The illegal downloading and free sharing of music through the internet has fundamentally changed consumer behavior over the past ten years, bringing the music industry head-to-head against a consistent drop in music sales: Between 1999 and 2011, global sales figures dropped from 26.9 to 15.9 million dollars. Writing good music is no longer enough to survive as a musician in terms of profits – image, marketing, and networking are important factors for success. Most artists haven’t “made it” as professionals yet, and they rely on basic funding and essential know-how in getting a start. Steffen Geldner developed the digital information platform “artistguide” as part of his master’s studies at the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) of Steinbeis University Berlin. The platform fosters the exchange of basic information related to the music industry.
Steffen Geldner works at the “Popburo Region Stuttgart”, an office dedicated to promoting popular music in the greater Stuttgart area. The Popburo steps in during the early stages of an artist’s development, particularly during market debut. Most of the Popburo’s daily business lies in conveying basic information to artists, and this is where “artistguide” took root. The platform was founded on the vision of contributing to the sustainable advancement of the music industry in the region, providing more information for local artists, and securing financial success for regional music companies. The daily workload of each staff member at the Popburo will likely be reduced by 20% by offering basic support to musicians online. The project would be considered a success if the monthly site hits reached at least 10,000 after the first year. It is hoped that 50% of these visitors will be from the Stuttgart and Baden- Wuerttemberg regions.
Steffen Geldner guarantees maximum usability for “artistguide” on account of its clear and user-friendly design as well as the high quality of information it provides. Since it is regional, it cannot be confused with other similar portals founded based on the same basic idea. In designing the site, Steffen Geldner placed a lot of emphasis on including regional music artists in the site content. Apart from the actual site programming, everything was done in-house: from web and print design to content editing.
Steffen Geldner uses social media marketing and advertising – primarily through Facebook and Google – in his online marketing campaigns for “artistguide”. These marketing measures are supplemented through search engine marketing and optimization, cross marketing, and press releases. Use of Google ads and website optimization for better visibility among user search hits are crucial to this approach. All online activity is supported through print media and the regional dissemination of information.
Site visitor numbers for “artistguide” are currently at 37,000 hits per month, exceeding the original goal of 10,000 by nearly four times. 67.37% of the site users come from Baden-Wuerttemberg. Though queries from musicians coming into the Popburo reduced only minimally over the course of the project, the staff workload reduced considerably. This is because although the level of questions has increased dramatically, these queries tend to be quick requests for more detailed information. The musicians seem to be much better informed of industry basics thanks to “artistguide”. This means that individual artist consultations are more customized and of a higher quality. In more concrete terms: while the number of monthly queries has stayed approximately the same, staff efforts have reduced on average by 13%.
The “artistguide” platform’s influence is also reflected in the number of visits to the Popburo site. The project’s profits amounted to approximately €50,000 over its 12-month duration. Add to this the financial and informative value the platform has generated for its users. With “artistguide”, Steffen Geldner has shown that institutions without vast financial resources can use their own initiative to fuel their offerings in an exciting way in order to maximize its usefulness in society.
Steinbeis School of International Business and Entrepreneurship at Steinbeis University Berlin (Herrenberg/Berlin)
Popbüro Region Stuttgart