Career

The A-Z Of New Music Marketing

July 13, 2019

The second iteration of the CHANGES Music Summit rolled into Melbourne last week, and it was incredible. The programming was refreshing, with thought-provoking sessions on offer. The APRA AMCOS networking brekkie was fun (tiny croissants filled with bananas!) and I bumped into lots of Bolster friends across the two-day event. And also never going to complain about learning and meeting new people in a location as beautiful as Abbotsford Convent.

Oliver Hall (Senior Campaign Manager at Bolster) and I were asked to do a talk about the A-Z of new music marketing on day 1 of the conference. It was the largest group of people I’ve ever talked to in my whole life 😱 but it was wonderful having a speaking buddy with Ollie and our presentation GIF game was on fire 🔥

Paige X. Cho & Ollie Hall at CHANGES. Picture by Eric Peng.

I’m not going to re-share the full A-Z in this post, but here are three of my faves:

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS:

Might seem boring to highlight this in a list with fun tech advancements like AR or the rise of dark social, but insights are one of the most valuable things a marketer can possess.

A little context. The amount of data music marketers have is astounding. We have access to Facebook Page Insights, Facebook Audience Insights, Chartmetric, Next Big Sound, Spotify For Artists, Spotify For Brands, Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, YouTube Analytics and so much more at our fingertips. And you bet that every one of these platforms is also constantly making their metrics more and more nuanced by the day.

Having all of these numbers are great, but it can be totally overwhelming. It’s crucial to not only have the data, but use it to pull out key insights that mean something and take action based on that. As in:

data > insight > action

It’s sick if you know that most of your Facebook fans tend to be online at 10pm, but what use is it if you still post content at 2pm because you don’t work at night? Or knowing your most requested song on Triple J if you don’t turn it into an encore? Or figuring out Adelaide is your top Spotify city but not adding it to a tour because no one tours South Australia? Or having data that shows 90% of your ticket page traffic comes from mobiles, but the mobile experience sucks so mobile traffic only accounts for 30% of final ticket sales?

You get the picture. (If you want to get nerdy about the data > insight > action cycle this is a great read.)

MOBILE FIRST:

When I started working at Bolster in 2015, I noticed that desktop was the top device for most music festival sites. People just liked using their computers to connect with festivals. A year later in 2016, I could see the beginnings of mobile growth. Some festivals started to see more mobile traffic overall, but desktop usage spiked when tickets went on sale (because frankly, some ticketing companies were decidedly mobile unfriendly at the time).

Fast forward to 2019 and mobile takes the cake. Across our clients, the wider industry and just the plain old internet, lots of people browse (for leisure anyway) using a phone. Ticketing companies have improved their mobile UX massively, and we’re seeing mobile as the #1 device for festivals throughout every stage of the campaign.

Yet… I do hear of marketers/brands/businesses prioritising desktop (not clients, but just in my wider networks). The most common culprit is that someone higher up (ahem, a director perhaps) doesn’t understand mobile. Said person approves websites/designs based on what they look like on their 2011 Windows Dell computer using Internet Explorer. Mate. Seriously.

This doesn’t apply to just websites though. Future marketers need to mobile optimise everything a consumer will see online*, including video creative, photos, captions, links, everything.

* Exception to this is if your business/artist has more desktop use, but check your analytics. An example might be a job ad site where people tend to apply for roles on their computer, or maybe the blogging interface for users (not readers) to write long form. CHECK YOUR STATS.

OPTIMISATION: 

I occasionally get asked if I’m worried robots will steal my job… They already have, and I am so fine with it.

Back in 2014, digital advertisers had to pretty manually optimise everything. If I had five campaigns with three audiences in each, and each ad set had three ads… I would have to individually check out each campaign across all three levels and decide what to keep live, kill or tweak. This took up an enormous amount of time.

Facebook and Google have since used machine learning (read: AI) to optimise campaigns for marketers. The platforms can do anything from serving out an ad creative that’s better at selling tickets, or spend more of your campaign budget on the audience most likely to RSVP to a Facebook event. Bonkers.

I’ll let the robots do that happily so I can spend more time doing campaign strategy, channel planning and data analysis.

Here’s to CHANGES 2019, and see y’all at CHANGES 2020! Perhaps with another 26 buzz words rolling around my head at that time.

Pic by Eric Peng.

EMC Connect Melbourne

June 30, 2019

While Sydney is the Electronic Music Conference’s home, the event has also been hosting EMC Connect mini events in Brisbane and Melbourne. I’ve never been to EMC proper before but have heard incredible things. When they asked me to be involved with EMC Connect Melbourne, my answer was absolutely said hell yes.

The Growth Guides: Prioritising Community panel looked at how to build strong online and offline music communities, and what is key for generating support, real engagement and fandom (not just stats). The panel was facilitated by the excellent Arlo Enemark from Xelon Entertainment and Medium Rare Recordings. Joining me on the panel was Jerry Poon from The Operatives (actually a Bolster client), Xander Malual from The Listening Co and Juñor Ondaatje from AUDollars/R.E.A.L Music. Here are some of the conversations we had:

  • What’s your approach when Bolster clients want stats over prioritising a community or real fans? We actually get asked this fairly often. Some clients are hellbent on numbers like post reactions and Facebook fans, but we call these vanity metrics. We’ll always try to uncover the real life business outcomes behind these and focus on these for clients instead and find these vanity metrics follow anyway. (Real business outcomes might include people engaging with website content, clicking out of a Linkfire or purchasing a ticket.)
  • How do you find networks when you know no one? Go out to events, be nice, get to know people, offer to help and ask for help.
  • How do you keep your existing audience but find new people? We all had slightly different answers but my thoughts here… Look at it through two lenses: 1) what will existing fans like, and 2) what will appeal to new audiences? Put that in a Venn diagram. Aim for the middle so you aren’t alienating your current audience for the sake of growth.
  • What to do if you’re an artist and about to possibly get kicked out of Australia due to visa issues? If you’re a bedroom producer (especially if you’re a bedroom producer) you can literally create music from anywhere in the world.

Thanks to EMC Connect for the great conversation. Next panel appearance will be in Adelaide next month!

Indie-Con 2019

June 26, 2019

Returning to Adelaide next month for my yearly AIR Awards visit!

In addition to that the awards, I’ll also be in town for the Australian Independent Record Labels Association’s Indie-Con music conference. I’ll be speaking on the Tech Health for Indies panel on behalf of Bolster, along with my former Shock boss Mick Tarbuk (who know heads up Believe Digital in Australia), Bill Wilson (SVP of Operations and Innovation at Entertainment One) and Jacqui Louez Schoorl (Jaxsta).

Hit me up if you’ll be around for the AIR Awards or Indie-Con and want to be a canape buddy at the awards 🍸🍡 (I am always that person at events networking but actually just looking out for food trays coming by…)

Conference info and tickets here.

VMDO Digital Masterclass

May 12, 2019

The Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO for short) has been absolutely killing it. The VMDO is tasked to help grow our local music industry with a special focus on small/medium businesses. I was lucky enough to attend and have my mind blown at their recent Unconscious Bias class, and have had their networking breakfasts on my to-do list for a while now.

So I was absolutely thrilled when Katie Stewart asked if I’d be interested in hosting a Bolster digital masterclass for the music industry, as part of their Experts In Residence program! Previous Experts In Residence include Andrew Fuller of Clearview Legal Council, Sally Christou of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (around HR) and Paul Luczak & Mark Rice of The Gild Group (covering finance for music businesses).

I haven’t fully finalised the curriculum for the 3-hour class yet, but it’ll be focused on paid advertising, specifically:

  • Channel planning, with a look at what each platform excels/sucks at, what your campaign needs and how the channels can work together (this is a key step to a successful campaign but most 101 digital classes seem to gloss over this like me during a Star Trek film)
  • Campaign structuring
  • How to get started across all these platforms (easy takeaways for class participants to use as a reference guide later)
  • Machine learning 101 (my fave)

The session will be on the morning of Tuesday May 28, and it’s free for Victorian music businesses. Places are strictly limited, and you can apply here.

P.S. there will be a lot of GIFs in my presentation in case that’s a problem for you 😂

Year In Numbers

December 24, 2018

Another year, another year in list form 😂 Here’s what my 2018 looked like:

  • Listened to 3,533 different songs on Spotify (down from 4,196 in 2015)
  • Celebrated my third year at Bolster in August
  • Read 8 fiction books (my favourite was The Vegetarian)
  • Went on my first ever solo holiday to Hobart in November
  • Moved desks three times at work to keep things fresh
  • Went to 8 music festivals
  • Went to Sydney five bloody times
  • Ate the exact same breakfast and lunch about 250+ times at work because decision fatigue (Special K for breakfast, brown rice, tofu and veg for lunch)
  • On a related note, got takeout exactly three times at work this entire year
  • Went to one wedding
  • Only rearranged the furniture in my bedroom twice this year which is fairly low
  • Had roughly 100 surprise visits from my favourite neighbour
  • Only posted on Facebook 14 times (but 268 Instagram Stories and counting because #bestpractice)
  • Played four gigs with Fever Land (more FL action in 2019 for sure)

On the first point, here are my top 100 tracks from the year. (Very glad that I ended up going to Meredith since The Breeders and Yaeji feature in this bad boy.) Happy 2018, and here’s to 2019 and people continuing to read this blog for reasons completely unknown to me 🍸🍹

Music Industry Pathways Program

November 30, 2018

Absolutely love the work that The Push does for youth in music, and was so honoured to take complete their Music Industry Pathways Program for 2018 as a mentor. Kate and Lou from The Push paired me with Johanna, a wonderful human being who also happens to be an incredible graphic designer working in the music space in Melbourne. Here’s us being cheesy:

P.S. info about how to apply for the 2019 program here!

Digital Strategy Innovation Summit

September 20, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve spent the past couple of days in Sydney:

  1. Sleeping in a capsule hotel,
  2. And doing nerdy things at the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit.

Capsule hotels, it turns out, are just glorified, high-tech hostels. Felt like I was in Aliens or The Fifth Element… Not sure if Mila or Sigourney ever wore thongs to the bathroom to avoid getting athlete’s foot though.

On the other hand, the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit definitely covered innovation, digital and strategy. Most of my digital and strategy skills are self-taught (peppered with a few great short courses here and there) so it was eye-opening, reinvigorating and inspiring to hear experienced strategists and innovators talk about things in my wheelhouse. And also comforting when it turns out that vague concepts in my heads are actually frameworks with fancy names.

Here are some quotes because everyone loves a quote:

  • “Digital is not a threat. It can be your answer. If you get Facebook really right, you have 500K marketing managers for your radio station.” – Linda Bracken, Former Head of Audience Strategy & Digital Design, ABC.
  • “Transformation is a subset of innovation. New technology is a symptom of human curiosity.” – Scott Ward, Founder, Digital Infusions.
  • “Machine learning is the high interest credit card of technical debt.” – Paul Tune, Machine Learning Engineer, Canva.
  • “Data only takes us so far. It shows us what’s happened in the past. Design thinking helps us figure out why things are happening.” – Scott Ward.
  • “Creating a product is easy. Selling a product is hard. You have to create something that people need rather than selling something you have.” >> Sadly did not catch this person’s name! Believe she was in marketing/comms strategy, and replaced someone who was ill so isn’t listed on the program.
  • “Don’t capture people’s data for no reason. Solve a problem, solve a beautiful problem.” – Jennifer Scott, GM Digital Transformation, ANZ.
  • The customer is in the centre.” – Rob Hango-Zada, Co-founder, Shippit.
  • “Creative disruption is the new business as usual.” – Scott Ward.
  • “Whenever you see customer friction, this is where change is going to happen.” – Jennifer Scott talking about waiting in line for a supermarket checkout, and then seeing what Amazon Go is doing in the US.
  • Not a direct quote, but Ali Adey (Head of Digital, Simon De Winter) and Kim Peirce (Founder, Babe Australia) talked about how they find micro-influencers to be more valuable than influencers for brands. While they have less followers, their audiences tend to be more niche and engaged. They’re also seen to be more authentic when endorsing brands because they aren’t already up to their eyeballs with brand deals.
  • “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable with uncertainty. We need to get excited about being uncomfortable with uncertainty.” Harmandeep Singh, former VP of Strategy and Innovation at Brady.
  • “Engagement is captivating interest for long enough that they give a shit.” – Rob Hango-Zada.

The recurring theme here was HUMANS.

Whether it’s customers for consumer-facing activity like marketing, sales, customer service and product innovation, or staff if we’re talking about processes, product development and digital transformations. A common sentiment across the board was that the best technology, processes, apps and ideas mean shit if they don’t fit the people. If you haven’t thought about how your team feel about something or how they are going to implement it, or you’re assuming blindly that people want your product, then you’re in trouble. (Side note – I have many, many thoughts about how this definitely still applies to creative industries like music. There’s much debate about writing music for yourself vs. writing music for the market, but that’s a giant blog post for another day.)

Story time. Back in my early twenties I worked in the diamond industry for a couple of years doing quality control and logistics. (Before you stalk me on LinkedIn, this job ain’t listed on my profile.)

My office was a very secure diamond vault, and I needed to get through five floor-to-ceiling fridge doors to get to it. Imagine the Get Smart credits – that was my morning walk into my office. It was also super cramped and so dark in the vault that I could barely read the tiny barcodes on my diamond bags.

The company paid a consultancy firm some hefty cash to help us improve productivity and therefore make more money. Some creepy dudes in suits came in for a few months, but not once did they actually talk to any lower level team members. Instead they went to lunch with upper management a few times, and then back with ‘business solutions’.

Their improvement for my role was to swap out my normal product trolley with a giant ‘high productivity’ trolley that did not fit into my bloody vault. I pointed this out to them, and they said they were 100% sure it fit because they checked the building’s blueprint. Turns out they didn’t think about the fact that a human needs to be able to fit WITH the trolley in the vault to put things on it, so I had to instead have my trolley outside the vault to do my work and walk double the distance every single time I retrieved a product. And also – no new lights.

People are important apparently. Talk to your humans. 😂

BIGSOUND: Edition Seven

September 12, 2018

Wot wot

A post shared by Paige X. Cho 🌙🌹 (@tigerburning) on

This year marked my seventh time up in Queensland for BIGSOUND. Here are some things that happened:
  • Ran a workshop with Bolster‘s Director Anthony Zaccaria on understanding data and being able to pull out actionable insights from a bunch of numbers.
  • Got attacked by a BIGSOUND monster. See above.
  • Finally watched No Mono live after months of hearing my friends gush about them. They were GREAT.
  • Went to watch No Mono’s second showcase, but accidentally walked through a Bin Juice set on the way and was blown away. Absolute music highlight of the whole conference. I didn’t end up catching No Mono again.
  • Asked a question at Darren Levin’s content panel, and then had a complete stranger in the loo afterwards tell me I had a lovely voice. (Not sure if she liked my question.)
  • This gem from Alex’s data panel, from the moderator Chris Carey: “Data only has an answer if you have a question to ask.” So figure out why you are looking at the data (what’s your artist’s top city, or the best retailer for record sales, or the top track this year, or good targeting ideas?) and then look at the data. Was fitting with the panel focusing on how there is so much bloody data available to us now, but people aren’t necessarily getting any extra value here. 
  • Got my own hotel room in a twist of fate because my roomie ended up breaking her ankle before flying up to Brisbane. Broken bones suck but privacy is pretty great.
  • The most incredible views from the Bolster boys’ hotel room.
  • Drunk conversations at the Eventbrite party comparing investing to advertising optimisation. (Give me a whisky and ask me about this.)
  • Heard a certain media person on a panel claim to simply take brands’ money and then bury their paid editorial with other content as their ‘native content strategy’… NB: person in question is not a Bolster employee, client or partner.
  • Pretty sure the Bolster espresso martinis were pure rocket fuel. See below.
  • Not getting completely sick! This is a BIGSOUND first for me. (I do feel not 100% and have been avoiding humans this week, but hey, this is still a big win.)

Bolster x BIGSOUND x Brisbane x…. Beverages 😏 #bigsound

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CHANGES

July 9, 2018

Australia’s newest music industry event found its home in Melbourne this week. CHANGES was a music industry summit by day, and industry-showcase-and-adventures-on-Smith-Street-with-a-side-of-kebabs by night. In a spin to the typical conference format, CHANGES had zero panels. Instead they focused on small room workshops and masterclasses, as well as one-person keynotes by industry experts to let attendees get a deeper view on each topic.

CHANGES was run by the excellent folk at The Push, and Bolster was involved heavily through the graphic design, website, digital advertising and also popping up here and there on the event program.

Bolster‘s Director Alex Zaccaria opened the conference with an interactive keynote. We posed advertising trivia questions based on industry and Bolster stats, with attendees answering these with real-time polls using their mobile phones. For instance… How many metres of content does the average person scroll through daily on their phone? What percentage of festival ticket holders actually like said festival on Facebook? What percent of website banner ads booked for festivals and tours are actually ever displayed on a real screen to a real human? If you want to know the answers to those… chat to us 😂

LNWY and IOHYOU hosted the CHANGES closing party at the Night Cat, with some pretty phenomenal music from Krakatau, ALTA and Billy Davis & The Good Lords. (If you haven’t heard of LNWY, it’s Bolster’s evergreen content outlet with Laneway Festival. I love it, and so should you.)

On a more personal note, I also ran a closed door workshop with Al Parkinson, hosted by Music Victoria. We had good chats around all things social media, marketing and helping artists get ahead.

Here’s to CHANGES 2019!

Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

Photos: Sarah Chav

The Smith Street Band!

April 16, 2017


Congrats x a million to The Smith Street Band for scoring a top 3 ARIA chart debut with their new album! Such an incredible feat, and wonderful to know that indie music fans in Australia really still do buy music and support local talent.

I was so lucky to work on the album at Bolster via Remote Control and their management agency Little Giant (who, coincidentally, are “desk neighbours” in our office building). I’ll leave you with the following little video because CONFETTI CANNON:

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