Behind the Artist: Sam Hill, BMG
4 min read

Behind the Artist: Sam Hill, BMG

We spoke to marketing guru Sam Hill from BMG and asked him about online branding for artists, marketing and messaging strategies.
Behind the Artist: Sam Hill, BMG

Messenger marketing strategies & the music industry

Behind the Artist 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. We decided to approach these marketing gurus and ask them all about their thoughts on online branding for artists, marketing and messaging strategies. They share their thoughts, expertise and their vision for the future.

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

I’m Sam Hill and I use computers and the internet to market music and artists like alt-J, Rick Astley, Jack Savoretti, DMA’S, The Sherlocks, Rejjie Snow, Blondie, PVRIS, Gary Numan, etc.

Also, can you tell us a bit about the company you work for, BMG?

BMG is a new music company with an artist-focused ethos across publishing and recordings that sets us apart from the other big players. We started in 2008 and we’re one of the fastest growing music companies ever. We make sure that every facet of our campaigns is very clear to our artists and they get a say in every part of it.

What is your position there?

UK Director of Digital Marketing.

As a digital marketer in the music industry, you’ve worked with some really impressive artists. In general, how important do you think it is for musicians to connect with their fans online?

If you’re an artist and you want to have a long term career, then you need to find some way to connect with fans online. It’s vital. Otherwise you have no right to dictate that they should listen to your music.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t play around with the emotional distance between artist and fan, but there needs to be some connection as part of any campaign.

Is it important for musicians these days to be innovative when it comes to technology? If so, why?

We need to make campaigns relevant, but we also need them to stand out. That doesn’t mean alienating your audience, but being innovative with ways that fans already engage.

Audiences that are more digital native can adapt to multiple platforms at once and you can create narratives across them which is exciting, but for our artists with older audiences, simplicity of technology is often as useful as innovation.

We need to get past the novelty factor and focus on the benefits that direct message marketing offers and the circumstances in which it comes into its own

Speaking of innovation, there has been quite some hype around messaging lately. Do you think that a Messenger channel is a good way for artist to connect with their fans online directly?

Absolutely! Although I think some of the hype comes from people being very excited by the possibilities, but the scope and scale can be distracting. Direct message marketing is becoming more and more adaptable to different situations and as an industry we need to get past the novelty factor and focus on the benefits that it has to offer and the circumstances in which it comes into its own.

What can musicians use a Messenger channel for?

It’s a direct-to-fan platform so I see it as an evolution of email marketing (still some of the best marketing when done right imho). Sure, Messenger can be used as an AI conversation, but the limitations and novelty of that is massive. For me the potential is in using them to drive people to different engagements or as a new way to funnel content down to the keenest fans.

Capture the right people and serve them something special as a reward.

Also, to be practical about it, Messenger channels can ease a lot of the workload from a day to day social admin. Have a look through your messages from fans and see how a Messenger channel loaded with a few useful automated responses can remove the need for a person to monitor it.

How does Messenger marketing differ from social media posts in your opinion?

Messenger is a lot like email for a lot of people. It’s a very direct-to-fan message approach, as opposed to something passive in the news feed.

What are the marketing advantages of having a Messenger channel? (for artists)

High open and read rates are the buzz factor in terms of stats. It’s a great way of segmenting high value fans on specific platforms. They’re a good canvas to start with to do something interesting.

Do you think a Messenger channel can help with one’s brand building? If so, why/how?

Depends how you use it!

What do you think the future of Messenger marketing will look like?

I have no idea! That’s what’s exciting. Hopefully we’ll be looking at greater adoption over a wider range of platforms and I’d like to be able to see fans being able to customise the experience they want from a channel, rather than us dictating it each time. By creating something flexible in a Messenger channel, we can give fans the power over the content they receive.

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