The upheaval of music marketing norms has left the space open to interpretation. Currently, no standard exists for approaching listeners. Overall, fans are looking for a differentiated product, and with iPod listening habits shortening attention spans, listeners are going to decide almost immediately whether or not they are interested in a song. The availability of recording tools and the ease of distribution has made competition fierce for emerging musicians, but by listening to consumers and nurturing the artist/fan relationship, artists can separate from the pack by implementing strategies that emphasize cooperation.
Social Media For Musicians
Web 2.0 technologies have forced musicians to reconsider their relationship with fans. Web 1.0 is characterized as being ‘static’ or ‘brochure-like’, requiring minimal participation between creator and consumer. Interaction was limited, and the user sat back passively and accepted whatever advertisers pushed. In this era, the majors had supreme control over both artists and consumers. Lacking a voice, people were anxious to join the conversation, and as soon as the Internet allowed them to do so, people began interacting with content. By creating, commenting, and conversing with others, consumers used this newfound access to the conversation as a means of publicly discussing works. Now people are pre-disposed to interact with content, and if creators do not recognize this shift in thinking, they will be left behind.
From a marketing standpoint, this transformation has made direct-to-fan marketing an essential technique for any musician or artist. Eliminating middleman lowers the price of transactions, and can help musicians put out content at little to no cost. Yet, simply doing away with intermediaries is not enough. This is a procedural alteration, and unless it fosters a change in the artist/fan interactivity, it will not mean much to the consumer. Describing the missed opportunity many artists create with direct-to-fan marketing in his article Your Constituents Are Your Allies, George Howard notes that “if all we are doing with D2F is eliminating middleman, we are only improving efficiency within an inherently flawed system; we’re still “marketing at” people instead of “marketing with” them” (Howard, 2011). Observing recent Internet success stories (eBay, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Flicr, etc.), it is clear that facilitating the conversation can lead to success. The value in each of the aforementioned companies lies in their ability to create “architectures of participation” (Howard, 2011). Civic sharing is fundamental to Web 2.0, and extending the dialogue online is the web naturally progressing as a means of communication. On Amazon, for example, consumers are much more interested in listening to others who have used and experienced the product first hand than reading an official product statement or description composed by a representative of the product.
For music fans, sharing has always been a part of the culture, and therefore, songs are the perfect form for observing this online conversing. Musicians and others in charge of PR campaigns for artists must be aware of the culture. While social media has made it possible to directly connect to fans “our greatest challenge and opportunity with respect to the new tools is to not use them simply as replacements for the mechanisms employed by the “marketing at” system. Twitter/Facebook cannot become a PR feed from an artist to her constituents lest it lose all its value” (Howard, 2011). Using a Facebook account to blindly promote oneself just does not work, even for popular musicians. People do not respond well to one-way conversations (in real life or online), and musicians that successfully use social media understand the finesse required to initiate the conversation. Unfortunately, no standard exists on how to get fans involved. Fundamentally, it requires the artist to think of his or her fans or potential fans as allies rather than consumers. The manner in which to do this is left up to the artist, but it always involves creativity since fans are most interested in a finding a differentiated product. Collaboration is key for the modern artist, and “its not you going direct to your ‘fans’ in some sort of one-way anachronism, but rather you and your fans working to build something together” (Howard, 2011).
Indeed, the possibilities for connecting with fans via social networks is nearly limitless, but there are some guidelines that musicians can implement that will provide a framework for interaction. Twitter is a great starting point for any artist without a online social presence. Consistency is important with any form of social networking, and because Twitter is easier to stay current with than a blog or other social media platforms, it is the proper starting point. The character limitations of a post makes creating content a less involved process, and simply does not require as much time as other social media forms. However, it does not make the content less valuable. In fact, the direct nature of Twitter makes it the preferred means of interaction for many fans. In creating a handle, or twitter username, it is important that the artist uses the name that he or she wants people to find using google. Oftentimes, this is simply the artist or band name, but keeping a consistent name on the web is important. As a musician, the internet does not allow for multiple selves, and the more uniform one can be across the web, the more likely people will be to respond. Starting with a limited number of friends, it can be helpful to add people based on keyword searches. If a group considers their music surf-rock, then it makes since for them to use that keyword as a way to find others with similar interests. This will help to grow a bands own followers, but unless the group has a large built-in fan base this will require the group to initiate. Later, as the group becomes more active on Twitter and the followers begin to rack up, the band can begin following the accounts they choose to. Bands are not expected to reciprocate friendship on Twitter.
User generated content via blogs is an increasingly popular form of communication for fans. The following of a blog can vary greatly, from nationally viewed content to local, personal blogging. However, the content on the blogosphere is largely dictated by the authors own tastes, interests, and experiences. Pre-existing relationships with artists, labels, and executives rarely controls the content on a music blog. Originally, analysts were uncertain whether user-generated content provides any predictive value for musicians, or whether it was purely retrospective in nature. As the form progressed however, it became clear that blogs, particularly the volume in which an artist receives coverage on them, is a solid predictor of future success. Music is a product whose quality is difficult to observe or sample adequately before purchasing, and therefore, “people rely on opinions of other for experience goods” (Dhar, 2007). Conducted four years ago, Vincent Dhar and Elaine Chang’s study of an album’s sales as it relates to blog posts, is outdated, but it provides an interesting snapshot of the blogospheres influence. In 2007, it was already clear that getting an album blogged about would increase sales and “if 40 or more blog posts were made before an album’s release, sales ended up being three to four times the average, for both independent and major label releases” (Dhar, 2007). Blogs have only increased in popularity since, and the correlation of blog posts and digital sales is undeniable at this point. In short, the primary finding of the study was that if an album is blogged about on a ton of blogs, that album will make the money. Blog coverage has emerged as a way to measure an albums success.
Yet, getting the sort of blog coverage to legitimately impact sales is a difficult endeavor. Blogging is highly personal, and bloggers do not want to be approached like members of the traditional media. In her book Music Success In Nine Weeks, Ariel Hyatt notes that “as a recovered traditional publicist with a background in writing press releases, announcing things, and blatantly pitching my clients, I had to relearn from scratch everything I thought I knew about how to promote music when I started to approach bloggers” (Hyatt, 2009). Rather than a press release or an announcement, she believes that an artist trying to become know in the blogosphere should start his or her own blog. Bloggers read other bloggers’ blogs, and by participating in the medium, musicians can begin to associate themselves with other blogs and communities of people. Also, much like any other brand, it is important for a band to search for existing blog posts about the group and then communicate with the author of those posts. Hyatt recommends that musicians post a comment back thanking the blogger for post, and then say something about their blog. It is really just networking or dating 101: create a two way conversation by talking about them. As always, the conversation will happen with or without the creator, and musicians that respond are more likely to establish relationships with bloggers and receive coverage in the future. Expanding a blog network is a process that takes some time, and artists that rush the action and ask for a review before connecting with the blogger will never receive the coverage they are looking for.
Building rapport through an email list is an important step in the development of any musician. By establishing a core group of fans, and then communicating with them regularly, bands can set the stage for requesting money. Despite the importance of treating fans as allies, and carefully blending random information with promotional efforts on social networks and email lists, turning fans into customers remains the goal. The first step in transforming fans into customers for any musician, is to understand who the fans are. Since independent musicians do not benefit from having label representatives and others to help them characterize the makeup of their fan base, the process of understanding the fan in term of demographics, is the bands duty. Learning detailed information about a fan base can help a band strategically communicate with their followers, yet, studying demographics is a business concept, and is therefore foreign to most musicians. For many artists - finding out what their fans like to do, how much money they make, what types of bars they frequent, what websites they congregate on, etc. - seems intrusive. However, this information is valuable for brainstorming new ideas to be included in band newsletters and social media updates. This approach can help bands differentiate their product, and anything that will motivate fans to open and read emails is an advantage.
Much like other types of formal writing, the band newsletter should be organized into three sections. In Hyatt’s model these sections are the greeting, the guts, and the getting. The start of a newsletter should include personalized, non-music related information. This can be anything from a pop culture reference to a description of a vacation. In the body (or the meat) of the newsletter, the band should tell stories about what they are doing personally (in the studio, on the road, etc.). Finally, the newsletter should close with a call to action for the readers. Hyatt cautions against including more than one “get” as this will confuse or overwhelm the readers, and in certain instances, she recommends that bands issue a short survey to fans to find out more about them. The modern musician has to be business minded and must understand the basics of marketing. Bands must learn to become quasi marketers and they must pay attention to detail, which includes consciously formatting newsletters. Web 2.0 technologies have made music accessible, and if used strategically, these tools can help a band differentiate their content and cultivate a dedicated following without having a hit album or a blockbuster song.
1,000 True Fans
An evaluation of the long tail, Kevin Kelly’s article 1,000 True Fans is an attempt to formalize an approach for art and fandom that creators can utilize. The long tail is great for consumers but “is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators” (Kelly, 2008). Since the long tail does not raise overall sales, and adds massive competition, many interpret it to mean that artists without a highly successful album will be left behind. Alternatively, Kelly asserts that one solution is to find 1,000 true fans. In his analysis, many creators have already discovered the path, and by more formally characterizing the approach, others should be able to identify the 1,000 true fans mark as an alternate destination for making money. Struggling musicians should find comfort in Kelly’s findings since “aiming for direct connection with 1,000 true fans is a much saner destination to hope for. You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by true fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there” (Kelly, 2008). This is not to say that cultivating a dedicated group of 1,000 fans is an easy task, but compared to the alternative Billboard charting success model, it is a more recognizable feat for emerging musicians. A true fan is defined “as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce” (Kelly, 2008), and developing this sort of avid following will eliminate the need for a smash hit.
Initially, a bands ‘True Fans’ will be limited, but along with them will come ‘Lesser Fans’. These ‘Lesser Fans’ will not purchase everything a band puts out, but by gradually nurturing a relationship with these individuals, they may transition into ‘True Fans’. This process of converting fans to the highest level of fandom continues until an artist reaches his or her magical number of ‘True Fans’, and can use the group to support future endeavors. These super fans somewhat defy the long tail since “the fans are able to move an artist away from the edges of the long tail to a degree larger than their numbers indicate. They can do this in three ways: by purchasing more per person, by spending directly so the creator keeps more per sale, and by enabling new models of support” (Kelly, 2008). Whether they were conceived with Kelly’s theory in mind or not, the core strategies of a number of emerging companies is closely related to the 1,000 fans approach.
The largest funding platform for creative projects in the world, Kickstarter uses the power of true fans to help artists reach new heights. An all or nothing pledge based format, a Kickstarter project must meet its designated amount in its designated time or no money changes hands. Yet, most projects on the site reach there goal and “if a project manages to get to 25% of its funding goal, it has a 94% success rate” (Strickler, 2010). This is a low threshold for a project to dramatically increase in its chances of reaching funding, and since the majority of the projects come from smaller artists, it indicates that a small circle of die hard fans can help tremendously. It thrives on micro-patronage, and as artists develop a loyal following, they can utilize a platform like Kickstarter to fund projects. For musicians, asking is the hard part, but with a tiered incentivized pledging platform artists can ask for money without feeling disingenuous. In return, fans are more likely to give if they can measure the impact of their donation. Furthermore, they have a clear motivation for spreading the word and generating new fans for the group.
The Eastern Sea: Case Study
I thought it would be helpful to supplement my findings with some input from an active band. The folk rock quartet The Eastern Sea has a considerable following, particularly in Austin, so I knew that by interviewing them I could get some relevant information on how they were able to grow their fan base. The band is unsigned, so their growth can be directly traced back to the promotional efforts of the bands members. I met with Matt – the singer and frontman of the group – to get a sense of how the band cultivated their following. Firstly, I wanted to test Ariel Hyatt’s notion that fans do not respond to being marketed at any longer.
Me- What percentage of your social media posts are promotional in nature?
MH- the band talks on social networks for two reasons: (1) To promote content (2) To talk about random things that we think our fans are into. I’m trying to reach out to people who are kinda like me. Its real. I would say about 60% of the content we post on social networks has nothing to do with our music. One easy way to do this is with pictures. Pictures of touring and being on the road helps our fans understand who we are. Our tumblr blog is a photo blog. We intentionally spread ourselves out on the web, we see it as a big cloud. Often, a person will start as a fan of The Eastern Sea group page on facebook and eventually we will all communicate with the person, and become friends with them through our individual FB accounts. The same goes for blogging. We have a group blog but we all keep individual ones as well.
Matt’s response solidifies Hyatt’s premise, and it is evident that the band is careful not to come across as promotional when communicating with fans. Photos of the road and posts that have nothing to do with music are a great example of this theory in practice. Although not discussed in any of the sources I found, initiating friendship through a personal page (as opposed to a group one) is a great way to make somebody feel close to the band.
Me- I noticed you guys put on free stuff from time to time. You participated in Free Week at The Parish. You had an free outdoor BBQ show in Houston. What does the band get from these events?
MH- They are gateways for making money. We plan ahead for these type of events. If we know we have a free show coming up next week we spend a lot of time thinking about merch. We make sure we have a new line of products available, so our biggest supporters will have something new to buy. The free events can be very useful if we prepare right. Our kick-off date for the last tour we went on was a free event. This seems counterintuitive since the event was in Austin and that is where we are from and have the biggest following, but we know we can make 500 or more in merch by doing that. Keeping our local fans happy will help us down the line. Playing a packed house show: we didn’t make any money, but it was still useful on a buzz level.
Planning ahead and understanding when to ask for things from fans is precisely the logic behind the 1,000 fans theory. Having a new line of products at free events so the biggest supporters have something new to buy is an example of a band nurturing their “True Fans”. The group understands the value in their core fan base, and by not charging anything for the opening date of the tour, fans will be motivated to help in the future. Conversely, Ghostland Observatory was heavily ridiculed by locals for up-charging their Austin shows. The strength of their local following allowed them to charge extra per ticket in Austin, but whatever gain they made in ticket sales was probably not worth the impact it had on their image.
Me- Is social networking a shared duty? How do you guys keep your brand consistent?
MH- I do all the tweeting. Zack does FB. Overall, I am responsible for the majority of the content on all the social networking sites. We rarely get into arguments about content we post. That’s part of our image. We don’t wear the same clothes. A lot of bands dress up. We just wear our normal clothes. We don’t have promo shots. We don’t have this rock and roll look. Since we don’t have that stuff we don’t have to keep a face.
Hyatt stresses the importance of consistency on the web. As with any brand, conflicting information or themes will confuse the audience. Matt is aware of the importance of keeping a consistent image whether he understands it or not. By not taking professional promo shots and letting members wear normal clothes on stage, The Eastern Sea is creating the “average person non-image” image. By actively ‘not keeping a face’, the group is solidifying their non-image, and this is what their fans have come to expect of them. If they suddenly decided to dress alike and become a choreographed band, the core group of fans would probably react negatively. Instead, the band tries to strike a chord with the average fan by posting about random interests including games and movies. In one recent FB post by Matt, he gives away his gamertag for XBOX and asks if anybody wants to play Call of Duty with him. Opening new channels of communication between fans based on non music related interests is important, and while The Eastern Sea may consider themselves non image conscious, they have successfully developed a strong anti-image that fans identify with.
Me- What changed that allowed you to become a showcasing artist this year at SXSW?
MH- Man, We have been upset for the last two years. We felt that we got snubbed by SXSW and with good reason. You know, SX is a business. They select the bands that they feel will get the most PR for the festival. The want headlines. They want buzz. They are looking for somebody who is releasing an album or who just got a killer review in Pitchfork. Our two Ep’s were not getting us in. This year, we have a full length to promote and I think that is why we were selected. We can use SXSW as a way to shop ourselves to larger entities. Now we need a way to distribute the album we recorded. Having a label helps. Our official showcase is just one of 15 shows we are doing this year. We are doing a promotion for SXSW where fans get a punch card, and if anybody can make it to all of our shows, and get a hole punched for each, they will get in to our shows free forever. You have to work hard during these events if you are a band. If you don’t go to SXSW or CMJ you seem lazy.
Matt identified that releasing a new LP helped them reach their goal of becoming a showcasing artist this year. The recording fees for the new album was financed by fans. Using Kickstarter, the band created a project with a goal of raising $4,000 to fund their album “Plague”. Donations ranged from $5 to $500 dollars with a variety of tiered incentives including free downloads, a mention in the liner notes, a handmade doodle from the band, and a private house show. Since the album could not have been recorded without fan donations, and the band would not have been accepted to SXSW without the new album, the core fans were directly responsible for The Eastern Sea making it into SXSW. Continual support from a small segment of fans is one model for staying afloat as a musician.
Technology Dictates Music Creativity
Yet, artists looking to appeal to a larger audience still have the opportunity to do so if they understand the mechanics of generating revenue in the modern music industry. In his book FutureHit.DNA, Jay Frank asserts that “nearly every technological breakthrough has led to new songwriting structures, new production techniques, and sometimes even new musical genres” (Frank, p.5). Accordingly, musicians looking to appeal to the masses should be aware of current songwriting structures and trends and record with them in mind. Technology has consistently dictated pop music according to Frank, and in the early days of radio, advertisements became a necessity that limited creative opportunities. The advertisers had specific broadcast placements, and coupled with the length of the 78 rpm record, songs had to be short to find airplay. Also, Djs in the pre sound mixer era relied on one turntable and bantered as they changed records which made it difficult to keep up energy levels. That, in turn, required artists to make records that played into this needed element. The “clarion call” was a popular technique during this time, which is defined a energetic opening to a song (e.g. “Rock Around the Clock”, “Hound Dog”, “Heartbreak Hotel”).
The format of the pop song was not truly challenged until the 60s, and this innovation was closely linked with advancements in technology (stereo, PA systems, FM radio, new vinyl, and studio equipment). Most associate the innovative music of the 60s with culture, and although “the drugs, the Vietnam War protests, and the large population of baby boomers are certainly sexier to talk about than new changes in electricity, wiring, and sound waves, all of that creativity would never have been heard the same way were it not for technology leading the way” (Frank, p.23).
Zero-Play & The Singles-Driven Market
Today, music listening habits have returned to what Frank refers to as the “zero play”. Vinyl and cassettes were imprecise and required guesswork to find the beginning of a song, so fans would inevitably hear portions of other tracks when skipping to find their favorites. This era of the “non-zero play” forced listeners to hear portions of other songs, and over time, this made listeners more inclined to become familiar with an entire album. On iPods, skipping is easy, and “the ease and access to diversity has subtly encouraged so much usage of a skip button that musicians need to create with that in mind. This necessitates a tight and engaging introduction” (Frank, p. 46). The CD allowed for track skipping, but with a limited number of songs per album, the listener could only skip a couple of times before stopping on a track. A 20gb mp3 player can hold roughly 5,000 songs, and particularly when used in the popular shuffle setting, this leads to increased usage of the skip button. This sort of listening behavior emphasizes singles, and artists looking to gain an edge in the “zero play” era should be primarily focused with marketing individual tracks.
Selling singles digitally is an economical way to distribute and profit from a sole hit. In the past, manufacturing costs made it difficult to make money from a single track, but digital distribution has reinvigorated the format. A hit song can bring in revenue in a variety of ways including ringtone sales and streaming royalties. Popularity on online and satellite radio services can easily result in dollars that contribute to a song’s overall financial success. Additionally, music videos are now generating income for many artists. Originally viewed as a marketing loss, music videos are now finding success online, where legitimate services pay royalties to labels. In total, a solid hit can bring in huge revenues, and the heavy promotion of singles is developing as an alternative approach to the album mold for many labels.
Releasing songs in bunches delays production cycles. Fans are forgetfull, and if an artist does not keep attention, a release will lose it relevancy. By recognizing the impact that technology has on listening habits, artists can craft strategies accordingly. Certain music becomes popular at certain periods not specifically because of how great the music is, but also because of various other sociological factors. “the sad truth is that musicians who are truly gifted are an extreme rarity. For most musicians who want to work and make it their profession, being anywhere below genius level requires some compromise” (Frank, p.228).
The near-constant sentiment that fans want to be treated fairly sounds from almost every division of the music business. Music fans are not suckers, and as soon as the public was given an opportunity to influence consumption, they began undermining the traditional structure. The distrust that has been steadily brewing in the hearts and minds of music fans (consumers and creators alike) over the years, is partially responsible for the extreme shift, but regardless of how things came to be, consumers have made it clear that they want more influence. Fans want to be involved in the process, and artists that neglect this change in thinking, will never maximize their potential. Eliminating middlemen, and therefore considerable transaction costs, is a step in the right direction, but simple direct-to-fan marketing is not what people want. It takes more finesse than that. If the artist is merely undertaking the role previously held by a marketing team that is almost worse, in fact, since the consumer will not separate the commercial intent of a message from the artists voice. Instead, an artist must find a way into the audience’s life. With so much content available people are not looking for musicians, and therefore, artists need to look for people. Who are the fans? Music purists hate the notion, but artists need to understand consumer behavior.
Particularly for unsigned artists, it is crucial to have a sense of the business side of the industry. Musicians must memorize a pitch and be able to describe his or her sound succinctly, which includes comparing oneself to other musicians. Also, unless the task can be outsourced, artists need to be able to construct a properly formatted newsletter, complete with a tactfully composed request for fans to give something. Most believe that the businessman and the artist are, with few exceptions, forever at odds. Unfortunately, the current structure does not allow an artist to willingly neglect the business world. Fans are customers, and to be successfully, an artist must sell to them.
With regard to commerce, many analysts point to the openness of the web as the great equalizer. The barrier to entry has been lowered, and the traditional gatekeepers have been displaced. Following this line of thinking one should be able to independently market a product and reach a wide audience. Accordingly, a bedroom musician should be able to complete each phase of the music marketing cycle. Dexter Bryant Jr. defines the phases as 1) distribution 2) awareness 3) discovery 4) credibility 5) engagement 6) sustained attention. Indeed, the independent musician has the unprecedented ability to distribute content for fans to discover and become aware of, but beyond step three, the artist will need help. Step four (credibility) requires a taste maker or mass influencer to co-sign a piece of content. The music industry definitely still has gatekeepers, they are just not the same people as before. The volume of blog posts an artist receives is directly correlated with an albums success, and is therefore a critical step in the development of an independent artist. A musician can do all of the other required techniques like releasing frequent songs, playing live shows, and making music videos, but without gaining the interest of a mass influencer, it will be hard to gain credibility. Without credibility an artist can never fully engage with an audience or sustain attention. However, if an artist can make this leap into the blogosphere and begin to gain traction online, listeners will begin to show support, regardless of the artists pedigree or track record. Dissenters are skeptical of the power of these online outlets, and Frank believes that blog advocates are “living in an idealized world, i.e. the new landscape will allow previously underground stars to become mainstream” (Frank, P. 9). Frank defines success in terms of Billboard hits, and while blogs may not consistently catapult unknown artists to the top of the charts, disregarding the power of blogs - and their ability to greatly influence an artists success - is an oversight. Plenty of professional musicians owe much of their success to blog coverage and online discovery, including the Grammy’s album of the year 2010 winner, Arcade Fire. Blogs are not only powerful, they are a necessary stepping stone for any indie artist, and two years after the fact, Frank would likely retract his statement that people who believe in the power of blogs “are living in an idealized world”.
Getting coverage on a blog is a separate issue, and many musicians are finding singles and Ep’s to be the best format for creating online buzz. With one successful song an artist can make it through the first five aforementioned phases of marketing. The model only falls short in terms of sustaining attention, but if an artist can repeat with a follow up single or Ep, an entire marketing campaign can be built for an artist that has never recorded a full album. Furthermore, this sort of continual releasing of material is the most effective strategy for building a buzz. The album format is outdated, and as the attention span of the average fan shortens as a result of digital downloads and iPod listening habits, artists must take note and keep the tracks coming. Musicians have a limited time to make an impression, so rather than overload a consumer with an entire album, it makes since for artists to entice the audience with a series of singles or Ep’s. In the age of immediacy, it does not make since for an artist to withhold recorded tracks until they can be formatted to fit in the album format. Purists may always value the album, but the majority of people are consuming in smaller doses, and the smart artist will respond by giving the consumer singles.
Also, people are not interested in purchasing music. Some analysts believe the model is still working itself out and suggest that people within the music business should “stop complaining that the consumers you want to sell music to don’t want to buy. A lot of them actually do want to buy, but only on their terms” (Bryant Jr., 2010). It is really more of an observation than a complaint. People are not buying albums and they do not intend to in the future. However, a single or an Ep can be offered at such a low rate consumers can rationalize the price tag. As mentioned earlier though, if a band can establish a core following and then sell to that base directly, the consumer will feel comfortable because the purchase is seen as a donation. But this sort of following can only be developed if an artist differentiates his or her content in some way. Musicians need to understand how people are consuming and then record based on the findings. But the song is only one facet of this differentiation. Perhaps equally important is the marketing of the song. Limited run promotional efforts, unique music videos, and other techniques can be used to separate a musician from others in the mind of the consumer. Artists are naturally creative, and if a greater portion of this energy is dedicated to marketing initiatives and connecting with fans, musicians will find a suitable income within the highly competitive digital music environment.