Business of Music in India

…exploring the future…

The Third Wave.

We’ve read enough about physical CDs not selling anymore and that “digital” is the future, etc. etc. But what is the way forward?

At a seminar in Mumbai about online music marketing, one artist suggested; “I’d like to give away one of my songs for free in order to get people to listen to it”, which clearly upset Guenter Loibl (CEO, Rebeat Digital, Austria). He replied, “Do you not pay your hair-dresser for a hair cut? Do you not buy your pair of jeans from a store? Why encourage such a culture of free for your own creative efforts?”

It is time to see various online marketing approaches in their totality, and not blindly follow someone who has been successful by giving away things for free. Guenter talked about “The Third Wave” as one benchmark of knowing where your online album is heading. After studying many ‘successful’ examples of various artistes from across the world, he has arrived at this conclusion.

The “FIRST” wave is your own friends and fans, who will buy whatever you put out. [For India, I would replace “buy” with “consume” = bought legally or downloaded via a torrent site or bluetooth sharing].

The “SECOND” wave consists of people who are friends of your fans, and who know about your music through their playlists or recommendations on the social network pages. And if these people like your song, that will get consumed too. And you’ve hit the second wave.

Then comes the “THIRD” wave. These are people who have never heard of you, but through the second wave, chanced upon your music and then did some research on you, to get to know you better. And thereby may end up becoming fans as well.

Third Wave

So, when is this “third wave” achieved? From his research, Guenter says its when your video / song-track on YouTube gets a 10,00,000 (one million) hits! Phew. And such a video need not be an expensive one too! There have been examples where videos shot with a mobile phone camera or just showing the album cover have achieved these numbers! And if you don’t reach it in a few months of constant online marketing efforts, don’t worry. Go back to the studio and re-do your music. Come up with something new, and start afresh.

Let us take a recent example of a singer from Canada – Natalie Di Luccio. Our very own Indian composer, Amar Mohile, produced her song (“The Angels Said”) released it worldwide on digital stores in mid-Sep 2010. Natalie had a fan page on Facebook of about 300 people – the “first” wave, which she built on her own. These were people known to her personally or had met her somewhere during her tours. As an experiment, she put up a video of a Hindi film song, sung & recorded on her computer’s webcam!! The fan-base moved up to 1500 people in 2 days, then to about 8,000 in 4 days. This YouTube video (which is as simple as it gets) got 3,00,000 hits in just 3 days!!! Infact, by the time I ended this article it moved up to 6,00,000+ in another two days! This is still the “second” wave. But I am sure the “third” wave will hit it soon. As a result, the consumption of her single will surely grow.

It is extremely important for musicians to be connected and well networked online – friends and fans. Just check this out: If Facebook were to be a country, it would be the third largest populated one in the world, after China and India! Being socially responsible in your online updates also helps you get more or even lose fans!

You may be thinking, “A million hits to my music video / song track which is one in millions, if not billions.” However, it is not important to hit the third wave all the time; and is not applicable in every genre of music. So relax. With your album being available online across the world via various channels like ArtistAloud, CDBaby, Rebeat, TuneCore and more, your music becomes ‘discoverable’.

For instance, “German folk” music is followed by a very select audience in Austria and Germany. When this one band released their music online, the German immigrants in USA loved listening to their “regional” music (not available in physical versions there), and the album crossed 35,000 downloads in just 2 months!

Indian music is growing in terms of popularity all over the world. NRIs are looking to buy new tracks on digital stores. International DJs are picking up stuff they like on the net, re-doing it and putting it out on their own in the digital space. More music is being produced and consumed than ever before. Learn the ropes now by jumping into newer waters. Just go and get your third wave.

Never give up.