Attention indie musicians and marketeers. Digital Music News reported on a recent industry panel at UCLA on the importance of using video, controversy and good content to build buzz and promote your band in the digital age.

“Video is key,” said David Dorn, a senior vice president at Rhino Records, speaking to a group of students, executives, and reporters at UCLA on Wednesday. “Right now, online, video is what everybody is interested in. And if you are working with a new band, you have to make sure there are enough video assets.”

Well, what is particularly new about that? After all, MTV built an empire on the backs of major label produced video content for nearly two decades. Remember Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and thousands more? Now YouTube, MySpace and other sites are doing the same thing on the back of major and indie artists and individuals. Today it is Avril Lavigne, Beyonce, Shakira, MCR.

During the session, Dorn also pointed to the importance of other types of content, including images and MP3s. Fans are simply ravenous for fresh content, including video – and that is a demand that must be satisfied. For artists and labels, that means filming the band on the road, offering live clips and interviews, and uploading studio outtakes. “Document it, because that’s what the fans want,” Dorn assured.

Most motivated artists are already saturated within a number of online and video-specific outlets. But what is the secret to winning the seemingly hopeless attention game on YouTube? “Anyone can get 5-10,000 views,” explained Larry Weintraub, chief executive of Fanscape. “But if you want to get into the hundred-thousands or millions, you’ve got to court some controversy.”

That often includes a combination of “sex, killing, drugs, and violence,” something few would argue with. Of course, the content involved must be aligned with the image of the group, though edginess and controversy are great viral lubricants. That will cause more fans to embed the videos into their profile pages, share links online, and boost rankings on YouTube.

Ok, again – nothing new here. Any good marketer knows that getting into the minds of potential customers is much easier if your product or service is controversial or surrounded in mystery. Remember “Paul is dead” for the Beatles? Madonna’s “like a virgin”, Public Enemy’s comments, and Elvis’s hips. All propelled by controversy.

The discussion happened within a class conducted by longtime industry executives Lenny Beer (Hits), Jeff Jampol (The Doors), and Jeff Sturges (Universal Music Publishing Group). The class, “The Music Business Now,” held its final class on Wednesday before adjourning for the semester. More information at myspace.com/233962706.

Read more here at Digital Music News.

The lesson to be learned is that good music marketing works. The times have changed, the methods are more varied, the channels have exploded – but many of the tactics are the same – superimposed on the new digital landscape.

For more info, check out these new Berkleemusic marketing courses here and here and programs here.

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4 replies
  1. Phil Galland says:

    I wrote 2 posts about that subject on my blog http://philgalland.wordpress.com
    1. the modlife.com / angels & Airwaves model : fans subscribe to a premium account for USD 3/month and have access to a lot of exclusive content (video, interviews, blogs, shows, backstage report…)
    2. deeprockdrive.com : a interactive digital live shows for bands broadcast over internet.

    feel free to share your opinion!

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