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What’s Ahead For 2011? Bob Baker: The Real World Is Going To Meet Mobile & The Internet.

image from s3.amazonaws.com As we end the year, Hypebot asked some our favorite thinkers, writers, and friends to answer two questions - one looking forward and the other back. Here Bob Baker, author of the "Guerrilla Music Marketing" book series and music marketing teacher at Berkleemusic.com, answers.

Hypebot: What do you see as the most important business and consumer trends that will shape the music industry in 2011?

Bob Baker: One technology trend that will affect music marketing is something I call "Real World meets Mobile and the Internet." I'm talking about things like image recognition, QR codes, and Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.

What the heck are those things? Well, they all involve the ability to use your iPhone, Android or other smart phone to "read" something in the real world that connects to more information online.

For instance, a QR (quick response) code is an odd-looking square image you can print on a business card, ad, post card, or flier.  When someone uses the camera on their phone to scan the code (using one of many available free apps), it can immediately pull up a web page on the phone. It's a faster way to take someone to a specific destination online -- without having to search or type in an address.

Some artists are already using QR codes to take people to a private page where they can download free tracks or find a special discount offer. But I think we'll see many more creative uses for this technology over the next year or so.

Similarly, NFC technology allows smart phones and other devices to pick up wireless signals at very close range. Example: One company makes tombstones that have NFC computer chips embedded in them. Someone with the right app on their phone can pull up information (including text, audio and video) about the person buried there while at the grave site.

I know, the tombstone example is an odd one, but imagine how useful that could be for living, breathing music acts. What if the poster that promotes your upcoming concert had a QR code or NFC signal attached to it? People could pull up info and multimedia content related to your music while standing in front of the poster.

How could you use this technology to instantly connect with and engage potential fans? Someone will surely get recognition for making creative use of it. Why not you?

I think we'll also see more innovative artists use techniques from the video game industry. This involves making creative use of competitions and challenges. Think of the way Foursquare makes users win badges and earn the rank of "Major" at an establishment. Artists who make interacting with them more fun and engaging will see results.

Another important aspect of the gaming trend is that it involves more than just a direct relationship between the artist and the fan. It also requires a relationship among fans, with each other -- much like the most active gamers compete with and communicate with each other. How could you use this idea? It may be worth exploring in 2011.

  • Beyond trends, don't forget the all-important timeless truths of music career success:
  • Write and record great songs.
  • Clearly communicate who you are and what type of music you play.
  • Make it easy for people to interact with and help you (whether it's making a purchase, subscribing to your mailing list, or contacting you).
  • Be ready and willing to work hard consistently over time.
  • Be authentic and true to who you are as an artist and a human being.
  • Be the type of person people enjoy working with (you want to light up a room when you enter it, not when you leave it :-)

Hypebot: Since this is ultimately all about music, what were your top musical moment(s) of 2010?

Bob Baker: One of my 2010 music highlights included attending a house concert in Nashville hosted by my friend Jana Stanfield. She featured some amazing songwriters that night, and it reminded me of the power that music can have in intimate spaces. On the other end of the spectrum was the Black Eyed Peas concert in St. Louis over the summer. What I appreciated most about that was, even though it was a high-tech, well-planned concert, will.i.am did a great job speaking to the audience, including lots of specific references for the hometown crowd, and expressing his sincere appreciation to fans. He was able to create a feeling of intimacy in a very large space.

Another thing I'm grateful for is the role I play as music director of Gateway to Agape, the choir my girlfriend Pooki and I lead in St. Louis. It's a rush to write and perform uplifting music with such a great group of people. And I'm thrilled to have this outlet to share my rock and roll singing and songwriting chops in a way that seems to truly lift spirits (something that didn't always happen during my many years playing in bars :-)

--

Bob Baker is the author of the "Guerrilla Music Marketing" book series and the "Music Marketing 101" course at Berkleemusic.com. Check out Bob's free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips and articles at www.TheBuzzFactor.com.


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