Marketing Music in Pirate-Infested Waters

These days everyone is a music pirate. Any piece of music, and its remix, and its cover by Sean Kingston, is available at your fingertips. And there are too many pirates out there for the authorities to reel in, whether they want to admit it or not. This used to be bad news in the days of Napster and the rest of the fledgling P2P crew. It meant that artists spent a lot of money getting into very expensive studios, only to release and market an album and have someone else flood the market with their product. All at no expense to the listener.

But these days, producing and recording your own music in the privacy and comfort of your own home is only a Macintosh away. You don’t need a label to distribute your album to music store shelves. In fact, the shelves are no longer necessary; they’re slowly emptying and music stores are closing all over the world. Everything has moved online. Every garage band, old man with a banjo, metal band, and rapper who’s way too cool for you is online. It boils down to the fact that if you’re not online, you don’t exist. So how do you get yourself online and put out your awesome tunes?

First, you need to have a good visual identity. That means designing a logo. If you’re not a visual artist ask a friend to help you out, but make sure it’s good, clip art will not be tolerated. Start a Facebook page, a MySpace account and use Twitter. Start a blog. You can set up a free Blog Spot account that can be synchronised with a Gmail account, so you’ll also need a Gmail account. Get a SoundCloud account; it’s a new music networking website, which is one of the fastest streaming on the web. Synchronise your SoundCloud account with your Facebook page, MySpace and Twitter. Also check out other platforms like Reverbnation and Bebo.

At the moment, the social networking industry is the heart that keeps the African Music Streaming Platform industry’s blood. You need to keep your thumb on the pulse of what’s happening. Check out blogs like BoingBoing and Neatorama frequently. But be weary of relying solely on social networking. There are whispers that the bubble will pop, and when it does you don’t want to be left stranded. Keep your options open and engage with your audience, and follow them wherever they may go.

Most importantly, record. Record demos and release them. Make videos and put them up online. What you are vying for these days is not only an audience’s cash, but their attention. Attention is the new century’s commodity. Some acts rely strongly on online stunts to get their online audience’s attention. A good example of this is Die Antwoord (South Africa’s crazy and controversial “rap-rave” act headed by the enigmatic Waddy Jones of Max Normal fame) which recently leapt into the international arena in a matter of days with their viral videos comically portraying South Africa’s ‘trashy’ side. They were featured on BoingBoing and signed a major deal with Interscope Records not a month later.



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