Don’t Confuse Technology with Marketing

Or: Don’t Confuse Supply with Demand

The use of music marketing technology is not in and of itself an act of music marketing

In my own errant quest to get people to hear my music (and pay me for it), I’ve made an understandable but large mistake. I thought that by using the millions of digital music distribution tools out there, one of them would “stick”, and I’d somehow move forward.

Typical thought process: “If I put my music on MySpace, Reverb Nation, Facebook, etc., then set up my own site and embed my music download widgets everywhere, put it on iTunes and Rhapsody, etc. with Tunecore, blah blah blah, then something’s gotta happen.” Well, I was wrong. Putting a shingle out there with your name on it may be called “marketing”, but it’s so passive that it doesn’t really even qualify.

Why I Could Not Sell My Music

I became more interested in the means of delivery than the process of actively winning someone over with my music. It’s easy to find the details of technology interesting and consuming when the daunting tasks of real success are terrifying. 

This train of thought was spawned tonight by a musician who asked what I thought of Audiolife, a company I hadn’t heard of but which offers another turnkey solution for indie musicians to create embedded widgets of their music and merchandise. 

Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees

With sites like Nimbit, Musicane, and from the looks of it, Audiolife, you can have some great technology that allows any crappy musician to have some incredible tools to conduct all sorts of online “business”. And since my interest in music marketing has morphed primarily into the tech side of things, I can really appreciate these turnkey, embeddable solutions that people are putting out. Each empowers artists like never before, in different ways. From my very brief scan of Audiolife’s site, they look to be similar. They’ve extended the functionality ever further, but still depend on artists to actually sell things to make their money. They operate on a commission basis, meaning if artists aren’t selling music and merchandise, then Audiolife doesn’t make any money.

If We’re All Starring in Our Own TV Shows, Who’s at Home to Watch Us?

My general “feeling” is that the entire model is a losing enterprise.  In my narrow experience, no one wants to pay for music anymore, and no one cares about the merchandise of some unknown artist. Especially in today’s era of American Idol and Facebook, where everyone wants to and can be a celebrity in their own way. A company like Audiolife may be able to stay in business by taking a tiny piece of a tiny piece from the millions of amateur musicians out there. But for these amateur musicians, whether they choose Audiolife, Nimbit, or Santa Clause isn’t going to change the lack of demand for their “products”.

The Question to Now Ask Yourself

Can you can create demand sufficient enough to warrant the time and energy in setting up an online merch widget?

Update: Revenue Model Abandoned?

I just went to Musicane‘s website, and noted that they now have generic banner ads on their site. Which tells me that their revenue model isn’t working. The ads are for auto insurance and checking your credit scores. This smells of desperation. I can relate. But encouraging people to leave their site isn’t going to improve their business. In my opinion…