They’re not looking for the next Bieber or Gaga— well, they’re looking for that too, but that’s not what I’m referring to here— they’re aggressively searching for the next great web platform.
Troy Carter, CEO of Coalition Media and the manager of Lady Gaga, and Scooter Braun, Founder of SB Projects and the manager of Justin Bieber, oversee two very different performers but when it comes to the philosophy behind their online strategy, the managers speak the same language. After their Disrupt panel, “Success Strategies for Musicians in the Digital Era,” Braun and Carter elaborated on their vision during our backstage video interview (see above).
Both have used social media tools, namely Twitter and YouTube, to elevate their artists and both are actively looking for new tools to build and engage their audience. To give you a sample of their online success, Gaga has 4.3 million Twitter followers, Bieber has 2.8 million. On YouTube, Lady Gaga’s top three videos recently surpassed one billion views, the 16-year-old is not that far behind with more than 380 million views on his VEVO channel.
Now that their clients are major influencers online, Braun and Carter are ready to use that capital to strike lucrative partnerships with the next generation of startups. This is not idle chatter. “I don’t want to name these companies that I’ve been looking at,” Braun says. “But…I went out and flew out to San Francisco and spent two weeks just meeting with new, young entrepreneurs out there because I want to know who’s next and [I] realized that the power that our artists have created for themselves on Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube are very, very valuable for launching these new platforms.” Braun sees it as a symbiotic relationship, the artist brings visibility to a company and gains a new way to engage fans.
With the record virtually dead, (Bieber managed to recently regain the top spot on the Billboard charts with a measly 60,000 albums sold for the week) the managers and the rest of the industry are still trying to redefine the business model. They haven’t figured it out quite yet, but Braun and Carter both believe that online partnerships with younger companies like Foursquare will be a major part of the formula, especially for artists that achieve a critical mass (like Gaga and Bieber). Perhaps what’s most surprising, they say, is that they’re part of the minority in an industry that has the most to gain and lose by the rapid evolution of social media and technology:
Braun: The fact that Troy and I are the only people that I’ve seen at this conference from the music business is blowing my mind. I said this to L.A. Reid yesterday, the chairman of Island Def Jam, I said to him yesterday, the fact that you’re not down there and people from your company aren’t down there meeting everyone is just… it’s just not right.
Carter: The fact that it’s called Disrupt should have every record label here right now because no media business has been more disrupted like the record business…
Braun: If we don’t come to conferences like this and find that next young entrepreneur and find that next idea and become a part of it we’re going to die.