Saturday, April 25, 2015

Figuring out promotion

Starting with radio is a way for me to work on figuring out promotion in our web age, as traditional radio is entirely a promotional vehicle: songs and music are provided to anyone with a radio who wants to listen, without direct payment to the people who provide it.

The artists provide their music so people will know they have a new song out, or even know who they are, and people listen to hear the new, the old, or just to listen, and along with the music they hear about products or services. And those people with those products and services, do pay the radio station for that promotion. They make their money back when people actually buy their products and services.

In the original system, the artists made their money primarily from record sales, but also from touring, and selling of merchandise. The promotion on the radio, helped drive those things.

It's a fascinating system! So the artists are the draw, but without the promotion, how does anyone know much about them? The advertisers pay for the radio station, and people accept listening about things they might want, or not, in exchange for getting music they might like.

The web seems to shift things in multiple ways, like in distribution--fans can get music potentially direct from the artist. Dedicated fans may closely follow what an artist is doing, but what about others?

But to have fans people need to know who you are! But, how do you get known?

Yes, there is YouTube, which is dominant right now, but it actually potentially pays content providers, as you have to sign up for it and draw enough attention, which is the television model.

The television model is intriguing as it's very similar to the radio model, except content providers, generally studios through most of television's history, are paid.

The television model reflected the reality that getting paid directly by the owner's of the television stations for the content was the only way to get paid, as unlike in music there was no more lucrative alternative.

That gave television executives much more control in contrast to radio executives who did have some control--if they really didn't like your music they would NOT play it--as television executives would directly order the kind of content they wanted, like family friendly.

Today people can potentially purchase music or video content, and can in fact, buy episodes of television shows, so potentially content providers can shift to more of a radio model, I'd guess.

Getting known is probably the biggest thing that drives the need for promotion, and is a problem across any content on the web. Like a blog!

Blogs can draw attention, where readers may or may not see products or services presented to them, to get promoted by that attention. But in aggregate across a tremendous number of blogs, my understanding is that enough money gets provided to pay for the cost of them, as for-profit corporations provide the infrastructure. Presumably they're making money.

However, lots of people don't want to see that on anything they read, which is ok, I guess, but then someone has to figure out how to pay for them or they're community services.

Web pages that for sure are community service driven are government ones.

And governments promote those sites as well, as how else are you going to get people to them? How will people know they exist?

Promotion for the most part I think then is: efforts made to inform a number of people that a person, product, or service, exists.

So an artist promotes a new song, for instance. Or a studio promotes a new movie. Or a political organization promotes a politician.

So with my definition an idea can be a product, as in something produced for a purpose. But an idea could be a service too, as in something that serves a useful function for someone.

People can enjoy promotion, like get excited over the latest teaser for an anxiously anticipated movie. Or they may not, feeling that things pushed on them are not of interest or some just seem to hate the idea of promotion entirely. But I suspect that is NOT true of things that interest them.

That person who claims to hate promotion probably can be caught eagerly sharing something of interest in his life. Promoting it, to others. It's a very human thing to do.

James Harris
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