Monday, October 16, 2006

The Viral Garden's interview with Nettwerk's Terry McBride

If you enjoy music, if you have an interest in marketing, then you need to get to know Terry McBride. That's because much of what you'll see in the next few years in music distribution and marketing, is likely going to come from the principles that Terry is applying to the management of his artists at Nettwerk Music Group now. Artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, and The Barenaked Ladies.

For decades, major music labels have tried to keep a tight rein over control of how music is distributed, how it is priced, and who gets to keep it. Nettwerk has broken in the opposite direction, giving customers music in literally any form imaginable, giving them cheaper or even free music, and giving artists more control over their music, which in turn gives these artists the ability to sell that music in more forms and for less(see there's a method to the madness).

No one knows for sure what the future of music marketing and distribution will look like, but the odds are good that it will be very similar to the model that Terry is applying to the management of Nettwerk's artists today.

The Viral Garden: You have said repeatedly that we need to view music as a product like water, that nourishes as it is consumed, and that should not be controlled. How does this philosophy apply to the marketing of Nettwerk'™s artists and the distribution of their music?

Terry McBride: Well it varies from artist to artist as each is at a different stage of their careers and some are tied into recording and publishing agreements that limit their creative initiatives due to the labels and publishers wanting control. Those who are free and are able to collapse their copyrights will in turn have the ability to give up the control and realize by doing so that their imaginations take over. I hope through leading different artists down this path such as Barenaked Ladies, The Format, State Radio, Leigh Nash, that others will get excited by what they see. For example Sarah McLachlan has agreed for the first time to release a multi-track to the public so that they can make their own mixes, this was based on how well received the BNL ones went.

TVG: You mentioned The Barenaked Ladies. I've read that Nettwerk took a very unique approach in releasing their new CD, Barenaked Ladies Are Me. If you could, talk about what made the marketing and distribution of this release different from previous releases?

TM: This is all based on a simple principle, put the music where the music fan spends their time and allow them to consume it how they want. Thus with Barenaked Ladies Are Me, we have 29 songs, but over 250 assets when we count up the various versions (studio, acoustic, live, ringtones, multitracks, fan mixes). Then combine them with all the various formats ( Vinyl, CD, USB, 5.1, Digital) and then put them everywhere ( traditional store, All Digital DSP's, Live venues, Band site, Starbucks & so on).

TVG: “ Something I have discovered firsthand, is that Nettwerk makes a point to reach out to bloggers and communicate with them. So far, it seems that most labels are only sending review copies of new CDs to a few '˜tastemaker' blogs, but are there other ways that labels can involve bloggers in the promotional process?

TM: Well, we see bloggers as music fans that love to communicate on a personal level, thus I think they should be treated with better communication than the traditional type of journalist who does it as a paid job. I think down the road bloggers with a great track record will be able to make a decent living from the fact that they can sell the music that they are promoting by using peer to peer economic advances such as what Snocap is fostering.

TVG:“ Many people are saying that podcasting could be the next area of social media to see explosive growth. Do you agree with this, and if podcasting does grow over the next few years, how can music labels leverage this medium as a promotional channel for their artists?

TM: Not sure I agree with that, I am quite sure that those doing podcatsing have the perception that it will. I simply see P2P recommendation within the technology realms of IM, Text and e-mails being a far more immediate and personalized way of exchanging recommendations, opinion and commerce.

TVG: Nettwerk seems to understand the importance of reaching out to and empowering the communities of fans for their artists. Why aren'™t more labels as willing to involve their fans in the marketing process? Is it simply a control issue?

TM: Not sure why they do not, I think its rooted in old ways of doing things and not wanting to lose the control that they enjoy.

TVG: Something that impressed me when I talked to Erin Kinghorn earlier this year, was her saying that you encourage all of Nettwerk's artists to donate their time to charitable causes, to instill a sense of '˜giving back' and being a part of the '˜global community'™. Talk about why you wanted to instill a sense of giving back into the culture at Nettwerk.

TM: It's key to keeping artists in touch with everyday reality and making the world a better place for us all, really quite that simple.

TVG: Finally, I know that Save the Music Fan is something that you are passionate about. Can you explain how Save the Music Fan came to be, and what its goals are?

TM: Save The Music Fan is about stopping the litigation of music fans and simply came about from one of the many law suits. We decided to fund the defense of a fan whose family thought that the RIAA is in the wrong.

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Sarah pic via DesertOfMyDreams.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Now, hopefully the big boys start following Terry, or just go away, one or the other.

Anonymous said...

Terry McBride has definitely proved to be someone an aspiring label owner can look to if one needs a role model in the majors [debatable] - however, can you PLEASE share with him the disgust I felt last night while channel surfing and I came across Sarah McLaughlin singing a song off her new Christmas CD.
Disgusting - that was pretty much the nail in the coffin for Leno in my books.
[and I do understand the CD is out now etc etc etc. - but still middle of Oct. Christmas songs - come on]

Anonymous said...

yeah, october felt a little odd but she did a great job and I'm sort of glad it was in october cause it pushed me to get my stuff out there now too :) maybe we can start at easter next year.. and then have christmas in July parties just to keep the goodwill and generostiy spirit alive year round :)