Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Promoting the tour

Emiliano Canal, owner of Eternal Sunday record label, came to talk my journalism class yesterday, and he had a couple of interesting new insights.

First, the major purpose of his record label is to sign local Argentine artists singing in English with the intent of selling them primarily in foreign markets. So far, this isn't an approach that's well known or practiced on a large scale in South America, mainly because the Latin American music industry is so gigantic. However, it has been done rather successfully elsewhere (I'm thinking specifically of Scandinavian markets and artists like Jens Lekman or Sondre Lerche...I had just never realized that their production of music in English was a deliberate movement.)

In order to do this, he has to promote them heavily in local Argentine media...because why should foreign markets be interested if Eternal Sunday's artists aren't even that popular in their own country? It's kind of an interesting game Canal has to play in order to achieve the real goal of selling them elsewhere.

Secondly, Canal has some interesting things to say about the ubiquitousness of music available for digital download. Eternal Sunday got started by offering its music digitally, and Canal said that downloading has completely changed the industry.

"Ten or 20 years ago, the tour was to promote the album," he said. "Today, it's quite the contrary: We make the album to sell the tour."

He said that typically the artist makes about $1 per album sold, compared to 20 or 30 times that for each ticket sold during a tour. Fifteen years ago, it was also a lot more difficult to make an album, and only major lables could afford studio costs. Now you can do it much more cheaply on your own (just like any other method of media production).

So while illegal downloading still creates a substantial problem for smaller record labels, the widespread dispersal of digital music may actually help bands by drumming up interest and making people more likely to become part of the fan base and see them on tour. That's not to say that pirating is all fine and dandy, but it's a perspective I hadn't really thought about before.

Here's a music video from one Eternal Sunday's up-and-comers, The Kavanaghs.

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