Rock ‘n Retail Marketing celebrated its 21st year anniversary in 2013, having marketed over 250 music releases, books, jewelry and other physical products at retail. Rock ‘n Retail provides clients with muscle by exploiting all opportunities in the retail market as well as methods to drive traffic to buy a given product.
Web ‘n Retail is the online music marketing division of Rock ‘n Retail. A pioneer in web marketing, in 1994 Web ‘n Retail (a.k.a. Web and Retail) launched the second CD store ever online, coupled with their music reality show “Rock the Strip”. The division’s services include: viral PR, viral marketing/blogging, mobile app marketing, social media management, online advertising, eblasts and SEO.
Gale Rosenberg has been the President of Rock ‘n Retail since 1991, and the online marketing division, Web ‘n Retail. Gale has over 30 years of Marketing experience including positions held at J. Walter Thompson Advertising, Orenstein/Savage Advertising, Billboard Magazine, Mix Magazine, ABC & MCA Records, PolyGram Distribution and Wherehouse Entertainment Corporation. She is an instructor at UCLA Extension on the subject of “Entrepreneurship of the Independent Musician” as well as a guest lecturer at UCLA & Loyola Marymount University on the subject of Online Marketing.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share how being laid off provided the springboard of launching your own business? How has your background and experience in both advertising and journalism helped contribute to the success of your company?
Gale: When I was laid off from the corporate office of Wherehouse Entertainment Corporation (a 114 record store retail chain in the Western US), it was right at the beginning of a recession. Because it is difficult for marketing people to gauge revenue generated/ROI, from marketing campaigns, we are always the first to go and the last to be hired. I figured I’d find a job in a few weeks, which became a few months, which turned into a few years. During that time I stayed in touch with my colleagues from past jobs and due to my recent stint at Wherehouse, I was perceived as a “music retail expert.” As such, my network starting asking me to do retail campaigns on an artist by artist basis. Thus Rock ‘n Retail was born.
Rock ‘n Retail, in the beginning, provided our clients with “Store Level Marketing” campaigns. This means my team and I would go from record store to record store in markets where the album was getting airplay or there was a concert coming up. We encouraged the stores to play our Client’s record on the overhead speakers, to allow us to put up a poster display and put the record on the listening post. All of which normally, is required to go thru the Corporate office of the record store chain, as they charge a “co-op” fee for all that (like a supermarket “Slotting” fee). Most importantly, we gave the store level manager a reason to special order the record for inventory, if his location was not slated to receive the product. Against popular belief, we ran into little or no resistance at the store level.
As the company grew Rock ‘n Retail handled traditional advertising placement, thus my Ad Agency background came in handy; and when I expanded the company to handle PR as well, my writing skills from my Journalism schooling played an important role – English was always my strong suit – and perhaps has been a large part of my success in everyday business. It’s even more important now with Web ‘n Retail (our online marketing division) as we write a tremendous amount of social media, blog copy, press releases, television pitches, sponsorship kits, one sheets and bios.
BusinessInterviews.com: How did you manage to successfully segue from traditional music marketing and PR, to online music marketing and PR?
Gale: While my company was an early fore-runner with our “Rock The Strip” filmed show which wound up on the internet (versus its intended target, television) in 1994. I didn’t handle any of the hands-on tech work – that was handled by the internet developers who approached me to launch it online. My job was to provide the footage, partner with labels to expose their artists on the site, handle the set-up of the CD store with a distributor, book the talent, write the scripts, hire the film crew, secure the locations we shot it in, etc. I sold advertising on the site but didn’t even own a computer then. I had the tech developers print pages of the site for me. On sales calls, I actually would say – “where you are at right now on the site…oh, ok…scroll down until you see Mariah Carey…that’s where your ad would appear”. So again, while I was an early fore-runner and had ad sales experience, I had no experience at online marketing or sales at that time.
A PR colleague of mine, Ilka from Fly PR, said to me one day – you better start expanding to online marketing so you can stay in business. As a business woman I truly respect, I took her advice. I built a network of Music Retailers that had websites up and running in September of 2007 and offered record labels the ability to market their products both online and in these stores – we called it the “Ad Sampler”.
Unlike Rock ‘n Retail (when you could start a business with a logo, letterhead and business cards) this segue into online marketing required an investment of capitol to buy office computer equipment, to get on the internet, put up a website, etc. So I wrote a business plan and bartered for assistance on the accounting portion the plan required with an ex-colleague. We bartered for what he called “Blogging” to be done for a DJ he was involved with. With the help of my young staff members, they shared what they knew (which was much more than I) about the internet, and we figured it out by trial and fire. The first time I tried blogging, not being computer oriented, I actually cried over my frustration of registering on sites – most of which didn’t work or the confirmation email never arrived – or when it did it didn’t have a link so I didn’t know which site it came from if the “from” didn’t identify the site. I remember saying “I just can’t do this” – but, it became apparent if I didn’t let my computer fear go, I would be out of business and homeless! Being the survivor that I am, I embraced the culture and got through it – now it’s so ironic to me that I actually live, eat, breathe and teach online marketing!
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you give to a musician about to embark on their first marketing campaign?
Gale: BEFORE YOUR EMBARK ON YOUR FIRST MARKETING CAMPAIGN:
Settle on what your branding will be – based on the overall message you think will explain in a picture and some text, who you are, what image you portray and what type of music you do. Branding includes: (1) Logo. Create one yourself, or hire someone to create for you. Get ideas from the business card sites (see #6 below), or use a “Creative Commons Image”. To find Creative commons images (images you can use for free): “To find images that can be reused and remixed use Google’s Advanced Image search options. To use the usage rights filter option, select “advanced image search” on the main Google Images page. Once in the “advanced image search” page, you will find the usage rights options at the bottom of the page. In the usage rights menu you can select one of four options; “labeled for reuse,” “labeled for commercial reuse,” “labeled for reuse with modification,” or “labeled for commercial reuse with modification.” (2) Colors. Select your main colors (maximum of 3). Record both the RGB numbers & Hex codes for your colors. Get the codes here so that your colors stay consistent over time, on all your materials.
(3) Fonts (select a mainstream font found already on your computer). Go to the place you will build your EPK (see #3 below), and where you will build your website (see #4 below) and make sure that the font you select is available (or something that is VERY close to it). For example: A Heavy Metal band font may look like this. Relatable colors examples would be: blood red, black, silver, deep royal blue, etc.
A Heavy Metal band font would NOT look like this:
Once settled on #1, 2 & 3 above use your logo/colors/fonts EVERYWHERE. 4) Build an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). You can build an EPK on Sonic Bids, ReverbNation or other sites that offer it. Continue to update it as your career updates. Just get the shell up and add to it over time. 5) Build a simple website (or blog that acts as a website). You can build a free website on Wix, 1&1, WordPress, etc. Don’t worry about buying a domain name/URL at that point. Again, just get the shell up and add to it over time. 6) Get business cards made. If you are in a band, include all band members’ names & position in the band (Lead Vocals, Guitarist, etc.) on the card. You can get cheap cards at VistaPrint, Zazzle.com, (or my favorite) Moo.com, etc. Put your social media site addresses on it, your website address and a band email address. I also recommend getting a free google voice phone number for the band where people can leave messages; and to include the phone number as well. 7) Start a fan mailing list. Put your friends and family on it. This will become your most valuable marketing tool over time. Most of your revenue will come from the people who sign up on your mailing list. Be prepared to incorporate this list – and getting fans to sign up on it – at EVERY OPPORTUNITY.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about?
Gale: The online concert market. I had 2 guest speakers at my UCLA class from this arena – Karl Rogers, CEO of iRocke.com and Stephen Prendergast, CEO of LiveStage.com. While in the same vein, their individual sites offer 2 completely unique experiences. iRocke streams live concerts and events from around the world for FREE while LiveStage.com is a 3-D experience at a selected concert event that has taken place – you are actually IN the venue, behind the guitar player on the stage, in the audience – wherever you want to go – you just go! Another site is StageIt.com that features both major and Independent artists and a great site that features strictly independent artists is Whotune.com . We’ve done marketing for Whotune for a variety of features they offer – one being a contest we partnered with them on, where the top 5 bands competed on their LiveCam concert platform. The winners received various marketing packages from our company as their prize.
These online concert sites allow for very creative marketing and is an avenue we plan to explore more, for our business purposes, in 2014.
BusinessInterviews.com: Congratulations on being recruited to teach “entrepreneurship of the Independent Artist” at UCLA Extension. What aspects of the class have your students seem most excited or surprised by?
1) To be a musician making a living you have to work LONG AND HARD! When on the road you shouldn’t be hanging out or sleeping during the day but you should be out meeting venue managers, throwing a free pre-view concert, visiting radio stations – things like that…networking.
2) That deadlines are VERY important. Whether they got this really, or not, I don’t know but this was a common theme amongst all the guest speakers throughout the semester.
3) Most surprising to them I think was the hard core reality of how many people actually achieve “Rock Stardom” and that the numbers aren’t very promising. But I believe the class taught them that there are other levels of a being a musician that allow you to make a living without becoming a Rock Star. You just need to find your niche or build yourself a niche and then build yourself an audience.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to start developing the video production aspect for Web N’ Retail and how do you think that this addition will help shape the direction of business in the coming years?
Gale: We run online ads for our clients on social media. When we run an ad on YouTube, they determine the content of the ad which is taken directly from a snippet of the music video. Just like writing a good press release or good blog copy – you need to grab the viewer’s attention in the first 5 seconds. The footage they use has likely NOT been strategically built for that purpose. We believe that we can better our ROI for our Clients and engage more viewers by producing quality videos specifically tailored as a commercial vs. just using a snippet from a music video. Video commercials can now be created very cost efficiently and can be used elsewhere across the web to drive traffic to a particular URL. Driving traffic is our primary goal as a marketing company so we feel this will be beneficial both to us, and our customers.