Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fan Interaction the Imogen Heap Way

Another slight detour from the "selling stuff" series. But I wanted to highlight Imogen Heap, who I have mentioned before. Lately she has been getting a slew of publicity (undoubtedly tied to the fact that she has a new album coming out on August 25) for her online activities encouraging and sustaining fan involvement. Here's a very good overview.

Although she maintains creative control of her album, she sells through Sony in the UK and RCA in the US.
"I go through huge swathes of doubt about myself and the record," Heap says. "I don't have a boyfriend to say, 'People love what you do, carry on‚' so the Twitter gang have sort of become my surrogate boyfriend."

They also mean that her labels have none of the traditional anxiety about reconnecting her with her fan base, despite the long gap between records.

"It's been a while," says Aaron Borns, New York-based senior VP of marketing for RCA Music Group. "But she's been so diligent about communicating with her fans, it doesn't feel like she's been away." "Imogen Heap: On the Fast Track," Billboard, 6/20/09
But although Heap's story is being billed as another example of the new music business, as music commentator Bob Lefsetz points out, "... suddenly, you’re no longer a musician, but a personality. ... Just about everything Imogen has done here has nothing to do with music."

The "new music business model" stories have a lot to do with marketing, branding, and relationships. The stories we are getting now are pitched to tech blogs, creating a hook that may encourage those who haven't heard the artists to check them out. It's an interesting variation on what has long been a part of music marketing, the music PR machine.
"It will be interesting to see if people do go and buy the record in this age when people don’t buy records,” she says. “I think if anyone does have a chance, it is probably me. Because people feel attached to it, we’re related. It would be quite rude to download it for free after they’ve watched me putting all this work in.” "Imogen Heap: all hail the online queen," Telegraph, 7/31/09
Here are a couple of other stories which came out at the same time. Again, I assume the fact that we are getting a lot of Heap stories is related to the upcoming album release.

Imogen Heap Changing the Way Music Is Made, Musings for a Darkened Room, 7/21/09

Musicians watch and learn from @imogenheap, TechJuicer, 7/21/09

Suzanne Lainson
@slainson on Twitter

UPDATE, 8/14/09

I noticed that not online does Heap have her own Twitter account, @imogenheap, but there is also a separate one for PR, @heapwire, which reinforces the main point of this blog entry.

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