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#MusicBizToB2B – Vinyl Records: Why Physical Products Matter to Marketers

By Bach Mai:

Branchers are no strangers to good music. We create monthly playlists to invigorate the work day and even have some musicians trying to break into the industry on staff. Anyone who is tuned into the music scene today knows that vinyl is experiencing some extreme growth. Between 2017 and 2018, total vinyl record sales have increased by 19.2%. According to Forbes, vinyl records have experienced 260% overall growth since 2009. Safe to say the format is happy to experience this resurgence. But what does this say about today’s market?

In the wake of this record revival, streaming remains king of the industry. But even as the digital medium rules, there are still important lessons to be learned from the music industry’s old dog. It’s learned a few new tricks even at its age. So why shouldn’t you? The resurrection of vinyl record culture reveals important consumer and business trends that any marketer should be paying attention to.

Physical Touch: A Love Language, One of Five Senses, and a Powerful Marketing Tool

Man holding vinyl recordTechnology will continue to steamroll forward regardless of our efforts to keep our vintage vinyl collections, our baseball cards and that first gen iPod we swear will never let us down. But we are at a point of technological invention where the digital music market has begun to eat itself. What I mean to say is that music consumption logically continues to rise as the listener population grows and ages. But the way in which they’re doing it is taking one end of the music market and pitting it against the other.

Digital streaming reigns, sweeping up the majority of music listeners across the globe and from its close relative, digital music sales. Digital album sales are down 21.7% and digital track sales are down 27.4%. Even with the reestablishment of vinyl records in music culture and the decline of the traditional digital downloads, none of the listeners have given up on the convenience of digital music in the way of digital streaming. The point is that they ALSO value something else.

Even with the reestablishment of vinyl records in music culture, none of the listeners have given up the convenience of #digital music streaming. The point is that they ALSO value something else. @RedBranch Click To Tweet

They value a physical touch, a tangible product. Vinyl found the best way to combat digital streaming was to take the fight to a place where streaming literally could not compete. Premium packaging, exclusive physical content, artbooks, new merch, retro merch and consumer experiences all have been pushing to fill the void of declining digital music sales while pushing vinyl up to a point of true relevance.

Recognizing and serving a niche market is a powerful means of developing your customers from within your established demographics. We can see how the music industry does this with their LP reissues, limited releases and innumerable collectibles developed just to satisfy this craving for physical products.

RBM time lapseIt’s easy to get distracted by the glitz of the digital world and join in its oversaturation. Standing out with a strong physical product can make all the difference. Just this last holiday, we took it upon ourselves to send out gift boxes to our clients and friends with RBM swag. Physical products show an earnestness in your interest in your clients and adds legitimacy to the work you do.

CDs Fall, Records Stand Tall: Use Relevant Tangibility

Vinyl record and headphonesThe lesson here isn’t just to make stuff. People don’t just consume stuff. They consume GOOD stuff. Stuff that they WANT – NEED if you’re going to talk about it in marketing terms. The point is to do your research before finding out that you’re printing CDs into a world where the majority of computers and cars don’t even have CD drives anymore. True, having a Walkman can give you some heavy street cred in the indie scene right now. It is false, however, to believe that that matters at all. How much doesn’t it matter? We’re talking a $174.1 million drop in sales from 2017 to 2018.

The Recording Industry Association of America® (RIAA) reported this 41.5% decrease in their 2018 Mid-Year report. So remember when you’re investing in physical products, ensure you are investing in something that actually matters to your clients. Tangibility is only as important as utility.

In #marketing and the music biz, tangibility is only as important as utility. Find out more from @RedBachMedia: Click To Tweet

One of our strongest clients, Rasmussen Mechanical, frequently has us developing physical mailer content and stand-out booths for conferences and conventions. Why? Because when they want to create tangible content, they want evergreen information that their clients will want to hold onto forever.

RMS Direct MailerIf you’re digging this marriage of music and marketing information, check out the first edition of #MusicBiztoB2B and see how Spotify’s data-driven model has flipped the music industry on its head!

Record Store Day: How to Wield Events for Growth

Record Store Day in storeThe industry realized that vinyl records were back on the rise. So the next thing to do was to nurture its growth into something significant. Again, in order to not compete with the digital streaming beast, the focus had to be on an aspect of music that differentiated from King Spotify and Queen iTunes. The answer was Record Store Day.

The most powerful byproduct of recurring events is a loyal community amongst your clients.RSD is a tribute to vinyl, collector culture and often live music. This annual event in the UK alone has grown to span across 380 record shops. Selling ~799,000 albums during the week of RSD, the 11th year was exceptional enough to garner “the highest non-holiday sales total since 2005.” This celebration is augmented by exclusive releases and performances by bands. Many consumers obsess over the uniqueness of their experience. Businesses are no different in this aspect. As you conduct yourself with each of your clients, pay attention to how you can individualize that interaction. Make them feel as special as a 20-something seeing their favorite band up close and personal in their dank, 80-year old local record shop.

Moreover, if you have found that perfect physical product, celebrate it with an event that can occur once or twice a year. It’s no mistake that RSD happens annually. A one time showing of what you have to offer is just an underutilization of opportunities available. The most powerful byproduct of recurring events is a loyal community among your clients. Once you’ve made it as cool to be your client as it is to own a vintage turntable, you know your clients will want to flaunt that. Hold an event, give out swag and celebrate all of the continued success together.

What we can take from this

Looking over record playerSo vinyl is taking over the physical music market. Digital downloads are down. Music streaming continues to lay claim to the majority of the music industry. But what’s most important is that you are going somewhere. Move past all of the 1’s and 0’s of the 21st century and create something tangible for your clients.

Flipping to Spotify to find your favorite band has a new album is definitely exciting. But so is pulling that 12” out of a heavy sleeve of a multicolored LP case the size of your face. Both have their place. You just have to make sure that you are there to immediately serve the new tunes AND craft that sweet wax disc.

Want to make sure you’re marketing your company as best as you can? Drop us a line and we’ll call your bluff.