Twitter is fun, easy and effective, but don't expect it to result directly in sales. These were some of the nuggets of wisdom in yesterday's "Music and the Real-Time Web" panel at the 140 Character Conference. You can stream a video of the 20-minute panel as well as other panels from the conference at ippio.com.

Panelists are Steve Greenberg (S-Curve Records), Syd Schwartz (EMI) and musician Matthew Ebel. Ted Cohen (TAG Strategic) is the moderator.

Ebel says the support of 125 to 150 fans pays all of his bills, but Twitter is not a driver of that revenue. Virtually nobody, he says, is looking for new music on Twitter. "I think it's very hard to convert tweets to purchases," Greenberg said. "Twitter, in some ways, may be too casual a form of communication to lead to a purchase directly at that moment." Schwartz, however, says EMI's catalog imprint has seen some conversion from Twitter messages about new releases.

Data from direct-to-fan platform provider Topspin confirms the panelist's sentiment. According to the company's 2010 Midem presentation, Topspin artists' average Twitter message averages a visit rate of 4.8% and a conversion rate of 2.8% sales. That's a sales conversion rate of 0.134%. So, for every 100,000 Twitter followers, 134 of them end up buying something as a result. For Topspin artists, Twitter is in line with the sale conversion rate of search traffic and a bit better than those of YouTube and Facebook. In contrast, Topspin artists' emails has a sale conversion rate of 1.2% -- about nine times better than that of Twitter.

What about the shiny object syndrome, that tendency to be distracted by the latest fad? "I think you've got to do a lot of things," adds Greenberg, who sees a huge first-mover advantage for technologies like Twitter. "The key is as more and more things get introduced, you've got to do them all. It used to be that you could get three things right in the music business and have a hit: you're get on the radio, get it in record stores and get it on MTV and if people liked it enough you'd have a hit. Today you've got to get 100 things right, and it might be 200 next year."

Even though there may be a newer service, explains Schwartz, marketers need to address the relatively older services fans are still using. MySpace, hardly the hot web trend of 2010, is still used by millions of music fans. That's a good point. Two or three years ago, marketing experts where evangelizing the wonders of time-shifted podcasts to anybody who would listen. By and large, however, podcasts never took off in the way many experts predicted. Instead, they become just one of many tools marketers could use.

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