After David Byrne and Brian Eno self-released their album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today last August, they generated profits equivalent to a label advance. How? Software marketing, of course.
We’ve all seen a definite push towards the marriage of technology and music in marketing: Artists sign exclusively with major brands to help market their brand, or a tech marketer uses top hit in its advertising (e.g. "Around the Bend" by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour in last fall’s Apple commercial). Now software and technology companies such as Topspin Media and echo music strive to market their artists' fan base and business.
Topspin Media, which commercially released its program last week in conjunction with SXSW, has developed software and services that enable artists to build their business and brand, manage their catalog, and directly market to their fans using a variety of techniques. Customizable software includes embeddable widgets on the artists’ homepage, so fans can then take the widgets and redistribute them on their own web pages. This transforms fans into marketers, and results show more than 50% of artist emails get opened and an average purchase of $22.
Everything That Happens is a good example: Byrne and Eno offered free song downloads before the album release in exchange for e-mail addresses. Then when Byrne and Eno promoted the new album, they sent out email blasts to their fans about tour dates and their limited-edition 180-gram vinyl record release. They also released a streaming version of the album eight weeks before it was available for retail, along with packaged deals.
The software is currently in invite-only mode, but Topspin has 40 clients using it, including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire, and Metric. Ian Rogers, Topspin CEO, expects to grow that customer base to a few hundred artists by the end of the year.
Topspin Media announced last week that it will be partnering with Berklee College of Music, offering classes starting next fall to teach artists, labels, and managers how to use the Topspin platform to market music and develop a fan base. Peter Gotcher, co-founder and chairman of Topspin Media back in 1995 said that he "aspires to nothing less than freeing musicians from the tyranny of record-label companies." He might finally get his wish.