Jul 20, 2009 at 08:56 PM
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Five Music Sites for Marketers

A recent report in the Guardian last weekend painted a surprisingly optimistic picture for the music industry. Why is this? For one, diversification, expedited by desperation. With dwindling music sales, sponsorship, licensing and merchandise are all taking a bigger slice of the music revenue pie. Back in May, IEG forecasted that North American companies will spend $1.08B on music festival and touring sponsorships in 2009, an increase of 3.8%. While sponsorship and licensing may still in many cases be the domain of labels (via the "360 deal"), musicians and managers are getting more and more into the mix, according to the Guardian's piece. Musicians and managers may not have all of the resources of a major label, but there are a lot of new resources that are popping up to help them find the right mix. For brands, the challenge remains in finding the right marketing mix? We all know that big acts can reach a broader audience, but niche acts often times carry a more rabid and passionate fan base. Here in lies the challenge, and the opportunity perhaps.

Here are a few services that are giving it a shot.

Photobucket GigMaven. GigMaven connects musicians with live music venues by allowing them to book their gigs online. Sponsored gigs? Perhaps.

ReverbNation. ReverbNation recently piloted a program that let Microsoft Windows sponsor the distribution of independent artists' songs. Paid by Windows and free for the consumer. In exchange, Microsoft obtained cover art and banner ads. Is niche brand targeting by genre the next opportunity?

Sellaband. Sellaband is a new website that allows consumers to "crowdsource" or chip in to get artists to the point where they can professionally record an album - in return they receive the music for free when it is produced and a share of the album sales. It says 27 artists from 12 countries have each raised the US$ 50,000 required to make an album, and more than US$ 2.2 million has been invested in unsigned artists thus far. Can brands align with their target audience's favorite bands to get them closer to their goals or would this taint the process?

OurStage. OurStage is an American Idol-esque online competition that allows artists to rise and fall down the charts depending on how the audience votes. OurStage, which has raised over $20MM in VC cash to date, matches booking agents with acts and obtains sponsorship for each of its online stages (based on genre).

Tunecore. Tunecore allows artists to distribute music to each of the major music stores such as itunes. In association with Gray V it is currently piloting a program that allows musicians to license music to third parties such as hotels, restaurants and retail stores.

Ultimately, each of these companies is seeking to address a similar problem: how do you more efficiently segment and match buyers and sellers? Sometimes its entirely new buyers (i.e. labels were the old buyers/investors and now fans perhaps), but whether it's tickets, songs, licensing or sponsorship it's the same basic dilemma.

Can brands get smarter and more pro-active about connecting with niche artists, festivals and tours? Every marketer knows when/where/who is playing at their local ballpark, but can they say the same about the artists and festivals that their consumer base is passionate about? If that's the case, aren't festivals and artists at an informational disadvantage from the get-go when competing for marketing dollars?

What are your thoughts? Which new services, if any, do you think will help marketers strike the right chord with their consumers?

photo cred: Xstream_i via Flickr