Learned About the Music Business at MAC SMAC

Arseniy Shapovalov
Apr 2 · 2 min read

Last Friday’s Summit for Marketing and Advertising taught me this:

Jeff Tuerff is the SVP of marketing at Curb Records. The Marketing and Advertising club was lucky enough to have him at UNH with a keynote presentation. He covered two important topics about the music business:

· Changes in mediums and consumption habits

· Stage personality or how to market an artist.

He described how delivery of music to consumers have drastically changed in the past 50 years and that is significantly affected labels’ approach to marketing. It all started with vinyl records and then evolved to tape. After tape, CD became the most popular format. Although those changed in mediums occurred, it was still the same business model with retail prices sitting around $10–13 per record. Later on, online music stores became available, which allowed for direct delivery to consumer’s device. Moreover, it enabled purchase of single tracks, ones that strongly resonate with each listener, typically priced at 99 cents. However, in the recent years, the largest change happened with broadband internet, streaming services and subscriptions. That changed the business entirely! Consumers did not have to purchase records anymore. Instead, they had access to millions of songs, and one stream cost just a tiny fraction of the purchase price. This was a turning point, where labels had to drive numerous repeated streams to reach the same return per song per consumer. At the same time though, consumers received free access to content at their fingertips and did not have to save money or think twice before accessing a record.

Jeff Tuerff also explained that at Curb Records, they allow artists be themselves and appear before the audience as authentic, genuine, and human personalities. He mentioned that their goal is to create meaningful music that inspires people. It is off standard to the current music industry, where large labels hire ghostwriters, stylists, etc. to dictate stage personalities based on what tends to work best. Tuerff’s job, he says, is to gain the human connection and learn about who Curb’s artists really are. Using that knowledge from personal relationship, he helps them develop their true selves in ways that resonate with the audience. It may seem unusual to a marketer. When a product is created (in this case, artists and their sound), it is important to consider the demand, find a niche, and serve it perfectly. But music and arts in general are a little different. It turns out that the audience wants to feel the connection. Curb’s success is the proof that such approach works. That is why marketers for different industries come to creative and arts to create that emotional connection through something that is dear and valuable to consumers.

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