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Music is something that reaches the soul. In other more pragmatic words we could state that its role is to answer psychological needs. From this pint of view the greatest opportunity that the artist benefits from is the one of making good quality music. Normally the high quality product should sell itself. In reality it will need a bit of promotion and advertising to achieve its purpose of becoming successful abroad.
Now that we have taken into consideration a multitude of strong points and opportunities, we should probably underline the fact that there are important threats that one must take into consideration. The first threat that we must analyze is represented by the competition. It is true that being a male could be an advantage on the international music market.
One may become the idol of the boys and a desired partner for the girls. Especially under the circumstances in which the number of international successful male singers is not very big. However, the competition includes the female artists as well. This means that the artist will have to provide a value added product which will boost sales through its intrinsic qualities.
The competition represents a threat because it has been on the international market for longer and has already acquired an important share of it. Having achieved popularity as an international artist means that international brands may have wanted to associate their image with them. From this point-of-view we may speak about an important barrier to entering this market. Internationally successful artists are perceived as stars and it is difficult to become a star over night. It is true that a hit single can bring you in the spotlight and the artist may benefit from international media coverage. But it is just as true that just a single hit is not enough.
A threat that no artist can afford to ignore is represented by the internet and free downloading. The international rights regarding copyright issues are very clear for everybody. Yet this has never prevented anyone from downloading songs and movies from the internet of with its help, from programs which allow users to share their resources. It is true that the sound quality of a song on an original CD or DVD is much bigger than the one of a song which one can download in an mp3 format from some website.
Nevertheless it is just as true that a CD implies a certain financial effort while downloading from the internet does not. The fact that this practice is illegal does not represent a moral dilemma anymore. People do it without remorse. In addition, it is worth underlining that while the laws are very clear, it is quite difficult to monitor and discover the act. This allows for the practice to be very wide spread and extremely difficult to control.
The main consequence that it as far as the artist is concerned is in terms of sales. More people downloading the songs from the internet without paying for them means less people buying the CDs and therefore smaller profits for the artist.
Another important barrier that one needs to be carefully taking into consideration is represented by the cultural one. And here there are two important aspects that must be analyzed. On the one hand there is the issue of perception of the product which differs according to the various geographical and cultural locations. On the other hand there is the challenge that the communication campaigns are faced with.
People have different ideas about beauty and the quality of a product. Something may be popular in a country and yet be negatively perceived in another according to the preferences of the inhabitants. In this area we are dealing with a factor which is very difficult to influence. Taste is based on certain values and it is an almost impossible task trying to change these values.
An artist can be considered as an incarnation of a single style. One can't be singing rock in Europe and pop in China while performing country music in Japan for example. Overlooking the trend of preferences, it could be stated that what one needs to do is target his clients properly. In addition, it may be suggested that quality sells regardless of the area the product comes from. In other words the artist should concentrate his efforts mainly upon the quality of his product.
The difference of perception of the product may also derive from the linguistic differences. This does not imply a need to change the language of his lyrics. Just as it has been already stated, music is an universal language which addresses emotions and not reason. Under these circumstances it can be stated that is enough for the artist to produce good music and people will like it. Japanese fans will end up learning the English lyrics if they like the song.
In the contemporary world the main focus is on the image. People are stressed and tired and compelled to do many things in short time intervals. They pay less and less attention to complex messages from the environment. Their attention is caught be attracting images with short messages which are easy to remember and recognize. From this point-of-view we could speak about an important cultural barrier.
Every product, regardless of its nature, needs to have a supportive marketing campaign behind it. Such is the case with art as well. Under these circumstance it can be clearly stated that an USA artist who has already achieved local success and wishes to become successful at an international level must use culture responsive marketing techniques.
A customer-based marketing perspective is one which benefits from a strong understanding of the cultural differences and archetypes. Consumption behaviour differs according to region and country exactly because the cultural perspective has shaped people's mentalities differently. As far as the artist's image is concerned, that is his positioning, which is meant to differentiate him from the competition and provide him with a strategic advantage, he must pay attention too cultural archetypes and stereotypes in order to conceive and convey a proper and appealing message.
Once the message is conceived, what the product needs is a proper communication campaign. This includes both advertising strategies and PR techniques. Advertising is very important, but PR is even more important because in this industry it helps make the product famous. The media that the artist should target are represented by the music TV channels, the radio stations and the magazines. The latter ones are very important and must be adapted to the target.
On the one hand there are the specialized magazines, which deal with artist and events in the musical world. Then there are the life style magazines where editorials or advertorials about the product could occur. Thirdly there are the magazines about fashion and the ones which teenagers buy in order to get acquainted with the latest trends. All of these are means which allow to reach the target in a direct manner.
Music channels are fundamental because they actually transmit the product to the customer. Here we can talk about MTV but also about VH1 and the local channels which differ from country to country. When choosing the local channels one must clearly understand its target in order to avoid making an useless investment.
Once the advertising and the PR has been done with, it is fundamental for the product to benefit from the proper distribution channels. Here we can include local stores, international networks selling all kinds of music CDs and also the internet. Any artist needs to have a website, not only in order to sell his CDs directly, but also in order to communicate information about himself, keep the fans updated and have a minimum of control upon the information which concerns him.
A well constructed website which allows for interaction with the users may become a fundamental tool of viral marketing allowing for direct contact with the interested clients. The internet cold be used for networking and virtual spaces such as Facebook or Youtube should definitely be used for the purpose of increasing awareness and popularity.
Concerts are not only a means of promotion and advertising but a very means of having the product delivered to the customer. This means that the entire conception of an international tour is fundamental for its success. People must leave the concert satisfied by the quality of the music and also of the entire show and go to the store to buy the artist's CD while telling everybody about how rewarding the whole experience has been.
All in all it can be stated that while globalization has allowed artists to penetrate an international market, this opportunity is not deprived of numerous challenges and threats which need to be addressed carefully, especially when one gets to take into consideration the important cultural barriers and the strength of an already world wide famous competition.
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