Saturday, December 6, 2014

Digital Marketing Reflections

On my original Mastery Journal Timeline, my stated goal for this course was “To understand and adapt to the social marketing arena, but more importantly to recognize what drives the consumer to look to social media for art.”

My original hypothesis was that social media was important to an artist’s success simply because fans had some “skin in the game.” The interactive nature of these sites makes fans feel like they are closer to, and can communicate with, those artists they appreciate and are therefore more willing to buy their products. Gary Vaynerchuck supports this notion in this short video clip. “Here is why I like social media, because it sells [stuff],” he says.

The most important lesson I learned in this course is that the notion of social media interaction with customers to drive sales is not distinct to an artist and his or her fans, or for that matter, a music production company and its clients. All companies benefit by the open nature of social media dialogue with their customers.

In a recent blog post of mine, I described how digital marketers are now relying on user experience (UX) designers to take advantage of this fact, moving from the “push” marketing tactics of companies with static products for sale to the “pull” marketing model of companies that want to provide their customers with exactly what they want. According to Gary Vaynerchuk, social media is nothing more than the newest iteration of word-of-mouth-marketing.

But, reputation is still king, so beware: word-of-mouth can hurt a company as much as help it. If your company is not up to the task, do not suggest to consumers that it is.

This course has provided an overwhelming set of tools to help with digital marketing and analysis - far too many to discuss in a simple blog post. One in particular, however, has opened my eyes in an astonishing way.  Because of my unique last name, good portions of the readers of my blog are from Russia (my family’s heritage is in Georgia). While many generations mixed and removed, the technology provides me with the knowledge that I might connect with a customer base that I might not have otherwise thought of.

Digital marketing and social media are here to stay. Get in the game, or get left behind.

The Importance of User Experience Design in Digital Marketing

The article The Importance of User Experience for Digital Marketing ; 5 Key Tips by Kristin Low is a succinct analysis of the need for User Experience (UX) Designers on a digital marketing team.

The article describes how traditional digital marketers align more closely with the static product(s) that their company sells, while Experience Designers focus more on the design aspect of products. Digital marketers are tasked with selling an existing product, while User Experience Designers attempt to discover what products their company’s customers want.

UX Designers do much more than create a user interface on the web. While that interface is a key part of the overall user experience, it can be considered just the initial porthole to the entire customer experience. Though a website might look wonderful, that becomes irrelevant to the customer if product delivery is slow, product customization is not an option, or any other number of negative circumstances exist in the interaction.

Anytime a customer interacts with a company, an “experience” is inevitable.  The question is which companies will adapt most quickly in the face of the Internet of Things to make sure that customer experience is maximized. While it may be true that in the near future, everything from our lamps to our toothbrushes will be sending and receiving data over the internet, it is still the paying customer that needs to be satisfied. The researched-focused User Experience Designers will be the ones to lead they way.

Low, K. (2014).  The Importance of User Experience for Digital Marketing: 5 Key Tips. ClickZ Marketing News & Expert Advice. Retrieved from:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Evolution of the Music Commodity

When I launched my business recently, I believed I was at the forefront of music and technology. As an author and composer, I had moved to all-digital recordings of my music. As a publisher, I was convinced that physical CDs were outdated, and I was attempting to convince my clients of that. Yet, they still wanted that tangible CD in their hands – proof that they had actually achieved something.

Consumers, on the other hand, are very different. Very few of them care about the physical CD. They would rather download and enjoy the music immediately than order a CD online and wait for it to arrive or have to go to the store and buy it. Understanding this, the band Of Montreal took a unique step in moving the focus away from the CD and toward another tangible item: merchandise.  In order to purchase the band’s album Skeletal Lamping, the customer purchased a piece of apparel, which came with a link to download the music. (Morris, 2011).

In addition to the lack of interest in a physical CD, the audio music itself has become much less of a commodity with the public. It has very little value. If you want it, there are plenty of tools available to simply pick up your mobile device and steal it, or in the best-case scenario for artists, use a free app to listen to it and reward the artist / publisher with a whopping one-tenth of a penny per listen.

Recently, the enormously popular band U2 made a free copy of its digitally downloadable album Songs of Innocence available to all 500 million Apple iTunes users. For many of those users, the album was downloaded to their devices automatically without their consent. U2 was forced to apologize to many users who are not fans, and who value the storage space on their phone more than U2 music. (Clover, 2014).

With the advent of Napster, and follow up file transfer enabler, Bit Torrent, music continues to digress in value.  While Bit Torrent is technically a legal platform, it is often used for illegal file sharing. (Love, 2012). Moreover, this continued emphasis on illegal file sharing of copyrighted music causes the music files to be viewed as something to be amassed, hoarded, and traded. The following graph depicts the radical decrease in sales revenue due in part to piracy, and it also shows that, for those who are still willing to pay for their music, digital distribution began outpacing the purchase of physical CDs in 2012:

Copyright © 2012, Statista


Clover, J. (2014). U2’s Bono Apologizes For Automatic ‘Songs of Innocence’ Album Download. Retrieved from:

Love, D. (2012). Everything You Need To Know About Bit Torrent, The Legal (And Illegal) Way To Download Anything You Want. Retrieved from:

Morris, J. W. (2011). Sounds In The Cloud: Cloud Computing And The Digital Music Commodity. Retrieved from:


Richter, F. (2012). Streaming Boom Can’t Offset Decline in Physical Music Sales. Retrieved from: