Thursday, August 30, 2012

Deli Radio - The New Face of Radio

A new movement in radio is happening and this indie innovation is at the forefront of it. Their idea is based on this simple premise - wherever in the world you happen to live, within 250 km of you, there are 5 bands you would love... IF only you knew about them. Deli Radio aims to solve this problem with their brand of contextualized internet radio. In a nutshell, listeners create their own streaming radio station based on genre, geography and time. Are you looking for alt-country bands playing around NYC over the next 3 weeks? How about electronica duos digitizing their way around Singapore in 5 weeks? You get the idea... Once you set your parameters, Deli Radio taps into songs from bands and artists that have been tagged. Now the listener not only has access to your songs, they've seen your pics, they've checked out your videos and most importantly, they know when you're coming to town.

RL: What led to the creation of 'Deli Radio'?

DR: DeliRadio was conceived in 2010 at Berkeley-based music label Ninth Street Opus. The two companies still share some key employees and an increasingly cramped office space. As a music label, the problem we were facing every day (and still face) is trying to put the label's artists in front of more eyes and ears. This is very, very challenging in today's environment where music sales don't really underwrite much of anything like they used to, and people's attention span is diluted by so many media options. In the online realm, we studied the landscape of both what was needed by, and available to, emerging artists. And we set out to fill a gap in the marketplace.

RL: What backgrounds are the creators coming from? Who is involved?

DR: Most of the company's early employees met at a Berkeley pub (not joking) called Beckett's, where we would party and watch The Sisters in Soul perform each week. This went on from 2002 to 2007 or so. Our business backgrounds were all over the map - law, software, hedge funds/finance, web/graphic design, booking & artist management. In hindsight, the perfect brew for DeliRadio! Anyway, in mid-2008 we formed Opus, and began signing bands, and learning the business from the ground up. We had almost no idea about best practices for a label. We made it up as we went. That no-boundaries attitude probably has a lot to do with why we're now in the streaming radio business alongside the music label.

RL: How can musicians get the most out of the site?

DR: Make great music. That's where you start. Then put it on DeliRadio. Then play shows... If it's truly great, your fans will find it, and share it. DeliRadio makes it super easy for friends to share music and share info with one another. Now, that's DeliRadio's advice for aspiring professional musicians. But any "scene" can benefit from DeliRadio. A high school or college can have a student station (or many), so can gospel choirs, so can rap artists who work for the US Postal Service... any scene can make a DeliRadio station and share their music with friends/family/anyone.

RL: What kind of impact do you expect Deli Radio to have on indie musicians? What kind of impact do you want it to have?

DR: Most folks go to see a small number of shows each year, and they tend to be in big auditoriums, even stadiums. This is because they are simply not informed about other choices, they have no efficient way of knowing who's playing the smaller venues and clubs down the street from them. They don't want to take a risk on an unknown band (and I don't blame them). DeliRadio takes care of that risk: you hear and see what you're going to get at a show (well, a pretty good idea anyway). So DeliRadio should result in more people going to more shows -- up to and including the stadiums -- people still need to find out that Paul McCartney is coming to town, even if they don't need to be sold on the music!

RL: The partnership with SongKick is a great feature. How did that come about?

DR: It's hard to remember... the pieces tumbled together pretty quickly 20 months ago when DeliRadio was being designed. Originally Opus set out to offer a suite of online promo tools for free to any artist (we were building them for our artists in-house, so we figured, why not?). Included in that suite of tools was auto-importation of dates. Songkick was the most well populated with dates worldwide. From there, came the Eureka moment: "Hmmmmm. Venue calendars and artists and songs... That's a station we're describing." When that idea came up, we dropped all the other pieces we were building. This idea was "the big one", the one artists and fans really needed. We scrapped a lot of work and code that day, but it was definitely the right thing to do.

RL: When and how will artists be able to sell their music on the site?

DR: They can right now. Then can enter links to iTunes/Amazon, AND they can also set up direct sales on DeliRadio, using PayPal as the cashier. DeliRadio does not take a piece.

RL: What is the vision for the company? Is this the future of radio?

DR: DeliRadio is definitely PART of the future of radio. How big a part is the question. It's going to take a while to see what the public's reaction to it is, and how quickly it permeates and changes the underlying culture of music-going. It definitely has the potential to increase the volume of shows/tickets sold each year, and that has to be good for music. I also think that various reputations will evolve (even more than they have already), such that fans will know to tune into Detroit MI for X music, Austin TX for Y, and Tokyo for Z... on and on. Where will the best punk be? Could be HK. Could be Vladivostok. Who knows. Or perhaps it will be VENUES that become known internationally for their booking prowess. Yoshi's Oakland could be listened to, as a DeliStation, by jazz fans the world over. Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles for singer/songwriter... It's going to be very interesting to see what happens.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tony Ward - The Music Marketer

Tony Ward is the founder of Man On The Ground - a Hong Kong-based music and entertainment consultancy firm. Before launching Man On The Ground, Tony spent over 15 years in New York in executive marketing positions at Sony Music, BMG, Arista Records, EMI Records and Sanctuary Management. Tony managed marketing campaigns for many successful artists, including, Santana, Sarah McLachlan, Patti Smith, Eurythmics, Beth Orton and Spiritualized. For the past three years, he's served as the Program Director for Music Matters, Asia Pacific's annual premiere music industry event. Tony shared with us his valuable insight on the future of music and the breaking of acts.

RL: How did you get started in the music business?

TW: I've been a music fanatic my whole life and didn't think of much else growing up. Then, in the 80s, I worked at my college radio station in the US. I always loved the music from the UK - especially from the then indie label, Virgin Records. So when I graduated, I decided to move to London and was determined to get a job in the music business. I actually managed to land a job at Virgin Records in London and worked there for a few years.

RL: What led to the creation of Man On The Ground?

TW: When moving to Asia, I immediately recognized that many western artists or entertainment companies now view Asia as an opportunity market for expansion and growth, and are in need of someone to help them navigate the nuances of the industry here. Many from the west see Asia as a big question mark and need assistance making connections, launching a product or service, or help with career guidance.

RL: Tell us about your role in Music Matters? What led you to take the position as Program Director?

TW: Several weeks after moving to Hong Kong, I was introduced to Jasper Donat, who is President of Music Matters. He was looking for someone with industry experience to design the conference program and secure guest speakers. We hit it off. The conference has grown to be the premiere industry event for Asia. My role at Music Matters is to create the panel topics, locate appropriate panel and keynote speakers and write the program. I also work on the festival side of the conference - Music Matters Live.

RL: What was your most successful marketing campaign for an artist?

TW: In the mid-90s, I was in New York at EMI Records and worked with a band called the Fun Lovin' Criminals. They were an amazing live band with incredible personalities and charisma. We felt they were perfect for the UK and European markets, so we focused on breaking the band in that region and committed to this by taking the band there again and again. Over the course of a year, they went from playing small clubs to huge festivals across Europe and still have a large following in the UK today. So the philosophy of having a band return repeatedly to a market worked and I still believe in it to this day. I also worked on Santana's Supernatural album, which sold 25 million albums around the world - so that was pretty cool as well.

RL: Who has been your favourite artist to work with? Why?

TW: Without a doubt it was Patti Smith and we worked on several albums together. It sounds like a cliche, but she is a true artist - musician, painter, poet, writer, and photographer. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2010, she won the National Book Award for her book Just Kids. Not many artists can say that.

RL: How do you think social media has affected the breaking of acts?

TW: It has obviously become important in breaking an artist from many angles - for example, many artists are now discovered on YouTube and labels troll the internet looking for talent - so there is an additional avenue for discovery. When used effectively, artists can open a very useful line of communication and commerce with their fans through social media. But in the end, it's still about the music and playing live. If you don't have that expertise, it doesn't matter how many Facebook fans you have in the long run.

RL: Where do you see the future of music heading?

TW: I think it's looking up from where it's been going over the past 10 years, particularly for the independent, self-sufficient artist - but in different ways from how we've gauged success in the past. As an artist, it will be more about creating your own network of fans and marketing and selling directly to them. And it will continue to be about the live side of the business and having a global perspective.

RL: What is your advice for indie artists everywhere who are hoping to take their careers to the next level?

TW: Work very hard on being an incredible live act and always work to hone your live craft. Take your time and don't try to skip any steps. Also, try to travel to the various music industry conventions and events around the world. It's not cheap, but you will learn a great deal, perhaps make new and important connections, and understand how the industry works from a global perspective. Look for every opportunity out there for international festival performance slots- there are opportunities for indie artists. You can even try to utilize the crowd-funding options that exist today to help fund the trip. There are also so many on-line tools that indie artists can utilize to grow their fanbase - from selling and streaming music, studying analytics, creating and selling merch, raising funds, and getting your music distributed digitally around the world. Study the tools that are at your disposal.