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AEJMC  September 1999, Week 5

AEJMC September 1999, Week 5


AEJ 99 RollinsL MME How does a U. S. record company identify audience


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Submitted by: Lisa L. Rollins
                            Middle Tennessee State University

Submitted to: Media Management and Economics Division of AEJMC
                       for the 1999 Convention in New Orleans.

Communication Technique: How does a U.S. record company identify,
target and reach its audience in an ever-competitive marketplace?

        This is a case study of the methods and strategies employed by a U.S. record
company, Arista/Austin, to introduce its prerecorded music products and artists
to a target segment. Findings indicate that the media company's concentrated
marketing focus upon a particular demographic is resulting in the exclusion of
other potential consumers.
        Because of the eclectic nature of rock 'n' roll, many characteristics should be
considered before a marketing campaign is created and then implemented for a
target audience. Thus, if Arista/Austin is to achieve optimum returns from its
investments, it is crucial that the organization utilize effective internal
communication techniques so that its external communication and marketing
efforts are strategically aligned with the proper segmentations.
        Although many theorists view the genre as simply another form of mass
communication, often researchers suggest rock 'n' roll is a cultural event of
many complexities that may be entered into in many different ways depending upon
its segmentation. This study illustrates the current communication and marketing
techniques employed by a Nashville-based rock label to identify and reach its

Send correspondence to:
John V. Bodle, Middle Tennessee State University, P.O. Box 64, Murfreesboro, TN
37132  (615) 898-5871

Communication Technique:  How does a U.S. record company identify, target and
reach its audience in an ever-competitive marketplace?

Submitted to the
Media Management and Economic Division
of the
Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication
for the
1999 Convention of AEJMC
New Orleans

Send correspondence to:
John V. Bodle, Middle Tennessee State University, P.O. Box 64, Murfreesboro, TN
37132  (615) 898-5871

Communication Technique: How does a U.S. record company identify,
target and reach its audience in an ever-competitive marketplace?

Statement of Purpose

        As advertising and marketing costs continue to climb, it has become
increasingly crucial for companies, if they are to be successful, to first
identify and then properly market to the appropriate internal and external
audience segments. No matter the nature of their business, organizations
employed to garner a profit must effectively reach only those most interested in
receiving the message that they wish to send,[1]  if they wish to remain
commercially competitive.
        Nonetheless, such audience/market segmentation[2]  is not always clear cut,
especially when it comes to genres of music. While natural media venues are
obvious for certain tastes (country music, for example, boasts two national
cable television networks, The Nashville Network and Country Music Television;
many commercial radio stations; and numerous market-specific publications such
as Country Weekly and Country America, to name but two), others are not as
easily targeted. Rock 'n' roll, in fact, as a mass communication, is inseparable
from its audiences.  Moreover, in its creation of a culture, it is devoted to
providing an escape or temporary distraction from the often-oppressive realities
of our world.[3]  This study, then, will consider the marketing of rock music, a
music genre which--due to its eclectic nature--makes it difficult for music
promoters to cost efficiently reach their potential audience.[4]
        Using a case-study approach, this paper will consider the marketing strategies
of Arista/Austin,[5]  a rock record label with its headquarters in Nashville,
Tenn., and an office in Austin, Texas.[6]  It will probe the difficulties in
reaching this hard-to-target audience and will offer suggestions. Additionally,
as a new record company within one of the world's most successful music
organizations,[7]  the application and findings surrounding Arista/Austin will
have generalizable implications for those seeking to first identify and then
communicate a message to a taste-specific audience.[8]  More  specifically, the
results of this study will be directly applicable to record labels and
artist-related organizations involved in the day-to-day public relations, press
agentry and marketing of the music industry--from publicity/media services and
promotion teams to those directly concerned with product or artist marketing.
The Competitive Environment
        Because Arista/Austin is owned by the BMG, one of the six major entertainment
companies which concern themselves with record activity and distribution, the
new rock label has the advantage of being backed by a global industry leader.[9]
Furthermore, in spite of the fact that some
major labels recently have closed their doors or downsized[10]  due to an
overabundance of competition in the marketplace,[11]  not to mention lackluster
sales in the industry overall,[12]  Arista Records recently has managed to score
annual record sales of more than $400 million.[13]
        "I don't believe in emphasizing areas [such as focusing on increasing record
sales within a specific genre, be it pop, rap, rock or country]," said Arista
(U.S.) President Clive Davis, regarding the label's latest financial success.
"When an artist excites you, you sign them if you feel that they could be
significant [to the label over time, meaning that they have the potential to
create a unique market niche and fan following of their own, and eventually,
yield substantial record sales for the label]."[14]
        Additionally, Davis credits the company's success to the fact that Arista has
"taken the slow, steady route, not the glitzy route of buying major superstars
and creating a staff of hundreds of people. What we stand for is internal
growth, all developed from scratch, with a careful, select approach to signing
        In turn, Roy Lott, Arista (U.S.) executive vice president and general manager,
attributes the company's latest financial gains "to a decision at the very
beginning of the '90s to diversify and

expand the repertoire supplying entities that are part of Arista,[16]  whether
it be our Nashville operation or the current [rap music projects] LaFace or Bad
Boy ventures. ..."[17]
        Although the BMG-owned Arista--including Arista/Austin--currently leads in
record sales, it is still engaged in actively competing for consumers' buying
dollar, and it is a competition that never ceases. In looking at the industry as
a whole, Arista/Austin's chief competitors are those labels which are owned or
distributed by fellow industry giants CEMA, Sony, WEA, UNI and PGD.[18]
        "We're basically competing with major rock labels," said Athena Fortenberry,
Arista/Austin's manager of media and publicity, regarding the new label's
primary competitors.
"We're actively competing with (labels such as) Atlantic, Warner Bros., Elektra
and others, and they have huge, huge rosters of artists, not to mention huge
staffs ... (and) we hope we are not competing against with ourselves.[19]
        "We try to have a synergistic relationship with (Arista Records') New York and
L.A. Arista offices. They do have a lot (of artists), but a lot of what they
work is very different from what we work ... (and) a lot of their talent has to
be differentiated (from Arista/Austin's rock roster)," she added.[20]
        "It's not like we don't want them to help us, but we have to distinguish
ourselves from their offices because when a radio programmer gets a CD from
Arista, what are they thinking right off the bat? They're thinking, 'Oh, this is
a  (pop artist) Whitney Houston or (rap artist) Puff Daddy.' I mean, what's
going through their minds? And we want them to think that this is something that
might be a little left of center," said Fortenberry. "This is coming from the
Arista/Austin end of it--this is a Sister 7, an Abra Moore, a Jeff Black. We
want them to try and think like that."[21]
        Nonetheless, a recent change of significant note within the music business is
that independent record labels and distributors--that is, those companies that
are not owed by or aligned with one of the six major industry leaders--currently
account for 20 percent of the overall sales volume in the industry.[22]
        Regarding industry sales by genre, alternative/rock was the best-selling genre
in 1996, with 105 million units of music sold--an increase of 11.9 percent over
the previous year's sales figures.[23] (Rhythm 'n' blues was alternative/rock's
closest genre competitor, with sales of 74 million units, while country music
came in third, with annual sales of 66 million units.)
        Moreover, in spite of the fact that Arista Records is one of, if not the
largest and most commercially successful record companies in the world, it is
crucial that the organization know precisely who its target audiences are so
that its staff can select appropriate and effective communication techniques for
specific target groups. This is also true of fledging rock label Arista/Austin
as well as any other media organization, because if a media entity does not know
who it wants to receive its messages, inappropriate or incorrect audiences may
be targeted inadvertently. To do so would result in wasting a considerable
amount of a company's money and manpower, with absolutely no return--or
generated record sales--from the investment.[24]
Audience Identification
        Because many people are involved in bringing a recorded product to the
marketplace, it is
of key importance that those involved are focused upon reaching a clearly
identifiable market  and the right audience segment so that the most effective
communication strategy for that particular audience is utilized. Frequently,
techniques such as demographic segmentation, which divides the market into
segments based on demographic variables such as age, gender, sex, occupation,
income, etc., are employed when attempting to target a specific audience.[25]
However, in regard to reaching music buyers, more important than demography are
the differences in buyer attitudes, motivations, values, patterns of usage,
aesthetic preferences, self-concepts, attitudes, feelings, activities and
personality traits, all of which are known as psychographics.[26]   In today's
music climate, demand is increasingly turning more toward elusive factors such
as how a music product fits a consumer's self-concept or how it makes the buyer
feel. Hence, psychographic tools provide music marketers with information that
helps them readily identify potential consumers of music products.[27]
        One of the primary shortcomings of the analysis of rock music by cultural and
communication theorists, in fact, is its treatment as merely another form of
mass communication rather than as a specific genre or cultural event of many
complexities.[28]  As such, it may be entered into in many different ways
depending upon its segmentation, according to author Lawrence Grossberg, for
rock 'n' roll is implicated in a struggle for not only the money of its
consumers but for their minds as well. Says Grossberg: "Rock and roll ... is
inseparable from its audiences. Consequently, every interpretation of the
musical texts also interprets their audiences, as well as the relationship among
        Even Arista chief Davis knows that mismatching an artist with its potential
audience can be fatal--not only to the music product being promoted, but to the
recording talent as well. Says Davis: "An artist can be extremely gifted and yet
remain unsuccessful if he or she records the
wrong music, or gets an image that confuses potential audiences. The best
example of this was Columbia's painful inability to break Aretha Franklin.
        Currently, Arista/Austin's artist roster comprises five rock-oriented acts or
performers: Robert Earl Keen, Sister 7, Jeff Black, Radney Foster, and Abra
Moore; the latter of whom is arguably the new label's most commercially
successful talent, thanks to a 1997 Grammy nomination for "Best Female Rock
Vocal Performance" and record sales of approximately 65,000 for her first disc
titled Strangest Places.[31]  Thus, with a rock-based alternative[32]  talent
roster, Arista/Austin's team must focus upon a specific consumer; namely, the
music buyer who is considered to be "an active music consumer."[33]
        Regarding Arista/Austin's eclectic talent lineup, Fortenberry said, "Every
artist has kind of their own sound. It's very difficult to limit the scope,
because they are going to all different
formats of music, and we do push all different formats with a couple of
different (music projects). The diversity in appeal is great, but it's also
        "With Arista/Austin artists, we are dealing with so many different (music
genre) outlets and formats,"[35]  she added. "You're dealing with country, all
kinds of country, alternative country, folk music, college radio, public radio,
Triple A[36]  ... and it's really crazy. And it's a lot more
competitive, more difficult, than anyone would have ever told me."[37]
        Hence, because Arista/Austin's rock-oriented roster is musically diverse in
that its music projects--although considered rock--tend to transcend various
music genres, identifying the proper market segmentation is crucial to the
success of not only the individual artists, but that of the label itself. In
turn, it is crucial for companies that wish to be competitive to determine which
communication strategies are best suited for a particular audience, then target
that audience. It is here, then, that demographics come into play, because
before a company can conceive a strategy and direct it toward a specific
audience, its staff members must know not only who they are targeting but also
the weaknesses and strengths of their competitors.
        It is also in this arena that "coorientation" comes into play. Chaffee and
McLeod refer to coorientation as the "simultaneous orientation to concepts,
objects or persons.[38] Thus, understanding should be at its peak when the
orientation of sources and receivers to the object of communication is
clear.[39]  Regarding Arista/Austin's key market segmentation, then, if the
label provides its staff with only a generic overview of the
rock-listening/music-buying audience, optimum results cannot be expected.
Therefore, it is imperative that any label--or media firm--
identify and service its key target audiences, because the end result will
directly affect the position of the organization in the marketplace.
Literature Review
        There are several key steps involved in achieving the organizational goals of a
company. Overwhelmingly, the label--through its marketing management[40]
strategies--must strive to deliver consumers' desired satisfactions more
effectively and efficiently than its competitors, as must any successful media
firm. In short, any record company's sole hope of attracting attention with a
new record is to conceive a departmentally based, unique marketing plan that
meshes with an overall
marketing plan conceived by product management,[41]  and Arista/Austin is no
exception--never mind its powerhouse connection to BMG Entertainment.
        Furthermore, when any record company makes a commitment to release a compact
disc/cassette or video by an artist, the marketing strategy generated must
encompass all aspects of the exposure, promotion[42]  and selling of the
product.[43]   Much of the activity planned will depend upon the type of music
that is being presented to the public as well as whether the artist is an
established talent within the public eye or a new artist that must be
introduced. The latter activity involves more money, time and event-planning
since "baby acts"[44]  demand added attention. However, a record company's
return on the investment is often greater since new artists are generally
"easier negotiators" when it comes to contractual agreements between an artist
and the label. [45]
        In 1994, Sony Records' Nashville office flexed its creative muscles and
emphasized "integrated efforts" when it came time to launch new music by country
hit-making artists such as Joe Diffie, Collin Raye and Rick Trevino, among
others. For example, the label created a public service announcement (PSA) with
Raye for "Little Rock," a song and video dealing with alcoholism. The PSA, which
aired on several video outlets and radio stations, offered an 800 number to aid
people in finding their local Alanon branch.[46]  That same year, Sony also
initiated an 800 number called the "Joe Diffie hotline to planet Earth," which
consumers could call to hear a sample of the music from Diffie's then-current
album, Third Rock from the Sun, as well as a  personal message from the artist
and touring information. The promotion was tied to CMT, TNN
and several other regional and video outlets, according to Connie Baer, Sony's
vice president of marketing, who calls the 800-number promotion "wildly
        Bob Freese, a former vice president of marketing for what is now Capitol
Records, said, "Since our budgets are smaller here [at country labels] than at
pop labels, we're forced to be more creative in our marketing. We can't buy
major [advertisements for label talent in] TV and magazines month in and month
        Currently, Arista/Austin's preferred method of operation involves signing new
talent versus established talent.[49]  Thus, in keeping with Arista founder
Davis' "slow-build" approach to company growth, the new company, seemingly, is
attempting to make its mark in the music world--and its initial profits--by
investing in fresh talent. Moreover, because public taste is constantly
changing, it is indeed vital that a label have new artists emerging constantly.
It has become increasingly difficult over the past few years, though, to "break"
or introduce new artists due to a surplus of new signed talent and shrinking
radio playlists.[50]  Radio, however, remains an integral key--even more so than
television exposure, including videoplay on Music Television
(MTV)--in taking a label's new product from obscurity to the greatest number of
people in the shortest amount of time.[51]   And while it is not the only means
by which a label takes it music to the masses, radio airplay[52]  remains the
"primary goal" of every record company, for consumers cannot purchase that which
they have not heard.[53]
        Nevertheless, it is indeed possible for media organizations to improve the fit
between their market and audience, because a major cause of such mismatches is
due to the convenient but oversimplified assumption by media communicators that
audiences are passive "receivers" of their
"messages."[54]  To the contrary, people are actually "autoproducers" of their
own cultural worlds , for they actively process and reinterpret individual
communications--including music--to fit within frameworks of that which they
already know and believe.[55]
        Not surprisingly, rock 'n' roll, with its transitory images--both visual and
musical, live and
prerecorded, personal and public--is a mass communication in which such
oversimplifications abound. Consequently, as Grossberg has noted, "Taste itself
is not an answer but a set of questions. If we are to understand the importance
of rock and roll to its audiences, and the significance of the audience's youth,
we must begin to ask how rock speaks to its fans, in what tongue, or whether it
speaks at all. Somehow, we must come to terms with both the activity and the
determinateness of both the text and the audience."[56]
Research Questions
        The review of previous literature indicates that Arista/Austin understands the
importance of securing profits from the cost-efficient perspective of "breaking"
new artists in order to achieve a maximum return on their investment. But does
the organization fully realize the wide-ranging appeal that its individual
artists possess? Does the company take full advantage of "niche-marketing"[57]
possibilities, among other strategies?  This study, then, will consider the
extent to which this rock label efficiently identifies its ideal market segments
as well as evaluate the communication/marketing strategies that it employs to
reach the company's target audiences.
Present Practices
        Because of evolutions in the recording industry during the past three-plus
decades,[58] new
approaches to exposing new music products have been created. For example, in the
past it was the responsibility of distribution networks or operations[59] to
handle all aspects of marketing a particular product. Today, however, the
labels[60]  themselves are largely responsible for the distribution
marketing[61]  of a product. Often the primary responsibility for doing so rests
with the individual label,[62]  as is the case for the subject of this case
study, Arista/Austin.[63]  In turn, a label's marketers[64]  are dealt the
responsibility of moving what the songwriter and artist have created to the
music consumer--a task that is difficult at best (see outline in footnotes).[65]
The goal is that, ideally,
enough consumers will like the product and make it a hit; thus, creating a "new
hit act," if the artist or group is just starting out,[66]  as is the case the
majority of the time with Arista/Austin's current roster.
        "We are starting with a very small roster, but we want to be able to give them
a bigger percentage of our time, our attention and effort," explained
publicity/media manager Fortenberry of
Arista/Austin's business tactics. "With the staff here, we've done that but
we've not gone overboard on staff, with a huge support staff and huge overhead,
in order to make something work[67]
        "Instead, we started out really small and depend on a lot of outside help to
get the word out and profit," she said. "And if we can prosper, then we can
build up the staff and build up the roster, but do it very slowly so that it's
not overwhelming and so that (the artists) never get lost. We don't want to
spend everything up front and then have to close our doors a year or two later
because we weren't' wise."[68]
        According to Dan Herrington, head of sales and marketing for Arista/Austin, the
label's music product is aimed at those who listen to one of two radio
formats:[69]  Triple A and Modern A/C,[70]  also known as "adult contemporary."
        "Triple A and Modern A/C are the two formats, our main audiences," Herrington
said. "The college audience is there in the background but college radio is so
limited, the college-radio airplay is so limited. The college audience isn't
limited but the college-radio audience is limited. College radio stations are
very small wattage and there's not a lot of listenership to them. Our main
target audience (for artists Moore and Sister 7) is pretty much the same that
the radio stations are directed at which, in this case, is the 25- to
35-year-old women. Basically, that's what it boils down to for the records we're
        "We're releasing Triple A (and) A/C records, we're not putting out real heavy
stuff or the more rockin' stuff that would be aimed at the younger, guy-oriented
audience," he added. "But it's kind of hard to be specific here, because I've
been referring to (Arista/Austin acts) Abra Moore and Sister 7, but Robert Earl
Keen[72]  is a different animal (in regard to marketing his music to
        Currently, the primary marketing strategy of Arista/Austin is one which focuses
upon building and maintaining a strong relationship between the label's
marketers and retail,[74]  especially the retail chains.[75] Says Herrington:
"My main focus is on marketing into the store and to the consumer. You know,
your music consumer, once they get into the store, there are 20,000 records
they can buy, and I want to make sure they buy mine as opposed to somebody
else's."[76]                    As a result, the greatest marketing challenge Arista/Austin now
faces is concerned with
achieving the best possible positioning[77]  for its artists and their product,
noted Herrington.[78]  In fact, more and more effort is being expended today by
label marketers in an effort to "presell" their product by placing elaborate
display and sales promotion materials in retail stores.[79]  As a result, labels
are spending huge amounts of money for posters, streamers, and "flats," or
album-cover graphics that are mounted on flexible cardboard), and other
promotional materials for display in point-of-purchase locations.[80]
        "Making our records stick out in stores as opposed to to somebody else's on
Bros., RCA, Interscope or whatever is our biggest challenge right now," said
Herrington, regarding the importance of in-store displays and marketing. "We do
tie-in[81]  with different companies on some things. (But) basically, we have
limited resources to do these kinds of things, so if we can tie-in to somebody
like Visa, who has a lot more expendable resources than we do, then we can use
their muscle and money to position our audiences (see Figure A ). If we can do
that, then so be it.[82]
        "We look at it (as a situation) where we have the entertainment talent--you
know, Abra Moore[83]  and Robert Earl Keen[84]  or whatever--and there's a lot
of advertisers out there that would like to position themselves with these
artists to kind of carry their message across, and we're very happy for them to
do that," he said. "But at the same time, it also spreads the word about (the
artists') career, their record and those kinds of things."[85]
        Additionally, Herrington said that in order to carve a niche in the
retail-chain market, it is crucial that Arista/Austin's artists remain visible
within the industry so that the the promotion and positioning of their music is
        "When it comes to marketing them to retail, it's the airplay they're receiving,
whether they have a current single, whether they're touring, whether they're
receiving video airplay on MTV[87] --anything that gives them a story (aids in
their promotion and positioning)," he said.[88]
        "Basically, the (marketing) job is convincing a few people of things. You need
to convince the retailer why they need to stock your record and why they need to
stock a significant amount of

it. And then once you do that, you have to convince them to position and
market[89]  your record in
their stores as opposed to doing somebody else's. And then that's everything
tied together,
everything from a Visa campaign to an article in Rolling Stone to airplay on
whatever radio station in whatever market, to video play on MTV, VH-I[90]  or
        Although the Internet is rapidly invading every aspect of business, for the
most part, record sales via electronic mail do not makeup a significant portion
of music industry sales, Herrington said. Therefore, Arista/Austin considers the
Internet to be a potential avenue for marketing and sales, but not one which
requires even minimal attention at this time.[91]
        "There are online retailers that do sell our records," he said. "Right now,
Internet sales are only 1 percent of the overall business, so obviously, right
now it's not that big a deal. But it's one of those deals that we all keep
looking toward down the road, in the future, where it will be a bigger deal but
it just hasn't gotten there yet."[92]
        In spite of the fact that Arista/Austin artist Moore was recently nominated for
a Grammy award in the "Best Female Rock Performance" category, such
industry-related honors do not necessarily translate into record sales,  nor
does it grab the attention of the average music consumer, Herrington said.[93]
        "Sales-wise and to the public, no," he said. "The public, it doesn't actually
mean as much to them until the artist actually wins and they see it on the TV
when they are watching the Grammys. I don't think the public actually knows much
about the Grammys until they see it on the show that night.[94]
        "It helps in a lot of ways, but marketing to the public, it doesn't really help
that much unless you are accepting an award or playing or something on the show
that night, then it has a huge effect," he noted. "Other than that, it's just
something that's really nice."[95]
        Nonetheless, industry nominations do sometimes aid a label's marketers;
specifically, with radio. Says Herrington: "Sure, it helps you within the
industry and adds credibility to what you're doing. It totally helps at radio,
most definitely.[96]
        "Again, with so many artists out there and so many things going on, it's one
additional piece to the puzzle, to the story that's going on. If (Moore) gets a
Grammy nomination and the
person that she's competing with for a slot at radio doesn't, then that's just
an added value," he
        In regard to its relationship with industry sales-leader Arista Records,
Herrington said that being associated with Arista Records, a strong parent
company, does have name-recognition advantages yet when it comes to securing
play or positioning for Arista/Austin's artists, the job falls solely upon the
shoulders of Herrington and his Nashville-based assistants.[98]
        "The Arista part of the name may get me in the door, but I've still gotta do
the work once we get in the door," he said.[99]
Management's Demographics Reconsidered
        Although Herrington concedes that Arista/Austin's target audience segmentation
is primarily women between 25 and 35 years old,  it seems likely through
interviews with Arista/Austin's public relations and media personnel that the
scope of the company's target segmentation should be expanded. For example,
artist Moore has demonstrated an unanticipated but substantial appeal among teen
females, according to Arista/Austin publicist Fortenberry.[100]
        "Abra (Moore) is kind of quirky, but that's just her personality," Fortenberry
said. "She's very free-spirited, light and jovial, and she jokes around a lot.
She actually ... has really caught on
with young teen girls. We started getting calls from the (teen-oriented)
magazines about her, so that's how we found out that."[101]
        Moreover,  recent statistics available from the Recording Industry Association
of America (RIAA) indicate that among the nation's buyers of prerecorded music,
teens ages 15-19 were
responsible for  17.1 percent of  the music purchases made, while consumers in
the ages 10-14 category accounted for 8.0 percent of the overall percentage of
dollars garnered for the recording industry.[102] Combined, this age group
comprises more than 25 percent of the dollars spent on prerecorded music in
1995. Thus, the total teen market is one of considerable significance and one
that deserves marketing priority in this instance, especially since vocalist
Moore has proven appeal among the females in this demographic.[103]
        Additionally, if Arista/Austin is indeed gearing its marketing toward women
ages 25-35,
for the most part, as indicated by Herrington,[104]  the label is overlooking a
valuable demographic--the ages 20-24 category--which was responsible for 15.3
percent of prerecorded music sales in 1995, according to recent industry
statistics.[105]  Furthermore, by omitting the male consumer from its target
segmentation, Arista/Austin is dismissing the purchasing potential of 53 percent
of the industry's consumers, for males makeup the largest portion of  the
music-buying market, whereas females are responsible for  47 percent of  overall
music sales.[106]
        Regarding Arista/Austin artists Keen and Foster, both of whom have a
significant appeal within the country--albeit "alternative country"--music
market, the label should consider the niche which these singer-songwriters
possess outside the rock genre. Country music, in fact, was ranked as the No. 3
best-selling genre of 1996, with 66 million units sold--only rock/alternative
and rhythm 'n' blues rated higher.[107]  Plus, in regard to the potential for
radio airplay, 18.7 percent of the nation's radio stations, as of 1994,[108]
were dedicated to the country music format. By marketing to this audience
segmentation, Arista/Austin could increase these two artists' potential
for exposure beyond the rock format. (Note: According to the same report on
radio ratings,[109]  17.7 percent of the nation's radio stations cater to the
A/C radio format, which Herrington has said is a top format for Arista/Austin's
        Although most of Arista/Austin's artists have wide appeal at college
radio--especially Keen and Sister 7--Herrington has indicated that while the
label does indeed market to this segmentation, the audience potential among this
demographic is quite restricted due to the limitations posed by college
radio.[110]  However, according to a 1997 article in Billboard magazine,[111]
there are options other than radio--namely, touring and media--available to
music marketers who long to take their product directly to the consumer.
        More frequently, in fact, labels are finding alternative ways to successfully
market their artists without a dependence on radio. Specifically, live
performances--including European tours--by an act have become increasingly
important in making the music consumer aware of new product. Nonetheless, this
method of creating artist/product awareness is not a fast process yet one that
has become necessary because of the competition generated by a continual influx
of new artists and songs, report sources who contributed to the Billboard
        "It's a slow build, because you do it town by town, and show by show" remarked
Frank Callari of FCC Management on the decision to introduce a new artist to the
masses through touring. "As a manager or an artist, you're going to spend all
this time (working on a performer's career) anyway, so why not maintain a slow
build with a fan base that you can then utilize [to] spread the word? I always
try to work with artists who can deliver live. If you have a strong live
performance, you have so much in your favor."[113]
        Granted, even Arista/Austin's sister company, country industry leader Arista
Nashville, understands that often it is necessary to take an act and its music
on the road in order to "whet the appetite" of consumers--even exposing it to
audiences outside its chosen genre. A case in point is Arista/Nashville's
BR5-49, an alternative country lineup, which sold 161,000 albums without a hit
single, according to SoundScan,[114]  before picking up support from mainstream
country radio.[115]
        "Arista (Nashville) was not afraid to expose us to those audiences," BR5-49
bassist Jay McDowell has said, regarding the band's live shows as the opening
act for country artists Vince Gill and Tim McGraw as well as non-country acts
such as the Black Crowes, Bob Dylan, and John Fogerty.[116]
        As for exposure due to media, tour press complements the live-show marketing
route by increasing awareness of an artist in a particular city or region.[117]
Such heightened awareness may result in television appearances and print
articles, further raising the public profile of a performer or act.[118]  Still,
such "out of the box" marketing strategies--that is, the ability to build an
artist's career without reliance on radio--are not meant to completely bypass
radio as an outlet but rather to complement or build toward it.[119]
        Industry watchers have noted, in fact, that while there was once a time when
label personnel waited for an artist's new release to develop airplay before
promotion plans were put into action, such is no longer the case.[120]  Instead,
opening orders for a product from record distributors may be increased
dramatically by creating a "buzz" or excitement early on about an act and its
music product.[121]  And while television and print exposure are largely
credited as the key vehicles for building product excitement, an alternate and
money-saving approach toward creating product awareness is through club
        "Supplying the record pools and people who spin records in the clubs is vital
to having consumers hear the product," say industry experts. "Club activity is
also a great barometer of acceptance on so much of the product geared for that
        Although Arista/Austin is dedicated to supporting its artists releases with
music videos, there is no guarantee such promotional tools will receive play on
the video market's major national outlets--namely, MTV, VH-1, CMT and TNN,
respectively. Arista/Austin, however, as well as other music producers,
recognizes that music videos are indeed a valuable investment and crucial
selling tool in today's ever-competitive marketplace. According to industry
experts: "The video's part in making the audio a hit is still its most important
function. The combination of sight and sound has changed the promotional
landscape forever, and while very costly, has created another avenue to get to
the consumer. The list of ways to expose product to potential buyers can never
be large enough when the competitive situation is so fierce."[124]
        Nonetheless, because the Triple A[125]  format--which is one of Arista/Austin's
primary radio audience targets--is a relatively new format, specific statistics
were not readily available for this study. However, Fortenberry, the label's
manager of media and publicity, has indicated that the Triple A audience--ages
30-40--is indeed a marketing priority.[126]  Thus, if marketing toward this
demographic is truly of key importance at the label, it is a solid move on
Arista/Austin's part since the 30-39 age group accounted for  22.9 percent of
the dollar volume spent on prerecorded music products in 1995, while those ages
40+  were responsible for 24.4 percent of all music sales.[127]  Combined, this
30+ audience composed the biggest-spending buyers of prerecorded music for that
        Moreover, Arista/Austin's decision places its focus on retail chains as the
label's main "point of purchase" outlet for consumers is also a sound decision,
since record retail stores account for 53 percent of sales for music products
produced--especially when one considers that most of those sales are through
both regional and nation record-retail chains.[129] As indicated by the label's
head of marketing,[130] Arista/Austin's marketing staff is very limited, as are
the staffs of most new or independent media firms, so the emphasis on the
bigger-selling outlets is understood. However,
when it comes to successfully "breaking" a new act, it must be noted that "one
stops"[131] are a vital link in breaking new product, because the stores they
service are critical to exposure and sales of new and breaking acts.[132]  Also,
often the one stop is a label's only conduit to the retailers in the smaller
markets, where airplay usually starts.[133]
        "In addition to supplying the product, the one stop is vital in terms of
developing a 'hit' product and moving large quantities when a piece of product
reaches a highly saleable level," say the authors of Marketing in the Music
Industry. "This segment of the industry plays a significant role in aiding the
marketing activity in creating an acceptance for a recording and then supplying
the outlets that have access to the public and ultimately, the public's buying
        Furthermore, when one considers the significance of one stops in helping to
break a new act, it stands to reason that such a supplier of music product
should be a priority for music marketers who are attempting to introduce a new
recording talent's product to the public. Perhaps, then, Arista/Austin should
reconsider the product-outlet area in which its total marketing energies are
currently directed. For example, rather than relying completedly on national
outlet chains to deliver the label's product to the consumer, Arista/Austin's
marketing personnel could also focus upon the one stop when attempting to
introduce new product to the marketplace--at least during the initial stages of
an artist's career development. Information on the role of the one stop
indicates that it is a vital and influential supplier of music product to the
public that is capable of reaching even the "hard-to-get-to" consumer, making it
a worthwhile distribution network for Arista/Austin's music products .[135]
        The record business is an industry that is fueled by the fact that humans are
creatures of needs and wants, and such desires are met through the acquisition
of products that satisfy those needs and wants.[136]  Arista/Austin, as a
producer and supplier of prerecorded music to the public--
albeit a new one with a limited roster and budget--is engaged in marketing its
products and artists to their potential audience. Such is never an easy--or
inexpensive--task for any media organization, however, due to the eclectic
tastes of consumers and their ever-changing needs and wants.[137]
        Moreover, in spite of the fact that Arista/Austin is owned by BMG, the world's
leading entertainment company which concerns itself with record activity and
distribution,[138]  the rock label must rely upon its small staff and a limited
budget, as must many media firms, in its attempts to establish its own niche
within the industry.[139]  Although the label is indeed associated with a global
leader in the music world, Arista/Austin, for the most part, does not have the
luxury of relying
upon the manpower of sister labels such as Arista/Nashville, the company's
country label, or industry standout Arista Records, which has offices in both
L.A. and New York, for assistance in achieving its goals.[140]  Therefore, it is
the sole responsibility of the Nashville-based label--and virtually every other
media management organization--to determine who its taste-specific audience is,
then create and implement a marketing plan to reach its target audiences, if the
company is to survive in an industry that is fiercely competitive.
        As a mass communication, rock 'n' roll is intrinsically involved in all the
commodity and corporate/state relations with which critics of mass culture often
begin. In turn, notes Grossberg, "to the extent its creation is controlled by
corporate or capitalists interests, [rock] will likely reinforce the dominant
ideologies. ..." [141]  However, in order to identify the actual function of
rock music in the lives of its fans, their strategies of resistance and
evasion--as well as the "countercontrols that reorganize their lives"--must
first be pinpointed.[142] Thus, theorists and those involved with the marketing
of rock 'n' roll must move beyond lumping the genre into groupings of generic
messages, because rock needs to be examined over time and across broad audience
sections, for its limits are varied.[143]
        Subsequently, rock is also very different from other mass communications in its
relation to media and audiences. Grossberg has observed that:
        Unlike other cultural genres, it is presented in many different mediated forms
(such as                records, radio, television, films); nor can it be identified with a
particular context of           consumption (for instance, home, parties, bars, clubs,
stadiums). Rather, its functioning              depends upon the complexity and the
flexibility of, and the differences among, the various          possible media and
contexts within which it is consumed and enjoyed in different ways.[144]

        As described earlier in this study, however,  Arista/Austin's marketing
research indicates that the label's primary audiences are listeners of the A/C
and Triple A radio formats, making females ages 25-35 target consumers for the
company's marketing staff. Also, in spite of the fact that the label's roster
largely appeals to the college-age consumer, because the college-radio market
has low wattage and few listeners overall, Arista/Austin's marketing personnel
have chosen to focus upon the former audience--even though they acknowledge that
the college audience is a valuable demographic.
        Taking the company's budget restrictions into consideration, its seems feasible
that Arista/Austin could better target the college audience through club play,
as described in the previous section of this study. To do so would save
promotional dollars for the label while exposing its new product to a captive
audience that is considered readily accepting of new music. Such a move would
come closer to guaranteeing product exposure to large groups of a target
audience than, say, relying upon national music networks such as MTV and VH-1 to
first approve and then lend play to a new artist's music video.
        Also, information gathered by the company's publicity and media department
indicates that female teens are strong supporters of Moore, the label's
top-selling performer. However, the marketing staff's efforts do not appear to
follow-up or recognize this audience segment. By neglecting to do so, the
company is overlooking the buying power of approximately 25 percent of record
buyers, according to 1995 industry statistics. Furthermore, while
Arista/Austin's staff does acknowledge that signees Keen and Foster,
respectively, have appeal that crosses over into the
country demographic, it was not indicated that marketing these acts to this
taste-specific audience segment is a priority. Again, potential sales appear to
be forfeited here, especially when one considers that country was the No.
3-selling genre in 1996, as reported earlier in this study.
        In its efforts to save advertising and promotion dollars, Arista/Austin has, in
its favor, seized opportunities for its artists to participate in
corporate-sponsored tie-ins. By doing so, the company is not only saving money,
but also garnering national exposure for its artists and their music through
their association with the products or brands being advertised. While such
tie-ins are not easy to secure, Arista/Austin had done an admirable job,
especially with its limited roster.
        Primarily, Arista/Austin's marketing efforts--outside of radio--seem to be
concerned with marketing directly to the consumer through large retail chains.
Again, because such record outlets are responsible for 53 percent of the
nation's music purchases, the label's concentrated efforts in this area are
justifiable. However, perhaps in the early stages of an artist's career, it
might serve Arista/Austin well to focus on the record outlets known as one
stops, since they have been credited
with being crucial to breaking new artists. After all, Arista/Austin is a label
that is working to build its identity and reputation on the careers of new
artists--another solid move that generally generates the most profits for a
record company--so a bit of attention to one stops could prove worthwhile.
        Although Arista/Austin is committed to exposing its talent to new audiences
through touring, new industry trends, as reported herein, indicate that
extensive touring both in the U.S. and Europe prior to the release of an album
has aided new talent in garnering airplay, thanks to the excitement generated by
local and regional media in the area where the act tours. Also, record sales are
fueled without sole reliance on radio airplay, which is a win-win for both the
artists and the label.
        Nonetheless, if Arista/Austin--or any media firm--is to yield optimum returns
on its marketing efforts, it is crucial for the company to recognize that its
diverse roster has a diverse audience makeup--all of whom contribute valuable
buying power to the record industry each year. Even though its staff insists
that Arista/Austin is a rock label, period, the crossover appeal of its artists
must be recognized in order to efficiently target the label's music product. It
is in this area where niche marketing can come into play and aid the company in
securing revenue that it has, perhaps, overlooked in the recent past.

[1]  James S. Ettema and Dr. Charles Whitney, eds., Audiencemaking: How the
Media Create the Audience (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1994), 182. It
should be noted that the lack of fit between audience and market is intentional
at times, especially within commercial media organizations, where executives are
concerned only with those audience members who have appeal for potential
advertisers. Thus, in some instances media researchers may not be interested in
measuring certain parts of their audience.

[2]  Ettema and Whitney, Audiencemaking, 11-12. The actual receivers of
media-created messages influence power within an organization only if they have
been designated by a media company to be a desirable market segment. However,
the means by which these receivers come to be constituted as measured, segmented
audiences that have an effect within the media groups are technically and
organizationally complex.

[3]  Lawrence Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," in Popular
Music and Communication, ed. James Lull (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications,
1987), 176.

[4]  Deborah Evans Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing
Strategies," Billboard, 8 November 1997: 34. According to a recent article in
Billboard, a leading publication and information source for the music industry,
during the past few years it has become increasingly difficult to market new
music in all genres due to a surplus of artists and diminishing radio playlists.

[5]  BMG Entertainment North America: Music Labels/Arista Nashville [On-line].
Available: Arista Nashville, a division of
the publicly held BMG Entertainment, launched Arista /Austin, along with
Arista/Texas and Arista/Latin, in 1993 to expand its presence in rock and
Tejano/Southwestern music, respectively. To date, Arista/Austin's artist roster
comprises Robert Earl Keen, Abra Moore, Sister 7, Radney Foster, and Jeff Black.

[6]  Austin Record Labels [On-line]. Available: Arista/Texas, including
Arista/Austin, is the first major label to establish a headquarters in Texas.

[7]  Paul Verna, "Arista To Follow Up Strong Fiscal '97: Upcoming Releases To
Continue Successful Strategy," Billboard, 26 July 1997: 6. According to a
statement issued by Arista Records, for the year ending June 30, 1997, Arista
Records logged record sales and closed its latest fiscal year slightly ahead of
the comparable period the year before. Although the company does not disclose
earnings, the statement notes that '97 was its best-ever fiscal year and that
Arista's combined singles-market share, including sales of its distributed
labels, "surpasses that of all other labels and distribution companies. ..."

[8]   Ettema and Whitney, Audiencemaking, 174-175. The authors have observed
that the recent lackluster performance of the popular music industry may be
attributed to the musical desires of actual audiences which do not coincide with
current radio formats (e.g., Album-Oriented Rock (AOR), Country, Rap, etc.) and
record categories (e.g., alternative, country, R&B, jazz, etc.). In turn,
categorizing constraints may serve not only to frustrate creative individuals by
forcing them to shape their work, or music, to fit current conventions, but also
act as "shapers" in regard to fundamental categories of expression.

[9]  Charles H. Hall and Frederick Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry,
(Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster Custom Publishing, 1996), xiii. According
to the authors, almost all record activity, including labels and distribution,
has been distilled down to BMG, CEMA, Sony, WEA, UNI and PGD, all of which are
said to be multinational organizations with more than music as their sources of

[10]  Phyllis Stark, "Country Artists Facing A Competitive Marketplace,"
Billboard, 19 April 1997: 99. Note: Labels such as A&M Records closed their
Nashville offices in late '96, for example, while many other labels, including
the Nashville-based MCA, BNA, RCA, Giant, Curb, Almo Sounds, and Magnatone
Records, to name but a sampling, significantly pared down their artist rosters.
Among those recording artists who were released or dropped in 1996-97 from their
respective Nashville-based labels are RCA's Lari White, Ty England, Jim Collins,
and Jon Randall; MCA's Bobbie Cryner; BNA's Sister Morales; Giant's Chris Ward,
Doug Supernaw, and Graham McHugh; Asylum's Curtis Day and Jerry Kilgore; and
Epic's Ken Mellons, among others.

[11]  Chet Flippo, "Universal Closes Rising Tide; Some Acts May Move to MCA,
Decca," Billboard, 21 March 1998: 10,121. According to the author, the
2-year-old Rising Tide label of Nashville closed its doors March 10, 1998, due
to the "recent proliferation of new Nashville labels"--namely, the newly formed
Lyric Street and Dreamworks Nashville labels--and "the current competitive
conditions" of the music industry. Rising Tide's closing left 10 artists without
a label.

[12]  Susan Nunziata, "Merchants & Marketing," Billboard, 29 March 1997: 63.
According to a national music consumer study by Soundata, "music sales have been
flat since 1994." The study was released at the National Assn. of Recording
Merchandisers Convention in Orlando in March '97.

[13]  Verna, "Arista To Follow Up Strong Fiscal '97: Upcoming Releases To
Continue Successful Strategy," 6. According to a July 14, 1997, statement issued
by Arista Records, for the year ending June 30, 1997, the company's annual
record sales totaled more than $400 million, making '97 its best fiscal year to

[14]  Verna, "Arista To Follow Up Strong Fiscal '97: Upcoming Releases To
Continue Successful Strategy," 6.

[15]  Verna, "Arista To Follow Up Strong Fiscal '97: Upcoming Releases To
Continue Successful Strategy," 6.

[16]  Verna, "Arista To Follow Up Strong Fiscal '97: Upcoming Releases To
Continue Successful Strategy," 84. According to sources quoted in the article,
Arista has chosen to rely upon outside talent-finding sources such as Antonio
"L.A." Reid and the Bad Boy Entertainment to find new artists. Traditionally,
labels have relied upon their own artists and repertoire (A&R) staffs to
discover, sign and then develop new recording acts.

[17]  Verna, "Arista To Follow Up Strong Fiscal '97: Upcoming Releases To
Continue Successful Strategy," 84.

[18]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, xiii. According to the
authors, in the 1970s and early '80s industry giants BMG, CEMA, WEA, Sony, UNI
and PDG began to concentrate many labels and operations within the
aforementioned six companies by offering small and new labels distribution deals
with financing. Thus, while the number of major companies did not increase, the
dominant six acquired a greater share of the independent record market.

[19]   Athena Fortenberry, manager of media and publicity for Arista/Austin's
Nashville office. Interview by the author, tape recording, 19 February 1998.

[20]   Fortenberry, interview.

[21]  Fortenberry, interview. Note: Arista/Austin's current roster comprises
Sister 7, Abra Moore, Jeff Black, Robert Earl Keen, and Radney Foster.

[22]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, xiii. Although many
independent record companies and distributors joined forces with the "big six,"
not all small labels could or would join forces with the six major companies.
New genres of music that emerge into an independent network have been part of
the business for years, but accounted for a very small percentage of sales.
According to the authors, only recently have these independents accounted for 20
percent of the industry's overall volume. This is due, in part, to the fact that
"a couple of 'mega hits' ... can change the order almost overnight" in the world
of music business.

[23]  Nunziata, "Merchants & Marketing," 63. Data reported is per a Soundata
national music consumer study released by SoundScan during the National Assn. of
Recording Merchandisers Convention, held on March 8-11, 1997, in Los Angeles.

[24]  Starck, "Country Artists Facing A Competitive Marketplace," 99. According
to a source quoted in this Billboard article, it costs a minimum of
$150,000-200,000 to record an album. However, with video, production, shipping
and production costs added in, that figure can easily be as high as $750,000 to
a million dollars before an album's first single, or selected song for
promotion, is distributed to radio stations or retail outlets

[25]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 4.

[26]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 4. Psychographics is a
quantitative research method that attempts to measure consumer behavior on
psychological constructs as opposed to strictly demographic (e.g., age, gender,
etc.) segmentation. Ideally, there are five kinds of psychographic studies that
may be utilized for music-marketing purposes: the lifestyle profile,
product-specific psychographic; general lifestyle segmentation; personality
traits as descriptors; and product-specific segmentation.

[27]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 4.

[28]  Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," 176-177.

[29]  Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," 176.

[30]    Clive Davis with James Willwerth, Clive: Inside the Record Business,
(New York, NY: William Morrow & Company, 1975): 147. R&B/gospel recording star
Aretha Franklin was signed to Columbia Records in 1960, where she released
several singles but was unable to achieve commercial recognition or success. She
later signed with Atlantic Records, where producer Jerry Wexler is credited with
guiding her sound to one which was based in gospel, with infectious songs and
driving melodic hooks. Upon redirecting her sound, Franklin came to be
considered "one of the all-time greats,"according to the author.

[31]  Fortenberry, interview. Also, it must be noted that Moore's album sales
were expected to  continue to increase upon the release of more singles from her
debut album, Strangest Places.

[32]   Carey Prince, manager of media for Arista/Austin's Texas office.
Telephone conversation with the author, 27 January 1998. Note: Prince prefers to
call the label's music "straight-ahead rock 'n' roll" vs. other tags.

[33]  Nunziata, "Merchants & Marketing," 63. According to a 1996 Soundata study
released in spring '97, an active music consumer is one who is at least 12 years
of age or older and has made at least three purchases of prerecorded music in
the past six months. Per the study, there are approximately 72 million active
music consumers in the U.S., with at least 48 percent of all U.S. households
containing at least one person who fits this criteria; these buyers are
responsible for an estimated 90 percent of all music purchased.

[34]  Fortenberry, interview.

[35]   Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 170. The authors define
a radio station's format as "the type of audience a station wishes to get and
hold via the type of music played."

[36]  "Triple A" represents the radio format known as "Adult Album Alternative."
It is also referred to as "A-3" in music industry publications such as Radio &
Record, Gavin and Billboard.

[37]  Athena Fortenberry, manager of media and publicity for Arista/Austin's
Nashville office (personal communication, February 19, 1998).

[38]  Michael W. Singletary and Gerald Stone, "Coorientation," Communication
Theory and Research Applications (Iowa State University Press, 1988), 108-109.

[39]  Steven H. Chaffee and Jack M. McLeod, Sensitization in Panel Design: A
Coorientation Experiment, Journalism Quarterly 45 (4), 661.

[40]   Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 10. According to the
authors, marketing management involves the analysis, planning, implementation,
and control of programs to create, build and maintain beneficial exchange and
relationships with target markets for the purpose of accomplishing
organizational objectives.

[41]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 10.

[42]   Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 167. Promotion, in
regard to the music industry, may be described as an "intricate process that
requires detailed radio research." Such research attempts to determine the
popularity of a music product via sales to consumers, radio requests, and the
movement up and down on radio stations' popularity charts.

[43]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 10.

[44]  "Baby acts" are those performers or groups that are new signees to a label
and, subsequently, unfamiliar artists to both music consumers and radio
programmers during the initial stages of their recording career. Thus, it
requires extra attention, time and money from a label and its staff to introduce
them to the marketplace.

[45]  Although established artists can garner large record sells in a
comparatively short period of time, most of a label's profit results from
contractual agreements with new artists, which generally have  lower royalty
stipulations and rates about who is responsible for "recoupable" costs.
"Recoupable costs" may include marketing, tour support, and studio/engineering
time, among other expenses.

[46]  Maria Armoudian, "Labels Take To the Skies, Turn To Sports and Go Back To
School To Market Their Country Acts," Billboard, 8 October 1994: 46.

[47]  Armoudian, "Labels Take To the Skies, Turn To Sports and Go Back To School
To Market Their Country Acts," 46.

[48]  Armoudian, "Labels Take To the Skies, Turn To Sports and Go Back To School
To Market Their Country Acts," 46.

[49]   Arista/Austin's five-act roster, limited as it may be, has three 'baby
acts" (viz., Abra Moore, Jeff Black, Sister 7) and two established acts (viz.,
Radney Foster and Robert Earl Keen), the latter two of which have tremendous
appeal for country audiences. Overall, however, all five acts require aggressive
marketing due to the competitive nature of the music industry and radio

[50]  Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing Strategies," Billboard,
8 November 1997: 34.

[51]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 11.

[52]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 170. The authors define
"radio airplay" as  records that are in play rotation on radio stations and
being played either frequently or even infrequently, but at least on a daily

[53]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 11.

[54]   Ettema and Whitney, Audiencemaking, 182.

[55]  Ettema and Whitney, Audiencemaking, 182.

[56]  Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," 179.

[57]  Stephen Lacy, Ardyth B. Sohn and Jan LeBlanc Wicks, Media Management: A
Casebook Approach (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers,
1993), 251. Marketing is described as the process of planning and executing the
conception, pricing and promotion of ideas, goods and services that satisfy
individual and organization objectives."

[58]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 124. According to the
authors, in the past 30 or more years the record industry has seen record
distribution evolve from distribution by companies that handled many diverse
lines to company-owned distribution, where prerecorded music was the lone
product. Also, among the industry's change-creating events is the rise of the
independent label, with its own distribution networks, and the fact that most
were forced to become part of a consolidation of distribution, where six major
companies now control about 80 percent of the business in product sold to
retailers, rack jobbers and one stops. As a result, these three segments of the
industry, along with a few independent distributors, have become responsible for
about 82 percent of all records sold to consumers.

[59]  Distribution, including for purposes related to the music industry, is
defined as a business or individual who participates in the flow of goods and
services as they move from a producer to an ultimate consumer.

[60]  In this instance, it is important to distinguish the role of the label
from that of the distributor (see above endnote). Thus, "label"  is a term that
is representative of a record company and different from a distributor. Labels
have artists under contract and are responsible for releasing
recordings--namely, compact disc recordings, which are digitally mastered and

[61]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 16. Distribution
marketing, as defined by the authors, is the activity that must sell the product
to retailers, distributors and others who make albums available to the consumer.
As noted previously, the six major distribution organizations that market to
most all of the labels with any appreciable sales volume are: WEA, Sony, BMG,

[62]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 124 and 129.

[63]  Dan Herrington, head of marketing and sales for Arista/Austin. Interview
by the author, tape recording, 2 March 1998.

[64]  A label's marketers or marketing staff comprises those people who advise
and work with all aspects of the marketing chain, distribution, retail and radio
to take a product to the street and potential consumers. Also, the initial
impetus for a new release at all levels is provided by the label marketing

[65]  "Label to Consumer," a simplified progression in outline form, Hall and
Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 124.

Marketing Staff
Sales Organization
New artists, established acts
Broadcast, print, other
Record store, rack jobber, one stop
Buys because of desire, price, convenience

 Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 124.

[67]   Fortenberry, interview.

[68]  Fortenberry, interview.

[69]  A radio station's format is the type of audience a station desires in
order to obtain and hold via the type of music that is played.

[70]  According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the
rock format at radio includes Hard Rock, Soft Rock, Alternative, New Wave, Punk,
Heavy Metal, Rock 'n' Roll, Pop Rock and other rock music, including the newer
"Triple A" format.

[71]  Herrington, interview.

[72]  According to both Arista/Austin's marketing and publicity staffs, Robert
Earl Keen's fan base is male, especially those who are 45 and older and those
who are college age. Keen, a native of Texas, has a very strong fan base in his
home state, especially in Austin, and he is a favorite among college-age
audiences, making his demographic significantly different from that of the
label's other artists.

[73]  Herrington, interview.

[74]  Retail may be described here as a business unit that sells directly to the
consumer for personal or nonbusiness use. It includes music store chains that
are national as well as regional and Mom and Pop stores, also known as
single-proprietorship businesses that service a smaller consumer base.

[75]  Record chains are composed of both national and regional retail and audio
and video stores. Most have one central buying office and their own distribution
facility and carry extensive inventories with a selection count in the
thousands. Such outlets now include large national electronic and appliance
chains in addition to superstores that carry all types of informational

[76]  Herrington, interview.

[77]  In the music industry, "positioning" refers to assuring that a product is
up front in bins and display racks which are easily seen by consumers. It is
also crucial that the product not only be attractively displayed to customers
but also that it be available for purchase at an attractive sale price.

[78]  Herrington, interview.

[79]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 38.

[80]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 38.

[81]  "Tie-ins" essentially are business agreements that are made between a
label, the artist and usually a corporate business or sponsor to feature an
artist in its ads. The overall view of such arrangements is that by
participating in such a business relationship, all parties will benefit. That
is, awareness of the corporate organization and its goods or services as well as
that of the artist and his or her music product will be heightened--and the
record label will save advertising dollars.

[82]  Herrington, interview.

[83]  Arista/Austin artist Abra Moore currently is featured in a national print
campaign for Visa. See Figure A on the back page of this report.

[84]  Arista/Austin artist Robert Earl Keen is currently featured in ad
campaigns for Copenhagen chewing tobacco and Shinerbock, a Texas-based beer

[85]  Herrington,interview.

[86]  Herrington, interview.

[87]  Music Television, or MTV, is the most popular music video-oriented cable
program in its format, according to authors Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the
Music Industry, 183.

[88]  Herrington, interview.

[89]  Position and price, or marketing, are necessary ingredients for the
success of a music project whereby the record is where consumers can see it
easily and the price is one which is attractive to the buyer.

[90]  VH-1 is a cable video-music channel that is an outgrowth of MTV. VH-1's
format caters to "softer-sounding" product.

[91]    Herrington, interview.

[92]      Herrington, interview.

[93]  Herrington, interview.

[94]  Herrington, interview

[95]  Herrington, interview.

[96]  Herrington, interview.

[97]  Herrington,iinterview.

[98]  Herrington, interview.

[99]   Herrington, interview.

[100]  Fortenberry, interview.

[101]  Fortenberry, interview.

[102]  The Recording Industry Association of America. (1996). Inside the
Recording Industry: A Statistical  Overview 1995 Update. Washington, DC. Note:
The RIAA's consumer profiles base the percentage of money expended on
prerecorded music on the dollar-value percentage of those

[103]   Fortenberry, interview.

[104]  Herrington, interview. Note: As previously quoted in this paper's section
titled "Present Practices," Herrington has indicated that Arista/Austin
primarily markets to women ages 25-35.

[105]  The Recording Industry Association of America. (1996). Inside the
Recording Industry: A Statistical  Overview 1995 Update. Washington, DC.

[106]  The Recording Industry Association of America. (1996). Inside the
Recording Industry: A Statistical  Overview 1995 Update. Washington, DC. Note:
Statistics given reflect the consumer profile of music consumers from 1985 to

[107]  Nunziata, "Merchants & Marketing," 63. Note: Statistics are based on a
1996 Soundata study released in spring '97.

[108]  Ratings report and directory: Special issue. (1994). Radio & Record, Vol.
1, No. 6. Note: The ratings report cited is from 1994 research conducted by the
Arbitron Ratings Company.

[109]  Ratings report and directory: Special issue. (1994). Radio & Record, Vol.
1, No. 6.

[110]  Herrington, interview. Note: As previously quoted in this paper's section
titled "Present Practices," Herrington has indicated that college radio stations
have low wattage, limiting their broadcast range, and low listenership. However,
the college audience itself is not limited, he has said.

[111]  Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing Strategies,"
Billboard, 8 November 1997: 34.

[112]  Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing Strategies,"
Billboard, 8 November 1997: 34.

[113]  Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing Strategies,"
Billboard, 8 November 1997: 34.

[114]  SoundScan is computerized reporting information that is a compilation of
sales figures taken directly from the cash registers in many music-selling
outlets. It gives an accurate picture the buying habits of the nation's music
consumers and releases studies based on its findings.

[115]  Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing Strategies,"
Billboard, 8 November 1997: 34.

[116]  Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing Strategies,"
Billboard, 8 November 1997: 34.

[117]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 19.

[118]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 19.

[119]  Price, "Artists, Labels Forge Tour-based Marketing Strategies,"
Billboard, 8 November 1997: 36.

[120]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 125.

[121]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 125.

[122]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 168.

[123]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 168.

[124]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 168.

[125]  "Triple A" represents the radio format known as "Adult Album
Alternative." It is also referred to as "A-3" in music industry publications
such as Radio & Record, Gavin and Billboard.

[126]  Fortenberry, interview.

[127]  The Recording Industry Association of America. (1996). Inside the
Recording Industry: A Statistical  Overview 1995 Update. Washington, DC. Note:
Statistics given reflect the consumer profile of music consumers from 1985 to

[128]  The Recording Industry Association of America. (1996). Inside the
Recording Industry: A Statistical  Overview 1995 Update. Washington, DC.

[129]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 61.

[130]  Herrington, interview.

[131]  "One stops" are companies that sell to all types of retailers, allowing
them to bypass the usual distributors when a specialized product is required, or
the product is needed very quickly. Also, they  carry releases by a variety of
record labels and from all distribution companies for sale to smaller retailers.

[132] 112  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 66.

[133]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 66.

[134]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 66.

[135]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 67.

[136]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 5.

[137]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, 10.

[138]  Hall and Taylor, Marketing in the Music Industry, xiii. According to the
authors, almost all record activity, including labels and distribution, has been
distilled down to BMG, CEMA, Sony, WEA, UNI and PGD, all of which are said to be
multinational organizations with more than music as their sources of revenue.

[139]  Herrington, interview; Fortenberry, interview.

[140]  Herrington, interview; Fortenberry, interview.

[141]  Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," 177.

[142]  Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," 180.

[143]  Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," 182.

[144]  Grossberg, "Rock and Roll in Search of an Audience," 180.

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