This section summarizes the solution by answering the research question: "how can 2AM effectively market their music to fans by using the web?"
The answer is the ecosystem. The ecosystem is an active fanbase which is interconnected through non-linear communication. The role of 2AM is to build, connect, maintain and listen to this ecosystem. Marketing opportunities arise from listening; income is generated by giving the ecosystem what it desires. It's the only model I've come across that fully acknowledges the reality of the digital age and breaks free from the old paradigms of marketing. This means doing a lot more than traditional promotion, but it's a development in business that needs to happen in order to solve the communication problem.
The communication problem in general is a disconnect between the consumer and 'the industry'. Disconnect, as a noun, is a phrase often seen on tech blogs and suggests a technology-caused disconnection of reality between two parties. This disconnect is primarily caused by the changes in the marketing mix's place and is especially visible through the price versus value discussion, which focuses more on the reality of the industry than that of the consumer. Solving this communication problem is done by connecting with fans and using the power of the web and its non-linearity to build the ecosystem described before. This requires disciplines from all over the communication management spectrum such as publicity, for reaching out to bloggers, community management for interacting with your ecosystem, and trend watching and product development for listening to your ecosystem and giving them what they want.
The most important lessons, in my eyes, are the following:
In terms of the marketing mix, this covers three fields: place, promotion and product. As the case-studies of Die Antwoord and The Ugly Dance show, being 'a story worth telling' is an important factor in getting discovered. This is in accordance with the opinions of experts such as Seth Godin and Niels Aalberts. 2AM needs to create a story worth telling, by consistently putting someone in the foreground. The shift from Star Tattooed to Miro Gee is already a good sign, but if a producer would not like to be in the foreground that much, you could do what producers Jean-Paul DeCoster and Phil Wilde did, who were the behind the scenes parents of 2Unlimited–one of the most successful eurodance acts of the 90s.
The reality is an environment where you have to compete with free, music is like water, and people have such a huge number of ways to discover new music. So whatever one does, it should be remarkable. It has to stand out like a purple cow, to use Seth Godin's words.
The way the music is presented is just as important as the music itself. The general image, the video, the artwork, even the way of distributing music (see the Nine Inch Nails case-study for an example).
When you're a story worth telling, it has to be easy to stumble upon you and it has to be convenient to actually spread the story.
When people were asked why they were not buying digital music, the reason most often mentioned was that it was easier to just get it from peer-to-peer filesharing networks. One of marketing's biggest clichés is that the customer is king. A more modern version of this would be that a customer is selfish and in the digital age he wants what he wants, the way he wants it and he wants it now.
me us, it's about retention
Hundreds of thousands of people have heard 2AM's music, perhaps even millions, but with how many of them is 2AM in contact? Every time a person comes in contact with 2AM's music, especially on the web, it's an opportunity for retention and it has to be clear to them where they can find you on the web. It has to be interesting for them to follow you (and your tribe/ecosystem), to subscribe to your Facebook page, your tweets, your blog, your newsletter, but most of all, it has to be convenient.
Every person that hears 2AM's music is a potential customer. Lead them to your newsletter, your Twitter page, your Facebook page...any place where you can stay in contact with them and they can stay in touch with each other.
Remember the concept of Someone Else's Party and Derek Sivers' advice. It has to be fun to join in. The case-studies throughout the solution section show how you can make retention fun for potential fans. For example the case-study of The Ugly Dance, where users started making YouTube videos of themselves doing the dance in real life, and mau5ville, the co-created virtual world of deadmau5 fans.
Connecting with and listening to the ecosystem
Experts like Mike Masnick advocate building and nurturing a strong, personal and genuine connection with fans. Case-studies like the one on Trent Reznor, or the two deadmau5 case-studies show very well how to build this connection and how to protect (nurture) it. Most of the survey respondents, especially Twitter users, indicated that they feel they're more likely to purchase an artists' music after having spoken to them online or in person. So if having fun with your fans is not enough of a motivation; there is also an economic incentive for building this connection.
Fred Wilson, the venture capitalist who has invested in many tech-startups, agrees with Niels Aalberts' advice to try to keep business models out of the door while possible. The idea is to spoil your fans, treat them well, so that it's attractive to join (this ties into the Someone Else's Party concept). The concept of the selfish consumer dictates that business models should come from listening to the non-linear communication of the ecosystem. Listening to the ecosystem reveals the marketing opportunities. Instead of target group research or focus groups, one can simply participate in their ecosystem and manage their community to figure out where the opportunities lie.
The concept of the Economy of Abundance, first mentioned in this thesis by David Hornik, is a great help with this. You can give out great offers to your ecosystem and see which are the most and least popular. The Shpongle & Twisted Music case-study provides a good example of this. Younger Brother, one of Twisted Music's acts, offered all kinds of special products and experiences to their ecosystem. This ties in well with the concept of varying expectations, as put forth in the problem definition. Consumers have different desires for products and prices, so you will have to throw out a whole range of options to be able to cater to their needs. To limit the risk of losing an investment, you can put certain minimum amounts of orders before producing a certain product. This also gives fans mini-achievements they can unlock if they encourage each other to pre-order. The trend of people consuming more digital than physical music, combined with it being easier to set up pre-order templates, reduces the risks and enables 2AM to experiment.
Internet and imeem
During the process of writing this thesis, a music platform with a lot of potential was bought up and closed down. This says something about the internet: do not depend too much on one particular channel. What is popular today might be gone or irrelevant in a few years (or months, or weeks). What is small now, might become huge in a few years, take YouTube for instance. It has only been around for 5 years.Be flexible.
How can 2AM effectively market their music to fans by using the web...