Illustration: Mayo Bous
Illustration: Mayo Bous

Musical Consulting Room: Communication team, necessary allies for musicians?

9 minutos / Darsi Fernández

20.04.2020 / Articles

Since the creation of the Gutenberg printing press - and with it the possibility that a score would cease to be a unique work, to become something reproducible - a network of support and amplification of music was built.

This network grew and grew (made up of music publishers, radio stations, record companies and managers, music producers, distributors and music stores, schools, copyright management entities, booking agents, venues, festivals and events in which music plays a main role, journalists and critics, specialized magazines and, more recently, digital distribution channels, streaming or online listening platforms, and a long etcetera) until become what we understand today as the music industry.

Hay músicos que no experimentan nunca  grandes distancias —o las acortan a conciencia— entre su trabajo y sus públicos: los que tocan en los bares y restaurantes, los que puedes encontrar en las grandes ciudades a la salida del metro o en los propios vagones, animando el paso de los transeúntes con interpretaciones mejor o peor logradas y contando generalmente con un mínimo de herramientas básicas para hacer la música.

There are also many musicians who greatly enjoy doing their work collectively, not deciding for themselves what they play, but following a score and a program created by others, under the direction of a conductor, sometimes with a fixed salary. Of these, some complete their income by teaching or doing other tasks.

But if your idea is to try a successful solo career or lead a musical group that conquers crowds, you have a lot of challenges to deal with, but also tools that you can count on in that endeavor. In other words: unfortunately, it is most likely not enough that you are a tremendous musician for your work to find its way and find its natural audience.

If all that potential audience you think you have doesn't know you exist, if they don't have a way to listen to you, if they've never heard of your music, how is it supposed to find you? Not even the Internet with its almost universal reach and the enormous possibilities of dissemination that it makes possible, guarantees that you will safely reach all your potential listeners. On the contrary, in the era of unlimited availability, the great challenge is to get hold of a part of the possible audience, that will choose and prefer you among so many and so diverse musical offerings.

And it is here that can be very useful a figure from the industry or the music ecosystem that —although emerged in the 20th century— has acquired enormous potential in the last 20 years: the agent or the agencies of communication (or public relations, or digital marketing, depending on the degree of specialization, the type of services they provide and the name, in short, they decide to use).

These people or organizations - which may be tiny or huge - are dedicated to enhancing the career of artists by providing a series of services associated with communication. The moment of your musical career when you are in relation to the goals that you set, how happy or frustrated you are with what you have achieved, the observation of the careers of your colleagues or idols and your own intuition, should be the basic points to make a decision about the best time to ask for help to take your career to a higher level from a communicational point of view. It will also depend, logically, that you find knowledgeable professionals in your work environment and that the prices they charge for their services are within your reach.

There is a whole specialization in communication and marketing of artists; since the late nineties of the twentieth century they have been growing in number and importance and today it is frankly accepted that this activity is part of the sine qua non work of the team that accompanies the career of a "successful" artist ".

En Cuba comenzaron a surgir tímidamente; primero —como es habitual— como actividades que realizaba una persona en nombre de un artista, en coordinación con los departamentos de comunicación de las instituciones culturales y los medios de prensa. Pero en la medida en que los músicos han adquirido conciencia de que la diversidad de canales de comunicación (a los medios tradicionales de prensa se han añadido todos los que Internet facilita, más los alternativos como el Paquete Semanal  y las redes locales) y la cantidad de emisores de mensajes musicales, solo hace crecer y complicarles la vida, ya en los últimos años han ido tomando forma algunos proyectos creativos que intentan realizar una labor más profesional, sistemática y sostenida en el contexto de los servicios de comunicación para artistas.

With totally Cuban talent and effort, that I know of, several have appeared (and in some cases disappeared).

El Megáfono, a small group that came out of the extinct cultural newspaper La Calle del Medio, was one of the pioneers and described itself as a communication team for musical events. He played a rather interesting role in promoting and broadcasting the musical program La Banda Gigante beyond television itself, which was the natural setting for this project. After the end of the event something has broken up, but it is likely that it is only hibernating to reactivate at the right time.

D´Boutic Music (specialized in reggaeton and urban music) is the result of the efforts of Michel D´Boutic, a young man with natural abilities for the organization who, when he realized that he was a better promoter than a singer, put his batteries to create a basic infrastructure that would serve the emerging talents of urban music. D´Boutic launched from El Cerro towards the Malecón of Havana dozens of teenagers —wireless speakers in hand— to put the popular songs of his “clients”. He learned to use social networks and he identifies itself as an advertising and marketing service that encompasses promotion in the Weekly Package, on radio, social networks and web pages.

Not especially focus into musicians, but with the capacity to have them as clients, as demonstrated its work with Rodrigo Sosa for the La Quenística project, there is JYD Solutions, a digital marketing agency specialized in advertising campaigns and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), image design, as well as the development of digital platforms. They have a fairly large work team made up of designers, programmers, journalists and communicators.

In May 2019, MSK was launched as a project, a platform for the promotion of Cuban musicians in the new settings of the Internet and social networks. According to its founders, it would manage "a set of tools to make the work of Cuban artists visible", which would allow it to "bring them closer to their audiences through the new canons of communication and digital marketing." In principle, they began to work with a group of artists such as Manolito Simonet, Alejandro Falcón and Golpe Seko. They announced their basic rates and a website that has not been activated today yet. The talented team of people that formed its nucleus made us predict an interesting future that we hope to see come true very soon.

With a sustained work in the last three years and that only seems to improve, there is Bonus Track collective. Although he has clients from other areas of culture, he specializes in various aspects of communication for musicians and musical events. Her work team, made up of producers, journalists, computer scientists and social communicators, is almost entirely made up of super creative women who are responsible for the communication of artists such as Daymé Arocena and Yissy García and campaigns such as that associated with the album Inside, for the Cuban musician X Alfonso.

In general, a person or group or communication agency or PR, as they are also known, can be an excellent ally to perform many tasks that artists are not always willing to carry out on their own. Depending on your budget and what you really need at any given time, they can help you to:

-profile or define your potential audience;

-Create or manage campaigns for specific events (music releases, concerts or others) or campaigns on certain phases of your career, which will probably include commissioning and producing the conceptual and graphic design of each action;

-design your visuality, which can range from creating a logo, to coordinating and producing photo sessions;

-writing press releases, preparing media lists, organizing direct mailings, preparing press conferences, organizing interviews, creating an EPK, dossiers and press kits;

-design appropriate content strategies and eventually create them;

-build, improve or refocus your narrative as an artist, as well as the message to the audience;

-Create, optimize or manage your social networks, defining which ones, creating groups or proposing to participate in others already created, inventing raffles or contests, defining the labels to use;

-Create, design, program and manage an artist or project web page;

- periodically evaluate the success of your offline and / or social media campaigns actions and give detailed reports;

Nada sustituye el talento de un artista. Y, por supuesto, mientras mejor sea su propuesta musical y más claro y sincero su mensaje, más posibilidades tiene de llegar a su público y de que este crezca de manera natural. Sin embargo, en el mundo hiperconectado de hoy, con una  disponibilidad casi infinita de contenidos, herramientas y ventanas de comunicación, la colaboración de profesionales competentes de la comunicación y las relaciones públicas es un plus que puede amplificar y acortar el camino hacia tus audiencias.

Darsi Fernández

Abogada. Hipervinculadora. Madre de un violinista. Organizadora nata. Mala memoria solo para lo que le conviene. Sueña con jubilarse a leer.

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    Preciso artículo Darsi, enhorabuena. Y gracias por destacar la importancia de los «agentes» dedicados a la comunicación y el marketing digital aplicado al sector musical.

    Considero que cuando la industria musical cubana aproveche y obtenga el máximo rendimiento de las herramientas del marketing digital podrá situar la música cubana en un lugar acorde a su incalculable valor cultural, tanto en Cuba como más allá de sus fronteras.

    Con los mejores deseos, saludos desde Madrid.

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