On The Road With DJ Shadow Post #3 – Which Marketing Channels Are Working And Why

Michael Fiebach is the Project, Marketing and Merchandise Manager for DJ Shadow. As Michael and DJ Shadow have crossed North America on tour, Hypebot readers have been getting an exclusive look inside how they market and stay connected to fans. (Read Post #1 and Post #2

image from www.hypebot.com Ah.  Another day off.  I am in Durham, North Carolina, in between a show in Atlanta (last night), and Baltimore (  tomorrow night).  Things continue to go smoothly.  I am definitely at the point of AUTO DRIVE.  This is the point in tour when you have come to the realization that this is your life for the time being, accept it, and adjust accordingly. 

This means:

1. You have become somewhat of a robot.  Just do the gig, and all of the things planned.  React to extenuating circumstances as they come up.  The most important thing is doing the job and doing it well.  Formulating sentences is tough for me right now, but I am giving it a shot!

2. Food is just fuel.  Don't complain.  Just eat.  (Although Shadow took us out to a GREAT French place tonight called Rue Cler, right in downtown Durham, highly recommended.  This was a much needed break from monotonous backstage munchies, and after-show pizza). 

3. Sleep is overrated on the road.  Trust me, I am someone who usually requires A LOT of sleep, but I have come to accept the erratic (at best), sleep schedule.  It is just a part of the gig while touring.

4. The bus is my new home.  On day 1, the tour bus is a nice luxurious entity. By day 5, it is just your new home.  A small bunk is your bed.  Random compartments are your closets.  The crew is your family.  This is the reality of being on the road.

So that is my new reality, and will continue to be for the next 2 and a half weeks.  Time moves in a strange fashion as SO MUCH is packed into each day.  I continue to enjoy it for the great experience that it is.

In terms of all of the Marketing and Merchandising, everything is continuing to go great, and even better than planned.  I don't really have any horror stories, and I have already alluded to the successes in my previous posts, so I don't want to beat the same drum over and over, or have to embellish at all.  It is what it is: I think we came in with a great game plan, and, so far (fingers crossed) it is going VERY WELL.  Make sure you read my first 2 posts to see our marketing and merchandising approach, and how it has been working out ((Read Post #1 and Post #2)

So now I would like to begin to focus on WHY certain things are working.  This is my attempt at a contribution to some of the questions asked by the music industry (and in-turn, Hypebot readers) on a daily basis.

1.  Why Does Facebook work?

When I think of Facebook, I think of a community under control.  Almost it's own country with its own President and Government.  When I think of Myspace, I think of Anarchy.  Of course, Facebook has its issues, and I can't tell you how tired I am of seeing the "OMG, I just won a new ipod touch!" and similar spam pop up on Facebook, but in general, they have a well-balanced online ecosystem, with good security. 
Bottom line: Facebook works because they figured out the ultimate formula for data portability.  The fact that I can post a geo-targeted update on Facebook, and that update will post to users within a specific geographic location, who can then share it with their entire network, is marketing gold.  When I update Shadow fans about a show, I only want to update the fans in the region of where that show is.  The beauty is, those people can then go and share it with ALL of their friends, wherever they may be, who in turn may click the link, and be redirected to the Shadow Facebook, or better yet, DJShadow.com.  This takes away the problem of mass-marketing a show for a specific region, but gives it the ability to go viral on a wider level than just the region targeted.  This also creates the ability for 1 show to begin an online buzz for the entire tour.

2.  Why I think Myspace, although "Anarchical" in terms of a social network, is still relevant.

Plain and simple: they still get a lot of traffic to music profiles, because Facebook has not fully committed to music.  I still hear bands sending people to their Myspace pages, and people saying "I heard their new track on their myspace page."   Root Music is a great option for "Myspace-izing" your facebook Band Page, and there are other options out there for doing this, like DamnTheRadio.com, and Reverbnation.com (I recommend Rootmusic.com for an inexpensive solution for creating a nice-looking Band Page on Facebook).  But these tools are not "Facebook" products.  The other problem with these solutions is that once a fan "Likes" your Facebook page, they no longer see that custom page (created with one of the latter tools), as the default Facebook landing page for the artist (this is a weird Facebook constraint).  Facebook tried to have Music profiles, but they never really pushed it, and that is one of the main reasons why people still go to Myspace for music. 

The other reason being that SO MANY artists made their Myspace page their web home (in place of a proper website), when the Myspace craze began.  Big mistake.  Get out now.

My advice: setup your Myspace as a portal to your band's website... And my wonderful example is of course: http://www.myspace.com/djshadow  Train people to go to your website first for new content.  Not Myspace, and not even Facebook.  Keeping Myspace up to date with News, and Tweets has proven to be useful for this tour.  And who would have guessed- just after my last post on Hypebot, complaining about Myspace changing their concert listings setup- they re-adjusted it.  Thanks guys!  As long as Myspace is getting traffic (and is in business), I will keep it as up to date as time permits.

3. Why Mobile is the future, and why it works.

Everyone will have a smart phone eventually, and all smart phones will be equipped with Apps.  I disagree with the whole "Web is dead" thing (sorry Prince).  I think the web is just beginning.  The web in the traditional sense will continue to evolve and expand.  Answers and solutions on command, just on smaller and much more powerful pieces of hardware.  The mobile space is becoming and will be the same on-demand solutions and content, on hyper-drive.  Because of this, the artist App, is the new, most important addition to the artist website. Think of the App as the bare-bones version of the artist website, for people to access on the go.  That is what it is.  This will change, and mobile capabilities will certainly grow, but for now, get in the door. 

Creating, maintaining, and expanding Shadow's mobile fanbase has been one of the most interesting projects I have ever worked on, and I am really looking forward to seeing how this space will evolve.  One thing is for sure: mobile fans are for the most part die-hard, and are into technology, these are great factors for monetization.

In terms of using the app on tour, the response to our iPhone photos in sync with the show pages at http://www.djshadow.com/tour has been amazing, and this is really just the beginning of what could be a very engaging and expansive campaign.  We have more ideas on the way for the next tour...

4. Email Marketing: the MOST important tool in the marketing arsenal.

At the Bandwidth conference, a question came up as to WHY an email address is more valuable than a Facebook fan, and I believe I have scanned through some residual articles on the topic since then.  But the bottom line really is: a valid primary email address for a fan is essentially a fan saying: "Contact me whenever you want to."  This is MUCH MORE valuable than a fan on Facebook saying "I Like You."  All "I Like You" says is: I like you and I want to see some updates from you stream on a News Feed on my Facebook homepage, along with my 900 other friends' updates. 

I don't know any exact statistics off-hand, but I do know there has been plenty of conversation and studies recently about the amount of time we, as humans, spend on email, and the numbers are staggering.  Many people have email on their phones. Obtaining an email address is the single most important thing for bands to do in terms of Direct to Fan marketing.  I can definitely say, that we have done it well at djshadow.com.  Set yourself up for optimal fan acquisition.  The challenge then may become getting those fans to open the emails, but that is another conversation in itself.

A little commentary on an Email Address vs. a Mobile Fan:

Both are extremely valuable.  In terms of monetizing, an email address will reign supreme until mobile commerce becomes more of a regular activity.  I do think that will eventually happen, and when it does begin to happen, the Mobile Fan will become that much more important. 

So there's a little analysis as to why I think some of these tools work, and where I think they are headed.  Being on the road with Shadow has certainly instilled new perspectives on many of these approaches, and I am already thinking about the next steps to exploit new techniques and technologies. Only those of you who stay tuned to http://www.djshadow.com , @djshadow , and me @mfiebach will get to see it first.

That is going to sum up my rant this time around.  But please stay tuned for more "From The Road With DJ Shadow" posts.  I plan to write 1-3 more, and I still hope to get some video material up as well!

Thanks for reading,

Michael Fiebach

More: Post #1 and Post #2

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