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Why Music And Mp3 Blogs Are the New Radio To The Beggars Group

A guest post by Australian freelance music writer Andrew McMillen.

"It’s kind of crazy how the music industry works; we shout and tell everyone about a new record. “It’s really exciting, it’s great, you can hear it on the radio.. oh, but actually, you can’t buy it for two or three months. Is that okay? Can you just not download it off of anywhere? Just wait two or three months, we’ll get it in the shops soon!"

That's Simon Wheeler, Director of Digital at The Beggars Group, speaking at a panel at One Movement For Music in Perth, Australia last month. Footage is embedded below, and his words are transcribed underneath.

"So, going against that, we know that fans are passionate about an artist, and they’re very excited about a new album. So to be able to give them something to satiate that demand has been quite effective. There’s also the purpose of giving people a piece of music to ‘try before they buy’, if you like. We get a lot of love and a lot of coverage in the blog world, because I think our artists are very suited to that world."

The Beggars Group consists of indie labels like 4AD, Matador Records and XL Recordings, who work with the likes of Atlas Sound, Beck, Jay Reatard, Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Vampire Weekend; bands whose innovative online marketing campaigns have been covered extensively on Hypebot and elsewhere.

wheeler"We don’t give music blogs free reign, because you’d find that each blog would post a different track from the album, and so ten minutes after you’d publicized the album, people could just go and download the whole album (laughs). So by making available one chosen, one focus track from a new album - much as you take a track to radio - there’s kind of an unwritten dialogue between us and the bloggers."

"We don’t tell them to post it, we don’t say they can’t post it; if people post the whole album, we’ll definitely say they can’t do that, and we’ll get it taken down. But they understand that if we post an mp3 to one of our label sites or blogs, then they won’t get any grief from us at all [if they repost it to their blog]."

We knew that the Matador’s Matablog saw traffic and sales increase after adopting regular mp3 launches, but Wheeler and The Beggars Group understand the value in creating a dialogue with music bloggers, as well as giving fans a portable sample of a new album to take with them. The ability for fans to share new songs from their favourite artists immediately is superior to the radio-as-gatekeeper model: now, labels can distribute digital singles that fans can listen to at their leisure to build buzz around a release. By the time the record comes out, this could result in more sustained, long-term interest than random rotations - or the chance that you wouldn't get played at all.

Wheeler: "[Giving away mp3s to music blogs] really helps focus the campaign around a lead track, much as you do when taking a track to radio. There’s no new science here; this is just what the record industry has been doing for decades. We’re just applying that to the digital age."

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Andrew McMillen (@NiteShok) is a Brisbane, Australia-based freelance music writer for Rolling Stone, among others. He blogs digital music and marketing insights at waycooljnr.com.au.


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