But what good is exposure if there are no sales? According to Tamara Conniff (Executive Editor/Associate Publisher - Billboard), over 60,000 CDs were released last year, with 40,000 of them selling less than 100 and only 100 selling more than a million. How are those odds? Digital downloads are clearly the answer for sales. Eddie Gordon (Music 2 Mix) predicted this on a DMS panel more than five years ago to an almost dismissive audience, stressing the importance of building a relationship with the audience and a database of everyone that buys your music. As head of Neo records, Eddie realized that if he knew who bought the first Darude single, he would have a better shot of selling them the second Darude single.
You almost have to wonder why it took a computer company (Apple) to teach the recording industry how to sell their product. With a greater than 80% monopoly being used to leverage sales of the ubiquitous iPod, the power of iTunes is about to be challenged. Major labels such as Warner are stepping forward to remove Digital Rights Management (DRM) so that their music can be purchased from other digital vendors (like Beatport and AudioJelly). Even though the digital download revolution seems instant, Geoffrey Colon, from digital distributor The Orchard, stressed the importance of timelines (at least three months to ensure placement across all online networks). Geoffrey also mentioned that many digital networks thrive on exclusive remixes and alternate versions, stressing the importance of a breadth or variety of options.
Where does this leave the artists and musicians? Dance artists can join the legions of "working class musicians," who often don't receive massive radio airplay but have a solid fanbase and a career based on touring and independent releases often on their own record labels. Avitone label owner Jody Watley mentioned the success of her current "Makeover" CD with impressive sales at Virgin Megastores and TV placements. RCA Music Group Vice President Hosh Gureli pushed things further, claiming that "it's not about the remixing, its about the production." Look at the big pop records right now - Justin Timberlake "Sexyback," Nelly Furtado "Promiscuous" - those are dance records produced by hip-hop producers, they are taking our music away from us.
Las Vegas mainstay and visionaries Cirque du Soleil provided some great inspiration. Mario D'amico, Marketing VP, described the blue ocean theory where a successful company alters the boundary of an existing industry to create an uncontested marketplace. In the case of Cirque, that would be changing the definition of circus to be more elaborate and challenging with a narrative feature. Applied to dance music, that could be interpreted in a multitude of ways. With a million genres and subgenres reaching club and online audiences, dance might be the one blue ocean left in the music world.