Music Marketing: Hi Frequency Concepts
In today’s business world, everyone knows that the hardest industry to break into is the music industry. The music industry has evolved from being made up of many independent labels to being run by major corporations such as Warner Brothers and Universal Music Group. Music marketing is the one aspect of the industry that has not gone corporate. While record label marketing departments are running out of ideas, independent marketing firms are taking over their business. Music marketing differs from most other fields in marketing because it does not have one orientation but still uses the fundamentals like conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution (Lamb 6).
I was researching the music industry online when I ran into a company called Hi Frequency started by a young entrepreneur named Ron Vos. Hi Frequency is an independent music-marketing firm that promotes for labels, concert halls, and distributors. Hi Frequency uses their financial status to help young musical entrepreneurs like Vos break into the music industry. The company has over 60 field representatives that are unpaid and doing quality promoting in 50 markets across the country. Vos educates his reps so that they will have not only use the position as a resume builder but as a solid background in music to help further their careers.
The first thing that Vos realized about the music industry is that although being very corporate, a grassroots marketing campaign is the largest step towards success. Promotions mean more to music than any other aspect of marketing. The record label’s fight against the technological advancements such as mp3s gets harder every day. The only thing that can influence people more than computers is other people (Kashif 176). Vos has recruited people all across the country to embrace other people and get the word out on up-and-coming bands and concerts. The different types of promotions by Hi Frequency reps are handouts, poster placement at local music stores, and the always-effective word of mouth.
As you can see the music industry is much different from other industries when it comes to promotions. Distribution on the other hand is done in a very similar fashion. The distribution begins with the label recording the tracks of music then making a full CD. After the CD is created it is sent to the middleman, in this case, the labels all have their own manufacturing plants where the CDs are mass-produced. After these CDs are manufactured, they are split up by the middlemen and shipped to record stores. The record store receives them and sells them with the help of people like Hi Frequency field reps.
As the number of CDs in distribution increases, so does the price. The record labels spend as low as $.12 for a CD to be made. The middleman, who most of the time is owned by the label, will hike the price up to $3-5.00 for the most popular CDs. Once the retailer receives these, they will raise the price to as much as $17-20.00. The label makes money off the middleman, while the middleman makes money off the retailer, who in turn makes money off us. Hi Frequency has to aid the retailer in selling these CDs. Think of how much the label makes if they own the middleman, it is quite a lucrative business.
Record labels do not just rely on marketing firms to sell their CDs, they have to be the conceptual masterminds behind the artist development. Even after all of these years the one thing that sells records is talent (Passman 167). The music industry is not just hard to break into on the business side but has become virtually impossible to get into on the performance end. Record labels have a whole department devoted to finding talent. This department is called A&R. A&R is a group of people that can make or break you and decide if you are something that is worth a completely new marketing concept. Hi Frequency gets the task many times of testing A&R departments by pushing new musicians and proving their worth.
The promotions, distribution, pricing, and conceptions that deal with marketing in general agree with musical marketing. Hi Frequency realizes the similarities of music with other fields when it comes to the fundamentals of general marketing. However, what makes Hi Frequency so effective is that they know how to use the different types of marketing philosophies with these fundamentals when the situation is best suited. The labels use production, sales, market, and societal marketing orientations at different times (Lamb 9).
The use of product orientation has decreased in the past five years. The invention of mp3s is not helping the strength of the record labels’ names. Nobody buys a CD any more just because Warner Brothers makes it; they buy it because they like the artist. If they like the artist, they can just download their music off the Internet and make their own CD. The only label that still has prime ?if we build it, they will come? status is Disney (Lamb 7). Disney is a household name and appeals to children who may not know the technology behind mp3s.
When grassroots promotional campaigns begin, it is because labels have more of a sales orientation. A sales orientation is the most popular in today’s music industry. Hi Frequency would not be in business if there were not a need for aggressive sales techniques. When it comes to music, being aggressive is going to be the only thing keeping people away from the Internet. As long as music is up to the standards of quality that it is today, people will not mind buying a CD for the sake of listening to an artist’s whole repertoire instead of mixing and matching different artists with tools on the internet.
Record labels attempt to use a market oriented philosophy when it comes to the CDs themselves. If you will notice, today’s CDs all advertise either the artist’s other CDs or recommend other CDs that are similar and put out by the same label. They advertise this on the back of all CD cases. Their market oriented philosophy is subtle but it tries to get return customers, open up listener’s musical choice (but no too much), and give quality refunding capabilities.
The last philosophy used by music marketing firms is a societal orientation. Record labels will often times create an album dedicated to a cause with music written specifically for that cause. An example was a record called ?Ovarian Cancer Research Fund: The Album,? all proceeds will go to ovarian research. Record labels also will send artists to perform at benefit concerts and will have educational handouts during certain concerts. This makes the label look like they are nice people.
The music industry is quite complex, but there it is concisely. Music marketing is one of the most difficult tasks within the music industry. Musical marketing is definitely a field where you have to work your way up and only the strongest survive. Ron Vos is not only one of the strongest marketers in the business but Hi Frequency is helping pave the way for the future of other marketers starting off at the bottom of the latter. Vos started as a field representative also and he wants to give his representatives the knowledge his mentors gave him.