I recently came across a blog post that sort of cemented my theory that the two worlds are very similar.
In a great post on the Pinot Blogger, entitled, “Unprepared to Compete,” the author states the following in answer to his question, “Who’s in charge of making sure your wine sells?” (Before I provide his answers, just substitute the word “wine” for “music.”)
His response: “If you answer anyone other than â€œMeâ€ I think a serious re-examination of your business is in order.”
He then examines other players in the supply chain (again, substitute “music” for “wine”). I’m going to paraphrase, but please do read the whole post:
“…relying on the wine media as a core part of your business model is simply folly. Wine writers write for their audience, not to further the marketing goals of a winery or wine region.”
“…many long lasting luxury wine brands have been built without top scores. They did it with savvy marketing, ridiculously great customer service, and good wine in styles that consumers desire.”
“For the vast majority of brands, you canâ€™t rely on distributors to build your brand for you, especially if you are small or have a variety that isnâ€™t in fashion at the moment.
Another reason why distributors are often a bad deal is the following paradox: If your brand is strong enough to attract the interest and support of a distributor (which means there is pull demand from the market) you should be looking at turning that brand strength into direct sales and moving to the self-distribution model.
Furthermore, the last thing the sales reps at the distributors want to do is launch a new brand. Believe me. It reeks of effort, and many reps are distinctly uncurious about little known wines and wine regions. They want to move product, make commissions, get recognized and get promoted. They donâ€™t give a whit about your brand, and why should they?
Oh yeah, and the margins suck too.”
There is only one group you can rely on to help you sell wine, and unless you have direct contact with them, youâ€™ll never be able to actually influence them.
Delighted customers are the only asset you can reliably lean on to help you market and sell your wine. If consumers arenâ€™t recommending your wine, it means you arenâ€™t delighting them. You arenâ€™t exceeding their expectations at every opportunity. [emphasis added]
So, there ya go. I have repeatedly attempted to say these exact things with respect to music. The fact that this post, on wine, so mirrors the approach to music, only goes to show that there is indeed a science behind marketing/sales (duh!). While it may not be romantic, and it may seem jive to musicians who believe there is something fundamentally unhip about approaching the business of music with anything less than disdain (disdain which I find typically is a near transparent shield attempting to protect insecurities), in order to succeed artists have no choice but to begin catching the science which is being dropped; particularly in this age of artist as brand/label/entrepreneur.