When former Music Ally-er Claire Mas – now head of digital at Communion Music – spoke at our NY:LON Connect conference in January, she delivered a bracing blast for some of the everyday digital-marketing mistakes being made by labels and managers.
The downside, she only had a few minutes on-stage. Today at AIM’s Music Connected conference in London, though, Mas got a whole half-an-hour session to expand on those ideas.
She didn’t pull any punches, although her approach was also tongue-in-cheek, when criticising her audience, which received them appreciatively in this spirit, with plenty of laughs.
“Arrogance starts right at the beginning and it kinda flows throughout the whole process of developing an artist,” she began.
“People think they can pick up a guitar and a few months later they’ll have thousands of fans or YouTube views… and that flows into the music industry and into marketing people… we think everyone should care about every single thing we say all the time.”
She cited complaints about declining Facebook reach as an example. “Facebook is not a charity. It is not a non-profit organisation. You cannot reach all the people you want to all the time, because your content is quite bad, frankly!” said Mas.
“Instead of constantly complaining about reach on social media, we need to look at ourselves. If everyone did see everything you ever see, they’d just leave the platform and then we’d have another MySpace… we wouldn’t be able to reach any of these people at all.”
Mas moved on to the meat of her presentation: the mistakes that are made too often by music companies. Starting with mobile phones. “So many of you in this room have an artist whose website looks terrible on a phone. I know. I’ve seen them!” she said.
Mas criticised the experience of buying tickets on a mobile phone: and the fact that so many artist campaigns still push fans to a ticket link that won’t work well (or won’t even work at all) on their mobile device.
Mas also said marketers mustn’t ignore websites and mailing lists as ‘old’ technology. “Websites are not these old archaic things. They’re very useful, and at the very least are incredibly useful to pick up pixel data for remarketing,” said Mas. “Emails are not dead, they’re incredibly useful… whether it’s getting people to buy tickets or merch. And they’re incredibly cheap marketing, and can be used for targeting on social media.”
“Your links just don’t work. I’ve clicked on them, they’re all awful! Do not assume that it’s not your problem. It’s everybody’s problem that your links don’t work,” continued Mas. “Wrap your links, people… You need to wrap every link. Ticket links need to be wrapped. YouTube links need to be wrapped. Every important campaign link needs to be wrapped.”
One example, one live event sent out an email to thousands of people with the pre-sale tickets link, but the link didn’t work. “If they had wrapped the link, they could have just gone and changed the link in the back-end, and the link in the front would have stayed the same,” said Mas.
Mas also called for marketers to link to playlists, not single videos. “YouTube’s really good at getting people to go down this crazy funnel of going from one video to another, but it’s not good for people staying in your actual artist. Always point to your video within a playlist… so when they start with the official video, they stay within your playlist and continue watching your artist.”
Next up: “Half the population hasn’t really caught on to the fact that links don’t work on Instagram. Hello! People! Links don’t work in Instagram comments. Don’t do this!” Artists should put a link in a bio, or link in their Instagram Story if they have a verified Instagram account, she suggested.
Mas moved on to content adaptation. “Yes, I’ve seen your album cover. I saw it when you talked about the pre-order… when you talked about the tours. I’ve seen your album cover 500 times. You do not need to keep posting about it!” she said.
“Social media content is supposed to change all the time. if you keep using the same image over and over again over three months, people are so bored. They’re really, really bored. We spend so much money on photo-shoots and have 500 photos, and we pick three and chuck all of the rest away. And then we say ‘we have no content’… At least 50 others are all really good photos, and in the same style.”
Mas also warned labels to get better at resizing their content for each platform: for example, not leaving an image to be automatically cropped and thus miss out dates, or even people’s heads.
“Resize your assets so they actually fit the hole that you’re trying to block!” she said. Mas also returned to her NY:LON Connect criticism of using portrait tour posters in online marketing. “We’ve been using the same assets even though it doesn’t fit in the dimensions of the platform,” she said.
Mas called for more video content from labels, but not necessarily music videos. Tour trailers to announce tours. Album trailers to announce albums. “In general, any campaign you launch needs video content,” she said.
Mas also renewed her call for an end to silos between the live and recorded sides of the industry. “Why don’t you just put your ad budgets together and have a really good campaign that is talking to fans?” she said.
Mas also called for more collaboration across the digital marketing space. “We just need to feel like we’re not competing with each other. We should all be collaborating. The more people have good experiences with music, the more music fans we have… We’re actually competing with sports and Netflix and other hobbies.”