By Martin Frascogna
Expanding a musical career into international markets is a mandatory element in today’s ever evolving music industry. In its basic form, there are three layers in accomplishing this.
One- bands need to expand their fan base and in order to do so they need to Organize an International Tour. Secondly- musicians need to successfully Promote a Concert Overseas. The third and final step involves efficiently marketing your music in an international region in order to benefit from touring.
Steps 1 and 2 can often times be so draining that groups glaze over the importance of successful marketing. Rightfully so, marketing is a difficult element and should be left up to a marketing expert, especially one that specializes in international marketing. If you represent the 99% of the bands that don’t have international marketing experts on your payroll, here are 5 Tips to Successfully Market Music Overseas.
§1- News Updates
§2- Staying Connected
§3- 5 Tips to Successfully Market Music Overseas
§4- Upcoming Blogs
§(1) – NEWS UPDATES
Several new and creative things have been brewing on my end. First off, I just returned from a long trip to Sweden (never long enough). It always amazes me how musically talented the entire country is. I could be contribute to be lucky enough to hang around with the who’s who players on the Swedish music scene, such as: Carola (best selling artist in Swedish history), classical diva Hannah Holgersson, cross over country musician Beatrice, rockstar Anorah, singer/songwriter and top notch producer Samuel Engh, the former drummer for ABBA, and MD Sebastian Robertsson.
I’m aware being around such talent can taint my view of reality, but it truly appears everyone in Sweden is indeed a “hidden talent.” The experience jolted expansion possibilities into several already existing projects. Updates to come.
Secondly, I’m on writing overload. It has been overwhelming with the number of e-mails and article feedback I’ve received from posts, so clearly there is a demand for more information. I’ll do my best to feed this hunger with more informative posts.
Thirdly, frequent readers are clearly aware of the upcoming book project How to Market and Promote Your Band in (___). The books will serve as a guidance tool for indie level bands on how to market/promote their band in a target country. The books will also highlight step by step instructions on setting up international tours in a specific country.
The first three releases are specific to SWEDEN, ITALY, and CANADA. Each project consists of contributing authors, and the ITALY book promises illustrious input.
European tour and event coordinator, Lotta Waern, will contribute her unmatched yearning in tour organization; and convey these views in such a simplistic way you won’t even know you’ve been injected with high level touring techniques. Other contributors include Thomas Carlsson, who brings label knowledge from the U.S. and Europe along with production views that are second to non. Xavier Frascogna, author of Billboard Books bestseller This Business of Artists Management, also weighs in with industry input. Look for them this fall, read, enjoy, and then expand your career into international markets.
§(2)- STAYING CONNECTED
As www.musicglobalization.com voices industry tips on the 15th and 30th each month, there are several other channels that will keep you clued-up with tips on a daily basis. Try them out:
TWITTER à reveals important industry news stories almost hourly
FACEBOOK à Frascogna Music on Facebook is an easy way to remain connected with newly updated post, industry stories, and personal music related events.
LINKEDINà If you need more information regarding industry jobs, news stories, or my industry profile.
FRASCOGNA MUSIC à this is the most complete list of credentials, specialties, and personal projects
§(3)- 5 TIPS TO SUCCESSFULLY MARKET MUSIC OVERSEAS
Releasing music or product in an international market requires planning. Simply releasing a CD doesn’t ensure economic benefit nor does it promise a beneficial and sustainable career in country X. If the object is to simply release music in a foreign market, this article will not help you. If the goal is to strategically boost a career plan and to sell albums over a long period of time, you’re in the right place. This isn’t the magic bullet of international expansion, but here are 5 tips that will put you light years ahead of other groups attempting to do the same thing.
1. Understand the Design Differences
Just as the methods used to promote shows aren’t universal in strategy, nor are the elements of album design. The common trap is to release an album design that reflex the bands artistic impression. This is fine, as a majority of bands take this approach. However, the more strategic approach is to generate an album design which appeals to a bands particular market. Say Band X from Tampa Florida wants to release an album in Italy. Without understanding the Italian trend, Band X designs an album using cool imagery, artistic fonts, and bright colors. Without knowing, Band X has just cut their throat in the Italian marketplace.
A 2006 study, which analyzed the Italian Billboard charts over a 12 week period, revealed the Italian musical trend was greatly different then domestic releases in the U.S. Statistics reveals 90% of the albums used photography of the group/band/musician, the three most commonly used colors: black, blue, white, and only 10% used artistic graphics. So much time has gone into creating a project and printing an album, so don’t waste it. Study the album trends in a specific region of release before blindly putting out a product. See chart statistic below for commonly used colors on the Italian market:
2. Understand the Packaging Trend
Just as your CD releases should strategically implement creative design, it should also have a strategic plan behind packaging. Many countries focus on digital releases, other still focus on singles, plastic jewel casing may be trumped by paper folds, and so on…. The key is to understand the trend.
Use the example of Band X again. The band really focuses on an album design, following the tendencies set by Italian musicians. They decide to print singles in order to sell for a low price at their Italian concert, and if the band receives a good response, they will sell their full length albums the following year. Guess what? Band X is going to bleed to death! What? Why? In Italy, when you release singles they must be in a digital format. Seriously. It is imperative to understand these trends going in so don’t waste effort and money.
3. Use Local Musicians or Popular Songs For a Quick Boost
If a band has one specific country in mind where they intend to expand, it may prove best to sprinkle some local elements onto the album. Many groups think this takes away from their artistic freedom and the integrity of the album – simply not true.
Italian singer Andre Bocelli is genius in using this strategy. When Bocelli releases albums in an attempt to cross over markets, he will designate one particular track to be manipulated in order to add local appeal. For example, an album being released in the U.S. may use a popular recording artist on that particular track. That same track/album being released in Sweden would use a Swedish artist, Spanish artist in Spain, Canadian in Canada and so on. With the overwhelming amount of indie level bands craving cross over and international exposure, partnering with other musicians should prove easy. If using unknown musicians makes you uncomfortable, select a song that may prove popular in the region and add it as a special cut to the album. I suggest researching tracks in PD so you don’t get caught in publishing and licensing red-tape.
4. Know the Distribution Outlets
Just because the big box stores control the market in America doesn’t mean indie stores don’t rein king Spain. Pay attention to the popular distribution outlets, whether it be large music stores, digital sales, or mom & pop stores. Another sensible approach is to set up non-traditional retailer relationships. Immigrant groups have a certain level of sex appeal, mysteriousness, and draw where non-traditional retail stores may be interested in a partnership. Locate stores that may compliment your style of music and then establish contact.
5. Couple Merchandise to the Market
An important component to selling music is by having appealing merchandise. Merchandise acts as a forever billboard that promotes even when the fans aren’t listening to your music. The key to benefiting from a successful merchandising component is to match the product to the fan. A bands pricing should change depending on urban regions or rural regions, middleclass fans or college goers, even female and male. It is also important to design the product around the fan. For example, messenger bags with a band logo may be cheesy for fans in Michigan but could sell like hotcakes in a European college town.
§(4) – UPCOMING POST
Clearly there has been a lot of discussion about promoting and marketing overseas but the obvious question is “why?” It is really that important to focus on expansion when domestic markets are cut throat as is? “Yes” it is essential and we’ll discuss why in the next post.