Jay Frank of DigSin: Reinventing the Record Label, Part 2

I interviewed Jay Frank, owner and CEO of DigSin, a new singles-focused music company that allows subscribing fans to obtain music for free. DigSin signs new artists to deals that leverage new platforms, social networks and analytics that expose music to a wider audience, building popularity outside of traditional methods. This is part two of a two part interview, and part one is available here.

Prior to forming DigSin, Frank was the Senior Vice President of Music Strategy for CMT, an MTV Network, Vice President of Music Programming and Label Relations for Yahoo! Music, responsible for all the company's music programming, senior music director at The Box Music Network, worked in marketing and A&R for Ignition Records, managed a live music venue, programmed broadcast radio stations and created two local music video shows.

Chris Castle: Let's talk a little bit about the technology that you're using for DigSin. You don't have to give away any secret sauce, but tell us a little bit about your approach and how you use technology in your business?

Jay Frank: Sure. The way that I am using technology is really starting with analytics; I think that in the music business, it's extremely under utilitized of identifying and understanding the consumer that has the potential to like any particular artist. The way that I Iook at it and describe it to my artists is at the starting gate we are going to take 99.9% of the internet and ignore them and we are just going to focus on the .01% that might care. The trick is how we actually identify who that point .01% is and go to that person directly, and that person could be a blogger a person on Facebook that person could be somebody on Twitter or could be a radio station programmer or a music supervisor. It doesn't really matter, what matters is finding the right people who are actually going to care that when we present the music we are adding value to their lives. How we get those analytics are some things are proprietary we have tools that we get from our mailing list of people that sign up for free.

Chris Castle: Do you have a particular demographic you are trying to reach?

Jay Frank: Not really. Through our analytics we can see who responded in particular to a download. Is it somebody young or old male or female are they in the U.S. or are they outside the U.S.? From there we can get additional data that just about anybody can get. We get data from YouTube, from iTunes sales, we'll get data from Google analytics, from the website numbers of other places. A couple of places are things we are subscribing to to be able to get some additional information and we put that together into one big summary that allows us to identify what that fan profile. If that profile shifts we try new things.

We have an act on a radio return and when we first heard them we said "man this feels like a plugged in Mumford and Sons." So we went after Mumford and Sons fans and our instinct was widely correct in that people responded to them, but because it's a little bit more mainstream we found quickly that Jason Mraz fans were also liking the band, so we shifted a little bit more and we started promoting more to Jason Mraz fans and started to get better results. So it's a constantly evolving process in terms of using analytics for us. The way we use technology is really just in garnering as much information as possible and then using it wisely to be able to better and more smartly market our artists to the right audience.

Chris Castle: Is all your marketing online?

Jay Frank: Yes, to me ultimately the success from our artists has to exist offline. I have not seen a successful song happen that does not have Internet that doesn't also have traditional radio. You need to have both of those things in order to have widespread success; however radio right now is very reluctant to play something that doesn't already have a buzz. So for the most part if you don't get it going on the internet there is a high likelihood that you are not going to get it going on the radio so we spend our time focusing solely on building that story online and if we get it right and feel that we have created enough story and we've found the proper audience. Then we can take both the story and the analytics to the proper radio station. I went to the heads of a couple of the major radio groups and I went and I said to them "I'm starting this label and I'm not servicing my music to you," and they looked at me and said, "What are you talking about?" I said "look you are not going to play the music until there is a story and so you will know when I call you that I'm calling you because there is a legitimate story." They appreciate that. They appreciate that I know where there business is at and appreciate that I'm going to build something to give them something of value and I think that's part of the equation nowadays.

A podcast of this interview is available on the Arts+Labs Innovation Central website.