Dave Carter writes in to share some recent research that he was involved in, examining how well different promotions strategies worked
for 99 different independent musicians in Australia. All the typical caveats apply -- including that this was just limited to Australian artists, and plenty more research needs to be done to show a causal relationship -- but the initial results certainly support the view that many of us have been espousing: that bands who really connect with their fans get a real boost in actual revenue. And, really connecting means actually doing some work -- not just tossing up a MySpace page. Some summaries of the findings:
- The highest proportional returns to artists corresponded with the use of multiple inter-linked sites, including a dedicated website or blog as well the use of mailing lists and the provision of free content. Of the artists studied, few had developed this type of integrated or strategic web presence and many of the artists studied could be making more effective use of the tools available to them.
- When viewed in isolation, the use of popular web services such as Myspace, Facebook and YouTube to promote an artists music did not correspond to a dramatic increase in artist earnings. In fact, as a whole, users of Myspace or Triple J's popular Unearthed website actually received proportionally lower returns than the median. However higher levels of fan or audience engagement -- for example in the form of Blog coverage, YouTube views, Facebook fans or Myspace friends -- tended to correspond to proportionally higher artist earnings inclusive of services whose users tended receive lower returns overall.
- Finally, the level to which higher earnings corresponded to online activity appears relative to artists off-line profile. That is, artists who perform and tour regularly, receive radio airplay and off-line press and media coverage tend to receive significantly higher returns and appear more likely to benefit from online promotional activities.
Most of this should be pretty obvious -- the more you connect with fans, and the more you do to get heard, the better off you're likely to be -- but it's amazing that so many musicians still don't bother with putting in the necessary effort.