We recently got in touch with Tim Ferrone from Wrapped Up Music to discuss the importance of coordinating releases internationally, and the impact this can have on your career! You can have a look at Tim’s Music Gateway profile here.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the music industry?
I've been in the record business for nearly fifteen years now, which has whizzed by in the blink of an eye. I've worked for major and independent record companies, as a marketing consultant and an artist manager. Always with a focus on marketing though - that process of helping shape something to be 'market ready', and then working out how to get it to its audience is fascinating, and ever-changing.
You run your own marketing consulting agency called Wrapped Up Music, can you tell us about that?
Yes Wrapped Up is an international marketing consultancy. There are lots of marketing consultancies out there catering to the music business, but Wrapped Up is specifically focussed on helping artists with their overseas activity; it’s a service which few others offer. I suspect that may be because it’s bloody hard work and long hours actually, but it’s what I know best, and where I feel I can really add value.
Where did you come up with the idea for Wrapped Up Music?
The idea first dawned on me when I was an artist manager. We had an artist who was getting great national radio traction in the UK, and we started to get lots of overseas licensing offers. Once we got to about a dozen, I realised I just didn't have time to properly co-ordinate all of these different campaigns effectively and so looked around to find someone who could manage it for me. Yet I couldn't find anyone. Then the penny dropped… it’s what I used to do at Universal, so why not take that skill set and apply it myself…?
How important is it for an international artist to coordinate a release across multiple countries? What kind of impact would that have to the artist?
Well, major labels have international marketing departments for a reason. Particularly in this day and age whereby the internet has made some of the media boundary-less, you cannot stop a song from 'leaking' outside of its domestic territory. Therefore if you have an artist who is interesting in other markets, the stopwatch has already begun ticking the moment a song gets its first airing, and people are ready and waiting for you. Conversely, of course the artist cannot be in more than one place at a time. So you have a problem; how do you address the promotional hunger for an artist when they are not scheduled to be in your marketplace for another six months, or even at all? You need to try to make each market feel loved and like it is important, or people fall away in their droves. So co-ordinating that across different markets which have completely differing needs and media landscapes, is extremely complex.
For a start-up artist, the challenges are different; how do I become known overseas from a standing start? The key there is to know who to target, and how to tailor your offering to make it most relevant and interesting for them. At the end of the day, a sale in the US, Germany, Japan or France is worth just as much to an artist as one in Milton Keynes or Darlington, so why not reach out there and grab it?
What kind of problems do artists usually face when releasing music internationally?
Artists starting out tend to have a pretty good idea of their domestic media landscape. They will know which radio DJ is likely to play their song, which blog might feature their track or run an interview, and which social media platforms they can engage their fans with. They've probably lived in that country for most or all of their lives, and it’s through those channels they themselves discovered music they loved. The moment you step into a different country though, everything changes; language, culture, media partners, musical taste, retail, everything. That’s a huge hurdle to overcome. Most artists can't be expected to know where to begin making an impact overseas, and that is where an experienced international eye can help shape and guide them, and help get their music exposed to the rest of the world.
What are the key differences between a release overseas and releasing in your home country?
I think many of the fundamentals apply - great music is always going to be the key for example. But beyond that, it is crucial to have a plan for how your music is going to make an impact overseas, because everything becomes much more complex. If you ask a lot of artist managers for their UK marketing plan, they can tell you in great detail exactly who they will be targeting for a first radio play, how they will progress from there to playlist, which blog tastemaker support they are looking for, which YouTube channel they are looking to place their video with as an exclusive etc etc. But when it comes to their plan for Germany, or France, they simply don't have the time or depth of market knowledge to dedicate to nurturing the right relations. So they tend to just hope and let things drift. In other words, they are putting their faith in someone else, and hoping for the best. Anyone with any experience in the music business will tell you, that is not a great place to be. There are so many viable release options for artists at every level these days, but without a strategy to make an impact, and someone to drive it through, how is anyone going to know you're there?
As someone who has worked in marketing for many different labels, what advice can you give to artists and bands looking to take that step into the multi-national level?
In terms of specifics for multi-national campaigns - I'd say try to have some idea of where your music is likely to be popular, and how you might capitalise on that. Find comparable artists and see where they are touring, which radio stations are playing their records, which blogs are writing about them. You don't have to speak a multitude of languages to find that kind of information – it’s a good few solid hours of detective work. Once you know that, you can begin to create a groundswell yourself. These things are generally sequential; those controlling bigger media opportunities will want to see the foundations in their territory. They will want to know that the social media numbers stack up, that the online promo support is there, that people are turning up for the European tour etc etc. None of it is rocket science actually, the problem is that it gets massively time consuming very quickly, and that's where having someone such as myself come on board can free up the artist and their management to focus on the things that are most important to them.
I also noticed you’re running Good Game Records, how involved with that are you at the moment with the development of Wrapped Up?
Hugely! It’s fair to say my wife and kids aren't seeing a huge amount of me right now! Good Game is hugely exciting to me though. It’s a dance record label underpinned by a relationship with one of the biggest, most-engaged dance music platforms on the net; so we intrinsically have the capacity to create all of the important groundswell and foundations ourselves, before taking it over the top into mainstream media, and building the rest of the house on top. You just can't make careers without those foundations in place, and Good Game gives an opportunity to speak directly to that audience and get everything in place genuinely, and in double quick time. It’s also the chance for me personally to move quickly and independently in a way that would have been unthinkable with some of the previous record companies I have worked for. Which really appeals to the entrepreneur in me!
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Tim, good luck with everything over at Wrapped Up Music! If you want to market your music more effectively and get in touch with Tim at Wrapped Up Music, you can post a ‘Hire PR/Marketing Company’ project here.