Something that I think is vastly understudied in the modern music world and which makes me wonder a lot about how how this industry will move forward is the gap between digital and non digital markets. This is one of those things that’s incredibly easy to lose track of because for most of us in the music industry all we are doing is digital. We only operate on a digital plane and spend our lives behind our computers. We totally forget the all important fact that 27% of Americans don’t have internet and 23% of American adults don’t have smartphones. That means that if all of your marketing is digitally oriented that you are missing out on up to a quarter of your potential audience! Sure this demographic that doesn’t have internet or smartphones might not all be in your target demographic, but at least some of them gotta be and that means that there are some really concerning realities that you need to unpack as someone trying to promote their band.
First off you need to identify who these people are, by and large they are poor and older. Now this probably means that if you’re playing, for example, artsy indie rock, that you’re not going to miss out on a lot. However if you’re a rapper or maybe a country musician then you’re going to find yourself running into issues (And I’m not just talking about classist hatred of those two genres) These are people who could very well be interested in what you have to offer they just don’t necessarily have the access they need to get there. Sure some people have other ways of finding out about the arts but the odds are that they don’t have it handed to them as easily as someone who is checking their Facebook account every five minutes. Again – I’m not saying this is life or death, but it’s something that you need to sit down and think about for a few very important reasons that are going to really resonate within a decade or so.
The issue that we are rapidly running into is that with an increasingly divided gap between the lower and upper classes we are going to find ourselves more and more in a world that has large sections of the population who barely interface with the internet at all. This creates huge fucking issues because those people are going to have kids and those kids are going to grow up finding out about music through non typical means and this is going to be a serious concern for people like you and me because it’s a different chunk that we have to market too. It’s a whole new set of rules that will require going back and trying to understand how bands were marketed in the pre internet years and determining what segment of your budget is worth negotiating for that. In fact – one might even argue that in this day and age due to market saturation online it might make more sense to focus on a brick and mortar promotional plan because it will naturally stand out more.
Of course thinking about this is very difficult because again, for most of us invested in the music industry the concept of not being connected to the web is an extremely arcane and difficult one to even wrap your head around because, well, who the fuck would want to market to people not on the internet? Do their opinions even matter since they can’t share them? Well I think that we’ve also reached a critical mass with screens and people are going to eventually need to tap out and this is going to make genuine word of mouth al the more important. Sure most communication happens online now, but someone sitting tou down at your favorite bar and really getting into it with you about a new record is still more likely to get you to check something out than reading another review on some silly blog site. Late stage capitalism and technographics aren’t really something you want to have to think about in 2017 but they have become an integral part of the industry.
The real point of this article isn’t just that there are a ton of people out there who you probably aren’t marketing to at all, but also that there are a lot of deeper sides to the industry that you need to be thinking about when trying to promote your band. Now that might not sound relevant to a lot of you but you now for a fact that major artists do this all the time. Yes it requires a certain critical mass of money in order to be able to afford this kind of marketing rather than just going for your typical several hundred dollar Facebook ad campaign – but you get what I’m trying to say. If you’re in a market with low internet access then you probably need to start reflecting on this and even if you aren’t it’s worth reflecting on how different people in your community engage in the arts so that you can make sure you cast the widest possible net and don’t paint yourself as someone cutting off people for not being good enough.
The future of marketing is going to be an interesting thing because entirely new demographics are going to spring up largely defined by their access to technology and the way in which they interact with it. This isn’t something you can totally predict unless you’re a futurologist and even then those dudes have been known to get things pretty wrong. When it comes down to it I’d just encourage you to step up your marketing plan so that the people who essentially aren’t plugged into social media have a way to experience your art and dig in in a way that doesn’t require them to go above and beyond the call of duty.