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December 20, 2010


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Evan Lowenstein

As I mentioned to you in person, I very much enjoyed your book Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead.
And while I appreciate what you have to offer here, I very much disagree. Only instead of calling you names, I'll simply respect your opinion and do my best to share mine.
Please find a link below to an article that I recently wrote that I hope gives you a different perspective on how I think artists should use social media--please note that I very much encourage it, depending on what phase of the 'relationship' the artist is in.
And unlike you, I'm not even purporting that this is THE answer, just merely AN answer.
Continued success to you. I hope you can open your mind a bit to be tolerant of decisions that aren't your own.

Dave Huffman

David, I'm actually surprised that this was so prevalent at the summit.

REALLY surprised.

Most of the musicians I speak with employ most of what you preach right here on your blog and in your books.

In fact, most have now turned to business books rather than "music" business books and read guys like Godin, etc.

You mention Lefestz - Bob Baker is another guy folks should read if they haven't.

I made close to a 10 year career out of music.

I played mostly small clubs and bars - but I did it full time. I sold a steady stream of merch and music.

And I took the friend approach to "fans"...meaning I got to know each and every one as much as I possibly could.

I gave 'em everything I had.

And they repaid me ten fold.

And I have to say: The "mystery" Evan talks about in his Laws of Attraction article isn't an absolute either.

There is a turning point in EVERY relationship where more access (to emotions, self, etc.) becomes important.

Especially in marriage.

My two cents though.

David Meerman Scott

Evan --

I really appreciate you jumping in. The fact that you saw my post (probably via Google alerts) and chose to comment proves that you are engaged. Thanks.

Yes, of course there are different paths to success and the methods of engagement I talk about are not the only ones. I thought about this post for a long time before I wrote it. I still feel the same as I did when I asked the question and when we spoke.

I really liked the article you pointed to. I'm thinking about what it means for me. I certainly don't want to become a dick but have been in situations where it is possible that's the way I came off (like maybe in this post?). I'm getting to the point where I can't manage all the people who want a small piece of my time (hundreds a day). Some mystery would be an interesting technique. Thanks again for that. I'll consider how that fits me and my personality.

Dave -

Good for you in the way you built your audience. It is the same way that I have built mine. The formula is simple but one that many people resist. One interaction at a time x a hundred thousand interactions = success.

I don't recall reading Bob Baker. I'll check him out. Always looking for voices talking about the intersection of music and technology and communication.

All --

Anyone can go back and listen to the audio from the Artists panel, Maybe I'm missing something or maybe I'm too pigheaded to understand an alternative approach.

In particular, the musicians I know would NEVER lip-synch. And the ones I know personally would never have a management type ghost write their Twitter feed either. Applying that concept to Evan's dating analogy (in his excellent article) I don't know anyone who would employ a personal Cyrano de Bergerac to write texts of Facebook messages while dating but I'm sure it happens sometimes. Too bad for the other side when he or she realizes that the love notes where ghost written.

No matter how much I think about this topic, I still think the personal approach is important (rather than ghost writing).




While I am not surprised to read about the reactions you encountered at this summit, I think I have been spoiled by the attitude in Boston. I'm not sure if you've heard of the Rock Shop series of events organized by music promoter Steve Theo, but they are basically a series of events designed to help musicians negotiate the business of being a musician, ranging from getting booked at SXSW to getting played on local radio to getting written about by bloggers and managing your own social media presence. I attended a bunch of these events and was impressed to see that the artists present completely bought into the value of the web and social media. If you want, I rounded up my recaps of the Rock Shop events here:


Here specifically is the session on social media: http://safedigression.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/take-five-rock-shop-8-a-social-media-experiment/

I was also quite heartened by the music industry panel at the #140conf Boston, where Amanda Palmer indeed schooled everyone on how to take advantage of the real-time web to thrive as a musician: http://safedigression.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/take-five-the-new-music-industry/

Jon Ostrow

Hi David

It sounds to me that there were two different situations happening at the same time:

Firstly, these music conferences often create panels of artists who are either already established and no longer NEED to use social media since they already have an established fan base or can afford to have someone else ghost-write.

The problem here is that many of these 'established artists' became so when the music industry was a different place. The times have changes, and their advice is typically no longer as relevant as they'd like it to be. (Not saying that there are not some within who have great advice, such as Chamillionaire who truly understands the power of social media)

Secondly, you've got a collective of artists that sound like they have no social media strategy. While many say that social media cannot be the only part of your promotional strategy (which I do agree with), you MUST have an idea of what social media is, and how to use it properly in order to see benefits from it. And in all seriousness, this COULD actually include telling people what you had for breakfast. Its all about being fan-centric: creating a shared experience for your fans, bringing them along on your journey and offering them premium-value from start to finish.

The idea needs to be understood that, YES social media can connect you directly to your fans in an easier fashion than ever before, but that does NOT mean that you should be 100% promotional all the time... Be human and let your fans know you care about them.

Jon Ostrow

David Meerman Scott

Georgy - Thanks! I had not heard about the Rock Shop. I'll definitely check out these links. Thanks so much. I'm such an Amanda Palmer fanboy. Sure what she did has been really amazing but I do recognize that her approach is not for everyone.

Jon - I agree on the "established" vs. upstart. The way you gained success ten years ago is not the only way to do so now. Especially if your music attracts a young crowd, social media (especially Facebook) is critical.


Talk about coincidence! In a few minutes I'll be heading off to practice with my band. We're still working on our first batch of songs, and our big focus is on getting enough content to build out online presence.

By the way, the comment a musician made about wanting to be like Colonel Parker? What was the Colonel doing if not engaging in a marketing plan that suited the prevailing media? If these artists are as creative with their music are they are with seizing marketing opportunities, I'm not surprised I've never heard of any of them.

David Meerman Scott

Angelo -- Go for it. And good luck!

Chris Barry

The loss of artistic 'mystery' and the so-called 'romance' lost between artist and audience because of using social media is actually laughable and, frankly, the height of arrogance. Great post David -- really appreciate your fearless candor.


This is really a fearless post about the use of social media for discovering singing talents. Well, I'd like to try and use my wireless sound system and sing my lung out using a social media!


David Gordon Schmidt

Great topic. I think there is a whole need breed of music artists who, as you say, are thrilled that they have control of the whole process and direct access to the market. It’s terrific. As a B2B marketing guy who’s other passion is writing and playing piano music (Keith Jarrett mode), I love being able to share it easily.

Are many of the “babies” you mention really reflecting anger over free file sharing and the alleged loss of income? I have spent thousands buying music and will continue to do so, but I belief completely that free sharing of music is free marketing. This is how you get known.

Once upon a time, music was all local, played by traveling minstrels who interacted personally with their audience, and maybe got dinner for their entertainment. If they were good and pleased folks better than most, they got a bigger audience and bigger reward. There was no middleman. Maybe the art of music will return to that model.
So, all you “mystique” musicians. Start relating to people as people.

David Meerman Scott

This blog post was also published on Hypebot, a music industry site. http://bit.ly/hNxJr8

Brian Zisk, Summit Executive Producer, commented on that blog and I wanted to respond to him here (as well as on Hypebot).

You are right. It was childish of me to use inappropriate names to describe the musicians on the panel. Without thinking through the feelings of others, I did that to get people to take notice of my alternative perceptions of what was said on the panel.

Like me, the panelists donated their valuable time and did not deserve to be called names. For that, I apologize to you and the people on the panel.


Evan Lowenstein

Thank you so much for your reply, David. I would love the opportunity to hear more of your thoughts and share a few of my own. This is clearly a hot topic in our industry and I think if we combine our efforts (instead of jabbing) we may actually be able to help others.

To Chris Barry and any of the others who so vehemently disagree (or dare I say misunderstand the thinking here), I'd be more than willing to discuss. I'm not interested in throwing down, nor do I have the time for it. But I would happily debate this like an adult with anyone in the interest of learning something myself.

Serious Inquiries only please.


Chris Barry

After reading Evan's article, I appreciate his perspective and understand better the idea of the important courtship between artist and fan. Yes, intrigue is probably necessary during that all important early "dating" phase in any relationship (don't divulge too much; keep 'em wanting more!).

I think about DVDs and commentaries that open wide the curtain allowing people into the filmmaking process, the "movie magic" stripped away.

But the more I've learned about the artistic process and the wider open this curtain (that has a tendency to expose the so-called mysterious), my "connection" with the artists of my choice (including musicians, painters, writers and filmmakers) has grown to a deeper intellectual level. An example - the recent release of Bruce Springsteen's massive 'Darkness of the Edge of Town' box set - mystery stripped away, deeper understanding and appreciation accomplished.

When I was 20 the mysterious nature of artists was a driving force - part of the fun was trying to figure out what they were doing. I'm no longer 20 - far from it - and no longer find it necessary to be "courted" in that way.

David Meerman Scott

Chris - it is an interesting dynamic, isn't it? Evan does have a point on mystery. And I usually advocate being very open. There are obviously more ways than one to success.


Watching different people around the world flaunting their singing voices in video streaming online is like watching different channels of live tv all over the world! Nice feature.

Bailey L

This is an example of people giving themselves a chance to be discovered even if they know there are not that good.



I love the proof that some artists are solid people who are just making great music. Looks like a great group of panelists.

Beatles Chords

Wanting the good all days back is not limited to artists alone. A lot of people have this thinking basically because they lack exposure to benefits of new technology, and simply do not know what it is. On the otherhamd you will also find a lot of artists making that crossover, using facebook, twitter etc... to market themselves.


i like to read your posts. thanks for this one.

Ed Waterman

Hi David!

In my "previous life", I was a talent agent and band promoter. The biggest changes in music from the "good ol' days" are nightclubs no longer want to pay bands for performances (this started with the "pay to play" routine on the Sunset Strip where bands had to "pre-buy" their own tickets and then sell them on the street), the change back to the purchase of the "single" instead of the "album" (cut band profits by 90%) and the positives of the ability to record ten songs relatively inexpensively, release them immediately and market yourself on your own space.

With the loss of the first two, managers and promoters aren't into doing it anymore for the bands (it isn't profitable to do so), so the bands HAVE to do it themself. While it is easy for a band to be "heard", it is difficult to break through all the noise and get noticed by the masses. The bands are whining as they discover how much time, hard work and expense go into "promotion" and it may take 400 sales calls to get just one gig. They used to tell me all the time, "We just want to play."

When my brother was signed to Sony and A&M records in the Seattle grunge heyday, he beat out over 9000 bands JUST IN SEATTLE to be signed.

As my brother so eloquently stated after I congratulated him on beating out 9000 bands, he said, "Yeh, now all I have to do is sell more albums than Michael Jackson and Madonna." They were done six months later, over $150k in debt from the recording, video and tour and were dropped by the label.

One of their wakeup calls was when their tour manager ordered them up some pizzas and beer after one of their shows in Nevada and joined them for the party. They got the "pizza bill" a couple weeks later from the label!

Ed Waterman
Prodigy Marketing Group


David Meerman Scott

Ed -- I love your comment. Many thanks. Music is a tough business. But like any other, good marketing and interacting directly with customers builds a loyal fan base.

Jim Grobecker

Del has been a hip hop icon for a couple of decades, first with solo projects, then Hieroglyphics, collaborations with the Gorillaz, and released one of my favorite records Deltron 3030 (with Dan the Automator). He really pushed the boundaries lyrically and it's a missed opportunity that he isn't continuing or strengthening his brand online. As you mentioned David, a simple search reveals he's just not on the www interacting directly with fans.

Another great example of an artist embracing social media is Girl Talk, who took his music one step further by encouraging new fans to download his record "All Day" for free. It was pretty incredible to see the response. During the first week of the release in Nov 2010 the GT free download landing page earned almost 7.5K Twitter mentions and 31K comments on Facebook (backtype.com). Now GT is selling out or near capacity at sizable venues across the country. There is value for artists directly interacting with fans.

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