3 Essential Elements of Music Marketability

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March 30, 2011 by DJ Elroy


While artists may wish the capital M in this industry belonged to music, the truth is there is many other elements which have to be in place to successfully launch and nurture a career.

The record execs and publicists would have you believe that the M stands for marketing. They love to take credit for how they masterminded the strategy that broke the band.

In reality when it comes to successful acts, the dominating M is not music, or marketing, but marketability, and that ultimately lies in the hands of the artist themselves. The most successful acts in both the mainstream and the more niche genres, understand this as the key to growth and sustainability.

So many artists fall down because they put too many eggs in one basket. They woefully neglect other key ingredients, which, unless firmly in place, will lead to missed opportunities and ultimately, failed careers.

The arena in which to market your music is more widespread than ever before. It can range from securing a magazine cover, to engaging a fan to share your latest video. A magazine can reach thousands of people, but get 1000 people to post your video on their profile, and the potential spread of that could well out grow the scope of a print publication.

The strategies are even more open too. Being the world’s most unmarketable band could strangely be a good marketing tool, if used in the right way. However, it is the artists who have to be savvy with what they are doing, and how they present themselves. Nothing halts the flow of a marketing campaign more than an artist feeling uncomfortable and resentful with how they are being portrayed.

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Not too much different from the underground club circuit, is it?

Music Ability, Songwriting, Image. It’s all there.

Ability. Technical skills. Have you mastered your gear? CD Decks, mixers, laptops, or other hardware/software are all tools in the modern DJ’s arsenal. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, we’ll know that you don’t know. Have you ever gone to the club early and had to listen to the opening act stumble through a set?

Songwriting. Yes, DJs do it too. Most pro jocks today are also producers. In fact, to get anywhere as a DJ you need to be a producer. And the bigger your song, the more you can ride it’s wave to gigs. Mixing skills take a backseat to name recognition. Set programming and reading the dancefloor also fall into this category. Both of these take experience in the booth. Pay your dues, bitches.

Image. Immediately Lady GaGa comes to mind. She defines image. The music is secondary. But I’ve seen her without costumes, without makeup, playing piano at some acoustic performances. She’s got some skills. But her image sets her apart.

Image isn’t always about costumes. Sure, it works for the Bloody Beatroots. It can be about your ability. Think James Zabiela. His technical wizard image helped shoot him to the top of the game. And remember when Bad Boy Bill was coming up? His hip-hop style slam mixes and turntable tricks set him apart. How about Girl Talk? His shows are like house parties. Everyone wants to be there!

The pop vs underground game is the same. The playing field may look different, but are the rules? Not really.

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