Pros and Cons of Indie Record Labels Using Social Media

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What is a music record label? How can they incorporate Social Media tools to enhance their productivity? And what risks have to be taken into account to implement the system?

Record labels have been one of the most changing business models in the last couple of decades. In the last century, record labels were devoted to find and developing talent, record albums and singles and market and distribute the final product. But now, most of musicians with relative low-budget could create a studio and record an album, that’s not the critical part of the process. Also, distribution is not a problem; iTunes is there for anybody that has songs and could pay $ 35 dollars to be included in their virtual shelves. The critical problem now is: How to stand out in an ocean of music products that are on the market.

That’s why the record labels had to re-invent themselves to cater for increasing knowledgeable musicians that have all the resources to apply the Do-It-Yourself approach to the business. Record labels have to focus in how to work efficiently to make that their customers (bands) receive attention from the public and the media and could achieve a competitive advantage to get a share of the market. Epitaph Records is an indie record label that has risen up to the challenge servicing bands in the punk arena such as: Bad Religion and The Offspring.

Epitapth Logo (Taken from Wikipedia)

They are based in LA and have branches in Europe, Canada and Australia. In the ever-changing landscape of music industry, they have to implement a dynamic tool that would provide functionalities that could harness the enterprise collective intelligence and memory; for them Socialtext was the Social Media tool that help them to get the work done, together!

Socialtext is an integrated platform that includes elements of social media such as: microblogging, rss, wiki, broadcasting and social networking profiles.

Brett Gurewitz, guitarist and songwriter for Bad Religion and CEO of Epitaph Records explains: “If you think of our organization as a mind, Socialtext is our memory centre”. Following, there is a list of pros and cons of this implementation:

Pros (according to Epitaph Case Study):

  • All-in-one: Socialtext Dashboard is a customized homepage for each employee, presenting a glance of all what they need to know in the company.
  • Social networking: This is an impressive tool for the staff to get connected; even if Epitaph Records is based in LA it has branches in Canada, Europe and Australia and there are a significant number of employees scattered around the world that could help each other if they could connect. Socialtext People is a functionality that allows creating profiles with important information such as, interests and current projects; any employee could follow any other who is interesting to their objectives and likes; so the first employee would be well-informed about the other employee’s publications such as, blogs, wikis and updates.
  • Instant information: Socialtext Signals is the microblogging service of the suite. This element helps the employees to get to know the important projects, accomplishments, updates of the different members; staying on top of what the other people is doing and therefore collaborate or comment when is relevant; also, as everybody in the company would have a general idea of what the others are doing, this could prevent duplication of work. If an employee has a question, this one could be posed through Socialtext Signals so that any leads to solve the problem could be provided by the community. Click to see the Socialtext signals video.
  • A central place for sharing ideas: The blog functionality would create a place for sharing and developing ideas in the community. RSS feeds exist for maintaining informed the subscribed contacts. Epitaph Records have a blog system called: “Great Ideas Blog”, where employees are encouraged to write their ideas and suggestions. Also, there is another blog system named: “Interesting Read Blog” where links to different references from relevant topics are posted.
  • Process templates: Epitaph has developed several templates regarding diverse processes in the company which are in the Socialtext system, these items provide a standardized system for following procedures and in case that any of these processes would have to be improved, the templates are changed and the staff would have the revised template straight away.

Cons:  

  • Incorrect subscription brings un-relevant information: If the employees don’t subscribe to the right blogs or follow the right contacts, they could end up with a dashboard of useless information that instead of helping them would create hurdles in their efficiency.
  • Posting of un-significant information: The system is as good as the information put into it. If the employees fill the system with inadequate information, then it would be useless and the employees’ adoption index would slip to the ground. This could be solved with good education about the system and policies related.

Overall, this is a great tool for effective communication in an enterprise and if is ordely deployed the system would be the information and collaboration hub of the organization; quoting Gurewitz: “The Memory”.

As you can see I am into music business and I am interested on how Enterprise 2.0 has been implemented by successful companies in the sector, I’ll keep researching about this and if you are interested in this topic follow me!

Cheers,

Jacques Kerguelen Blog

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Smart Use of Reverbnation (Enterprise 2.0 for Musicians)

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Web 2.0 is about communicate and putting in contact people. The expansion of our networks is critical to fulfil our goals, a lot of times is who you know and how you deal with that relationship the critical aspect to achieve the things that you want.

Photo taken from Mindbridge

Besides my interest in Enterprise 2.0, I am a musician and music manager on the make. For musicians or their supporters (booking agents or managers) is critical to establish a relation with the proper contacts that could hire them for shows and events, such as weddings or corporate gatherings. How to create a network where musicians and bands could develop and strengthen links with their potential customers or go-betweens?

For most of musicians, their original music is their preferred way to go; but a few make a living out of it. The weddings and corporate events though, where they play cover music, are the mine of their living. In these, the bands are critical elements in the provision of entertainment to a specific crowd. In the case of weddings there are other key elements such as: caterers, wedding dress makers, venues, cake manufacturers, etc.

Gig booking is an art: A good way to get gigs is to work with referees in the industry, which means if a band performs well in a reception and creates a great relationship with a caterer it is likely that this person would suggest their future customers to get the band for their wedding reception. This applies also for other key contacts in the function. Referees are one of the most effective ways to become part of the product chain and get work!

So, we need a social website that could showcase bands and would allow them to create and show relationships with contacts in the social event industry. In each of the bands’ pages, music would be made available as well as live videos. The contacts (members of the supply chain, past customers or guests to events) would be able to rate the bands that they have had the chance to know, according to their skill, public engagement, timeliness, etc. With this information, any prospect would be able to become a member of this social media a check out the bands around and see their description, rates and comments and would be able to make a booking with the most adequate band.

Reberbnation has most of the features that I would like to have for this Social Website: It has a page for each band where they could have music, live videos, band reviews, comments, etc. Also, when a person is signing up, it has the chance to do it as an artist, fan or venue giving different functionalities to each of them. The rating functionality is not in this page though, and I mean by rating the stars that could show the reputation of an entity (as is usual in eBay). As a venue, any person is able to check the bands in their whereabouts, what kind of music they play, how they sound on stage and the comments of different people.

I think that this a good way to create work relationships between the musos and the industry, after all, in addition to who you are and what you can do, the who you know factor is critical to get the dough!

Jacques