Record labels, according to this story at Billboard, have discovered that podcasts are an effective way to market and promote the artists they’ve signed. Those labels have realized they have access to scads of talent and don’t have to worry about copyright claims over music usage and so are hoping to tap into the substantial podcast audience to raise interest and revenue. They join independent artists and other enthusiasts in working to become tastemakers, only with a more clearly intentional financial interest in doing so.

That’s interesting and cool, to be sure. While the focus is narrowly on podcasts, there’s a bigger picture to place this within.

Podcasts are part of content marketing.

A universal definition of content marketing is hard to come by. They usually vary based on what the person offering the definition is trying to sell or specialize in. In general, though, it involves creating content to inform and engage the audience, mostly through unpaid channels to bypass the traditional advertising structure.

That’s what this is. The labels have simply added “podcast creation” to the content marketing tactics being utilized and executed. It joins Twitter, Facebook and whatever other channels each label has been using to bypass the media gatekeepers and take their message straight to fans.

Last year I wrote about how I was continually shocked movie studios haven’t latched on to podcasting as an effective way to promote their films. Many of the issues I raised there are exactly what record labels seem to have embraced, realizing that they enjoy access not just anyone with a microphone and an RSS feed has.

It’s not that I believe every company needs to do everything they possibly can. Every company in any industry needs to evaluate tactics and do what makes the most sense for them. It’s why some are so active on Twitter while ignoring Facebook. Or why others have let Snapchat go after a few months of experimentation didn’t pan out.

What’s important in that evaluation is assessing what particular elements can be offered to the audience. What can you do better than anyone else? What’s the unique value proposition being presented?

That’s the question at least some record labels seem to have answered as they add podcasting to their organic content marketing mix.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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