Fair Pay for Every Play, Ep 10: Alexandre Perrin’s top tips for marketing for musicians

Video games, movies, and of course, music; Alexandre Perrin is a renowned fanatic and academic in many fields. For this episode of Utopia Music’s Fair Pay for Every Play, he joins host, Kristian Luoma, to discuss the advice and guidance that he provides to artists studying under his supervision at the prestigious Berkeley College of Music.

Alexandre joined the institution in 2013 having completed his PhD. Prior to that, he was a Management Consultant in Paris before becoming interested in the creative industries due to the new opportunities that it presents in the ever-changing industry.

“The good thing about the music industry is there is always a new trend. A couple of months ago, nobody was aware of NFTs and Blockchains a few years ago, crypto currency before that. I think the current trend is the live stream and in particular, I recommend artists to try Twitch where you can create community-based management of content, which has previously been complicated to do with platforms like Spotify and YouTube.”

To stay ahead of the curve, Alexandre recommends innovation, trial and error and surrounding yourself with people with the same excitement for trying new things. Doing so can be aided by readily available tools and data, as discussed in the podcast.

00:00: Introduction and welcome to the guest, Alexandre Perrin

01:30: How did Alexandre start their career in the music industry

02:47: The importance of studying music business

04:51: Discussion about how artists should be savvy, find a team, and create opportunities for themselves

10:00: Introducing the idea of a digital audit, and why musicians should perform one

12:58: Managing artist data

17:23: How Alexandre envisions the future of music and his recommendations for platforms

19:13: Concluding words

We’ve extracted the key notes below…

Market your music

Conservatoires teach people how to be great musicians, but not how to market themselves or their music, observes Alexandre as he stresses the importance of the latter.

“Understanding the business is critical. Talent is not enough today. Being a fantastic musician giving thousands of hours of practice on piano or guitar or saxophone or Ableton is not enough because the competition is very, very global. There is no barrier to entry. There are 60,000 songs a day uploaded on to Spotify. The supply of music is huge. As a musician you need to educate yourself on how to make this supply the best as a producer, and how to create a demand. This is where business and management and marketing comes in.”

He suggests the idea of performing a regular digital audit. This will help an artist to understand who is listening to their music and how. In doing so, an artist can create a journey for the listener and direct them to easily accessible assets such as social media and tour schedules.

“In practice, [performing a digital audit] means looking at your website, looking at how do you appear in a search on Google. For example, if I Google you, if I Google the name of your band, what do I see first? It would also be claiming your professional profile on YouTube, and adding a unified brand identity on all social media. It could also be adding a bio on Spotify and updating links, creating a newsletter and so on. A digital health check is key.”

Alexandre’s coined “digital health check” can provide a great return on investment of the time put in to carry it out. Not only do consumers have a more enhanced listening experience, where they can learn more about the artist and thus their art, but the artist can obtain important data about their audience. He suggests that artists spend time extracting data from social media analytics and streaming platforms to create a personalised, centralised dashboard to see a clear overview of performance.

Stay savvy for the best chance at success

Born and raised in France, Alexandre recalls how as a teen he taught himself English to be able to work internationally and as a result create the opportunities that he dreamt for himself. Whilst this put him outside of his comfort zone, it also opened new doors for his career.

Artists should adopt a similar attitude and grow an appetite of learning new things about the industry and utilising that knowledge by adapting their own strategy around it. The best way to do this is to first analyse their own strengths and weaknesses, then identify ways to work them to their advantage and then fill in any gaps. This could involve creating prototypes, collaborating with others or researching.

“[In order to succeed…] Read, read and read articles. Listen to podcasts. Join professional associations. Talk to your peers; people that experience the same type of challenges as you are. I think not being isolated is the number one attitude to have in being a professional musician. Educating yourself is key, the industry is moving so fast so you need to keep up with the changes.”

Alexandre references Musicbrainz as “The Wikipedia of Music”. The free to use website shows an artist how they appear across the internet and it can be used to ensure that your metadata is up to date and is representing the most up to date and accurate information about your work. An artist should not cast aside any administrative tasks, but instead should regularly update and maintain their platforms and marketing approach based on what they learn along the way.

Find your team

As Alexandre stresses, isolating themself is the worst decision that an artist could make.

“The music industry is an industry based on connections, network and social as well as the appraisal. I’m not only talking about having a great social media platform, but I’m also talking about the whole network; that is what is key.”

In order to grow as an artist, and in the business, a strong team is invaluable. An artist should accept advice, help and the opinions of others as constructively as possible. Part of this is recognising their own personal connection to your art and entrusting somebody who is not as emotionally invested to assist with business choices. They should also try to return this favour to a fellow artist. Building a network is key and artists should rely on one another to remain savvy and imaginative.

“Artists should focus clearly on the vision they have for their artistic endeavor. But they have to consider that their creation and their creativity are also commerce. Art is commerce, but commerce is also enough and they have to learn this kind of thing by having a manager or having a team around them.”

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