Brian Shafton, owner of RBC Records, has been deeply involved with both hip hop artist and label marketing and distribution. Both running a label and supporting artist-owned indie labels gives Shafton a full view of not only what it takes to break an artist but to maintain a career. In a recent interview, Shafton repeatedly noted the importance of social media to these acts.
Rick Goetz of Musician Coaching spoke with Brian Shafton about his music industry career and unique hybrid business RBC Records. Combining indie record label with artist label services brings Shafton in touch with the careers of newly emerging artists as well as established enterprises like those of Tech N9ne and E-40.
Brian Shafton maintains that one's social media presence is considered a key early indicator of viability:
The most common misconception is that all it takes for us to be interested in someone is for that person to have amazing music. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that the way we analyze artists is much more based on demand. And the social networks really dictate the level of demand. If you’re a new artist without a history of releases that I can see in SoundScan to find out how you’ve sold in the past, I can monitor it through your social networks. I can look at how many YouTube videos you have, what kind of comments you’re getting, what kind of Twitter following you have, etc. These are all critical things to have, and they really compel the artist to touch the fans, which was an impossible thing 10-15 years ago. The Internet has really put the artist in touch with the fan, which allows us to see how that artist interacts and what kind of demand there is for the music."
My strongest advice for artists is to be really active with your socials and create demand accordingly. The rest will come to you."
Where to focus marketing spend for developing artists?
Everyone is unique, and you have to look and see what an artist’s talents are and where the fans reside, then attack them there. The most universal things are going to be the social networks. Everyone needs to be in touch with their fan base."
But not every artist deserves a crack at radio, and it’s a very expensive venture to go in that direction, so you really have to analyze the music and the fan base as well as statistics such as previous sales and radio history in order to make that determination."
So, there really is no blanket marketing plan; everything needs to be customized. But the one essential theme throughout for every artist is definitely the social networks."
You can absolutely tell what’s real and what’s not by looking at the interaction with the fans. If an artist has 20 million Facebook fans, then creates a post and only gets four “like”s, or if all the comments are in another language, those 20 million “like's are probably not real."
You can do the analysis and figure out where people are coming from and where they’re coming from. And, yes, if they come from a different country, they’ve probably been purchased. If you look at Twitter and see they have 200,000 followers and are following 300,000 people, it’s also probably not real. And obviously, when we’re looking for someone to partner with, we’re trying to find acts with a substantial fan base that is legitimate."
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