It is important to this campaign that we get opinions from different areas of the the music world, so we asked Neil Cocker, of merchandising service Dizzyjam, the question:
“Have you noticed bands becoming more creative with merchandise in the Internet age?”
Neil: You’re all sick of hearing about how the music industry’s dying, right? Everyone has been banging that drum for ages now.
Well, we all know that the music industry is changing. Whether it’s actually dying or not is a different matter. The fact that EMI lost over £750m a few years ago just shows that what we used to refer to as “the industry” is clearly dying. That business model is not sustainable any more. Any label that spends £200,000 on “fruit and flowers” for their offices won’t survive these days.
So, how are things changing? We all know that there are unprecedented tools and facilities to allow us to connect directly with fans, and those artists who are clever aren’t just using them to spam every poor sucker on the mailing list. They are engaging with them on a very personal level, responding to individual tweets, allowing their fans to remix their records and offering them personalised merchandise.
Despite all this, there is a huge amount of competition; everyone can create a website, upload their music, have some merch available online and be tweeting their fans just a few hours after they’ve decided on a name for their band.
Problem is, fans are getting used to this. The “cycles” of interest are growing ever shorter and where once a promotional trend would last for years (free flexidisc giveaways on the front cover of the NME, for example), now they’re only lasting for a matter of months, if not weeks. We saw this with the trend for “get this band to number one in the charts” groups on Facebook a la Rage Against The Machine: that will probably never be repeated because there’s so many people competing in that space.
So with every band, label and DJ able to engage with fans in the same way, you need to provide them with something that they won’t get bored of.
One thing no-one ever seems to get bored of is quality.
All of us are able to reach our fans at the touch of a button, and this means that the small few who make the effort to do things properly really stand out and ultimately, sell more. You could knock out a quick design for your band and bung it on any old print-on-demand service, but just because it’s out there doesn’t mean anyone will buy it.
This is why we as a company concentrate on providing only the highest quality print, and why the biggest sellers on our site are those that are well-designed, well thought-out products. The ones that do sell are even sometimes by very small acts, with a very small following, but it is a good design, with good colour options, and they’ve targeted fans in a smart way through Twitter, Facebook, Myspace etc. That way a small band can sell to 80% of their 50 die-hard fans, which is much better than a bigger band selling to 1% of their 500 hardcore fans.
Make sure it’s not just your music that you put your heart and soul into.
Most of the acts on our site don’t worry about file-sharing in the same way as their major label counter-parts. In many cases they actively give their music away. But with this comes the responsibility to make sure you’re using live performances, merchandise etc to supplement your income. Provide your fans with quality, and they won’t forget you like the other 250 bands that they were exposed to this week.
Neil Cocker is Managing Director of Dizzyjam.com, a company that helps people who make, play or promote music make money by selling their merchandise to fans in a completely hassle-free way.Tweet