Welcome to the world of digital

My first blog

This is my first blog.  Although as a journalist, I have “blogged” but they weren’t called blogs back then.  They were newspaper columns.  Oh, yeah.  I “blogged” as a college journalist, too.  So I’ve actually been blogging for years.  I guess it can only be a "blog" if it’s on the Internet.  So, this IS actually my first blog and the very first on the Virtual Music Market blog.


Blog - a “frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and observations.” That’s what some of the Internet marketeers call it.  I call them marketeers.  Don't think there is such a word.  Spell-check doesn't like it.


But there is a whole industry being marketed on the Internet about Internet marketing.  They are marketing marketing.  Because it’s the Internet, it’s still defining itself, how it works and how it works best.  So there are people defining how it’s being defined.  It’s all very interesting.  The point is, while it appears to be a wide open proposition, there are principles and practices evolving every day.  It is an open door for anybody with something to sell, but it still has some of the same obstacles.  It's not really a level playing field - that would be when it only involves the quality of the work - but the gate to the field is open.  And it still all boils down to marketing.


Digital downloads

In my opinion, music is the most Internet-commerce-friendly commodity for the digital platform.  Music, video and books are the easiest things to digitize and are, therefore, the most transportable products in the digital world.  The Internet has shown music to be so transportable, in fact, it caused the music industry, already well-practiced in piracy paranoia, to turn a blind eye and cold shoulder to a technology that was destined to drastically change how music is exposed and “exchanged” with consumers.


The exponential power of the Web makes “word-of-mouse” one of the most powerful marketing tools ever invented.  Because digital music is so transportable, music is the most Internet-marketable commodity.


But somehow the thought of being able to distribute music without having to pay for manufacturing, packaging, warehousing and delivering was repulsive to everyone engaged in the manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, and delivering of music.  Stands to reason.


When someone finally did embrace it somewhat, because they only knew the physical distribution principle - location, location, location, get it in as many locations as possible – they thought they had to apply the same principle to the Internet.  Wrong.  They couldn't grasp that now everybody is only as far away from an Internet store as their keyboard.


Pretty obvious answer
All the labels needed to do at the outset of the Internet upheaval was to open their own Internet CD and download stores and only sell their products direct - a big-time variation of what we hope to do here.  Instead, the industry let Steve Jobs and his iPod steal the download market right out from under our noses.  I'd be willing to bet SONY Electronics had an mp3 player of some kind before Jobs did.  They're a major label, too, aren't they?  The music side of their company might have seen that as a threat to all their jobs.  That's probably why they couldn't get it out to the marketplace.


Many are still to this day hung up on a model perpetuated by the archaic policies and tunnel vision of the out-of-touch CEOs of the recording industry.  I recently attended Nashville's "Digital Summit" sponsored by Belmont University's music business department.  It was very informative.  But the attendees were asking the same questions which were being asked five years ago. Like Nashville is just waiting for someone else to address digital issues.  If anybody in Nashville leads, it's totally by accident.  But times have changed.  And what this all really amounts to is that the technology has taken a lot of power away from a lot of people.


Unfortunately, like any other good thing – there’s usually a downside.  And the thought of getting music for free and stiffing the record labels, the artists, the publishers and the writers went over big with music consumers.  So the Internet became the proverbial double-edged sword and provided a new battleground in the fight to make sure the creators of music get paid adequately for sale and usage of their music.


Music overlooked and never heard

Since I’ve been involved in the music industry as a performer, songwriter, songplugger and music publisher in Nashville for over 30 years, naturally, my interest is digital music commerce.  That’s what the Virtual Music Market is all about.  It’s all about digital stuff.  Music, primarily, but books and videos, too.  The Virtual Music Market is an online digital download company with a focus on music.  While it is a portal to the huge variety of products available at Amazon.com, our major focus is on independent music for sale via digital download.


What we want to accomplish at VMM is something I’ve been wanting to do for years.  It’s not unique, a lot of people are doing it.  I mean, a bunch of people are doing it.  But there’s enough great music out there to go around.  And what is unique about us is one partner with 30+ years of success as a songwriter, songplugger, music publisher and a pioneer in applying digital technology to songplugging, and one partner with a decade of advertising and marketing experience in a city known for music.


Radio and retail - missing pieces of the old model puzzle

Having been on the creative side of things all these years, I was always the most frustrated by the fact that the there were so many great songs and songwriter-artists out there that couldn’t get a shot.  And sometimes, even if they got a shot, the labels and radio dictated what got a real shot.  I always tell artists contemplating a major label deal that they have to understand that their stiffest competition are the other acts on the same label.  It's always seemed tragic that so much great music got filtered out by the major labels and by radio.  If you couldn’t get there as an artist or a songwriter, you and your music were pretty much dead-in-the-water. 


I helped start an Internet label/store in 1999, before Y2k, before broadband and downloading.  Napster was just beginning.  It was even before the banks in Nashville knew anything about e-commerce.  We introduced many of them.  And, frankly, most of the record label and music publishing employees at the time were computer-illiterate for the most part in terms of music on computers.


So it was ahead of its time.  It failed, but not because the idea was bad.  We knew there was enough independent music out there and we could sell it via the Internet and represent it in many of the traditional record label capacities, but also in different ways than had ever been done before.  But, at the time, it still involved sending physical CDs out the door.  An expensive proposition.


Due to the extreme expense major record labels now go to, most artists don’t make much money on the sale of their music. The major labels are all geared to try to hit homeruns, spending millions of dollars in marketing and promotion to sell millions of albums.  Well, not many artists fill that bill and very few can sustain it for very long.  That's why the majors fail with new artists more than they succeed.


Function as an Internet record label

As that bar has been raised, more and more great songs and more wonderful artists out there never get the chance to be heard.  We know you’re out there.  And the Internet is changing everything.  Now, the door is truly open to all the music.  But, while being open to all the music is great, it creates another problem – how to not get lost on most of the download sites in the vast sea of all degrees of music quality, some good but mostly bad to mediocre.


Virtual Music Market is what amounts to a record label with its own storefront - a glorified consignment download store for some independent artists, but also a home to music we create, own, or acquire.  We want to operate the store somewhat like a record label by being selective about what we sell and by “releasing” and promoting music to radio and elsewhere in hopes of making sure great artists and their music get exposed.


VMM’s parent company, 1617 Virtual, LLC, is a marketing and promotion company that digitally releases and exposes music products to radio stations of all formats via a worldwide 8000+ radio station database.  Past clients include Lee Roy Parnell, Pam Tillis and Burrito Deluxe.


Physically servicing radio with manufactured CDs and printed snail-mail press kits is one of the biggest expenses labels and artists face.  It's an expense that is now totally unnecessary.  We are also a member of AirPlay Direct, a Web community of independent recording artists and labels, radio stations, and music industry resources - a 10,000 member organization that is fostering a new evolving dynamic interaction among its membership and a revolutionary channel of communication between artists and broadcasters.


Join our team 

If we love what you do, and you like what we do, we’d like the opportunity to sell downloads for you from our store.  In so doing, I want to use our 30+ years in the business to promote your music in whatever way we can.  Our contract is basically a digital distribution contract like you would sign for an Internet distributor like The Orchard or IODA.  And because of our affiliation with Amazon, we plan on having our downloads at Amazon.com in the future.

VMM wants to help the artists who have product in the store with the development side of their careers by helping them establish a music and image “brand” at radio, TV, and the Internet.  We want the Virtual Music Market to be known for having some of the very best indie music on the Web and for having one of the very best one-stop mechanisms for great independents to promote and sell their music.

Sorry to be so long-winded, I'm just an excitable boy.  There's a button below for unsigned artists.  Give it a click and let us help you.