Phil Wickham is an alternative artist signed to INO Records, a Christian record label based out of Nashville. The internet has been an integral part of Wickham's development as an artist and has helped him to spread his message one person at a time.Findings
Phil Wickham wins people over not only with his music, but with his humanity. He uses “in the studio” videos with sneak peeks of new songs and recordings that show mistakes, mixing, and clips of the finished products to make himself seem more human. These videos help create a bond between the artist and the listener/fan. He makes videos periodically that talk directly to the fans about his day-to-day life on tour, some of which depict him and his wife exploring new cities or just driving in the car. He appears in “how to” videos explaining the chord progressions and style in which he plays his favorite songs from his albums, giving either a written tablature or a step-by-step video breakdown of the whole song, complete with mini-performance. This saves his fans the trouble of figuring out his songs or scouring the internet for tablature. In his videos, you see his true personality; he doesn't dress himself up as a stereotypical rock star. Instead, he gives all praise to God.In Conclusion
Phil frequently updates his iLike, YouTube, Feedburner, MySpace, Twitter and Official blogs. His Twitter and Tangle accounts allow him to follow his fans' updates instead of just the other way around. Tangle even allows fans to upload videos directly to playlists for other fans to scroll through. MySpace is his main draw however (as with many artists), offering up-to-date touring information and a plethora of all things Phil Wickham, such as ringtones and links to purchase music at iTunes, Rhapsody, and Thumbplay.
Although Phil Wickham’s official site supplies a selection of t-shirts and CDs, a substantial number of sales comes from musichristian.com. (Depending on you niche, there may be stores such as these that will help you reach the right audience). It's at this store only that you can get an autographed copy of his CD “Cannons” for $10.97, which is cheaper than other places on the internet. Actions like this show a respect for his fans and their desires.
In August 2008, Phil Wickham made a live album called “Singalong” available for free downloading exclusively on his official site. A link to download the album is automatically sent to anyone signing up for his mailing list. All the songs from the album were also turned into videos, which were used in a contest/viral promotion campaign. Videos were posted periodically to his official site and fans were encouraged to embed the video on their MySpace, Facebook, or blog and link to Phil’s site. They then had to take a screenshot and send it to contest [AT] inorecords.com to win a signed set list. It was a great way of spreading his music and satisfying fans at the same time.
Phil recently performed on the K-Love Friends and Family Music Cruise in January, where he and his fans lived untied on a boat for four days. This is a great way for an artist to promote him or herself and create a tighter bond with listeners.
Phil Wickham has a love for God that is overwhelming. His unwavering dedication to his beliefs and way of life are a huge draw. In any musical culture there is a stereotype of how “the other half lives”. He is fulfilling that standard in the Christian music scene. Many are turned off by Christian music due to the message; however, Phil Wickham’s voice and musical styling are helping him to slowly break those boundaries.What Stands Out
Phil Wickham may not be all over the internet; however, he has created a very strong fan base. He has taken it to a whole new personal level. Whether it's putting up pictures of his new tattoo and asking what people think, or mobile uploads on FlickR of all the places he has visited and all the people he has met, he is creating a friendship instead of just a fan base.
- Message: His message is not about sex and drugs. It’s not ambiguous so that it will fit into mainstream music. He speaks directly from the heart and doesn’t compromise his music for air play.
- Humanity: Phil Wickham gives all praise, honor and glory to God. He encourages his fans to help others and the community. He even has a link to a company called “Compassion”, which gives people the chance to sponsor children around the world.
This case study was written by Angela Campo-Pitt, a Music Business Major at Berklee College of Music. You can contact Angela via email at acampopitt [AT] berklee.net