Canadian Music Trade - October-November 2022 Canadian Music Trade - October-November 2022 - Page 64

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Mitch Joel on Online & Digital Marketing for the Music Retail Sector Part Two


We ’ re continuing Canadian Music Trade ’ s conversation with Mitch Joel , an entrepreneur , author , former president of digital marketing agency Twist Image , and frequent NAMM U speaker , the first part of which was published in our August / September 2022 issue . Here , Joel delves into what separated the MI retailers and businesses that thrived from those that struggled during the pandemic .

“ What you learn really quickly is it ’ s hard to master but it ’ s easy to do ,” he says of adopting digital marketing strategies , something many companies and retailers found themselves having to do with little to no prior experience . “ It ’ s actually not that big of a technological or intellectual hurdle to just do it .”
Joel expands by saying becoming savvy in the world of online and digital marketing is difficult and easy at the same time , meaning it can be a be a daunting task to start , but becomes simpler once you ’ ve gotten rolling , and a big part of it is attitude — it ’ s essential to approach the idea of digital marketing with an idea that you can do it .
“ What you have to do is be able to look at opportunities , whether it ’ s building a Shopify store or getting smart about Google Ads , or building a YouTube channel , creating content around this idea of ‘ does this work for us as a brand and retailer in a world that ’ s forever changing ?’” says Joel .
Joel again brings up the example of Norman ’ s Rare Guitars , a small store near Los Angeles that , through its online presence ,
has become a globally-recognized store and not one people have to be in the area to shop at or know about .
“ If you see what [ Norman Harris , founder and owner ] did , even with the All Guitar Network after , it ’ s an even more telling story , that he built basically the Golf Channel for guitar players ,” says Joel . “ He didn ’ t decide to open up an East Coast store , because now every time he posts a guitar , that day , that can get sold in a couple of hours somewhere in the world ; he built a global customer database off the direct response to YouTube , which sounds insane .”
Something else Joel notes about Harris is that he is not a young tech expert — Harris is now in his seventies , and seized opportunity by listening to his sales associates and paying attention to how businesses are becoming successful .
Joel admits that the desire that came about during the pandemic for people , especially younger ones , to take up or rediscover stringed instruments came as a surprise to him . He notes that today , most guitar gear – be it amps , pedals , or more – can be virtual , and young players may opt for those over physical products .
“ You even saw this in artists like Machine Gun Kelly — he ’ s rap and digital , and suddenly , he ’ s playing guitar ,” Joel says . “ Even people like Dallas Green of City and Colour , where there ’ s obviously a really deep yearning for younger people to be connected to more acoustic string-based music , that was really surprising to me .”
In further marrying the physical and digital worlds of music , Joel noticed an uptick in musicians taking to online promotion when live shows were forced to shut down .
“ There ’ s a general feeling of how the studio is more than music ,” Joel explains , who is also a lifelong bass player and host of the No Treble podcast . “ It ’ s about the lights , it ’ s about the cameras , it ’ s about connecting and telling stories . That to me was just an amplification . I saw it before in the better artists , but just watching artists realize that part of their job is to tell better stories on TikTok , that was also pretty amazing . And again , you see these young artists covering these very classic tunes and seeing them become massive hits — it ’ s really heartwarming .”
Joel , of course , is referencing cases like the resurgence of ‘ 80s hits “ Running Up That Hill ” by Kate Bush and Metallica ’ s “ Master of Puppets ,” which , while both already hit songs , were introduced to a huge new audience through their use in Stranger Things . Since appearing in the series , both songs have blown up on TikTok , with artists knowing a cover of either is a sure way to amass views and up engagement .
But it isn ’ t just younger and rising artists who are in a place to have content go viral , even competing with established and wellknown acts — niche instrument and equipment manufacturers may find themselves in a similar position , according to Joel .
“ It wasn ’ t really surprising to me , but it ’ s made me happy to see these very small bespoke niche artisanal pedal and effect developers just continually tell great stories