Chris Graham, Digital Strategy Director at Wind-up Records, talks about music marketing, engaging fans and the effectiveness of ThingLink

1. How did you come to be in your current position at Wind-Up?

I started at Wind-up in 2010 and was originally brought in to handle all the labels physical and digital production, as well as digital asset delivery and A&R operations. Being an indie label, we all wear many hats. Having come from a creative background with Universal (was their prior to Wind-up) I grew to take on indie Sales + Marketing, then Digital Marketing and finally to hold my current position of overseeing the Digital Strategy as it relates to Marketing and Sales for Wind-up.

 

2. What are the most important digital trends in the music industry right now? What tools are artists and labels overusing, and what are they under using?

I think the most important trends differ depending on where you are in your career as an artist. For instance, a new band, with no major, or major indie backing them can do so much more than ever before. It’s been said a million times, but you can do a lot on your own now. You can use Sonicbids to book shows, you can sell direct to fans with Topspin, you can get your music on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and numerous other sites. You can sell it, ask fans to pay what they want, you can give tracks for email and really create a fanbase like never before.

However, having said that, I feel as if I am just repeating what the masses are saying. You still need to separate yourself from other artists. You need to be creative with how you do everything, you need to really have a plan and your plan must be consistent, creative and in-line with what you want your bands image to actually be. And then at the end of the day, your music has to be GREAT.

   

As far as tools, I think it depends on the band and their audience. Twitter and Facebook are obvious and should be used, but sites like Foursquare to offer specials at your shows and drive merch sales and awareness should be considered. Using the basic tools to spread the content in a creative way is far more valuable than spreading yourself thin and trying to establish a relationship with fans on numerous platforms. As a band, use what you would use yourself as a fan and then grow your base from there. Know where your fans are and know how to use the technologies you do use.

I think Flickr, or Instagram works for photos, Foursquare for check-ins, ThingLink for embeds and video promos/photo promos, as well as Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis. You might want to use Google+ and integrate YouTube into that since they tend to go hand and hand, but the most important thing is to not repeat yourself on these platforms. I also think a lot of artists are using Topspin, but I think more should. It feels underutilized to me for some reason. I also think bands are overlooking mobile. Have a mobile website – make sure everything loads on an iPhone and Android, as well as a Kindle and iPad. Do that right now.

 

3. What are the most common mistakes artists and labels make when engaging fans online?

Not asking a question to the fans and thinking that just posting “something” is engaging

 

4. What did you first think when you say Thinglink, and how have you used it with your artists?

I saw what Simple plan did and wish we had gotten to it first. Then we launched some exclusive Evanescence photos with it and they become some of the most shared items ever. I thought it was so simple and effective, that I was actually looking for “what else it did” – it didn’t need to do anything else though – it accomplished numerous items that we use so many other things for. It allowed for sharing, purchasing, following, liking and was engaging and creative all at the same time.

 


 

5. If you could create one killer app or digital tool for artists, what would it look like?

I can’t say because we are currently trying to build the answer to this question.

 

This is the first interview in a series on best practices for using ThingLink in publishing, e-commerce, education, and entertainment. Stay tuned for more.

Interview by Cortney Harding.

 

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