…in with the New.
Why ‘Consonant Music’ is now ‘Consonant Marketing’
As promised, here’s why…
From its inception, Consonant Music’s #1 goal was to help independent artists promote themselves. At the same time, we aimed to help them become more business-savvy. We successfully accomplished this on several occasions and really enjoyed the work. On the other hand, 100% of our time wasn’t being spent on strengthening our core services. We are a marketing and promotions company.
1. Stretched too thin. Successful artists need teams. Managers, Booking Agents, Lawyers, Publishers, Distributors, etc. Most indie artists don’t have the budget to pay for a full team unless they have private investors backing the project. As a result, we found ourselves trying to fill these roles for our clients too often. We did it because teams are expensive and we really wanted to see our clients succeed.
2. Keeping it too real? Nashville is full of companies who sell “the dream” to independent artists. “Record with us and you’ll be famous,” “Pay us x and your songs will play on all the big stations.” Most of the time that’s not reality and it’s certainly not how we operate. Reality isn’t always what “up and coming” artists want to hear.
3. Money in Music. The music business never fully recovered from the invention of downloads and streaming. Most artists make their money from touring and selling merchandise. Early in their careers, independent artists lose money when they tour. People don’t buy tickets to see bands they’ve never heard of. This usually means new indies play for free to gain exposure. Sometimes they even pay larger bands to become the opening act. Both require funding from a either a record label or private investor.
4. Private Investors. To reduce risk, many record labels sign bands that already have fans. The licensing deal is becoming quite popular. Private investors fund projects with hopes of getting their artists to a point where a major label offers a deals. Because the label didn’t pay for the initial artist development or album recording, the artist is able to negotiate a better deal and the investor gets paid back… in theory.
5. Investor Expectations. Naturally, private investors think their artists are amazing. Most of the time they back the project because they are emotionally attached to the artist. Think moms, dads, friends of the family, or wealthy fans who just want to get into the business. Many of these folks hold unrealistic expectations. Because they’re emotionally attached, they tend to see extraordinary talent in artists that don’t necessarily possess it. Some companies are more than happy to take money from these people. See #2. Again, that’s not us. Success in music comes from getting hundreds or even thousands of tiny victories. Things do not work the way TV and movies portray them. That’s “fake news.” There’s no such thing as “overnight success.”
6. Target Market. By now, you can probably see where this is heading. The market for talented artists who are unsigned and funded is microscopic. After 5 years, we faced 3 choices.
- Promote music we love and starve.
- Market music we don’t love, lie and profit.
- Market and Promote companies and personal brands we believe in… and succeed.
The choice was easy. Before Consonant Music, B2B was my specialty. Much of my time with MIX Touring was spent consulting for tour and production managers. Most of my time at MacSpecialist was spent on B2B sales management and marketing. My career leading up to that centered around retail sales and event marketing. Bottom line: Choice “C” simply makes the most sense.
Marketing and promotion has always been at the core of our business. We love music, we love art, we love creativity and we love building brands. Since 2012, we’ve gotten the opportunity to work with several small business and midsize business owners… strictly via word of mouth referrals. Over time, it became clear that SMB and entrepreneur projects have a higher rate of success. The reason is kind-of obvious.
Business owners already know they’re business owners. They know the importance of their team and they know that success is earned. Again, we’re a marketing and promotions company and that’s our sole focus from this point on.
Will we still work with artists / musicians? Sure… as long as we’re not working outside of our core service offerings. We’re most effective when we focus on marketing and branding. We’re more than happy to help brand and market indie albums and small tours. We can’t manage the band, book the shows or secure record deals.
Why not just promote major label projects? We’re a small agency and intend to remain this way. I’ve personally consulted for several major label tours. In many ways, major label release and tour marketing campaigns are similar to fortune 500 company marketing campaigns. Although I enjoyed being a part of the big shows, it’s not something we’re interested in pursuing as an agency.
Consonant Marketing’s focus is “main street.” Not only does it make the most sense for us as an agency, the transition reminded me how much I love working with business owners. We learn from each other, we share “war stories” and ultimately, we make each other better.