Andrew Apanov is the founder of Dotted Music, a digital marketing agency for the music industry. Dotted Music offers branding, graphic design, inbound marketing, social media integration, website development, copywriting, targeted PR, and online management to music brands of all sizes.
Andrew also recently launched WeSpin, a video-based growth training and online community for musicians, bands, producers, and DJs. He is the former editor-in-chief of Ultimate Guitar, host of the WeSpin Recipes Podcast, and the Stand Above The Noise video series. Andrew speaks and consults internationally on issues facing the music industry, and still finds time to rock some drum & bass DJ.
Table of Contents
6:48 – If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
10:52 – Tell us more about your practice, how you got started in it, and share with us a common problem you see with artists
15:20 – What are some of the keys areas you work on with artists?
17:10 – Can you share with us a success story for an artist that you were able to help through your agency?
21:49 – How does it work for new clients and what does it typically cost?
29:12 – Three things artists should be doing today to move their careers forward
If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
I love this question. Seeing as I come from an electronic music background, I hope you don’t mind that I would make myself a DJ set or a mix. It would be somewhat consistent in terms of the genre.
I’ve been a DJ myself for 12 years, and I think the music that is really close to me and that I think describes me really well is drum bass. It’s a genre of electronic music and it’s really fast. It’s around 170 beats per minute. Usually it’s associated with something that is very upbeat and active. But the music that I am into is very deep, moody, and grimy. It’s slower than the regular dance stuff that you may hear. It’s an expression of my introverted self and it’s complex.
Tell us more about the service that you offer, how you got started in it, and share with us a common problem you see with artists.
In terms of Dotted Music, we offer digital marketing and promotion for bands, things like graphic design, brand identity, and websites. It’s about finding ways spread the word about particular projects. We often use something called niche marketing, where we use non-musical interests of artists to market them. I’ve been doing this for several years, and one of the things that I found is that it can be difficult sometimes for artists and bands to afford the investment for a digital marketing agency.
That is the main reason I started the membership platform in 2012, WeSpin. It is something that I believe anyone can afford. We put in all the knowledge and information and all the agency tricks. We don’t hide anything, so what we do for others, we just explain it. It’s something that everyone can afford if they have time to invest in their careers. They can use the WeSpin platform to learn these things on their own.
What are some of the keys areas you work on with artists?
For me, it’s all about digital marketing. And lately, I’ve gotten into this concept of growth hacking as it applies to music tech startups. So using bits of traditional marketing and sales, and online marketing and technology. So it’s a mix, making it really difficult to say that it is one thing.
I believe that musicians need to start looking into different tools available online to make some cool and interesting things to promote themselves. And to get more fans online. It’s not about the tools, but it’s important to learn how these things work if you want to succeed online. Because if you succeed online, you are more likely able to get the tours, and live shows, and radio placements that you are looking for.
Can you share with us a success story for an artist that you were able to help through your agency?
We worked with a band from Finland, and they were signed to Live Nation Finland. They were getting a lot of shows in Scandinavia and they needed to grow outside of their country. It was fun, because they were all about Zombies. Like, great, big zombies with blood and chainsaws and that kind of thing. The genre was psychabilly. It was really difficult to get them noticed the blogs writing about this genre.
But when we started looking into this zombie and horror theme, we saw this humorous side of the horror. We placed them in a mobile game. So there was a special bundle with with a special card. In the game, you would drive a car and kill zombies. And we created a special bundle with the band. Everything was branded, we designed it, and to unlock the bundle, you had to like the band’s Facebook page.
They got 50,000 likes in two weeks, and 200,000 in a couple of months, and it was a really high-quality audience for them. So these people that loved the game, loved zombies, and then loved the music. It was a niche marketing approach, and the partnership approach that worked really well.
How does it work for new clients and what does it typically cost?
The number one thing is to just reach out to us or just shoot me a tweet and I’ll get back to them to see how exactly we could help. It’s a good point about agency fees. We typically work with a limited number of artists, and we are a small team. Our full-service campaigns differ in terms of price from individual services required.
In terms of WeSpin, before last week you had to go to the website and fill out the form with information about your project. And then we would get back to you and see if it was the right fit, and then send the sign-up link. It was taking quite a bit of our time. But now we are finally out of beta and we just have the form on the website.
In 5-steps, we explain what WeSpin is, what you should expect after getting a membership, and then you can go and sign-up for a free trial. It’s simple, and it’s designed to educate artists through a series of emails on how to get the most out of the platform. As a member, you have 100% full access to forums and if you don’t like it, you can cancel before the trial ends and we are absolutely cool with that.
One other thing, around the time that I know this episode will be going live, we will be launching a completely free, email-based course called ‘Fan Engagement Faculty.’ You just sign-up and you get eight lessons from me throughout three weeks on how to grow engagement on social media. I include very specific guidelines and tools, and so far the feedback has been amazing.
Three things artists should be doing today to move their careers forward
- Artists need to start thinking in terms of marketing and promotions. After you put out an album or EP, it’s a change of mindset and it’s not as easy as it may sound. It is the core of everything in the music business. It’s spreading the word, selling you work, and getting new fans. When you are in the studio, you don’t need to make decisions based on how many copies you want to sell. I’m not talking about the creative process. Marketing is not what happens after the creative process, it is a critical part of the creative process.
- Artists need to use analytics and data to gain insights into your fans. There is great knowledge to be had about your fans when you look at data, and you can make better decisions about getting more fans and selling more when you take the time to look at the data. There are a lot of tools that are easy to use these days.
- Artists need to educate themselves. Even if you want to hire someone, a manager, a marketer, a publicist, a radio plugger, a booking agent, you really need to educate yourself in the business and in these questions that we have been addressing. You can do some of these things just fine, at least at first. But when the time comes to outsource something, you’ll want to understand how it happens.
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