Berklee Case Book - A Study Of Artists' Online Presence


The Beginning
This study was born out of an idea hatched by Christopher Lars Carlson, the club's president, when he realized that so few artists knew what they were doing when it came to establishing an online presence. He realized that by looking at what other artists were doing, one could model after them. Just one study wouldn't cut it though; multiple analyses would be needed to get the full picture of what a band should be doing online. Thus began The Case Book Project for Berklee's music business club.
What's so important about my online presence?
If you have yet to receive the memo, the music industry is moving towards direct artist-to-fan relationships. The most successful artists of the future will act transparently, interact with fans directly, create an abundant amount of content, and exceed their fans' expectations (writing and performing incredible music is a given). Most of this activity will happen online and more specifically, within the artist's "world". This world will exist in your browser, but also on your phone; it will be the collection of all the places an artist appears online, driving you to the center of it all.
Define "Successful"
I can't. You have to decide for yourself what you want your online presence to accomplish. Depending on the artist (as you will see when reading the studies), the internet is needed for different purposes (attracting new fans vs. managing existing ones). For most artists though, I believe a successful online presence should follow this formula*: "Connect With Fans" + "Reason To Buy" = "New Business Model".
* Michael Masnick, creator of the popular blog TechDirt, presented this idea at the 2009 MidemNet Conference through an analysis of Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails) online presence, which is why there isn't a NIN case study here.
All of an artist's online activity should drive fans into their world; when a potential fan hears your music for the first time on your MySpace page, there should be a reason to go to your main website where they can download free content and start to interact. They will enter your world and hopefully be so impressed that they stick around for the next great thing you have to offer.
The Studies
All of the studies herein follow a basic format: biographical information, the author's findings, a concluding statement, stand out points, links, and an author's blurb. It is important to note that the authors were all encouraged to share their opinions and were continually reminded to ask themselves, "if I was an artist or manager, what could I learn from a study on this artist's online presence?" The opinions and perspectives helped shape the studies and made for the best content for you. These studies will show you all the options that are out there for building a presence on the internet. Take what you like from each one and create your own. Then come back and leave a comment to tell us how this case book helped you.
A special thanks goes out to everyone who participated in the case book, but specific mention is needed for Matt Rodrigues. After I presented the idea of the case book to the music business club in the Fall, Matt returned from winter break in January and asked to meet with me. This led to Matt doing most of the leg work needed to make this idea a reality: what information authors should gather, formatting ideas, and writing the first study as a model for the others. So thank you, Matt! I'd also like to thank Jack Shenker for editing all the studies and for helping set up this blog.

If you find our research to be of value, please pass it along to as many people as possible. The goal of this case book is in line with my own personal goals: to help as many musicians as possible to some day put "musician" as the primary occupation on their tax returns.
Christopher Lars Carlson is a Music Production & Engineering major at Berklee College of Music, president of Berklee's music business club, and an artist manager to Tom Howie and Project K-Paz. You can connect with him through his blog, or email: christopher.lars.carlson [AT]