Back in the day young rockers of the male variety dreamed about landing a major label deal, signing with a squinty eyed manager, and spending the rest of their lives counting royalty checks and female fans. Some of those dreams come true today! Major labels still exist, of course, but the careers of most artists are now built out of talent and self promotion, mixed liberally.
Case study: Bob Malone. Malone grew up in rural New Jersey, graduated from the Berklee College of Music and hit the road. A powerful singer with a penchant for the kind of raucous, two fisted, New Orleans style piano playing that’s characteristic of Dr. John, one of his early influences, Malone found himself with a fan base and a willingness to tour. Today, his career combines working with his own band and recording and traveling responsibilities as a member of John Fogerty’s group. I caught up with Bob by telephone from his home in Studio City, California.
MIX: How did you get into the business?
Bob Malone: “I grew up in Jefferson Township, New Jersey. After high school I went to Berklee, and began playing professionally when I was about 18. I moved to LA in 1990, spent some time in New York and New Orleans, and eventually settled back here in Los Angeles. I play about 100 dates a year. The rest of the time I’m in LA. The studio scene here is certainly not as heavy as it was 20 years ago-before I was a part of it-but there is a fair amount of session work.
MIX: You seem to have a well thought out vertical marketing plan. Your Facebook page is populated with fans, your Nimbit store is beautiful, and you use Reverb Nation. Can you tell us a bit about how you got into social media?
Malone: “Before social media there was the internet without social media. Prior to that I sent out postcards to people on my mailing list; they’d sign up at my shows, during meet and greet sessions.
“I joined Facebook three years ago, maybe a little bit before that. I had been on Myspace. The secret to using social media is to understand that these platforms keep changing. For example, Facebook has tightened their flow of information. They want you to pay them to get the word out, and they make sure you get tons of views when you do. But I’m on the fence about that strategy, because a lot of the hits you get are from people who aren’t in your audience and never will be, so what’s the point? They’ve structured things so that the people who do follow you don’t always get to see your posts.”
MIX: Do you mean that if you’re not paying to advertise on Facebook they block people from seeing your posts who in the past would have had access to them?
Malone: “That’s right.”
MIX: I’m impressed with Nimbit. Their basic templates are very good. There are other online stores as well, though. How did you happen to choose them?
Malone: “I went to school with Phil Antoniades, the founder of Nimbit-he’s a drummer. I’m there because of him. Nimbit’s cool, it’s a nice platform for sales, and I collect fans from them.
“The key to marketing yourself successfully in this business is to use all of the tools that are out there. I’m on iTunes, Amazon, and I have a distribution deal with the Burnside Distribution Company, so my CD’s can be found in stores as well.”
MIX: “What are you currently working on?”
Malone: “I’m about half way through my new record. I’m also playing with John Fogerty, and have been for about two years. He’s got a new album that will be coming out shortly as well.”
(Bob Malone invites you to visit him at his website, www.bobmalone.com, or find him on Facebook)
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