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The Future of Music (part 4 of 5)

5 Questions. 5 Voices. 5 Fresh Perspectives.

Welcome to part 4 of our 5 part conversation on the future of music. You can also check out the panel’s thoughts on the future of labels, the album, and distribution.

The Panel:

Phil Conner: President, Red Room Management. Red Room recently signed Kentucky-based rockers Nineball.

Mike Condo: Senior Sales manager of Gotee Records (Family Force 5, Ayeisha Woods, Relient K).

Josh Ballard: Vocalist/pianist for Until June.

Manchild: MC for the acclaimed underground hip-hop group Mars ILL.

Luke Bushias: guitarist for the Chicago-based band Made Avail, who currently have no record label affiliation.*

The Question: The days of pop radio and MTV “breaking a hit” are over. The internet has become the great equalizer…but it has also become the great confuser. In a market of mass fragmentation, how do artists find, connect with, and maintain a relationship with music fans?

Condo: This is where a label comes in and helps the artists. By sitting down with the artist and figuring out a clear plan of action, we can concentrate on targeted opportunities that give the best result. I would point to my previous answer, that again the artist is the driving force of the brand. There are so many ways to “find” fans, but the two best would still be touring and radio. Connecting and maintaining a relationship is the easy part because of all the different avenues that are now available. The hard part is getting someone interested enough to take the time to care about your music.

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Manchild: Advertising on high traffic sites is replacing advertising through traditional print media, and your street team is now your “geek team” so to speak. A band’s loyal fanbase getting out on message boards and forums and spreading the word about the music and the movement is the 2008 version of passing out flyers. There are ways to be available, and an artist needs tolet the fans see a real effort to connect with them as personally as possible.

Phil: I think it’s easier than ever because of the internet. Bands can stay in touch with their fans through myspace and facebook and are more equipped than ever to stay in touch on a grass roots level. I also believe that live show is huge. People still have no way to replace the live concert experience. For true fans of music, this is where it’s at. I recently signed a band from Kentucky called Nineball to a management deal. These guys play a ton of shows and their set is killer. They also know their fans personally and spend time with them at every show- and that is where the best connection is. I won’t pursue talks with a band if they don’t connect live and have the work ethic to make all the time and effort worth that it takes to break an artist worth it.

Josh: Websites such as myspace allow us to connect with fans directly, through posting blogs and responding to questions. Aside from that, music has to find its way to the listener and it’s up to them whether or not they grab a hold of what we’re trying to express. Artist still rely heavily on good ol’ fashion word of mouth.

Luke: Being honest and real is the best way to connect with your fans. The days of Super stardom are quickly coming to a close. There are very few to no “Bono’s” on the rise. The market is over-saturated, and the margin of mediocrity is far too high. Lifetime fans, music that means something to people, and artists that are in it for the long haul (not just a quick million) will have a long and successful career. Achievement cannot be measured in dollar signs or even Billboard charts, but in the impression your art has left on the listener. I think genuine artists will draw genuine fans that won’t stop loving your music just because the market changes.

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