Music marketing ideas wanted!

I had a great chat with Caroline Bottomley at Tuttle last week.  She runs Radar Music Videos .

I am giving her some advice on business development for her business as she wants to become the go-to website for indie music videos.  However, I also said that I'd tap the power of the network and get your help and advice for her as well. 

Read Caroline's description of her business and the issues she faces.

Please comment with your advice for her.

Thanks

RadarMusicVideos.com is a music video directors' network and worldwide music video commissioning platform.

There are c2000 members, 1-5 briefs are posted each week, all briefs have budgets, usually from £5k/$7.5k to £100/$150. Clients – indie labels and DIY/unsigned artists – pay 15% of their budget to Radar if they commission, the remainder is production budget. Directors can get free accounts on the site, but pay £20/$30 per annum to see and pitch on briefs.

Three issues I'm facing:
1/ Sales. Artist and Label clients who've used the site give glowing testimonials, but the numbers of new clients coming onto the site aren't growing very fast. There's a potentially huge global market for this service of indie labels and DIY/unsigned artists and I'm not getting to anything like enough of them through my own efforts and word of mouth. Is an affiliate scheme the right solution? What other options are there?  

2/ Escrow. I'm hesitating about requiring clients to place the 15% commission in escrow. My concern is that it represents a barrier to entry for new clients, who I think are fairly hesitant in general about whether the site is 'worth it'. On the other hand, chasing people for payment is a pain and will become a significant cost once the site gets busier. Should I bite the bullet and do it now? If so, who do you recommend?

3/ People management. I outsource everything I can. I've just started working with part-time people on marketing. How long can I keep outsourcing and holding regular face to face team meetings? I want to grow organically and to put off costs like office overheads for staff for as long as possible.

4/ Given your answers to 1-3 above can you help me prioritise, Where should my resources go?

Caroline is very happy to receive advice from marketing professionals offering their services but in order not to be swamped with pitches, please contribute to the comments here first i.e. show your hand.  As a second stage I'll share contact details with her if you give me permission.  Please don't contact her via the Radar site for this project.

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27 replies
  1. Giles Hutchison says:

    1. It might be worth talking to http://www.quitegreat.co.uk, they are good at viral marketing in the Indie music area. Let me know if you want an intro. Also a partnership with an online streaming site for Indie bands that I helped set-up might help, see http://www.screeningvault.com .

    2. Using http://www.escrow.com is very easy, I have used it sucessfully before.

    3. Using smaller companies for outsourcing means that you can get the same person for consistency.

    4. Do as much viral marketting as you can – all the Indie bands have got profiles on MySpace, you could let them know about your site via a personal profile there.

    Giles

    Reply
  2. Giles Hutchison says:

    1. It might be worth talking to http://www.quitegreat.co.uk, they are good at viral marketing in the Indie music area. Let me know if you want an intro. Also a partnership with an online streaming site for Indie bands that I helped set-up might help, see http://www.screeningvault.com .

    2. Using http://www.escrow.com is very easy, I have used it sucessfully before.

    3. Using smaller companies for outsourcing means that you can get the same person for consistency.

    4. Do as much viral marketting as you can – all the Indie bands have got profiles on MySpace, you could let them know about your site via a personal profile there.

    Giles

    Reply
  3. Sarah Platt says:

    Hi there

    Saw the tweet about this blog and happy to contribute to help out Caroline and others (and do some thinking myself as I think these challenges are the kind that face many small businesses – including mine). It’s always helpful to get outside views from experienced folk when making business decisions. Hopefully my comments will be of some use.

    1 – Sales – always tricky as good sales people are hard to find and don’t come cheap. That said, there will be a lot of good people out there at the moment looking for alternative income and you may want to consider offering someone a commission only pay structure. Having someone who is solely focused on the sales side is a great help, even if it’s only a couple of days a week. Affiliate schemes could be part of your plan, but it might be more fruitful to develop a clear and measurable PR plan that directly targets your potential clients. Are you getting known in the places your clients hang out? How much press have you got? Could you do more to drive traffic or raise your profile by getting some stories published?

    2. Escrow – As I understand it you are asking for your 15% upfront? If so I think that sounds fair enough and probably separates the time wasters from the serious contenders. If people don’t put faith in your value proposition from the start then it could make the whole project tricky. I’ve heard of Obopay and Alipay for Escrow but not sure of their charges or exactly what reputation they have.

    3. I’m in a similar position and need to keep a firm check on freelance costs and overheads. I would say, in the current climate, that keeping overheads low is the best bet and many people are happy to work flexibly in terms of time and location. It’s tricky managing a team that are not permanent and spread out all over the place – but if it means you can make higher profit margins whilst the business grows then it’s worth keeping on until you really can afford office space etc. You could always take a couple of hot desks for something like £500 a month where you get everything thrown in except phonelines. This means you have a place to work whilst not getting into business rates or paying full whack for your own offices, connectivity, cleaning and all those overheads we tend to forget about when working from home! I’ve recently discovered http://www.deskspacegenie.co.uk/
    If you have enough to take someone on part-time to get another member of the team committed I would recommend getting a good all rounder who is early stage of their career and can do marketing, account management, editing, graphics, PR, copywriting, and so on – multi-tasking whizzkids with lots of energy and ideas are not that hard to find thesedays :)

    4. Prioritising. Hmmm. Sales make the business go round. Promotion drives sales.

    Hope some of this is useful Caroline!

    Sarah Platt
    Kinura Web Video

    Reply
  4. Sarah Platt says:

    Hi there

    Saw the tweet about this blog and happy to contribute to help out Caroline and others (and do some thinking myself as I think these challenges are the kind that face many small businesses – including mine). It’s always helpful to get outside views from experienced folk when making business decisions. Hopefully my comments will be of some use.

    1 – Sales – always tricky as good sales people are hard to find and don’t come cheap. That said, there will be a lot of good people out there at the moment looking for alternative income and you may want to consider offering someone a commission only pay structure. Having someone who is solely focused on the sales side is a great help, even if it’s only a couple of days a week. Affiliate schemes could be part of your plan, but it might be more fruitful to develop a clear and measurable PR plan that directly targets your potential clients. Are you getting known in the places your clients hang out? How much press have you got? Could you do more to drive traffic or raise your profile by getting some stories published?

    2. Escrow – As I understand it you are asking for your 15% upfront? If so I think that sounds fair enough and probably separates the time wasters from the serious contenders. If people don’t put faith in your value proposition from the start then it could make the whole project tricky. I’ve heard of Obopay and Alipay for Escrow but not sure of their charges or exactly what reputation they have.

    3. I’m in a similar position and need to keep a firm check on freelance costs and overheads. I would say, in the current climate, that keeping overheads low is the best bet and many people are happy to work flexibly in terms of time and location. It’s tricky managing a team that are not permanent and spread out all over the place – but if it means you can make higher profit margins whilst the business grows then it’s worth keeping on until you really can afford office space etc. You could always take a couple of hot desks for something like £500 a month where you get everything thrown in except phonelines. This means you have a place to work whilst not getting into business rates or paying full whack for your own offices, connectivity, cleaning and all those overheads we tend to forget about when working from home! I’ve recently discovered http://www.deskspacegenie.co.uk/
    If you have enough to take someone on part-time to get another member of the team committed I would recommend getting a good all rounder who is early stage of their career and can do marketing, account management, editing, graphics, PR, copywriting, and so on – multi-tasking whizzkids with lots of energy and ideas are not that hard to find thesedays :)

    4. Prioritising. Hmmm. Sales make the business go round. Promotion drives sales.

    Hope some of this is useful Caroline!

    Sarah Platt
    Kinura Web Video

    Reply
  5. Tom G. says:

    In regard to sales, the fact that you are receiving glowing feedback, but few new clients points to the need for a referral-based reward program.

    Provide incentives and an easy trackable process for your existing clients to recommend your site/service to their circle of contacts.

    Independent record labels and DIY bands are a very “connected” group. They commonly compare service companies and other opportunities ranging from distribution to gear rental to insurance to video directors.

    Outsourcing your marketing and communications is recommended. It is probably more cost-effective than bringing on an in-house marketing team.

    Good luck to you!

    Best,

    Tom G.
    Clatterhead – Social Media Advertising and Marketing

    Reply
  6. Tom G. says:

    In regard to sales, the fact that you are receiving glowing feedback, but few new clients points to the need for a referral-based reward program.

    Provide incentives and an easy trackable process for your existing clients to recommend your site/service to their circle of contacts.

    Independent record labels and DIY bands are a very “connected” group. They commonly compare service companies and other opportunities ranging from distribution to gear rental to insurance to video directors.

    Outsourcing your marketing and communications is recommended. It is probably more cost-effective than bringing on an in-house marketing team.

    Good luck to you!

    Best,

    Tom G.
    Clatterhead – Social Media Advertising and Marketing

    Reply
  7. rebecca says:

    Giles, Sarah, Tom
    you guys ROCK! Thanks so much for giving the exact input that I am not able to do as I’m not experienced in music marketing.

    Thanks again for all your suggestions.

    Reply
  8. rebecca says:

    Giles, Sarah, Tom
    you guys ROCK! Thanks so much for giving the exact input that I am not able to do as I’m not experienced in music marketing.

    Thanks again for all your suggestions.

    Reply
  9. Caroline Bottomley says:

    Fab answers – thanks so much. In order:
    Giles,
    yes getting some professional PR is definitely on the cards and thanks for intro offer – I'm one degree away from them (via a man called Kevin Bacon co-incidentally) so can follow through that way.
    If you think screening vault might be up for some cross promotion, would love to have an intro to them, thanks.
    Thanks re MySpace et al, we're pretty good on social network profiles outside Radar but there’s always room for improvement. MySpace is getting increasingly quiet/worthless as a social network/destination (increasingly a place for spam generation ie no-one really listens to each other, like on iMeem), but they know they're getting a lot of criticism and have just appointed a new head. I'm going to see if we can get a special promotion with them in MySpace Music. If you or anyone has current contacts there, would hugely appreciate an intro.
    Many thanks for taking the time to give your advice, much appreciated
    Caroline – I'm caroline@radarmusicvideos.com

    Reply
  10. Caroline Bottomley says:

    Fab answers – thanks so much. In order:
    Giles,
    yes getting some professional PR is definitely on the cards and thanks for intro offer – I'm one degree away from them (via a man called Kevin Bacon co-incidentally) so can follow through that way.
    If you think screening vault might be up for some cross promotion, would love to have an intro to them, thanks.
    Thanks re MySpace et al, we're pretty good on social network profiles outside Radar but there’s always room for improvement. MySpace is getting increasingly quiet/worthless as a social network/destination (increasingly a place for spam generation ie no-one really listens to each other, like on iMeem), but they know they're getting a lot of criticism and have just appointed a new head. I'm going to see if we can get a special promotion with them in MySpace Music. If you or anyone has current contacts there, would hugely appreciate an intro.
    Many thanks for taking the time to give your advice, much appreciated
    Caroline – I'm caroline@radarmusicvideos.com

    Reply
  11. Caroline Bottomley says:

    Sarah! You’re fab, thanks for this really thoughtful stuff.

    1/
    spot on re sales people. Some ideas forming around that – Tom makes some useful suggestions too. Might use UK Music Jobs to find people – as well as twitter of course :)
    yes about PR too – we haven’t had much press at all and there’s loads of stories.
    2/
    Rebecca is also counseling go with escrow for much the same reason. Thanks for suggestions re escrow services, I’ll check them out, need to find one that doesn’t have a minimum charge, some of our 15%s can be very small.
    3/
    great link to deskspacegenie, a nice mid-point between home office and ‘proper’ office. And good point about the allrounder whizzkid. I’ve just started working with London Connected to find music interested/skilled interns, in case that’s useful to anyone else reading this.
    4/
    yes, good reminder to put sales at the top of the list. I often *think* it is and realise I haven’t actually done anything to drive sales for a while.

    again many thanks for taking the time, as you say it’s very helpful to get outside views from experienced folk.
    Would you be up for doing that interview we talked about a while ago? let’s email

    Caroline

    Reply
  12. Caroline Bottomley says:

    Sarah! You’re fab, thanks for this really thoughtful stuff.

    1/
    spot on re sales people. Some ideas forming around that – Tom makes some useful suggestions too. Might use UK Music Jobs to find people – as well as twitter of course :)
    yes about PR too – we haven’t had much press at all and there’s loads of stories.
    2/
    Rebecca is also counseling go with escrow for much the same reason. Thanks for suggestions re escrow services, I’ll check them out, need to find one that doesn’t have a minimum charge, some of our 15%s can be very small.
    3/
    great link to deskspacegenie, a nice mid-point between home office and ‘proper’ office. And good point about the allrounder whizzkid. I’ve just started working with London Connected to find music interested/skilled interns, in case that’s useful to anyone else reading this.
    4/
    yes, good reminder to put sales at the top of the list. I often *think* it is and realise I haven’t actually done anything to drive sales for a while.

    again many thanks for taking the time, as you say it’s very helpful to get outside views from experienced folk.
    Would you be up for doing that interview we talked about a while ago? let’s email

    Caroline

    Reply
  13. Caroline Bottomley says:

    Hi Tom

    I *think* what you’re describing is what I was thinking of for an affiliate programme, eg the referrals based reward programme, but calling it that makes me think there’s probably a different way to devise the user-interface. I was thinking of something that feels more consumer facing and now I’m thinking about whether there’s a way to make this feel more BtoB.

    thanks for the observations about marketing and communications too.

    Really helpful stuff, huge thanks for your time and thoughts

    Caroline

    Reply
  14. Caroline Bottomley says:

    Hi Tom

    I *think* what you’re describing is what I was thinking of for an affiliate programme, eg the referrals based reward programme, but calling it that makes me think there’s probably a different way to devise the user-interface. I was thinking of something that feels more consumer facing and now I’m thinking about whether there’s a way to make this feel more BtoB.

    thanks for the observations about marketing and communications too.

    Really helpful stuff, huge thanks for your time and thoughts

    Caroline

    Reply
  15. Alexander G says:

    Sorry for the delayed reply, but I waited till I had a chance to speak to a friend, Ben, a film maker, here in our building. Similar to many in the film industry, Ben made his debut in the early nineties with Music Videos. I always prefer to hear from the target audience and end- users. Alas this is a sample of one, but your site is not unlike match- making sites in other creative industries, like photography, graphic design, web design, jewellery etc.

    Your concerns, like others already mentioned, are similar to many small start-ups, especially in the business environment of the web; many hit a ceiling earlier than expected. This even happens to well funded, more technically complex sites, as I learned when I was approached in the past year with a similar question by a music search site supported by well known popstar.

    You have received already some very valuable comments on your 3 main issues, so I will try to give you some directions that may improve the appeal of your service leading to more sales.

    As you are interested to create more awareness of your site, leading to more clients I was interested in Ben’s initial responses:
    1 I never heard of this site although I am well connected in the industry
    2 What is the reputation of this site? Who is on it? Who uses it?
    3 Who is this for? For me?
    4 Wow, prices have come down from when I was making music videos.  
    Anybody with a DV cam and access to iMovie is on to it.
    5 How does it compare to http://www.promonews.tv/ the place I go to learn about new directors?

    His main response, and I guess you know this from your expertise in this field, is that this industry is driven by reputation. Bands look for specific directors, which have individual styles, within particular genres. Bands with 10k plus budgets use established agencies as the risk gets too high.

    So here a few notes :

    A. First of all, the site seem to have all the right underlying functionality… and some great clips!

    B. You are operating in a niche market environment, although potentially with a global reach.
    - make a decision to target specific genres or highlight particular styles
    - be more specific about communities and locality; the smaller the budget the less participants will be able to travel.
    - limit the budgets you are targeting or create clear budget categories (see below)

    C. I assume the site attracts visitors in this order:
    1 casual visitors checking out video clips
    2 beginning directors looking for work
    3 bands looking for directors

    … but your service relies on (start up) bands commissioning directors.

    D. The business model of a site needs to be expressed through the design of the site.
    If this site offers services that are based on monetary transactions then :

    - Show upfront Use Cases and tell success stories how bands found directors

    - Be specific about budgets and what you get for it ; Offer categories that show explicitly what you get for your money… “What do I get for my budget?” (currently you only seem to offer an inverted market I have X budget, this deadline, what can you offer?)

    - Be very clear what you expect from your customers. Eg feature a director and offer a £500-1000 fixed deal for the first shoot.

    - Be even more explicit, not about the Bands and the Video clips, but about the Directors there are links to portfolios but a Director needs to get a mark of distinction amongst all other members and users of the site. eg “What can this director do for me?”

    - Create dedicated entry points for the different users of your site:

    1 I am here just to see some cool clips
    2 I am here to find a director to make a clip within this budget
    3 I am here to offer my director services and check out briefs.

    E. I dont know how much you expect to make from the Google Adsense at the bottom of each page, but it makes a strong statement about the value of the services offered. It dilutes the value of your offer, especially if you are charging for clearly defined transactions and memberships. Better find relevant and appropriate sponsors or partners.

    Hope this helps, success, Alexander

    Btw dwb is exploring ways to bring discovery and introduction of products and services, driven by lifestyle differentiation, back in physical locations on the high street.

    Reply
  16. Alexander G says:

    Sorry for the delayed reply, but I waited till I had a chance to speak to a friend, Ben, a film maker, here in our building. Similar to many in the film industry, Ben made his debut in the early nineties with Music Videos. I always prefer to hear from the target audience and end- users. Alas this is a sample of one, but your site is not unlike match- making sites in other creative industries, like photography, graphic design, web design, jewellery etc.

    Your concerns, like others already mentioned, are similar to many small start-ups, especially in the business environment of the web; many hit a ceiling earlier than expected. This even happens to well funded, more technically complex sites, as I learned when I was approached in the past year with a similar question by a music search site supported by well known popstar.

    You have received already some very valuable comments on your 3 main issues, so I will try to give you some directions that may improve the appeal of your service leading to more sales.

    As you are interested to create more awareness of your site, leading to more clients I was interested in Ben’s initial responses:
    1 I never heard of this site although I am well connected in the industry
    2 What is the reputation of this site? Who is on it? Who uses it?
    3 Who is this for? For me?
    4 Wow, prices have come down from when I was making music videos.  
    Anybody with a DV cam and access to iMovie is on to it.
    5 How does it compare to http://www.promonews.tv/ the place I go to learn about new directors?

    His main response, and I guess you know this from your expertise in this field, is that this industry is driven by reputation. Bands look for specific directors, which have individual styles, within particular genres. Bands with 10k plus budgets use established agencies as the risk gets too high.

    So here a few notes :

    A. First of all, the site seem to have all the right underlying functionality… and some great clips!

    B. You are operating in a niche market environment, although potentially with a global reach.
    - make a decision to target specific genres or highlight particular styles
    - be more specific about communities and locality; the smaller the budget the less participants will be able to travel.
    - limit the budgets you are targeting or create clear budget categories (see below)

    C. I assume the site attracts visitors in this order:
    1 casual visitors checking out video clips
    2 beginning directors looking for work
    3 bands looking for directors

    … but your service relies on (start up) bands commissioning directors.

    D. The business model of a site needs to be expressed through the design of the site.
    If this site offers services that are based on monetary transactions then :

    - Show upfront Use Cases and tell success stories how bands found directors

    - Be specific about budgets and what you get for it ; Offer categories that show explicitly what you get for your money… “What do I get for my budget?” (currently you only seem to offer an inverted market I have X budget, this deadline, what can you offer?)

    - Be very clear what you expect from your customers. Eg feature a director and offer a £500-1000 fixed deal for the first shoot.

    - Be even more explicit, not about the Bands and the Video clips, but about the Directors there are links to portfolios but a Director needs to get a mark of distinction amongst all other members and users of the site. eg “What can this director do for me?”

    - Create dedicated entry points for the different users of your site:

    1 I am here just to see some cool clips
    2 I am here to find a director to make a clip within this budget
    3 I am here to offer my director services and check out briefs.

    E. I dont know how much you expect to make from the Google Adsense at the bottom of each page, but it makes a strong statement about the value of the services offered. It dilutes the value of your offer, especially if you are charging for clearly defined transactions and memberships. Better find relevant and appropriate sponsors or partners.

    Hope this helps, success, Alexander

    Btw dwb is exploring ways to bring discovery and introduction of products and services, driven by lifestyle differentiation, back in physical locations on the high street.

    Reply
  17. Caroline Bottomley says:

    I promised Rebecca I’d do feedback/a recommendation. And it’s been on my to do list too long!

    Chatting issues through with Rebecca was great. Although she doesn’t know this industry and Radar is developing a slightly unusual business model, Rebecca got to the bare bones of our issues very quickly and gave some spot on recommendations. She really knows her onions about utilising the value of social networks, on and offline, and came up with some great ideas.

    It’s a measure of her immersion in social media that she offered more help through this blog – knitting together all sorts of lovely online social opportunities. I’m extremely appreciative of the ideas, opinions and suggestions from the various contacts who took the time to reply here. Great stuff to have interest and support from my peers. All initiated by Rebecca.

    I’d recommend her highly to anyone looking for quick, clever and generous business support. Thank you Rebecca! See you at Tuttle!

    Reply
  18. Caroline Bottomley says:

    I promised Rebecca I’d do feedback/a recommendation. And it’s been on my to do list too long!

    Chatting issues through with Rebecca was great. Although she doesn’t know this industry and Radar is developing a slightly unusual business model, Rebecca got to the bare bones of our issues very quickly and gave some spot on recommendations. She really knows her onions about utilising the value of social networks, on and offline, and came up with some great ideas.

    It’s a measure of her immersion in social media that she offered more help through this blog – knitting together all sorts of lovely online social opportunities. I’m extremely appreciative of the ideas, opinions and suggestions from the various contacts who took the time to reply here. Great stuff to have interest and support from my peers. All initiated by Rebecca.

    I’d recommend her highly to anyone looking for quick, clever and generous business support. Thank you Rebecca! See you at Tuttle!

    Reply
  19. rebecca says:

    Caroline, thanks very much for your kind words. I’m hoping the financial effects are feeding through to Radar Music Videos already.
    Best
    Rebecca

    Reply
  20. rebecca says:

    Caroline, thanks very much for your kind words. I’m hoping the financial effects are feeding through to Radar Music Videos already.
    Best
    Rebecca

    Reply

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