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Record Label Strategies
January 07, 2003


Ten Ways To Kill Your Brand
How To Ineffectively Run A Record Label
Roderick T. Head
2001

Due largely in part to the increasing intelligence of the consumer base, record labels that have consistently been successful face a serious challenge in maintaining the value of the brand name they worked so hard to obtain. It is very easy to become complacent, knowing that other labels are making changes to increase their market share. As a reminder that becoming a cellar dweller is by no means impossible, here are ten ways to kill your brand:

1. Ineffective A&R * Strong catalog sales will only sustain a record label for so long, potentially placing the label in a position to suffer severe fiscal damage if the proper talent acquisitions don't occur. Conservative A&R thinking, continuous signings of artist clones, and being non-pursuant of production deals, label deals, and joint ventures is not strategically beneficial for the label.

2. Losing touch with the grassroots * It is very important to maintain strong ties with independent retail, clubs, record pools, key mixers, and small market radio stations. Losing touch with these key individuals means a shaky foundation for the label.

3. Ineffective use of independent marketing and promotions * It is understood that labels will need to hire the service of independents on occasion. In doing so, make sure that you have maximized the potential of the in-house staff. If you notice that your budget for independent services has gotten out of control, consider rectifying internally to decrease the need. When using independents, understand your needs beforehand, to ensure they are effectively and efficiently helping you accomplish your goals.

4. Internal politics * Higher executives too far removed from today's target market are hindering the growth of the company. Middle management and field reps are afraid to approach these individuals in fear of rocking the boat and losing their jobs.

5. Consistently releasing sub par material * Such a reputation causes problems at retail, resulting in lower initial orders. It also steers potential talent in the direction of other labels.

6. Lack of project support * The results of such action include albums that are "critically acclaimed" and "most slept-on." The cause of this is failing to understand the demographics in order to successfully reach the target market.

7. Failure to maximize project dollars * In essence, this means wasting money. This includes ineffective use of P.O.P. and not being timely with the distribution of promotional material.

8. Confirming trends instead of creating trends * Due to the mass penetration of imitation, trends have a short life expectancy. This causes a lack of creativity in the marketplace.

9. Lack of artist retention * The lack of artist development and too much emphasis on going platinum "in four weeks" causes artist resentment, ineffective promotion, and "Where are They Now" episodes on VH1.

10. Not using common sense * It's a combination of the previous nine points, and simply put, not understanding the roles of each facet of the music business.

Not all signs of an ineffectively run record label are immediately noticeable. To get a full picture of the current state of your brand, conduct an in-depth S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis. Strengths and weaknesses focuses internally, while opportunities and
threats focuses externally. From there, proceed to making the necessary changes.


source: Wendy Day
::Leonard's Notes:: David Leonard - JMA


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