A2IM's Indie Week Day Two: Label Execs Warn About Getting Digital Transactions In Order
A2IM's Indie Week Day Two: Label Execs Warn About Getting Digital Transactions In Order

The "Get Your Digital House In Order" panel on the second day of A2IM's indie week looked at a Kill Rock Stars/Redeye promotion with subscription service Rdio. From left to right: Kills Rock Stars' Portia Sabin explains how the label's band Milagres was the beneficiary of a promotion put together by Redeye and Rdio. Pictured from left are panelists Jim Logrando, marketing services manager for Redeye; Rdio content marketing manager Ryan Auffenberg; Sabin, who runs the Kill Rock Stars label; and moderator Rob Weitzner, who serves as the north American rep for Consolidated Independent. (Photo credit: Sheryl Cohen)

While digital distribution is taking over the majority of sales in the music industry, label executives attending day two of A2IM's indie week were warned that they need to deal with the back-room aspects of technology to handle the volume of transactions that occur in the digital space, as well as making sure the corresponding data is correct.

A2IM's Indie Week Day One: U.S.'s Shrinking World Market Share, YouTube Helps Indies, Playing China

Consolidated Independent North American rep Rob Weitzner, who moderated opening panel Get Your Digital House In Order," said that the biggest for challenge Consolidated Independent, a third-party provider of digital encoding and metadata processor that supplies music to digital service providers for indie labels and distributors, is "getting clean metadata."

A2IM To Produce First Ever Independent Music Awards

"If we don't organize our data and assets, we lose sales. It's that simple," warned A2IM president Rich Bengloff indie labels attending the session, held at Slate in New York.

The panel focused on suppliers that provide back-room digital services to indie labels, as well as new digital music service providers that represent new avenues to promote music.

RoyaltyShare was born out of pain, said founder Bob Kohn, who also founded eMusic. "When we started eMusic, we were dealing with 1,000 record labels and 30,000 music publishers and a million tracks a month," he said. So eMusic built a system to deal with that volume to track information to all those rights holders, but after they supplied the labels with this information, "we wondered what they were doing with it," Kohn continued. "So the company was born out of that pain."

In building the system, it had to be able to match data. So if you have 20 million transactions with a 1% error rate, that is 200,000 errors that you can't correct manually, he added.

Record labels are meant to be in the business of A&R and marketing, Kohn said. "That is what labels are all about; not deal with data processing," he said.

Consequently, RoyaltyShare takes over the back-room for labels, he said. Likewise, Merlin, the independent rights organization collective, handles negotiations for its member with digital service providers around the world, while Consolidated Independent handles encoding and metadata for labels.

The emerging music business "is a complex world with rapid innovation going on," said moderator Rob Weitzner, who is the North American representative for Consolidated Independent. "Having really clean assets and consistent metadata is important."

Case Study One: Purity Ring
When Vevo was first approached about the Purity Ring, Vevo senior manager for industry and label relations Perry Turcotte recalled that the team that decides what music to get behind had one younger team member liking the music because he liked that hip-hop against the ephemeral sound of the band. Meanwhile, a senior member on the team liked it for the opposite reasons -- "so we knew it had a broad appeal," Turcotte said.

Besides the fact that the team "loved the sound, we loved the visual at the same time," he added. "A lot of times we like the music, but it doesn't have a great video, or we may like the video but not so much the song."

The Beggars Group's Gabe Spierer said that the label decided to look beyond the blogs and site that would normally promote the its bands and look for a bigger platform. "I could have given you a list of three-dozen blogs that would have covered it, so those [sites] didn't need to be super served," he said. "It said that it seemed like a natural progression to go to Vevo."

The label wanted to position Purity Rings against artist like Rihanna and Florence and the Machine. "We felt like spreading our wings. We wanted to go broad" with a specialized partner, he said.

Earlier in the panel, Turcotte said, "most people think we only play videos from major labels." But Purity Ring is an example of how the site uses new music to drive traffic.

"Once we saw it and decided we wanted to support it," the next step Vevo took was to promote the band's video on the site through mobile apps and social media, Turcotte said.

The result so far is 30,000 views, he noted. Spierer added that the band's album is still three months out from the release so the Vevo promotion is all about "warming the waters" for when the album comes out.

Case Study Two: Milagres
When Rdio was approached on Milagres, the subscription service saw it as an opportunity to heighten its profile.

The way Milagres found its way to Rdio had to do with a promotion tied into piggybacking on the Hopscotch Festival, a festival held in the backyard of Haws River, N.C.-based Redeye. "We premiered five different bands with Rdio, tied into the festival, with Milagres being the cornerstone band," said Jim Logrando, marketing service manager at Redeye, which distributes Milagres' label Kills Rock Stars.

In choosing those bands, Logrando said that Redeye simply looked at its release schedule to see what bands would be coming out after the schedule.

From Rdio's point of view, content manager Ryan Auffenberg said that the Redeye promotion fit its agenda well because the promotion had artist in different stages of their career, which would play well in promoting the Rdio service and driving traffic to its site. From the week of the promotion, Milagres cracked Rdio's top 10 chart. Auffenberg said that showed the album that they presented for discovery to their listenership resonated with their subscribers

In addition to promoting the bands on the Rdio's website, "we supported the promotion with advertisings spends offsite as well," Auffenberg said. When they make those advertising spends, they correlate it to the popularity of the band they are working with. While sales weren't outstanding, the promotion helped Redeye's relationship with Rdio, Logrando said. As for Rdio's viewpoint, "We try to be a discovery tool so it was a value for us to have early access to this album," Auffenberg said.

From Kill Rock Stars' Portia Sabin's point of view, the promotion was great because it originated with the label's distributor Redeye.