The Spa: Ben Townley, Marketing Manager at Sony Music
Ben Townley is Marketing Manager at Sony Music, where he works with bands and artists such as Hurts (pictured) and Will Young. He’ll be bringing his expertise to the IdeasTap “Spa” with tailored marketing advice for six lucky musicians, solo artists and bands. We asked him for a taster…
I think one of the great things about the British public and the music scene is that people can sniff out a fake. If I tried to force one of my artists to radically overhaul they would no longer feel authentic.
If I was [in] a band starting up now, I would straight away just set up a Facebook and Twitter. Maybe something like SoundCloud as well and then I would try to get some photos, get a visual aesthetic. It doesn’t have to be expensive – say if you’ve got a mate who takes photos or who has made a couple of videos on YouTube. A band like Hurts, for example, became known throughout the industry before they were signed on the back of a video that they’d made themselves. It cost them 40 quid to do and that’s now been watched something like 40 million times and is the video that broke them, much earlier than when we got involved. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of DIY homemade aesthetic.
Once you’ve got the visual aspect right, start emailing websites direct, start emailing bloggers and just say, “Look, this is what I’m doing, what do you think?” Try to find supporters in that world and then break out from there.
I think that artists should always be aware of what they are before they even come to a label: in terms of what they want their aesthetic to be, what they think their reference points are, what they want to be in the next five years – without making it sound too corporate and careerist. You’ve got to be able to sum up an artist in a couple of words.
The most successful bands are the ones that – not to talk myself out of a job – did the most work before they were signed. They are the ones who know what they are, who’ve got a little buzz going. If a label can see that a band has got a natural fanbase already, they feel more confident in signing them and spending money. It’s about contacting people yourself and building on that.
Ben Townley is conducting six one-on-one advice sessions at the IdeasTap Spa on 19 October. Join the Spa group to sign up to the event.