Seth Godin is the king of Internet marketers. He founded one of the very first Internet ad companies, and over the last few years he has built a hugely popular blog, which he then uses to sell books and position himself as a high-profile and very expensive public speaker.
So he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to marketing. One of the concepts he introduced a few years ago is the idea of permission marketing. Simply put, he says that no one is listening to ads anymore – we’re all too busy to pay attention and there’s too much noise. Seth believes that the only marketing that still works is building a relationship with your customer so that you have ‘permission’ to sell them stuff.
For musicians, email sign-up lists are a form of permission marketing, as are MySpace bulletins sent to friends. The ‘Say Now’ calls that Bo makes are another type of permission marketing.
Seth has been saying for years that the music industry needed to apply the principles of permission marketing, and in his latest blog post, he outlines 15 lessons from their failure to do so.
The whole thing is interesting, but I found this particularly applicable to Bo:
Today, of course, permission is an asset to be earned. The ability (not the right, but the privilege) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. For ten years, the music business has been steadfastly avoiding this opportunity.
Itâ€™s interesting though, because many musicians have NOT been avoiding it. Many musicians have understood that all they need to make a (very good) living is to have 10,000 fans. 10,000 people who look forward to the next record, who are willing to trek out to the next concert. Add 7 fans a day and youâ€™re done in 5 years. Set for life. A life making music for your fans, not finding fans for your music.
Bo already has those 10,000 fans – many more than that judging by his album sales. And many of us are evangelists – we love his music and we tell other people. We love his shows and we bring our friends. So that fan base can – and will – increase over time.
I recommend reading the whole post – it’s a really good run-down of the mistakes the industry has made. But it also holds out hope for those artists who take advantage of the new opportunities. Those saddled with 5 year-contracts with major labels are screwed, IMO, because they likely have no control over their own mailing lists or websites. But for everyone else, the opportunities are limitless.