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Today’s audience clearly wants to reach out and touch their favorites both live and online, and to share the information with their friends. They also like to hear songs in their favorite TV shows, listen to them on commercials and search them out on the Internet.

ON RECORDS: HOW TO BREAK ARTISTS IN TODAY'S MARKETPLACE

Yahoo's Frank, AOL Music's Isquith, Rebel Waltz's Guerinot, MTV's Baron and VH1's Krim Hold Forth
by Lenny Beer

What does it really take to build artists and break records in today’s fast-changing, high-speed world? Radio, both terrestrial and satellite? Television appearances, commercials, placements on favorite shows? Internet on many varied sites? Video at big outlets and online? Touring, touring, touring? Peer-to-peer exchanges of songs and pictures?

To deal with this question—and to give some ink and visibility to some gunslingers—we posed this question to five of today’s big players, telling them their responses were going to appear in next week’s Billboard: Our guest panelists are Yahoo!’s new dad Jay Frank, AOL’s music genius Jack Isquith, Laguna Beach-based manager extraordinaire Jim Guerinot, MTV’s West Coast macher Peter Baron and VH1-derful Rick Krim.

As you’ll notice, each of our experts throws another log on the fire of diversity. Their answers confirm that there is no longer one element dominating in the way that terrestrial radio did in the past. They agree that radio is still a major factor, but that much work has to be done before and around the impact of airplay. Today’s audience clearly wants to reach out and touch their favorites both live and online, and to share the information with their friends. They also like to hear songs in their favorite TV shows, listen to them on commercials and search them out on the Internet. It appears that everything goes and nothing can be hidden.

FRANK: “Even though more music is accessible than ever before, visuals—and not just the music video—have become more, not less important, in breaking records. There’s the website (which has in most respects replaced the album cover), shared photos, bootleg videos, and how these and other factors compete in music for mindshare. If a fan can’t seamlessly integrate that artist’s music into their lives, the chance they will embrace the artist enough to break them shrinks to nearly zero. Now, excuse me while I change these poopie diapers.” [Ed. note: Ewwww!]

ISQUITH: “We are seeing changes every day in how music is breaking. And while the ultimate support comes when people actually pay, more activity than ever is happening before money changes hands. These movements can be traced with our own internal research as we see the results of peer-to-peer movement, music blogs, message boards on places like MySpace, etc. We are tracking merchandise sales, touring and everything that eventually leads to success at terrestrial radio. Now, how do I find an IT guy to help me to get my email?”

GUERINOT: “Be right there after I hit this wedge shot… OK, building artists is obviously done through smart touring, press and all facets of the Internet… FORE! Oh shit, I just beaned a soccer mom... But I digress. The way to break artists and songs is on radio and television… Hey, does anyone know where I can buy Gwen a baby gift? Wonder if the pro can help. He sure hasn’t been much help with my swing.”

BARON: “Seriously, I’d rephrase the question with what builds artists and records. That would be touring, Internet, video/radio airplay, in-store merchandising, file-trading and, more than ever, word of mouth. There are no shortcuts. When we are evaluating our music choices, we consider many factors. Now please hold, I have to tell Al Gore the inconvenient truth that he will not be hosting the VMAs this year.”

KRIM: “The answer is obvious not just radio! Is it becoming rarer than ever that a radio only hit will deliver the necessary sales and star-making power. And on-demand video is helpful after an artist/song has gotten into the public’s conscious mind. Obviously, video is helpful in taking an artist over the top, but we are seeing more and more reaction to “placements”—licensing on big shows like Grey’s Anatomy or songs bursting out of repetitive play on major commercials. We are also seeing a buzz from the press on artists like Corinne Bailey Rae. Then that buzz has to be broadened by seeing an act on TV... Oh, by the way, Lenny, Lyor was wondering if you’ll be coming to the Pinehurst golf tourney this year.”

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