Marian Salzman: Music 2.0: words from a Master

And here is the Blog by Marian Salzman
Music 2.0

We’ve entered an age of newfound creativity. Because of a million ways for the average Joe or Jules to express himself or herself, being an artist has never been easier. And with sites such as Etsy creating a vast marketplace for all things handmade and crafty, it’s not difficult to imagine making a living as a creative being. (Think of what Instagram has done for photography: Do you really need to buy a fancy camera to take great pictures with cool effects? Nope.)

Of course, one of the biggest areas affected by all this digital stuff (besides advertising and marketing, naturally) is the music industry. I’ve been in New York for many years, and I remember a time when working in the music business was one of the coolest things you could ever do. Then Shawn Fanning came along with Napster and everything seemed to change overnight. Enter the iTunes age, with retail record giants like Tower shutting down, and—poof—the industry had suddenly become a different place. A very different place.

But fear not, talented lyrical and musical friends. There are lots of ways you can use social media to your advantage and become the next big thing. I think about bands such as Ok Go and their YouTube releases, and (don’t shoot) Rebecca Black and her admittedly ridiculous song “Friday.” Packaging yourself has never been easier; whereas bands and singers used to clamor to get signed, we’ve entered an age of pimp your own ride.

Take, for instance. I talked to some experts in the biz before writing this piece and found that Turntable is one of the best music discovery sites out there. There is great equity in music industry gatekeepers (label reps, A&R types, to name two) when it comes to making a new discovery and getting there first. enables strangers to become contacts through repeated playing of songs that an industry type may enjoy. Oh, and the excitement over Spotify is palpable. The world of music is no exception when it comes to our new culture of sharing, so dig in.

If you are an up-and-comer, there is no better time in history to get creative about getting your music out there. Think of mixtape culture and what it did for hip-hop artists such as 50 Cent and the Game, not to mention Lil Wayne. If you can score a couple of email addresses of some influential types or people who spread music around to all their pals, that’s a good trade for a few free tracks to build a dedicated fan base.

Tribes are what the social media world is all about, and building yours should be mission No. 1. Take some cues from the Grateful Dead (who many argue were the first adapters of social media, before it even existed) as well as jam bands such as Phish, who have been allowing “heads” to tape their shows and trade them for free for decades. The Dead had only one chart-topping single (“Touch of Grey”), but they made millions in concert ticket sales and merchandising—and their parking lot scenes were one of the best examples of hippie capitalism that has ever existed. Maybe you’d buy a burrito or a Sierra Nevada, but maybe you’d also buy a Dead T-shirt or program.

As one of my friends in music publishing recently told me, it’s more important than ever to form bonds with your fan base, as if they are all friends of yours. There’s a familiarity and comfort to social media that allows fans and potential fans to know all about you, what you stand for and what inspires you. I encourage you to take that challenge and craft Brand You, with social media as your tool for being the next big thing.

In concert (no pun intended) with your social media efforts should be the single most important action toward building your base in this day and age: Play out, and play out often. Live shows are still the best way to build a following; there is no substitute for authentic and great live music, especially in a digital age in which people are looking for something real. That’s what being sticky is all about. Sure, it’s informed by your marketing plan, but it’s mostly about your killer music and having as many people hear it as possible. Because those people will tell other people, and eventually your music will get into the hands of the people who matter. (P.S. Everyone matters nowadays.) From the fans to the labels and back again.

And as for those labels, according to David Hoffman, director of creative services and A&R at Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., one of the United States’ oldest indie publishing companies, they “are evolving or going to evolve. There’s no choice. Digital distribution can be done using sites like TuneCore. Where the labels come in primarily will be on the marketing, promotion and publicity side of things, especially for indie bands. Of course, you’ll still have the labels working with manufactured artists and contest winners. And in the case of many of those, the labels are sister companies with the TV networks airing the shows. I think you’re going to see a lot of nontraditional labels (i.e., brands putting out music). You already have this, like Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound. I think we’ll see more of it.”

And that, too, is what’s striking on this 30th anniversary of MTV: At one time, bands were selling out if they used sponsorship money to promote themselves or they shilled for brands. Those days are over. Look for the lines between art and commerce to continue to blur. I’m looking forward to seeing, and hearing, you in the very near future. Hope this helps.

Marian Salzman
Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America
200 Madison Avenue, 2nd floor
New York, New York 10016


Something Crazy (Continued)

Ok a few days ago I posted that I did something Crazy. Turns out it was not so crazy after all. Back in July I was watching CNN and a very interesting story about “millennials.” For you unfamiliar with this term it is now used to describe the Generation Y folks or “millennials” who are entering the workforce, their special needs, and the new ways of doing they bring to the work place. The featured company in the story was Euro RSCG Worldwide PR who are some of the heaviest hitters in the Public Relations field and who also employ a large number of those who qualify as “millennials.” I was intrigued by the story as these folks were experts in the utilizing social media and technology to push messages out to the world. Their CEO is an individual by the name of Marian Salzman so to cut to the chase, while the story was still running on CNN, I emailed her. I asked, in the email, if she would be interested in providing insight, from her obvious area of expertise, Public Relations, to the Indie Musician. I sent the email and suspected it would be lost in what I am sure is a huge inbox or just sent straight to some even more massive Spam folder.
Five minutes later she email me back, very politely and said “Sure” she would be interested in helping me and could I send questions.
I was shocked. The lesson here folks:
ladies and gentlemen we are all connected.
Below are the questions I posed and after that I will post Marian Salzman’s very informative blog she sent in response to them. I thank her greatly for taking the time to share her knowledge as you should too.
The Questions
1) What should be the goal and means to an end of an independent music artist when utilizing social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr)?
2) What are some of the new social media outlets you see on the horizon that will be a useful tool to the independent artist?
3) What are your views on piracy and how can the independent artist “flip” free music to their benefit?
4) From a PR perspective what are some of the ways an independent artist can generate the “buzz” so many people are after
on a small or non-existent budget?
5) Should an artist forgo the old school press kit and go for a total online one or a mixture of both?
6) What are the ways you discover an independent artist and what are the things that make them “sticky” to you?
7) What would you advise an independent artist to evaluate and try in order to improve their “stickiness?”
8 Where do you see music going (how it is presented, acquired, utilized) in the next 5 years?
9) At what point will an artist know that it is time to retain professionals to jump into their career?
10) If you were an independent artist with an album of material what would be the first 3 things you would do to get it noticed?
11) Do you think record labels are a thing of the past? Will they evolve into new things or just fall completely in on themselves?