustrated that 'my' bands/artists don't get much mainstream airtime (if they do I get kind of vicariously proud) but it almost doesn't matter any more as the amazing wealth of great music out there and the sheer quality shows how healthy things are,although I know its by no means easy to gain and retain an audience.!

Ugo Capeto said...

Well, you could be making the greatest music ever heard on the planet. If it's not marketed to (the right) people, who exactly is gonna hear it? I mean it's pretty basic stuff. You've got to invest in yourself, because nobody is gonna do it for you. Matt Stevens, I say kudos to you. Your success is well deserved.

Olav said...

Promotion. A needful tool to get people to take the time to listen to what you have to provide, be it music, literature or anything else that people may be interested in.

Tons of brilliant artists and a plethora of high quality services and products have failed to get the attention and sales they deserved due to lack of PR over the years. Nothing will sell itself, no matter how good it is.

An example from a few years back: A-ha. Their single "Take on Me" didn't get popular until the second (or was it third?) time it was issued as a single, and when it hit the charts promotion was the key factor. The attempts made without a PR campaign flopped.

Noah Champoux said...

If you don't put your work out there, there's no way anyone can hear it, read it, etc. (Depending on what your art or craft is.)

That reminds me that I need to start actually putting my stuff out there. I guess that will be my New Year's resolution. I need to figure out where and how I want to do that.

Matt Stevens said...

No music is heard unless someone chooses to listen, marketing is one way of making this happen.

Jim Byrne said...

Well done Matt, More power to your elbow. Nothing comes easy in the world of the independent musician.

All the best,
Jim

attitudebadger said...

Your marketing gives people an opportunity to hear your music. If it is then popular, it is because the music itself warrants it.

Matt Stevens said...

Exactly! Like i say you can't make people buy stuff :)

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