Last week I was invited to participate at FastForwad, a boutique music conference which takes place every year in Amsterdam, London and Sydney.
My friend and ex-EMI colleague Chris Carey who is the man behind the conference asked if I’d join the Latin Music panel – to answer the pressing questions related to what really Latin Music is, if it is here to stay, and if it is all Despacito’s fault or not?!? Jokes aside it was a great opportunity and wonderful experience. I’m triumphantly happy that Latin Music is one the most listened music genres in the world today. It has opened the door for English-speaking audiences to listen and appreciate songs not in their language. It is creating new opportunities for commercial and creative collaborations and in a way legitimising non-UK and USA artists to aspire to global success like nothing else before (of course, streaming platforms and today’s consumption models have a huge influence too).
Most of the questions from the audience were related to how can new and up-coming artists break internationally. Since marketing music around the world is what I consider the craft that runs through my veins, I was inspired to write 4 things to remember for artists and bands who want to travel the world with their music:
- Always start somewhere. The world is big and there are several countries in which your music could be popular. It’s important to have a starting point. Imagine it like a journey, to go to Liverpool for example you need to know if you are leaving from London or Edinburgh. So it’s breaking international markets. Often your starting point is your home country but it can be any other country you have some reasons to consider your home, for example the country you are living in, or where your producer is from. At the very very beginning, you need to really focus and put all your energy in one place.
- The next move is never obvious. International marketing and music marketing in general are in a way an art: the art to observe and follow an evanescence trace of (potential) success. Once you have your music, you’ve built the first chapter of your story and you’ve got something going on (as A&Rs would say ‘some heat’), the next move today could come from everywhere. Maybe a radio station in Australia will play the single and the audience will start to stream it. Maybe a brand will want to use the track in an ad in Germany. Maybe for some reasons that seem inexplicable Dutch people will play your video over and over again. In this art actively creating opportunities is as important as optimising what’s going on. This is also why international marketing is something you learn by experience picking up the signals. The amount of data available today is making this process faster, more reliable and more ‘scientific’ in a way but the human element of impracticability is still there. Once your next move is successful, you can proceed to the next.
- Stay humble. One of the most widespread way of saying of the ‘internet’ is absolutely true in reaching new markets with your music. Even in the digital era we live in now the fact that you are a well known artist in one country doesn’t mean it is the same abroad. Even if your new single can be streamed every where in the world you still need to put in the hours and the energy. It’s important to work every market like a new one: doing the phone interviews, going there when the time is ready, playing sessions at local media, meeting the journalists, spending real or digital time with your fans there. Everything is global and every market is a world in its own at the same time.
- Relationships matter. During my MA in Liverpool we studied that the music industry is a rights industry. Very true. And you need to learn to manage and administer all the different aspects of your IP very carefully. It is also a relationship industry and it might not be so evident at the start of your career but relationships are the most important thing. Carefully nurture and consciously build authentic connections with people. I mean everyone: your fans, your label teams in the markets, the people at the record shops, the media, the editors at the DSPs, the cameraman who is filming your interview, the make-up artist who is preparing you for the TV performance, the driver who takes you there. All the greatest artists I worked with are great people persons. Maybe they weren’t so initially, maybe they are really shy but they put in the effort. I’m not promoting fake extrovert behaviours but to start considering every little interaction as important.
Title credit: extract from ‘New York, New York’. Songwriters: Fred Ebb / John Kander © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.
Photo credit: Getty Images, The Beatles in 1963 before they embarked in being the world’s best-selling music artists of all time.