Taylor Swift and Other Top Artists Stand United Against DMCA & YouTube

taylor swift 2In the past couple of months things have been getting more heated as a coalition of over 180 top musicians have aligned to complain about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The 1998 law governs the way big internet companies can use material uploaded by their users. As technology has progressed over the past two decades, the artists’ stance is that their royalties have been diminishing relative to the many new devices and services that have sprung up in that timeframe. And in tandem as they’re making their voices heard about concerns suggesting that the DMCA is broken in today’s terms, they’re taking aim squarely at YouTube as a primary example of how this structure no longer works for artists (if it ever did). (more…)

Close Encounters with Prince

princeWe lost a unique legend and pioneer last month in Prince’s passing. The man was multi-dimensional, and though he was revered as an artist by many, he was so much more — and I think the other facets of who he was and his contributions will be revealed as time goes on. I was fortunate to have interacted with Prince on several occasions during the past couple of decades, and I’ve been reflecting on those experiences over the past few days. I never really shared much ’til now about these interactions because he was fiercely private, and I respected and honored his desire for that. (more…)

The Quiet Passing of a Giant

The music industry has experienced whBeatles_and_George_Martin_in_studio_1966at seems like an unprecedented string of losses since the year began. Add to that list, a legend in Sir George Martin who passed a few days ago at the age of 90, and was considered by many to be “The Fifth Beatle”. Sir George was perhaps among the most talented record producers, music arrangers, and A&R men of all time. He was a true master at his craft — he pioneered all mann
er of unique things artists could do in the studio — and truly co-created with the artists he worked with to amazing results.Unusual things like running the tape backwards to create new sounds as in “Tomorrow Never Knows” or adding in unique instrumentation like strings over “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yesterday” or weaving a mellotron into “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”. And as gifted as he was and a master at his art, equally important is how well-loved and respected he was by all who had the chance to meet and work with him. I’ve never heard a bad word said about George by anyone throughout his career which is telling; quite the contrary. (more…)

Zeeshan Zaidi, Ticketmaster

Zeeshan Zaidi, Ticketmaster

Zeeshan Zaidi is the General Manager of Artist Services at Ticketmaster, a division of Live Nation Entertainment, where he works with artists, managers, agents, promoters and labels to help make tours more successful through leveraging Ticketmaster’s marketing reach, data insights, and commerce opportunities. He’s also the lead vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, and founder of alternative rock band The Commuters. (more…)

Gail Zappa: Tireless Champion, Wonderful Friend

Pascal-Le-Segretain-630x420Gail Zappa recently passed away from cancer. Gail was a unique person, perfectly suited for her role as advocate and champion. She just didn’t hold back. She did not censor herself and went for everything she did with gusto. It’s a huge loss for her family and friends.

Gail, the wife of musician Frank Zappa, was a role model and a tireless champion on behalf of her husband and children for many years and has been a protector of Frank’s estate. She was compassionate, extremely smart and creative advocate and champion, and over time, she became an outspoken advocate for artists to retain their rights and their masters.

(more…)

Spotify Could Go Away Overnight And No One Would Care

1Although Spotify was able to get its foot in the door early, the presence of companies like Apple Music, Amazon Prime, and others means that the historically un-profitable streaming service either needs to find away to differentiate itself from the competition or risk crashing and burning.

 

Op Ed by Kelli Richards

Before Apple Music was ever announced, it had already sparked controversy. Word on the street was that Apple wasn’t just trying to create a killer product — it was going for Spotify’s jugular.

Reports spread quickly of Apple working hard behind the scenes to convince record industry executives to kill the freemium model upon which Spotify has essentially built its audience.

(more…)

Streaming and Beyond: Apple Will Lead the Way to the Next Music Experience

If you wanted to listen to a certain song just 30 years ago, you had two options: You could buy the physical album, or you could spend an afternoon waiting for the song to come on the radio so you could record it on a cassette tape in your boom box.

Now, almost any song is just a click away. First, there were on-demand services such as Napster, then came the iPod and other portable MP3 players. Today, millions of people sign up for streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, and Google Play Music for a nearly unlimited supply of music.

Listeners now control the entire experience. We can listen to our favorite artists or songs at any time and on any device. Streaming has even made the listening experience social. Services such as Spotify are integrated with Facebook, allowing listeners to see what their friends are listening to in real time, making it easy to discover new music.

But what’s next for the listening experience? For now, streaming music services are going strong, but the future of music — streaming and beyond — will likely be heavily influenced by the company that has already remade the music industry: Apple.

Apple’s New Streaming Service Will Start With a Lead

During my 10-plus years leading music and entertainment initiatives at Apple, I helped set the company on a course to become an innovator in the way artists create, market, and distribute music. Back then, the effort revolved around the Macintosh and Pro Tools, leading into the digital revolution. Then, Apple created the iPod and iTunes to move the music industry beyond the analog era, and the rest is (well-documented) history.

Apple has retained its focus on music to this day, so it’s no surprise that it will continue to play a key role in determining the future of the listening experience. Its latest effort began last year when the company bought Beats Electronics and Beats Music for $3 billion. At the time, I predicted the acquisition might be the company’s smartest move yet, and if recent reports can be trusted, it appears this will prove correct.

The first fruits of the Apple-Beats collaboration are likely to arrive this year, according to 9to5Mac, which reported in February that Apple was working on a new paid streaming music service based on Beats’ technologies and music content integrated into the iTunes service.

The service reportedly will cost $7.99 per month — which is $2 cheaper than rivals such as Spotify and Google Play Music — and will be integrated into iTunes and the default Music app on iOS.

The lower price tag is a clear advantage, but beyond that, the service would launch with a huge potential customer base. By integrating the new service into iOS, iTunes, and Apple TV, Apple will reach all of its hundreds of millions of customers in addition to existing subscribers to the Beats Music streaming service.

Apple is also reportedly revamping the Beats Music Android application, so it, too, will attract customers who use the mobile operating system with the largest global market share.

Combine Apple’s price advantage, its marketing prowess, and its unsurpassed market penetration with its history as a music innovator, and you have a solid foundation for streaming success.

Music Innovation Won’t Stop at Streaming

Although Apple is set to launch a streaming service that could quickly become an industry leader, the company isn’t content to stop there. Apple knows that customers crave a unique experience that combines the best of streaming and physical CDs, and it’s working on a product to meet that demand.

Apple and U2 have been collaborating on a secret interactive digital music experience— something so unique and engaging that it could tempt music fans into buying whole albums again. According to Bono, this new audiovisual format can’t be pirated and will bring back album artwork while giving fans a behind-the-songs experience.

Fans always want to be closer to their favorite artists. During my time at Apple, my friend Ty Roberts of Gracenote created the technology behind the enhanced CD, which offered an immersive listening experience and helped to usher in the digital music revolution.

Today, Apple and U2 appear poised to bring a next-generation version of that concept to the digital world, while helping artists protect their rights and income.

Streaming music as it exists today probably isn’t the final destination for music because we crave something more — a richer experience that combines what we miss with what’s still to come. Just as it did with the iPod and iTunes, Apple will create the next listening experience that will help us delve deeper into our favorite tracks and get closer to our favorite artists.

This article was first published on www.huffingtonpost.com/tech/.

To your best success,

Kelli Richards, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

PSS: Listen to an entire library of intimate discussions with industry visionaries http://bit.ly/AllAccessPodcastSeries (Priceless)

 

 

 

Can Apple’s Interactive Digital Music Solution Refresh the Music Industry?

When U2 released its album “Songs of Innocence” with an exclusive iTunes partnership, the band was trying to figure out something a bit more complex than simply reaching as many fans as possible. It was grappling with which side of music history it wanted to fall into: the “stream or die” path of slowly decreasing record sales and pirated downloads or the path to reviving the music industry.

While automatically downloading the album to all iTunes users’ libraries felt a little too “Big Brother” for some consumers, it’s a great example of revenue-generating experiments on the horizon. As piracy and streaming continue to cut into artists’ revenues, bands and record labels are actively upping their game to encourage fans to purchase more music, goods, and experiences.

#008 - KELLI - 2 of 3Few artists are likely to follow in U2’s footsteps with the same strategy after the backlash from iTunes users, but when a challenge emerges in the market, we can always look to Apple to lead with the most creative solutions. The “Songs of Innocence” maneuver was Apple showing its hand: The solution to diminishing music sales could be an interactive digital music approach.

How Innovation Shaped the Music Industry’s Path.

Fans crave a sense of being closer to the artist, and even 20 years ago, Apple was involved in making this happen. During my years at Apple, my good friend Ty Roberts of Gracenote had created something called the enhanced CD, which created the same types of immersive artist-to-fan experiences for the CD (years ahead of the digital online music curve).

For more than 25 years, Apple has been a leading innovator in the way bands make, market, and distribute music. During my tenure driving music initiatives at Apple, I spent a fair amount of time encouraging artists to use Macintosh (coupled with software such as Pro Tools) as a partner in liberating their music-creation process from expensive recording studios. For the first time, artists could write, record, and mix their music from their own home studios at their leisure.

The digital landscape subsequently changed the industry forever. The 2001 introduction of the iPod and the launch of iTunes in 2003 were seismic shifts. But when songs first became available in MP3 format, pirating software such as Napster and BitTorrent took over, costing the music industry billions in illegally downloaded songs every year. To be fair, both services attempted to demonstrate to record labels how they could monetize the many millions of users who were accessing songs through these torrents — but those efforts fell on deaf ears back then.

This demand for free media led to the development of streaming music options such as Spotify and Rdio. While access to artists is at an all-time high (a pro for consumers and smaller bands), the sweeping popularity of these applications deprives established artists of fair compensation. Streaming music has its share of detractors, including Taylor Swift and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. These big-name naysayers choose to ride a new wave of marketing and distribution that will protect their hard-earned income: the creation of products desirable enough (and personal enough) to coax fans into paying.

How Interactivity Feeds the Artist and the Fan

Interactive digital music is one attempt at recapturing these lost music dollars. Rather than downloading individual songs (legally or illegally), interactive albums give fans access to a rich, immersive visual and audio experience with add-ons they can’t get from a streaming service, such as photography, interactive lyrics, and fan remixes.

Then, these interactive downloads can be woven into an artist-focused app that organizes each artist’s concerts, brand partnerships, merchandise, and product offerings into one place and sends revenue straight to the artist — instead of to the other players in the music ecosystem.

Interactive digital music is a perfect extension of Apple’s philosophy because it allows musicians to embrace their creativity and recapture some of what made physical albums special. It’s a flashback to a time when artists had the resources to care about the presentation of the artwork, write long-form albums on specific themes, and design a rich and powerful artist-to-fan experience.

Although we can sense hunger from fans for more of this engagement, we don’t yet know how much money they’re willing to pay for these types of experiences or how they’ll actually embrace these opportunities. One of the most important aspects of developing any new product is deciding whether it meets the needs and desires of consumers. But as Apple has proven time and again, consumers often don’t know they want something until it’s presented for them to try.

Like anything in marketing, interactive digital music is an evolving experiment. But as long as companies dabbling in this arena avoid a fiasco like Sony’s ill-fated anti-copy rootkit technology, there aren’t a whole lot of foreseeable downsides. Apple has the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the growing interest of artists, fans, and its own products that can deliver this new immersive experience.

The music industry has always been about more than sounding good and getting a record deal. But today, artists have to give more than ever just to get what they got in the past. Artists who want to recoup lost sales and protect their livelihood from piracy must be willing to try new things — and surprise and delight fans with engaging, cutting-edge, interactive experiences.

This article was first published on Innovation Insights.

To your best success,

Kelli Richards, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

PSS: Listen to an entire library of intimate discussions with industry visionaries http://bit.ly/AllAccessPodcastSeries (Priceless)

 

How The Apple Watch Is Paving The Way To A New Generation Of Wearable Technology

When the iPod, iPhone, and iPad launched, they gave way to entirely new categories of MP3 players, smartphones, and portable computers. They were hardly necessities when they hit the market, and the prices seemed exorbitant at launch. In fact, people didn’t realize they wanted–let alone needed–these devices as part of their lifestyles when they first came out. That’s part of Apple’s magic.

Each of those devices proved its worth over time by offering consumers simple conveniences through innovative technology. Now, iPhones and iPads are ubiquitous and deemed essential items for businesspeople, students, and anyone with a desire to be connected.

Apple Watch whiteThe next frontier is wearable technology, and with the Apple Watch set to arrive this spring, Apple is preparing to blaze the trail in the marketplace, just as it did with its other iconic devices.

The Difference Is in the Details

Apple devices have gone mainstream because they’ve transformed people’s lives for the better. That was the primary goal. The products enabled users to become more productive and efficient, with the minimalist style and ease that Apple products are famous for. While its smartwatch might not be the first one in its class, Apple is determined to set it apart from the rest.

For starters, the company hired several established senior-level executives from the fashion industry to collaborate on the watch and invited fashion houses to weigh in. The result? A watch that offers unparalleled stylistic options and personalization. And once you get past the beauty of it, you can peel back the layers and discover the functionality that makes this wearable unique.

As expected, the Apple Watch will integrate seamlessly with other Apple devices and connect with Siri to enable quick reminders and real-time requests. The watch also supports Apple Pay, which is being accepted by a growing number of retailers.

Users will no longer have to fumble around to find their hotel keycards and boarding passes, either. The watch will unlock hotel rooms at select chains and speed users through the airport with boarding pass access in select airlines.

Like the iPhone, the Apple Watch will continue to simplify a number of daily tasks. Before long, you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without it.

The Future of the Apple Watch and Wearable Tech

The functionality of wearable tech makes these items true lifestyle partners. As they assist you with multiple routine tasks in personal and professional settings, they’ll quickly become must-haves due to how integrated they are in your life.

The Apple Watch will give you the power to optimize daily tasks, leverage apps for information and communication, and be more productive and efficient in general, just as smartphones do. But with the Apple Watch, you’ll be able to do it all hands-free rather than having to carry your phone around in your hand.

But as wearables become mainstream, the industry will become ripe for innovation in multiple directions. Although few consumers have gotten past Apple Watch’s sticker shock, more niche groups will inevitably be identified as potential customers, including those interested in tracking personal fitness (be it weekend warriors or professional athletes) and elite frequent flyers.

When Apple revolutionized smartphones with a more sophisticated (and expensive) option, some questioned the value in paying hundreds of dollars for a cell phone. Consumers also greeted the iPad with skepticism. But soon after, users uncovered the plethora of handy features and the immense value behind these products, and today, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s not clenching a smartphone at this very moment.

As the price of the Apple Watch comes down, the same will prove true with this new wearable tech. Instead of simply being a timekeeper, it will be a timesaver–and an indispensable part of your daily routine.

This article was first published on Inc.com

To your best success,

Kelli Richards, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

PSS: Listen to an entire library of intimate discussions with industry visionaries http://bit.ly/AllAccessPodcastSeries (Priceless)

 

 

Turn Up Your Volume: 5 Big Moves Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Music Moguls

Music moguls and entrepreneurs have a lot to teach each other. But don’t worry; you don’t have to sing like Beyoncé or turn tables like Skrillex to bring the music to your business.

When you think about it, there are multiple ways that the music industry reflects what you’re trying to accomplish as an entrepreneur. Music rewards innovation and originality–finding “the next big thing” is a mantra you both share–and you both aim to immerse customers in rich and compelling experiences, right?

electric guitarSo don’t be afraid to unleash your inner music mogul once in a while; it could actually do amazing things for your company. Here are five mogul moves you could consider making:

  1. Trust your gut. If everyone in the music and tech industries followed the traditional path to success, we wouldn’t have game-changers like The Beatles, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson. Trusting your instincts–even if it means veering from the safe path–can lead to your most creative, innovative, and ultimately successful decisions. Only you know where your passions lie and how to tap into them, so trust your gut, and don’t listen to the naysayers.
  1. Take big risks. Music moguls are always willing to try something new–whether it’s a creative approach to a tour, an unlikely collaboration, or a new distribution method. Taking risks is what separates the innovators from the followers. Whether it’s reaching out to that intimidating potential collaborator or launching an experimental project, the only way you’ll see amazing outcomes is by taking risks in the first place. You have everything to gain.
  1. Connect to larger causes. Music moguls are masters at leveraging their brand power to have a positive social impact and expanding their influence at the same time. They’re willing to lend their voices and faces to causes they believe in, take bold action, and make their fans and followers proud advocates. Entrepreneurs need to embrace the power they have to connect to the wider world and start creating the kind of positive legacy they dream of.
  1. Create an A-list posse. Entrepreneurship is often seen as a one-man show, but it’s important to realize that you typically can’t succeed on your own. Just as music moguls surround themselves with a strong team of artists, managers, lawyers, agents, and publicists, entrepreneurs should bring trustworthy, inspiring people into their projects. With a supportive network behind you, your ideas, customer base, and passion for your work will flourish. And be sure to have a trusted advisor by your side to help you develop your posse and collaborative partners. Choosing the right team is the most vital step in any successful venture. As music innovator Pharrell Williams said, “You are only as good as your team.”
  1. Find the next big thing. You can be as tech-savvy and business-minded as you like, but if you can’t create buzz around your next new product or idea, nobody will know or care. The music moguls are experts at creating buzz. Take Spotify, for example. It crafted a powerful launch model by using invite-only access to drum up anticipation and demand for its new product, which subsequently became an industry game-changer.

My own career has been a journey from music publications to a major record label to a tech giant to the crazy, disruptive startup environment of Silicon Valley. It’s definitely grown from there, but what I’ve experienced time and again is that no matter where I am, when powerful tech innovation and the bold music industry engage, it creates an intensely creative atmosphere.

Music moguls and entrepreneurs have a lot to teach each other. But don’t worry; you don’t have to sing like Beyonc or turn tables like Skrillex to bring the music to your business. All you need are these simple tips, a trusted advisor to help you chart your course and create the powerful collaborations you need, and your own entrepreneurial instincts and intuition, and you’ll be on your way to finding your inner music mogul to the delight of all of those you’ll serve

This article was previously published in Inc.com magazine

 

To your best success,

Kelli Richards, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

PSS: Listen to an entire library of intimate discussions with industry visionaries http://bit.ly/AllAccessPodcastSeries (Priceless)

 

 

5 Critical Lessons in Mergers and Acquisitions From the Apple-Beats Deal

Mergers and acquisitions are notoriously complicated, clumsy, and fraught with bad feelings when they’re not executed carefully and strategically. Often, leaders fail to communicate, which derails productivity and leaves employees worried about their jobs. Companies also tend to struggle to manage customer integration, branding, and media relations during the transition.

Last year, Apple shocked the world when it acquired Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 billion. Along with the fanfare that accompanies any Apple announcement, analysts were scratching their heads as to why Apple would buy Beats–a company that’s been criticized for producing flashy headphones with subpar sound that could conflict with the sleek, functional Apple brand.

But Tim Cook and his team knew what they were doing, and the acquisition has progressed relatively smoothly–though the integration and results have come about a bit more slowly than anticipated.

Here are a few lessons you can learn from this high-profile deal to make your own merger or acquisition as seamless as possible:

1. Look for the Ultimate Win-Win Scenario

When considering a business move as significant as a merger or an acquisition, look for a win-win situation. The ideal scenario is one in which both sides stand to gain significantly.

In the case of the Apple-Beats acquisition, Apple needed a music streaming service so iTunes could compete with Spotify and Google Play. Beats also brought “street cred” and the opportunity to expand the company’s existing product line. Meanwhile, Beats needed more market share.

It didn’t hurt that Apple and Jimmy Iovine have a history. Iovine stated publicly that he always felt like Beats belonged with Apple because of its “deep commitment to music fans, artists, songwriters, and the music industry.”

2. Choose the Best Structure

When building the ideal scenario, determine whether it would be better to keep the companies running as separate entities or integrate them under one umbrella. Ensure that you get input and buy-in from both sides so it doesn’t feel like one company is steamrolling the other.

Part of the reason the Apple-Beats acquisition has been so straightforward is that Beats effectively shut down and has been fully integrated into iTunes. To accomplish this, both companies needed to work together to place the best Beats employees in key roles at Apple.

3. Get All Leaders Involved

For a change as important as an acquisition or a merger, senior executives in both companies should be active participants in the process. The CEO, COO, and relevant department heads all play a role. For example, the CEOs and heads of PR will want to work together to craft a unified company message and manage the media strategically and effectively.

4. Identify Roles for Key Players

One of the most difficult aspects of mergers and acquisitions is downsizing. When management roles overlap, you’ll need to restructure or consider layoffs. Leaders from both teams should put forth their top candidates and negotiate to determine who will fill specific roles. You’ll have to come to terms with the fact that some important figures may have to leave the new company with a severance package.

In the Apple-Beats deal, Apple was able to retain and integrate Beats’ crucial players into the iTunes team. Iovine and Dr. Dre now hold senior roles at Apple, and others, including Ian Rogers, Trent Reznor, and Bozoma Saint John, have stayed on following the acquisition.

5. Don’t Forget About Culture

The need to integrate two different corporate cultures is often overlooked, which has caused challenges on the other side of the financial merger and acquisition between Apple and Beats. These nuances must be considered early on. If cultural integration isn’t properly addressed, it can not only hinder morale, but it can also lead to plummeting productivity, higher turnover rates, and sabotage.

This is where a cross-functional integration team can influence the outcome. This team can evaluate the cultural differences between the two companies and tackle them directly to mitigate challenges and avoid surprises. This way, you’re not just throwing new employees into an unfamiliar environment and expecting them to know the rules, which are sometimes unspoken. This is subtle but incredibly significant.

While merging or acquiring, it’s important to remember that the integration could take longer than anticipated. The transition may not be seamless or swift, but by crafting a deal that makes strategic sense for both parties, communicating openly, and working to retain key players, you’ll be much more likely to succeed as a united force.

This article was previously published in Inc.com

To your best success,

Kelli Richards, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

PSS: Listen to an entire library of intimate discussions with industry visionaries http://bit.ly/AllAccessPodcastSeries (Priceless)

 

 

Music and Your Brand: Five Ways to Tune Your Demographic In With the Right Band

Attention is a scarce resource—and that means it’s a costly one. In a world of hundreds of competing voices, art and music have become a powerful way to bring a brand back into the spotlight. The perfect example? The “marriage” of Alicia Keys and Blackberry.

Blackberry didn’t just bring Keys in as a spokesperson, either; it made her its creative director. That wasn’t just some made-up title to give the “Girl on Fire” credibility; Keys has brought in some stellar ideas to create user (and fan) engagement.

For her first act, Keys shot videos in every location of her tour, and she invited local fans and residents of those locales to send their own photos to include in the video clips. Photos chosen went on Alicia Keys’ on-stage video projection.

Now that is a huge win around user experience—one of the fastest ways to turn engagement into ROI.

Make It Relevant

Right now, consumer brands are marketing more and more with music and entertainment. In fact, it’s become so important that some major brands have started their own record labels—including Red Bull, Scion, Mountain Dew, and Converse.

Why? Music is a powerful way to create a cultural connection and engage with an audience while drawing your product even closer to your demographic’s lifestyle.

Being hip, cool, relevant, and present as a brand is important, but the more important issue can be the cost to your image if you resist popular trends. (Just one example: Levi’s missed the hip-hop boom, and it cost the company $1 billion in sales—in one year.)

Tuning in isn’t just a smart way to connect with your audience; it can be vital to your brand’s survival.

The New ‘A&R’

Brands are becoming a trusted source for breaking hip underground artists to the mainstream media. The iTunes team at Apple (my alma mater) chose specific, obscure artists to create buzz around the launch of iTunes.

That curating practice was really a form of Artist and Repertoire (or A&R), which used to be the domain of a record company. An “A&R” role—which I once did for EMI Music prior to launching the music vertical at Apple—was responsible for cultivating new talent for a label. Now, brands are performing that role themselves.

By partnering with artists who fit your audience, you can create the perfect exposure for your brand to the right people. Here are a few ways to start:

  1. Find the right sound. If you don’t know which artists may make sense for your brand, hire people who do, or spend time online and on social media networks researching what your audience is listening to. Just ask and explore; they’ll tell you which artists you’ll want to pursue further.
  2. Target your age group. Brands vying for the attention of younger audiences—especially those 13-25—must be tuned into the entertainment world, especially when tie-ins between brands and bands are core to success. By partnering with exactly the right artistic act, you’ll net far more attention—and credibility—with your target audience.
  3. Get in touch. Many brands are approaching artists directly. If the artist is signed, the label may be involved, but it’s best to start with the artist’s manager (if an established band) or the artist directly (when a rising indie artist).
  4. Go where your audience is. Music festivals create the perfect audience for a brand. You’ll place yourself in front of thousands of viewers and kindle a shared passion with your artists’ fans. There are lots of music festivals catering to diverse audiences; find your niche.
  5. Unify and balance. Merging the needs of artists, brands, and fans can create powerful results. When an artist has a song that ties into the theme of a brand campaign, it resonates with the audience and is doubly powerful.

Behind the Music

There’s nothing quite like a smart, well-executed match between a brand and an artist. When Rihanna debuted her clothing line for River Island during London Fashion Week, she helped generate buzz and boost awareness in the United States around the UK-based clothing brand.

When Panic at the Disco partnered with Honda Civic for the Honda Civic Tour in 2008, the group created an original, exclusive song for Honda’s Civic commercial. The band reached a much broader audience, which resulted in higher CD and ticket sales, and Honda was on the cutting edge with a new kind of branded content.

Apple’s commercial for the launch of the MacBook Air featured a soundtrack from a little-known artist, Yael Naim. “New Song,” which was recorded in Naim’s Paris apartment, jumped up the charts and subsequently led to a wildly popular US tour—and critical success.

Those are just a few examples; dozens of artistically interesting campaigns have benefited from the touch of a complementary musical act. That creative matchmaking is different every time, and it brings a new, fresh twist to a brand’s perception.

The reason is simple: By its nature, music is both emotional and powerful. That’s why fans gather around their favorite artists, creating strong, tightly knit subcultures. Tuning into those communities can be the difference between becoming “white noise” and making a truly engaged connection—and that’s every advertising campaign’s goal.

This post was originally published on Marketing Profs.

A Hard Day’s Night for Digital Legacy – The Lost Beatles Recordings

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.50.14 PM

Great work will never die in today’s ever expanding online digital world. According to the IDC “The digital universe is growing 40% a year into the next decade. By 2020 it will contain nearly as many digital hits as there are stars in the universe.” In fact, according to Science Daily, 90% of all the world’s data has been written in the past 2 years. Wow. That is an incredibly daunting idea. Literally 90% of the information that is readily accessible to the world today was not available only 2 years ago.

While imagining the sheer magnitude of all this data is overwhelming, studying this information on a more local, individual level is far easier to wrap your head around.

Let’s take a look at the Beatles first Big Screen appearance in the film, A Hard Day’s Night, for example. In examining the 50th anniversary restoration process for the film, technicians needed to compensate for the original recordings (which had been lost) of what is now widely considered the most inspirational musical group ever. Imagine that, the original recordings were lost.

An incredibly foreign idea today in a day and age that with one quick internet search can find you thousands of Kids Pop covers of every song ever done. So how were these recordings lost in history? Well, despite Beatlemania, apparently some doubt still existed as to whether or not The Beatles would make a serious lasting impact; and who wants to track down and organize a possible “one hit wonders” second and third album? I’m 1960, the answer was no one; apparently not even for the Beatles. Today, this is routinely done for even small artists. It may have been a Hard Day’s Night to make a lasting footprint back then, but now, there’s almost no one left without an online footprint. The solid win for all of us is that great work never dies in today’s online digital world, and as a result, we are all, always building a digital legacy for lifetimes to come.

Let’s look at the Lennon legacy. Everyone is probably aware of John’s journey from Liverpool, his work with the Beatles, his marriage with Yoko Ono and his untimely death. But what about his children? Julian, John’s eldest son, has expanded his own musical career, fighting through adversity often faced by platinum artists children, attempting to get out of the shadow of their musical parents. (Luckily for humanity, in addition to his music, Julian has made great strides in his White Feather Foundation, raising funds for a more sustainable future for the planet.) And Sean, John’s youngest son is touring with bands like the Flaming Lips and Tame Impala while releasing his own albums and unique sound.

Our digital footprints go beyond music, of course, Paul McCartney’s daughter Stella need only be Googled to find pages and pages of images of her enormous impact on fashion. And of course, the remaining Beatles themselves continue to make great music and build their legacy, both online and off.

So while the early pieces of Beatles history have been lost, their legacy will not be forgotten and in fact, continues to grow and grow. Living on in their new accomplishments, their children, their fans, and in an online database for everyone to access, so no one will forget.

 

Until next time,

Kelli Richards, President, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

PSS: Listen to an entire library of intimate discussions with industry visionarieshttp://bit.ly/AllAccessPodcastSeries  (Priceless)

Why Apple’s Beats Acquisition May Be Its Smartest Move Yet

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The most talked-about “secret” of 2014 was Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats. Although it wasn’t officially announced until May 28, rumors swirled around the Internet for weeks.

Apple now owns Beats Electronics (the makers of the headphones and speakers) and Beats Music, a streaming service similar to Pandora and Spotify. Apple has also added Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to its executive roster, though their roles have not yet been clarified publicly.

To read the rest of this article on my LinkedIn Influencers Page, please go to: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140609013728-9638-why-apple-s-beats-acquisition-may-be-its-smartest-move-yet?trk=prof-post

Tune in for my powerful interview with Brent Bourgeois

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Brent Bourgeois is a long-time colleague and notable American rock musician, songwriter, and producer who most recently worked with Julian Lennon on their single ‘The High Road‘ off of his New Album ‘Don’t Look Back’ (with sales supporting Julian’s White Feather Foundation).

Brent was co-leader of the band Bourgeois Tagg with Larry Tagg, whose second album, “YoYo”, was recorded with esteemed producer Todd Rundgren (long-time collaborator of mine). I tried to sign them to EMI during my tenure in A&R there but Island got them instead. Brent then went on to do several solo albums, and then to serve as the Vice President of A&R at Word Records in Nashville from 1997-2001. He just distributed his first solo album in twenty years entitled “Don’t Look Back” through a new paradigm called “kick-finishing” empowering fans as a street-team of sorts to help market and evangelize this amazing new CD.  It’s a testament to the power of collaboration based on long-term relationships with trusted artist colleagues, and the songs on this CD are exceptional; pure bliss.

  You can hear my entire interview with Brent by signing up for Coffee & Connections.

How Your Brand Can Rock the Socks Off A Music Festival

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Summer music festivals are full of sunshine, fun, and community, but they’re also packed with thousands of potential customers and brand advocates. Advertising at these events is nothing new, but startups that can find a way to become part of the festival can reap significant benefits.

People love music festivals because they feel like they’re getting more value by paying one price to see several great bands. The music and the atmosphere can produce strong feelings of belonging and elation that are memorable and often affect attendees deeply. Having people associate your brand with that feeling is priceless.

We’re not talking about putting up a banner and handing out T-shirts; we’re talking about actually becoming an integrated part of the experience.

 

Rocking a Unique Approach to Brand Awareness

 

Music festivals provide unique marketing opportunities for startups — if they can just follow the music.

If your brand shares a target audience with a given music festival, you should attend and actively engage festival goers so you are visible and associated with their memories. Not only can your brand gain access to content that can be leveraged on its website, social media, apps, advertising, and marketing campaigns, but — if leveraged correctly — music festivals can provide a brand with:

 

  1. Awareness. Having your app deployed at a major music festival provides priceless visibility, exposure, and reach a startup could never afford to pay for otherwise. You can build your audience through mobile apps and social media initiatives by implementing social functions into your ads, making it easy for fans to share with their network.
  2. Research.  Music festival audiences are typically very receptive (and it’s a captive group in terms of mindshare). The opportunity to deploy your technology to this group gives you access to potential focus groups and case studies.
  3. Networking.  Working with a music festival gives you a chance to build relationships with artists, festival organizers, and other brands that can generate referrals and repeat engagements.
  4. Word-of-mouth advertising. This is invaluable because it’s authentic, and consumers are more likely to respond to someone they know and feel good about. If you do a great job and offer value at the festival, attendees can become powerful brand advocates.

 

Ben & Jerry’s takes advantage of the vibrant atmosphere. The company, which over the years has made ice creams in conjunction with musicians like Jerry Garcia, Phish, and Dave Matthews Band, is a celebrated regular at the Bonnaroo festival and even gives out free scoops of Bonnaroo Buzz ice cream. The company also operates a tent in the festival’s Planet Roo eco-village, where nonprofits and other organizations promote environmental and social activism. These approaches lead to positive and loyal responses from music and ice cream fans alike.

 

  1. Revenue.  If your tech startup is new and unproven and you’re working with an event organizer for the first time, you may choose to reduce or waive the fees completely to gain the invaluable benefits listed above. However, if you’re more established or offering something truly unique and valuable, you can charge the festival organizers, artists, brands, and even the fans if there’s sufficient value.

 

How to Become Part of the Experience

Forever 21 helped launch the 2014 festival season with an epic “Party in the Sky” at Coachella in Palm Springs, Calif. The party featured performances by artists like Azealia Banks and included two gifting suites, the premiere of Forever 21’s “Summer 2014” fashion film, and a 20-foot party pod suspended above the main event.

If you want to gain brand recognition by becoming part of the music festival experience, it’s time to get creative. The goal is to authentically integrate your startup into the experience beyond just being a sponsor. Provide something tangible that endears your product or service to fans. When leveraging a music festival to enhance brand awareness, there are three approaches you can take:

 

Deepen and enhance the fan experience. 

Use your technology as a tool for making the music festival experience better for attendees. FanFootage, for example, crowdsources fans’ videos and syncs them with high-quality audio of the show from the mixing console at the venue to preserve memories with optimal fidelity. You can also deploy a mobile app or social media campaign that’s contextually relevant and delivers value. Give fans a game to play or a chance to win prizes to make them want to share it with their friends.

Deploy “festival support” technology.

Festival goers aren’t the only people you could target; you can also develop tools geared toward artists, event organizers, and promoters. BeatSwitch is a relatively new event planning platform that helps streamline scheduling in fast-paced concert or festival environments.

Deploy “fan support” technology. 

You can use your technology to ensure fans don’t miss a band they want to see or an event they want to attend. Songkick allows you to track your favorite artists to ensure you never miss them when they come to town. You can also achieve this on a smaller scale and allow fans to schedule reminders for specific sets or events during a given music fest.

 

Another great way to support fans is by appealing to their ancillary needs. What else do they need besides festival tickets and food when they’re at a live event? WaterIn is an app that reminds users to drink water, and Wi-Fi sponsors setting up stations at remote locations become heroes. Pamper festival attendees by giving them something of value, possibly offering special discounts and coupons that are available at the airport or hotel when they arrive in town for the festival.

If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to compete at really big events. Smaller local events still pull in large crowds and can sometimes provide better opportunities to increase brand awareness. Whether you’re headed to Bonnaroo or to the local blues festival, take advantage of these unique opportunities to get your name out there and demonstrate your value to all the parties in the festival ecosystem.

 

Until next time,

Kelli Richards
CEO of The All Access Group, LLC

 

PS, The right mentor will also have the right CONNECTIONS to move any effort forward. Be sure to ask who they think they can bring to the table around advisor ship, possible collaboration and even funding.

 

How to Vet a Crowded Industry for Hidden Innovation Opportunities

06ccbb3Few people look at a thermostat and think, “Now there’s an exciting business opportunity!”

As a device, it’s a boring commodity — a relic of a stagnant, saturated market. So why did the co-founders of Nest decide to build a multimillion-dollar company around the reinvention of the thermostat?

Where others saw an industry that offered no room for new ideas, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers saw potential. Most of the 10 million thermostats sold every year throughout the U.S. were clunky, inefficient, and impossible to program, but a simple, Wi-Fi-enabled device that could be programmed via a smartphone — that could be a game changer. Fadell and Rogers saw this opportunity, left their jobs at Apple, and got to work.

Within just three years of unveiling the Nest Learning Thermostat, the company has reduced energy usage across the U.S. and Canada by at least 225 million kilowatt-hours. They’ve saved consumers more than $29 million in heating and cooling bills. And earlier this year, Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion in cash.

What gave Fadell and Rogers the confidence to dive into an overcrowded market? They saw room for innovation. Here’s how you can see through the crowd to the opportunity.

How to Vet a Crowded Industry

When a market has a reputation of being fully saturated or crowded, many potential entrants will steer clear without a second thought. But popular perception isn’t always reality. Though it may not be immediately obvious, there’s often room for innovation and more than one player in the most stagnant of industries.

If you’ve got an idea that you think could disrupt a crowded market, it’s critical that you vet the industry before launching.

Do your homework. Who are the key players in the industry? What are their strengths and weaknesses? A comprehensive understanding of the competitive landscape is vital for determining your strategy.

Clarify your value-add. What makes your idea different? Are you cheaper, faster, better, or more innovative than everyone else? You can’t survive in a saturated industry without clearly being different and better.

Know your customer.Are consumers satisfied with the current market? If your product or idea can effectively address unmet needs and pain points, you’ll be able to capture significant market share.

Position yourself as a trailblazer. People aren’t expecting innovation in a stagnant market. Find the gap by researching industry trends, then stake a bold claim as the “next big thing.”

Prepare for scale.When you unveil a great idea on a commodity market, you have to be ready to handle a sudden wave of demand. Had Nest not been able to keep up with the brisk pace of adoption, the company would have tanked. They were prepared, though, and rode the wave all the way to a multibillion-dollar acquisition in a relatively short period of time based on mass adoption by consumers.

Surviving the Changes in Your Industry

Once you’ve made the leap into the market, you need to be proactive to survive your industry’s lifecycle changes. Achieve the following, and you’ll not only keep your head above water — you’ll thrive.

  • Stay up to speed on the latest trends and technologies. That way, you can remain nimble and capable of edging out competitors.
  • Get the word out. Make sure customers know about you — and know that your solution is superior.
  • Make sure you offer the best possible customer experience. You’ll garner loyalty and brand equity, and you’ll reduce the churn factor.
  • Optimize key elements: pricing, service, process, and customer satisfaction. Piece these components together in a way that tells a compelling brand story to attract your target audience.
  • Always strive to stand out from the crowd through your marketing, products, and customer experience. When you delight your customers, they’ll become brand advocates and stay with you in the long run.

A Matter of Perception

When an industry undergoes a fundamental transformation, many people wrongly assume it’s vanishing forever.

Consider the entertainment industry, for example. Just 15 years ago, film studios, record labels, and media distributors believed that file-sharing technology would ruin their entire livelihood. Those who were stuck in their ways wanted to put an end to the technology.

Savvy, forward-thinking tech entrepreneurs, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to pioneer change. While everyone else was lamenting the death of entertainment, they harnessed the disruptive power of technology to meet market needs.

Now, decision makers in the industry are embracing next-generation distribution technology because it enables them to reach global audiences and create new revenue streams.

It takes a keen eye and a great idea to capitalize on lifecycle changes in a crowded market. The risks, however, are often a matter of perception. By seeing potential where others don’t, you can access a world of opportunity and profits.

 

A highly sought-after consultant, mentor, speaker, producer, coach, and author, Kelli Richards is the CEO of The All Access Group. She and her team facilitate strategic business opportunities in digital distribution between technology companies, established artists and celebrities, film studios, record labels, and consumer brand companies in order to foster new revenue streams and deliver compelling consumer experiences. Kelli is also the author of the bestselling e-book, “The Magic & Moxie of Apple — An Insider’s View.”

Until next time,

Kelli Richards, President, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

 

5 Unlikely Music Legends With Great Advice for Entrepreneurs

1abcac6As an entrepreneur, it’s important to keep your ears open for helpful advice — especially when you’re new to the game.

We usually expect business wisdom to come from the likes of Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett — not Jimmy Buffett. But there are a few big names in entertainment who would surprise you with their entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen.

1. Jimmy Buffett

The man behind boozy classics such as “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” knows a little something about entrepreneurship.

Beyond his successful career in music, Buffett runs a record label, a merchandising company, the Margaritaville brand of chain stores, restaurants, blenders, tequila, and more.

He’s a successful entrepreneur because he hires talented people, can see the potential in important opportunities, and lives by solid values that go back to his roots.

Take it from Jimmy: “You’ve got to be able to take money out of the equation in order to enjoy life and make good decisions. Years ago, I went to Warren Buffett for advice about something, and that’s what he told me. He said, ‘Whether you make or don’t make this deal, is it going to affect your life? And if not, then do what you want to do, and be prepared for them to say no.’ I’ve used that quite a bit.”

2. Troy Carter

Troy Carter is the manager who helped build the careers of musical sensations including Lady Gaga and John Legend.

What you might not know is that he’s a tech investor in ventures like Spotify, Uber, and Dropbox, as well as the entrepreneur behind POPwater and several other companies.

Carter’s ability to stay present helps him make clear and logical decisions in the midst of chaos, keep the big picture in mind, and avoid getting flustered when things don’t go as planned.

Take it from Troy: Money doesn’t make me tick. This definition of success doesn’t make me tick. Managing some of the biggest stars in the world doesn’t make me tick. Making my family proud makes me tick.”

3. Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams is a renowned hip-hop, R&B, and soul musician, but he also designs clothing and chairs, dabbles in sculpture and architecture, invests in tech startups, mentors kids, and is a philanthropist.

Williams is successful because he surrounds himself with people who recognize that they’re different, and he understands the importance of collaboration, learning from others, and taking constructive criticism.

Take it from Pharrell: “You are only as good as your team. When you envisage success, you should see all the people you work with, in addition to yourself…I used to hire 21-year-old monsters with a twinkle in their eye. I saw potential, but it was what I thought they could do, not what they could actually do…When you surround yourself with people with experience…A lot of them are gonna be older than you. When they vet people, they need to see more than twinkles; they need sparks.”

4. Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart is a musician best known for his work with the Eurythmics.

He now serves as an advisor to Visa and Nokia and is the CEO of the massively successful media company Weapons of Mass Entertainment. He’s also the co-founder of First Artist Ventures and the author of the entrepreneurial guidebook “Business Playground: Where Creativity and Commerce Collide.”

Stewart embraces and rewards creativity, understanding that it’s essential for a business to stand out in a crowded market. He also knows how to ask the right questions and when to seek different perspectives from trustworthy people.

Take it from Dave: “A creative culture is one in which people aren’t just rewarded for successes, but are allowed and actively encouraged to experiment and make mistakes.

“The perfect brainstorm removes the barriers to creativity by letting all ideas come out without the judgment and criticism that might otherwise kill them. It also involves having clear parameters, including a mix of people from different backgrounds, and setting high expectations for performance.”

5. Sammy Hagar

Also known as “The Red Rocker,” Sammy Hagar is a singer/songwriter and the musician best known as a member of Van Halen.

Hagar also owns a popular chain of nightclubs and restaurants called Cabo Wabo, a chain of airport restaurants, a restaurant with celeb chef Tyler Florence, and a tequila company.

While it might seem like a leap for a rocker to run a chain of restaurants, Hagar is successful because he follows his intuition, looks for new opportunities, finds the right people to run his businesses, and has fun.

Take it from Sammy: “Before I made it as a rocker, I had a lot of executives tell me what to do to make it, and I never listened to them. I did it my way…I like owning and operating a business. It’s as creative as stepping on stage or making a record. I’ve never started a business thinking, ‘Oh, I’m gonna make money off of this.’ All my ideas have come from sheer enthusiasm.”

While you probably shouldn’t take all your business advice from music legends, there are some common lessons that transcend industries:

  • Surround yourself with great people.
  • Explore potential opportunities that challenge you.
  • Don’t make money the first priority.
  • Always trust your gut.

Sometimes, the best advice comes from unexpected sources. Another lesson you can learn from these individuals is that you don’t necessarily have to start in business to build great companies. It’s just a matter of listening to your inner entrepreneur and seizing opportunities that excite you.

Which unlikely individuals have given you the best advice on entrepreneurship? What was their advice?

 

Until next time,

Kelli Richards, President, CEO of the All Access Group, LLC

PS: Subscribe to my FREE All Access Group Newsletter http://bit.ly/AAGNewletter

PSS: Listen to an entire library of intimate discussions with industry visionarieshttp://bit.ly/AllAccessPodcastSeries   (Priceless)