At Bandsintown, we’re all about connecting with musicians and members of the music industry to keep up with trends and new developments. So when the opportunity to attend the San Diego Music Thing popped up in our own backyard, we knew it was something we needed to hit up.
San Diego Music Thing is successfully bringing a SXSW vibe to the community but with a more local format. With over 100 artists taking part, there was something for everyone regardless of musical taste. Some of our favorites were Meg Myers and hometown heroes Cults. While the concerts were fantastic, the panels during the day proved to be a great time to learn about what’s happening in the music world.
On Friday, we sat in on the panel “Digital Business: Social Media and the Value of a Fan” with a few of our friends like Harold Gutierrez who handles all things digital at 5B Artist Management (Slipknot, Asking Alexandria) and Kavi Halemane who is the EVP and Head of Digital at The Collective (Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots, Sara Evans). Also on the panel were Jaime Solis from Slacker Radio, Dana Shayegan from Collective Digital Studios, John Lenac from PledgeMusic, and Michael Schneider from Urturn. The panelists discussed how important the role of social media is in the development of an artist’s brand and career but Halemane noted that musicians should NOT spread themselves too thin. Artists need to be where their fans are and tailor their content to those audiences but it all depends on who they’re trying to reach. He noted YouTube is a great place to be. Shayegan seconded this, since YouTube is the largest music discovery platform that exists, saying it’s also a great way to monetize your music.
Solis stated how important it is to think of a musical career as a business. Just like Pepsi wants to connect with buyers and fans, so do musicians. In order to do that, it’s important to think of ways to add value to the lives of your consumers. Lenac discussed the idea that social media is a bit of a land grab - it’s important for musicians to get the right username and then decide how to use it. There’s only so much time so best to prioritize the right platforms. When fans come across your content, Schneider stressed how important it is to showcase your talent - saying “a first impression is like a first date. You need to show fans why they should engage with you.”
On Sunday, our favorite panel focused on management and its role in an artist’s career. We connected with our friends such as JJ Corsini from Vector Management (Milo Greene, Wildcat! Wildcat!) and Sam Berger from Atom Factory (John Mayer, John Legend). Also on the panel were Josh Mills of It’s Alive Media (Dengue Fever), Justin Arcangel of 5B Artist Management (Slipknot, Asking Alexandria), and Kent Sorrell of Elevation Group (Crash Kings). The panel discussed the role of a manger and Corsini clarified how management exists to enhance what the artist is already doing. The artist must have the right direction and a manger will decide who should come together in terms of a label, publicist, and agent. Berger followed up by stating that in many senses, the artist is like the founder of the company and a manager is brought in to run it for them. A lot of emphasis is placed on ensuring the agent is doing good work since most income is now coming from touring.
Arcangel stressed the importance of flexibility and being able to deal with various unpredictable situations. “A lot of what it comes down to is being able to think on your feet and how you speak to your artists.” Mills reiterated by sharing how a band’s situation is always changing. With one artist he managed, a major label was the best place to be one year and the next year it wasn’t. It comes down to how you manage each situation for the good of the artist.
Overall, the major themes we encountered were
a) artists need to think of themselves as a business and
b) artist’s should focus on how they are perceived by the public.
We’re really looking forward to next year’s festival and we encourage all local music lovers to check the San Diego Music Thing next Sept!