If you know what KTBSBPA means, then just imagine the chaos of actually being on the management side for Backstreet Boys and all the insane people you’d come into contact wanting any piece of BSB they could get. I met @Dashgo founder, Ben Patterson while he was still dealing with all things BSB running the digital department for famed management company, The Firm. Since then we’ve both been through a few other evolutions but we always remain digital.
Location: Santa Monica, CA (you could confuse it today 9/28 as the surface of the sun. Seriously, the official thermometer broke in LA yesterday)
Vocation: President of Digital Content Distribution and Marketing firm DashGo
Sign: no, but I’d be up for taking a class.
1) What has been the biggest evolution in the digital market since you started your digital distribution & marketing business, DashGo in 2004?
I’d argue there are two. For content creators and owners, there is more access than ever. For fans there are fewer filters than ever. It is simultaneously easier for artists to make music available to anyone who wants it and harder than ever for anyone to take the time to discover it and embrace it. Lots and lots of music is just the next or previous track on Pandora. Ok actually there are three changes – music is more than ever background entertainment. People expect it to be there while they do other things. They don’t stop doing those things to listen to music. I bet you are listening to something right now. So for DashGo, I try to think about ways to put music, and make money for music, in and around those other things. Instead of fighting as a needle in a haystack, build a stack of needles. Which is also the title of my (not-real, but would entertain an offer though Chris Anderson will probably rip me off) business strategy book: A Stack of Needles.
2) You recently helped Weezer launch their album Hurley taking over YouTube. When so many traditional record label staff view digital as a great killer of the industry, how does it feel to be able to point to the chart success of the album on bothiTunes and Amazon as a direct result of your digital marketing?
Can’t complain. But I will – it remains a hugely challenging market. I understand we beat sales forecasts, but album unit sales are declining rapidly. We as a society and musicians as a community aren’t doing enough to demand credit for their work and to protect it. I’m not a navy crusading against pirates, I just find it odd that most digital music focused news, Twitter feeds ant the like champion DIY approach and at the same time are incredibly bullish on sites like Mulve or Grooveshark or whatever allows folks to download music for free. How can a fan use that service to “discover” an artist? They just deliver the exact thing someone already knew they wanted, for free, with ad money going to the middleman / host and nothing to the artist. DashGo monetizes our entire catalog on YouTube. Go watch a video of the song there or one a fan made using it as the soundtrack or make your own. At least the band gets paid. And there is more creative collaboration. Or sign up for Rhapsody or MOG or Thumbplay or any of the half-dozen services that are dirt cheap and stream to your mobile device. Meanwhile inFrance, the government is offering people under 25 double their dollars (euros) in digital music purchases made this year to support both French digital businesses and French music and to encourage legal access to music. I wish we would find more ways to demonstrate how superior (and frankly cost-effective) legal digital music services actually are and support them more. I try to do my part by entertaining just about any digital licensing offer we receive.
3) What are the biggest traps that an artist can fall into when it comes to their digital profile?
Not understanding the medium. Don’t expect a bunch of Twitter followers if you infrequently write uninteresting posts. Also, spreading yourself too thin. You may not need a Twitter profile. Maybe an artist is great at making videos. Invest that Twitter time in reinforcing a YouTube channel. I argued last month that an artist doesn’t need their own website, just a domain name. That can point to whatever is your best method of communicating at any given time – maybe a full site, maybe a Facebook page. Signing up on every brand new DIY site is a waste of time. Pick the ones you can manage best and or offer the biggest reach and invest time there, Remember that songs still have to be written, performances perfected and food eaten.
4) Twitter can sometimes be a nightmare to follow ‘live’ events. How is your new product Twinterview going to resolve it?
Twinterview is great. It allows users to solicit questions, contest entries, anything that can be typed and links to to both a fan and artists’ Twitter and Facebook accounts. Then the artist can choose which questions to answer and they and questions are released simultaneously on the fan and artist accounts, with links back to a central transcript for friends and followers to experience the entire event. Weezer used it as a unique interview platform and Dr. Dog used it to solicit and schedule their summer tour dates. Their biggest fans were the first to know about the tour and they helped make it.
5) When there are so many new digital tools and outlets available, what is the deciding factor for embracing a tool with one of your artists?
Does it allow us to reach an audience and does it provide a unique or better way of doing it? Our marketing has to fit the medium, and our content needs to fit the platform.