There was a time when musicians only had to focus on writing songs and playing their instruments in order to be successful, but that mentality has definitely become a thing of the past. Today’s digital landscape has opened up numerous doors for artists, presenting opportunities to reach audiences around the world, produce and sell their own merchandise, and even get music licensed for television and film – even for recording artists operating on an extremely independent level.
And while the opportunities are certainly exciting, it can all get a bit overwhelming – especially for musicians who have no background (and sometimes no interest) in participating in the business/marketing side of the industry. With that in mind, four Full Sail graduates – Owner/Web Designer Richard Kelsey (Recording Arts/Entertainment Business Master’s/Internet Marketing Master’s), Content Producer/Partner Jessica Northey (Entertainment Business/New Media Journalism), Audio Production Coordinators Sarah Fry (Recording Arts) and Cassi O’Regan (Music Business), and Head of Artist Development Taylor Castro (Music Business) – launched AudioPress, a service that builds customized websites for bands and helps them manage their content, sell merchandise, effectively integrate their social media, license music, and more.
While many artists may believe setting up social media profiles is enough to promote themselves online, Richard saw an opportunity to reach an even greater potential when he founded the Orlando-based company in 2012.
“A few years ago, we found that there was a huge gap between record labels and do-it-yourself musicians, a missing link between artist and fan and how they interact with each other,” he says as he recalls the genesis of the company. “It’s definitely essential to have a Facebook and Twitter page, but if you’re not posting there daily or spending a few bucks for marketing, you will probably run into the danger of not being discovered there at all. A good website with a good search result in Google and some good PR might be your better ally. The website is the home and everything else needs to be linked to it.”
In addition to helping build platforms for artists, the AudioPress website itself serves as a hub for readers to discover new artists, learn from entertainment industry experts, and see the benefits that can come from utilizing the types of services that the company has to offer. In her Content Producer role at AudioPress, Jessica works to create the content that populates the website’s blog and help build the marketing elements and personal brand of an artist.
Jessica’s daily routine can include anything from managing the blog’s editorial calendar to interviewing featured artists to helping guide them through video shoots or podcast recording sessions. As one of two team members based out of Orlando (the other AudioPress members work remotely from across the globe), she often finds herself interacting with talent who have been brought to the area because of Full Sail.
“There is so much talent that oozes out of this university. I have always thought of Full Sail as the spot where I get to hear artists before they become famous. I love getting to know local artists and helping them share their individual story about their journey in the music industry,” she says. “I always ask each interviewee if they have some advice for new independent musicians in addition to promoting their own work, so that they can help anyone out there who might be getting started or is struggling in some particular area.”
While the members of AudioPress don’t share an office space, there is definitely a shared ethos driving the company that can be traced back to the fact that all of its founders share an educational foundation in Full Sail.
“The alumni I’ve chosen to work with all provide an unspoken understanding through our similar educational experiences,” Jessica says. “In addition, I don’t have to explain how the business works because they’re each successful in their own right. They show me what I need to know in order to trust them with their delegated tasks so that we can accomplish everything we have done to get to this point with AudioPress.”
As the company continues to grow, the team looks forward to expanding their efforts in helping to spread artists’ stories. Future developments include an increase in video content, showcasing more artists in Taylor’s home of Atlanta, and continuing to work with Orlando-based artists, Full Sail students, and graduates to help empower artists with what they need to make an impact in the digital age.
“The evolution of music and technology continues to provide endless ways for artists to monetize their music brands,” says Taylor. “It’s our hope to create self-sufficient artists who – if and when they are given the opportunity to sign with a record label – will get the most out of their deal without being at the mercy of the suits, because their brand will be their own.”