Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Viral Garden's interview with Lookout! Record's Molly Neuman

A few months ago I stumbled across the website The site has a massive collection of the band's full-length concerts from around the world in audio and video formats. Even commercials and media appearances are available along with custom CD covers with track listings for each concert. All available to be downloaded to your heart's content.

I know what you're thinking, only a matter of time before the band's lawyers come calling, waving 'cease and desist' orders at the site's owners, right? Guess again.

A little digging revealed that the band is not only aware of the site, but they openly ENCOURAGE everyone to download their music from TheDonnasMedia, and also ENCOURAGE their existing fans to upload any unreleased music from the band that isn't already on the site.

Sounds like a great example of empowering your community. Color me intrigued.

Intrigued enough to contact The Donnas' manager, Molly Neuman. Ms. Neuman was kind enough to answer a few questions for me and better explain the band's marketing strategy of growing their community of fans, by giving their music away.

TVG: I noticed on, that the band makes it very easy for listeners to download and share their music. Was it a conscious choice by the band to try to grow their fanbase by making their music more freely available?

Molly Neuman: Yes and it also speaks to the indie roots that we come from. We want our fans to get into the music and also support us by buying our records. We trust that our fans won't abuse the availability and that makes for a great relationship.

TVG: On The Donnas' MySpace page, the band frequently rotates songs in their player based on reader suggestions, and sends out constant bulletins and even the occasional blog post on their page. How important do you think it is for an artist to use the internet to interact with their fans?

MN: We think it's crucial and it also keeps the band motivated and connected to how their music connects with others.

TVG: It looks like music labels are trying to find a way that they can distribute their artists' music videos via YouTube. As podcasting continues to grow in popularity, do you think we might see labels lend their music to podcasters either freely or through an ad-revenue sharing model in the next few years?

MN: I think it really depends on the label and the vision of the person in charge but I think that as we're all trying to reach as many fans as possible and we have to be more and more creative.

TVG: Finally, there are so many ways for artists to get their music in the hands of their fans today(Digital online sales, ringtones, CDs, etc). Two years from now in 2008, what do you think will be the most effective distribution channel for The Donnas to get their music to their fans, and what area should we as marketers look to for the most growth in the next two years?

MN: Well we've always had a combination of means for reaching fans, via movies and soundtracks, TV, radio, press, touring and retail. I expect the ratios of importance of these means will change but they will all still be in place. I'm not sure which is the most important or which will be but we should remain vigilant on all fronts.

Thanks again to Ms. Neuman for her time. If you want to sample some of The Donnas' music, all you could ever want is available for free at concert is my fav). Ms. Neuman co-founded Lookout! Records(The Donnas, Green Day, Pretty Girls Make Graves), and her current project is the new label Simple Social Graces Disco.

Pic via The Donnas MySpace page.


Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that you might just like the Donnas... :)

It is nice to see someone say they trust their fans, and then actually walk the walk.

Mack Collier said...

I love the way they are trying to build their fanbase by giving away their music. As Molly said, that's indie thinking applied to a big-label model.

What I really love is labels and artists that are smart enough to embrace their fans. If you read BMA before I started The Viral Garden, you know that I was constantly posting about Nettwerk, because they were constantly doing cool marketing/promotional stuff. Stuff that most other labels would never touch with a 10-foot pole. Now that I post more here, they get coverage here now(and will get more in the future, keep reading...).

As for The Donnas, I loved the idea of their working with their fans to create a website where people could download their music. Basically a way for anyone to try out the band for free. They do the same thing on their MySpace page, there are constantly several songs and videos to download, all of which are rotated based on fans' suggestions.

And funnily enough, after hearing their music, I'm now a fan of the band and will probably buy their new album as soon as it comes out. That's on top of my blogging about the band, the interview with Molly, and everything else that's coming up (again, keep reading).

Not a bad tradeoff for a few free MP3s if you ask me. I like to support bands and labels that are smart enough to see this.