The Art of Self Promotion

Drew Schwendiman, Student Journalist

GRAMMY Campers were very lucky to learn about self-promotion from three professionals in the music industry Wednesday night.  Jason Feinberg, Vice-President of Digital Strategy at Epitaph Records, and Brooke Michael, Head of Digital Marketing at Interscope Records, were asked questions relating to their careers in digital marketing by Anthony Valadez, a DJ at KCRW.

One main point from the panel was how the internet has changed the music industry.  Now, it's much easier to break out as an artist because of social media. Feinberg pointed out that it still isn't easy to make a lot of money as an artist but that it is easier to build a community. Michael agreed and added that tracking has changed the market.  With tracking, she can pinpoint people to their locations and know everything from their friends, who they follow on Twitter, and the music they listen to. The amount of social networking applications out there is incredible. Socialcam, Viddy, and Voxer are such apps that make it easier for artists to share content with their fans. However, both Feinberg and Michael agreed that for now people need to master the products that are out there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, and even email are easy and popular platforms that make it easy to connect with huge masses of fans. Odd Future is, as Michael said, a “Prime example" of a group that can break out on its own without and get noticed because of social networking. The group managed to get their music out there without the help of a record label. 

Unfortunately, some changes in the music industry have made it harder for marketers like Feinberg and Michael. Feinberg said supply for music has exploded, but there is not enough demand. Anyone can buy tools to make and market music. This is good, because unheard art can be released, but for many people in the music business, it's tough. Last year, 120,000 records were released but the demand doesn't meet this supply. Michael added that people are paying cents instead of dollars for the music. Budgets are too big to support the artists and in some ways the record label acts as a bank. At the same time, the "star-making model" of the past is broken. Twenty years ago, Feinberg said, if an artist was on the cover of Rolling Stone and was featured on MTV, he/she was officially a big deal. Now, these "channels" have lost their value because other sources offer information and entertainment. Clearly, the internet has its ups and downs, but the bottom line is, it's now easier than ever for artists to get noticed.

Now the question is, how can a high schooler, or anyone in general, start a career as an artist and start building a fan base? Feinberg offered a few tips. He recommended that artists start a Twitter page and have friends retweet their tweets. In the beginning, it's all about making buddies, or as the author Seth Godin said, "tribes." Feinberg shared Godin's view of "tribes" made up of people who share the same interests. Finding the right tribe can determine where someone finds employment. Internships are also important. Michael said she wouldn't hire anyone would didn't intern for her. She, herself, interned every summer in high school and every year in college for eight total internships by the time she graduated. Her interns need to be able to "fire on all cylinders all day long." As an intern, Feinberg said it's the time to make mistakes. It's the time to learn and realize if the music business is the right place to be. The four things anyone in the music business needs, he adds, are relationships, passion, common sense, and hustle. There are plenty of people applying for the same job but those who hustle and take initiative and do what they're told before asked get ahead. 

The three panelists were, as some campers said, the "best panelists" of the week. No one can argue they offered great advice. The music industry is all about relationships.  Everyone works together- journalists, marketers, artists, technicians, producers, etc.  Now, it is easier than ever to find fans. With a little hustle and a little brains, anyone can get involved in the music industry, but those who self-promote are the ones who find themselves in the fast lane.

In the Spotlight

Kevin Burke

Attended GRAMMY Camp New York 2011, 2012; GRAMMY In The Schools Media Team 2012


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