Today's rapidly changing, increasingly complex business demands that marketing and promotion specialists assimilate and adapt on the fly in order to most effectively serve their artist clients. We asked six individuals who face this reality 24/7 how they respond to the challenge.

What are the biggest challenges facing you as a marketing executive in the modern music business with both new and developing artists and established artists?


Every week albums are released. Every week artists perform on the same television shows, they do the same radio interviews and they are featured on the same digital platforms promoting their music. The constant challenge for us, on behalf of the artist and their music, is to differentiate their product from everything else in the marketplace. How can we create a compelling story above and beyond the topic of the new music that all of our media partners can utilize? How can we leverage the themes of the music and the story behind the making of the album to magnify the message the artist wants the project to lead with? How can we use that to compel as many people as possible to engage with this release? Those are all questions that must be vetted on the front-end of an album launch. It is something my team and I place a lot of emphasis on, and I would argue that, in an age when critical mass is more and more difficult to reach, it is essential to establish.


The biggest challenge marketing and promotion people have is understanding streaming music. Spotify, Pandora and now Apple Music are an interesting hybrid of sales, radio and research. When you master these ecosystems, the enormous potential of streaming becomes clear. This is also creating real research and stories that can be taken to terrestrial outlets and make an act even bigger. By synthesizing these elements into a cohesive message, DigMark has been breaking records and generating real revenue for artists big and small.


The first and biggest challenge is understanding where to allocate shrinking budgets (noting that digital budgets have always been small). The amount of content expected to be created across multiple platforms in multiple formats is stifling. With platforms and providers constantly looking for additional exclusives or requesting diversity in posts, you can rarely make a dent without making a hefty resource commitment in shooting, editing, coding and publishing. Knowing that 90% of that content won’t be directly monetized (by the owner) makes it a very difficult pitch when chances are that money was being “taken away” from another line item to begin with.

HOMESTEAD / Red Light Mgmt

There used to be three ways to mar- ket: radio, videos and tours. Now, there are hundreds—if not thousands—of ways to connect with your audience. While this has opened new avenues to market your music, it also issues the challenge of defining and maintaining a relevant brand across all of those platforms. If your brand message is undefined or contradictory, it loses all of its power, and you get lost in the sea of artists/releases that are taking up valuable space on radio, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube. You must have a clear voice to be heard.


I think most marketers would agree that it’s still primarily finding that special mix for how you are able to cut through the noise to reach and impact fans that have (or will have) a genuine affinity for your artist—no matter what the level. The number one reason fans don’t engage with an artist’s new music is still because they say they don’t know about it, or don’t know who a new artist is. The good news is, today there are so many options of how to get fan visibility via marketing stunts, strategic sponsor alignments, technology relationships, radio, TV appearances, etc. The possibilities are limited only by a marketer’s budget and creativity. The bad news is, it just makes finding the appropriate and meaningful alignments for your marketing plan that much harder. We have much more data these days to give us insight into the demographics of people who might want to experience an artist’s music and where they are engaging, but it’s also about experimenting to grow and broaden the audience for an artist each time we have new music to put out. That starts with the artists themselves being savvy marketers and their teams proactively collecting fan-base data so that they can engage with fans directly via email, websites, and socials.

We are heavily reliant on technology platforms to get our music to our consumers. Meaning there are more gatekeepers than ever with more power than ever to dictate how and who may get to experience or discover an artist’s music. Getting meaningful data about who is actually consuming your music and how they’re doing it, or even getting a response about working with a new artist from platform gatekeepers can still be very hard in some cases. The things that really matter with these companies become your relationships as a marketer, artist and/or label; your artist’s willingness to participate to benefit potential partners; and the differentiating element you can creatively bring to the table to ensure your artist’s music can be heard and featured. Nowadays, it’s not just being an expert at social-media marketing, effective playlisting and positioning for streaming platforms, or getting your product featured on music download sites, you also need to be well-versed on best practices for all possible platforms that have viable audiences that you can leverage to gain visibility for your artist’s music.

At Country radio, artists face the same challenges that exist at other formats, what are the best lanes to stand apart from the other artists in the touring, radio, social and digital space and how do you connect to your consumer?


One advantage that country artists have is Country radio. Country programmers are always looking to embrace what’s new, what’s next. It feels like a partnership, with radio helping new artists engage and expose emerging talent to their listeners. Our artists actively engage a station’s listeners in market, both physically and socially, to make a connection. The great thing is that the listeners depend on their radio station to turn them on to the next big things. The artists at Country never take their partners at radio for granted and that is how careers that last decades at the format exist. It’s a community and family atmosphere in all aspects here in Nashville.•