By M. Frascogna
Before fully ringing in 2010, let’s reflect on the lessons learned in 2009. With out a doubt ‘09 represented the year of the foreigner So indie musicians, labels, and music professionals, reset the radar as 2010 is the year for global expansion. The obvious question – how? This particular article is geared as a guide for indie level groups, however the advice cuts across all levels. It’s insight into aspects that are either taken for granted or not fully identified. So without delay, the 10 essential tools to penetrating a global market in 2010. Follow them from top to bottom and start implementing them immediately.
1. Get an Attorney
For some strange reason attorneys are still classified as “the suits” within the music industry. Debunk this immediately because an entertainment attorney will prove to be the most valuable chess piece on your career board. Why? Besides having the means to infiltrate the industry decision makers whenever necessary, attorneys are also essential in global expansion. Without a doubt, international red tape will arise while attempting to expand a business (ie: your career) across borders. Attorneys are your roadmap in minimizing the financial causalities, and insurance you’re tapping into the correct global market. Also, attorneys have adapted to today’s indie driven market. For attorneys to eat, they’ve got to grow with their artist. The days of teaming with a one hit wonder and banking-in are over; rather it takes sustainable growth and partnership from both parties essentially “in it together.” Finally, attorneys can be effective as your manager as well. This in essence gives you a power piece without paying two parties (ie: attorney & manager). Invest in an attorney on the front end. At some point you’ll need one and it’s better to gain them in the beginning as opposed to the back when it will cost you an arm and leg. Not to mention, an attorney can help you accomplish about 8 of these 10 steps!
2. Get a Passport
This is a no brainier. International growth is 100% impossible without hitting the ground in a target country at some point. Sure, some groups may hit the lottery by tossing out a few free MP3’s that get a listen in Poland, but this doesn’t mean effective growth. It will fizzle, believe me. Get a passport now to set the stage for international tours, promotion, or marketing efforts in the next six months. Remember, passports are not an overnight ordeal so get on it now.
3. Artist Development Plan (A.D.P)
Fore creative thinkers there will be resistance with this step, but you must take a page out of the business playbook. Just as a business follows a business plan, artists should follow an artist plan specifically tailored to their goals. An ADP (Artist Development Plan) helps artists organize a growth path, get goals down on paper, and have an overall game plan to guide when times get difficult. Entertainment attorneys prove a tremendous asset here. They will help you produce realistic goals based on market trends by objectively evaluating your career. Need help, no problem. I do a specific amount each year, or can funnel you to the someone for help.
4. Get Organized. Really Organized. Like Crazy Man Organized!
To gain global success you must first know where you’re going. Global music is different, not by much, but there are several nuances you must learn. Target a country, study the market, know what is successfully, the popular artists, the typical fan base, etc… This takes patience and organization; but when you can lay the information out next to stats on your own band the information is invaluable.
5. Revaluate Your Stage Show
Sadly, stage shows have fallen to the wayside. Compared to the 1960’s, attention to stage performance, creative stage performance for that matter, have been in the toilet; but when expanding overseas this will be a deal killer or deal maker so pay attention. The expectation level for success when expanding markets runs at an all time high, especially for American bands crossing the Atlantic. People expect something different. Do what everyone else does in terms of performance and your dead. Time to re-tune, re-think, and reinvent your stage show to reflect some creative thought.
6. Get a Local Contact
As much as you want to control all aspects of your career you’ve got to let something’s go. Get a local contact. Local contacts help with navigating the unforeseen issues, and further can help gain a foothold with venues, radio, promoters, labels, etc…
7. Focus on Radio
It’s not completely dead! If you’re an immigrating artist, radio is somewhat easy to pierce as opposed to social media outlets. Why? International radio stations are looking for something different, and as a foreign artist you’ve got that something different. Radio is driven by listeners and advertisement, and you can help obtain both. If you’re persistent with stations and willing to participate in on-air interviews, chances are this will attract international stations as they stand to gain from airing unique musicians. This possibly equates to more listeners which spawns higher advertisement rates for the station. More importantly for you, it attracts potential local partners interested in branding opportunities or licensing agreements.
8. Team With Local Talent
Forget about reinventing the wheel and going solo on tour, rather team up with local talent and benefit from their success. Local musicians, if musically compatible, benefit from partnering with international acts because it provides cross-promotional potential. Take advantage of this system and begin researching (Step 4) which acts are well-suited in terms of music and touring schedule.
9. Festivals are Great, Holidays are Better
Many bands view festival season as an opportunity to expand their international appeal. Let’s be realistic for a second, sure festivals are great but it’s also an absolute bitch to be the band selected out of thousands also submitting material for consideration. Another alternative is to identify the local holidays. I’m not talking about mainstream holidays, I’m talking about the local holidays specific to a particular town, city, or national tradition. Penetrate this market and you’ll get authentic fans who will prove to be timeless buyers.
10. Make Sure to Have Product, but Buy Local
Weaving through the international labyrinth is important, but making sure you have product on the other end to sell is what makes it beneficial. Consider this, if you have T-shirt designs, album layouts, or poster mockups, do NOT ship them. Shipping will cost a fortune and customs will be a nightmare so identify local businesses that can fulfill your demands. This will prove less of a hassle and economically beneficial when it’s all said and done.
Here’s to 2010