Behind The Artist: Dave Grinnell, Believe Distribution
4 min read

Behind The Artist: Dave Grinnell, Believe Distribution

This is a Q&A style interview series featuring the people behind the artists: the marketing heroes you don’t hear about that often. This time round we talked to Dave Grinnell from Believe Distribution.
Behind The Artist: Dave Grinnell, Believe Distribution

Messenger marketing strategies & the music industry

This is a Q&A style interview series featuring the people behind the artists; the marketing heroes you don’t hear about that often. They are the ones who help artists build a brand and a strong online presence. This time round we talked to Dave Grinnell from Believe Distribution about direct-to-fan messaging. Read all about their thoughts, their expertise and their vision for the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m a Senior Label Manager at Believe Distribution, working with the in-house label team (AllPoints) on label and label services projects.

I manage all aspects of an album campaign, be it marketing, manufacture or distribution. I started out working in live music in Brighton, promoting and running gigs, before moving to Tru Thoughts to do press and digital marketing. I’ve been working at Believe for almost three years now and my current artists include Novo Amor, Orbital, Devlin, Brooke Bentham, Alela Diane and shallou.

What does your day normally look like?

Being as the arc of an album campaign can be quite long and all projects are at different stages, my day to day is quite varied. This is actually the best part of the job, as no two days are the same.

Organizing photo shoots, videos, artwork, making plans with promo teams, setting releases up for distribution, campaign management, coming up with marketing plans and ideas etc. Things can change quickly, so both staying on your toes and making quick decisions are key, as well as keeping things as organized as possible.

I would say the latter is the most difficult part of the job, keeping track of all the moving parts and making sure everything happens on time.

Please can you also tell us a little about Believe Distribution?

Believe was born 12 years ago. By focusing on the development of tech and offering a clear transparent service the company was quickly established as one of the world’s leading independent digital distributors and now has over 400 employees globally with 32 offices around the world.

We launched our in-house label eight years ago with first signing James Vincent McMorrow and have since grown our label and label services roster to include artists like James Vincent McMorrow, Gavin James, Public Service Broadcasting, Novo Amor, Devlin, Toddla T, The Blaze, Petit Biscuit, shallou, Max Cooper, Orbital and many others. The label services business is going from strength to strength with many exciting signings in the pipeline.

Helping artists build a strong brand through digital marketing is an important part of your role. How important do you think it is for musicians to reach and connect directly with fans online?

Innovation is the ideal situation. However, I don’t think you need to obsess over it as it’s not always possible — be it because of budget limitations, time constraints or just not having the right team to execute things. First of all, I would say just do what you can do well, nail that and then develop.

Of course, we always try to use new technologies and platforms to promote our artists. For James Vincent McMorrow’s album “We Move” we used geo-fencing technology to allow fans to unlock an exclusive pre-stream of the album when based in specific locations around the world. A branded mobile map displayed all listening hotspots and guided the fans to their nearest location where they could unlock the album pre-stream.

One recent innovation is the ability to build and engage a fanbase on Facebook Messenger. Do you think that Messenger marketing is a good way for artists to connect directly with fans?

In short, yes. Particularly for artists with larger audiences. Because of the way the Facebook algorithm works, if you have a large number of followers it can be almost impossible to reach them all without spending a small fortune on ads for each post. Messenger marketing feels like a new and interesting way to easily reach the more dedicated fans or are willing to sign up for updates.

What sorts of things do you think artists should be using Messenger marketing for?

It’s very likely to be your most dedicated fans using the Messenger channel initially, so you should be offering exclusive news and offers to draw them in and spread the word. Give them something they can’t get from other social media platforms. Be it upfront tickets, exclusive merch items, something a bit more personal.

How does direct-to-fan messaging differ from “traditional” social media posts in your opinion?

In a lot of ways, they are more engaging as you can set up your channel to reply and offer more and more information every time a fan replies to a particular question, holding their attention. Almost like an interactive website that keeps nudging you around the site and keeps you there.

What are the marketing advantages for artists in having and using a Messenger channel?

It's pre-programmed. Once you’ve developed the paths of questions and replies you can set them loose and tweak the experience as you gather data of what worked and didn’t.

How do you think a Messenger can most effectively help artists build their brand online?

By carrying regular news to your core audience, the type of fan that will spread the word to others.

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