Dotted Music Blog

On International Music Promotion & The Anti-360 Deals

Martin Frascogna is a US-based attorney specialising in entertainment and international law, who currently represents entertainment clients in over 34 countries spanning 6 continents.
In this We Spin Recipes podcast episode, we talked about the books Martin has co-written, the 360 Deals, the Anti-360 Deals, promoting music acts in new countries, partnerships, Billboard charts and many, many other exciting things.
Some of the topics covered in the conversation:
  • “Music industry is a global market” and what it actually means.
  • The Anti-360 record deal explained.
  • What to look into if you want to enter other countries’ markets.
  • A new layer of what an attorney should be doing.
  • The interesting trends in the Billboard 200 chart in the US.
  • Should you move to the US to succeed?
  • Think of it: the 96% of buying entertainment market is outside of the US.
  • Should you go with a label or should you be self-releasing your music?
  • The Direct 2 Fan concept is not the same as it was several years ago.
  • The story of a Swedish singer-songwriter entering the US market.
  • Brands as labels: partnerships between music acts and lifestyle brands.
  • The issue with the Jay Z & Samsung partnership.

Listen to the episode below:

Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, or by searching “Music Growth Talks” in your favorite podcast app.

Show Notes:

A few notable passages from the episode

Marketing Yourself Internationally

I represent a Swedish client who’s really interesting. Many years ago, she made country and blues music back when that was not popular at all in Sweden. We looked at it and said there is no way that labels will reject this project. She is too beautiful, her voice is too perfect, her personality is very witty. Everything about her, the entire package, was so salable that I had never been more confident in a project thinking that all the labels in Nashville were going to be kicking down the door. So we took it to labels in Nashville but they all rejected it. They said, “Whoa, it’s way too exotic. We don't know what this market looks like. We don't know if the U.S. country market is ready to embrace something as exotic as a Swedish country singer. We don't know what the Swedish-American buying market wants.” There were all these unknowns to them. We were then forced into the problem of this singer that doesn't sell anything in Sweden because no one cares about that genre there, and, in parallel, the only place we could really position her was in the United States, but all the labels that we wanted to be affiliated with already passed on her.
From there, we focused on the reasons behind her rejections, which were that she was too exotic and that we didn’t know if Swedes or Swedish-Americans would purchase her music. That's an unpenetrated demographic of the country music market. We thought we could cure that because all we had to show was that Swedish-Americans were going to buy this which may translate into penetration of the country music market through a new angle. We really looked at all of her assets, the things she was doing well. For instance, she had a fantastic personality, she had great music, all the kinds of things you would hope to look for in an artist, but we dug a little deeper. We looked at what influenced her music, the artists that you wanted to kind of mold your career afterwards? And we started to see some consistency.
On one front, we looked at with whom we could partner. For starters, we knew we had to partner with Swedish-Americans. Me as an individual, I can't do that because I come from an Italian-American background, so I don't know Swedish-Americans nor how to communicate to their masses. One thing that we tried was locating the Swedish-Americans. They have a massive organization, which I did not know at the time. They were headquartered in Washington, DC, and they had several other chapters scattered all throughout the United States. They had a chapter in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and a lot of other major cities with millions of registered members.
And so, we went to the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce and we asked them to endorse our client. They said that they wouldn’t do that because they’re a chamber of commerce. We told them that they should take her on because if you look at the mission statement on their homepage, the entire backbone of the organization is based on trying to help enhance business, arts and culture between the United States and Sweden, and vice versa. Hence, we said that we were essentially bringing them a Swedish artist to the United States and that we needed their assistance. They first said that she can become a registered member and from there she could send emails because she'll have access to their directory. We then told them that we needed them to promote the entire project. We asked for a free banner space on the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce homepage. In exchange, we would give them access to her album, her singles, and so on, with the idea of making them our distributor. We had time restrictions but told them that if they sell her album, we would give them a distributor cut as a donation to their organization. And we would track if anybody purchased this album or individual tracks, if it was Swedish-Americans buying it and so on. Initially, labels rejected it because they didn’t know if Swedish-Americans were going to embrace it. Therefore, we would be able to use the buying analytics afterwards with the goal of showing those labels in Nashville that we just found all the Swedish-Americans and they’re buying it. So we would be able to tell them that we have found the in roads.
Her sales figures were quite staggering. She did very well and it lead to other opportunities like performing at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. And it was because of this unique campaign of looking at what she does and trying to figure out a way to merge it. That's thinking outside of the box, it was about getting specific and zeroing in on Swedish-Americans in this case.
The irony of this entire story is since we executed that whole campaign, country music exploded in Sweden. So the artist ended up signing with a major label in Sweden but it was thanks to this campaign that took place in the United States. We didn't even want to be signed with a label in the U.S. because they couldn't provide some of the same opportunities that a label from Stockholm was going to be able to provide at that point. It's unique and I think the whole idea behind it is everyone is doing something that is unique to them. This was a Swedish girl who sang country music. That was different. But how do we figure out unique ways to bring that out to the masses and what were we ultimately trying to achieve? She wanted to be with a record label, that was what she wanted to achieve. But it didn't really matter if it was a major or an independent label because she also wanted her music embraced by Swedish-Americans. And that was the whole goal. At the end of the day, she was operating the business, and her unique assets were her sound, her voice, and the market that she carved out for herself.
Andrew Apanov is the founder of the Dotted Music digital marketing agency, and host of the Music Growth Talks podcast.
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