I went back to school in September - well, not literally – but Section 101 participated in a great conference set up by Caroline Distribution called “Caroline College,” which took place during CMJ week. Caroline had the terrifically smart idea to bring together all their clients across the varied sectors of the music industry and host a half-day session where everyone could share their specialties and knowledge. With so many amazing clients and partner service providers - from artists, labels, marketers, sales, licensing, online, A&R and more - Caroline was able to provide interest for every one who attended. It was not only fun learning about other parts of the business, and what has been working and what hasn’t, but it was also a good chance to connect with people you normally wouldn’t interact with.
The day started with an overview of the whole industry (from a UMG perspective): how music sales are going, what’s moving the needle, what is stagnating, and what’s developing. With digital downloads and streaming being so dominate, services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music were much discussed.
Caroline hosted this conference within a conference so they could introduce all their partners to one another and, most importantly, they could exchange ideas and help one another. How refreshing! This made me think of an article I recently read on rowing crew (something my oldest child participates in). The article pointed out that when rowing crew, the goal is “getting each individual rower to perform to the maximum of his or her ability while also working together as a team and navigating the complexities of what is essentially a flat organization.” When you row crew, you have eight people working together as one, with no hierarchy and ultimate transparency. The eight people work as one so they can ALL win.
I felt like this was essentially what Caroline was doing with Caroline College. Their strategy was to provide valuable insight for their attendees, with the goal of extending everyone’s success. When their partners are successful, then they’re successful, which is an ethos I’ve subscribed to for years. In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable than the sum of the parts.
Take Pentatonix for example, who happen to be our first Section 101 artist to have a number 1 album on the Billboard 200! Their website looked phenomenal, but that was just a small part of what helped them to achieve #1. It was all the parts working together that helped to get them where they needed to be to sell the most records that week (and become the first a capella group to ever do so!). It didn’t matter who did “the most” work, in this case, every member of the team was essential to the group’s achievement.
While a sports analogy may not always be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning the release of your album, in this case, it truly makes a lot of sense. At any given moment, one part of the marketing/promotion/art direction/publicity may be ‘the’ most important, but over time, all the moving parts have to fit together to create the over all success. The bottom line is that when you work as a team, like the rowers, the people behind the scenes with Pentatonix or the attendees of Caroline College, everyone wins.