Muzit, Music & The Power of Authenticity
By Niko Bolas
Twenty, ten, or even five years ago — if you wanted to properly record, distribute, and market your album, you needed a record company. Labels helped get your music played, discovered, and placed in digital and physical distribution.
Today, recording, distributing, and marketing your work is pretty accessible and approachable for those willing to take matters into their own hands. Third party distributors make distributing your work straightforward, and professional home recording is more possible than ever. Marketing your work is also much easier through internet platforms and social media.
Not only have these methods transformed the inner-workings of the recording process, new methods of promoting and creating music have also changed the “personality” of the industry. The industry of old relied on radio, corporate, and label sponsorships to promote works. Today, technology, music, and promotion are widely accessible, and there is a DIY approach. And this approach – and success with it – requires authenticity. Good music, easy to get, and enjoy.
While it’s great to manage your music and work with a business mindset, it’s also imperative that as an artist you develop a sincere relationship with fans. If fans feel a genuine connection, they’re more likely to engage, share works, purchase music, merch, and show tickets. Having a social media feed is not enough, you have to turn that into engagement.
Acts such as meet and greets, live streams, newsletters and simple but genuine fan interaction on social media can take an artist a long way. This isn’t just good social media practice. Quality fan engagement, over multiple channels is critical for establishing yourself as an indie and DIY artists. Once you’ve “made it” mainstream, good quality relationships with your fans (and by extension the press) helps established artists stay on top and soar even higher.
Sure, a major label might get you in front of more people and help you communicate with your fans via press announcements — but they’re also going to take a large cut of your profits. On the flipside, artists that go DIY might get in front of less people, but they have the opportunity made deeper connections and keep more revenue. By using tools such as social media and today’s digital P2P landscape, connecting with die-hard fans, locally and around the world, provides channels of communication and revenue found only in this new millennium.
Connecting with fans on social media is pretty straightforward. But how many artists have thousands of Facebook fans, but only a few hundred on their newsletter list? This is because there’s a difference between fans and super fans. Fans listen to you on Spotify and like your Facebook page. Super fans, do that, plus join your fan club, buy concert t-shirts and download and upload your entire discography on P2P torrent platforms. They love you, and want to share that love with the rest of the world in hopes that others will love you, too. They are your army of peer to peer promoters.
In addition, your super fans are so on top of what you’re up to, that they feel compelled to have your latest track, days before you release it to the world. Superfans are no longer content just waiting for music via radio or streaming. They are not doing it to steal your thunder, instead they’re helping you create even more buzz.
Authenticity means engaging equally with your Facebook fans, and fan club, as well as the people who download your work for free on the P2P networks. It’s not just good practice, it’s good business.
A recent report from Music Watch indicated 57 million fans are still finding artists through unlicensed sources such as file sharing P2P networks. While the major labels have declared these torrenters as “pirates,” in reality, they are simply music fans using their preferred means of music discovery and helping you gain traction in the market.
Today, artists have a new way to connect with super fans who are active on P2P. The Muzit TRACE platform works with copyright owners to trace fans who are sharing and downloading their work and allows them to communicate directly with them via emails and other methods. At last count, the Muzit TRACE platform had tracked over 300 million distinct IP addresses around the world and nearly 150,000 torrents.
Unlike the negative lawsuits and threatening campaigns that the RIAA or other companies send to downloaders, Muzit helps any artist, DIY or signed, send fans specific marketing messages that are friendly, inclusive and positive. These messages could be a simple attempt to get the fan to subscribe a mailing list to something more intricate, such as offering them presale tickets in the region where they live, exclusive merchandise or autographed memorabilia offers. Artist estates can also choose to utilize Muzit and send emails to fans, holding contests for keepsakes, or asking for donations to support their artist’s charity.
Whatever the route or marketing method the artist chooses, the result and tone is always the same –positive and authentic. We connect artists with fans, in a way that’s personal and sincere.
An artist should never sue their fans (and even if they do, judgement rewards from torrenting fans often goes to labels and legal teams). So, why not embrace the fact that fans are torrenting your work — and treat them as what they are: super volunteer promoters?
Today, the labels are not the only connection to fans — instead, with the advent of digital tools, there’s numerous ways to connect with your fans in a genuine and authentic way. All one need do is put a little thought into the messages they want to share with their fans, and leverage new technology tools to make the outreach more direct and sincere.
Record Producer and Entrepreneur
Niko Bolas is a legendary music producer and engineer, Internet device creator, VR pioneer. Neil Young to Demi Lovato, Pixar to Electronic Arts. Founder and CEO iM Networks. Patent on using music to drive virtual reality. Technical advisor on the Microsoft Surface project.