Ep271: Building an Audience in a Competitive Industry, with NewReleaseToday President Kevin McNeese
May 10, 2021
Music is an art form that has lived the longest and has connected the most people. Breaking barriers and linking us together with a catchy tune and a moving beat, it’s a crowded industry that never fails to attract new young artists, and for NewReleaseToday president Kevin McNeese, it has been his mission and business to find an audience for these new voices.
Starting his site NewRelease Today back in 2002, it has grown to be one of the largest Christian music platforms with over 400,000 monthly visitors and 167,000 subscribers to its newsletter. Working with dozens of mostly independent artists, he shares with us how much of the music industry has changed and what it takes to get an audience.
Adding Gasoline to the Fire
Compared to what was the system almost 20 years ago, artists had to rent a studio to make their music. Now some of the most famous clips on the Internet was recorded on a phone, or a computer with an improvised studio in the basement next to the washing machine.
“Everybody can make music now so your product is no longer your music,” Kevin points out, “your product is now You and labels are not going to talk to you unless you are making noise.”
“What kind of numbers and audience do you have following you? Who cares about your music? At this point, if you don’t have any of that, chances are labels not gonna pay attention.”
Kevin notes that a label would give you a team to work with, and they can handle growing your audience while you focus on making your music, but there are other ways to build a team now, and nowadays an artist can do well on their own.
Working with his team on New Release Today, Kevin says that it has been both fun and challenging especially with all the online platforms of today that have really divided people.
“Whether it’s an artist, or if you’re starting a community, you really have to show up in a lot of different places and that’s challenging,” Kevin points out. “And then each one of those places requires a different tone. What works on Instagram isn’t gonna work on YouTube or on Twitter and Facebook, it’s not gonna work on your own website.”
Kevin puts an emphasis on connecting to the audience you want, which means putting out content regularly and putting your hopes on slow and steady growth.
Starting Off with Passion
When a giant such as the internet has been made so accessible to everyone, Kevin points out that the constant dedication to being ready every day is what makes the difference.
“I’m passionate about it,” he says describing the business, “and that passion has never waned. My goal was to just connect as many people as I could find to as much great music that I could find, and that goal was there in 2002, as it is there today.”
Kevin points out that he describes his work with air quotes, noting that it doesn’t feel like a job.
With the same goal and passion, he founded ChristianArtist.Pro and the We Love Christian Music Awards to give independent artists the boost they need.
Burning with passion and determined to be consistent, Kevin is still on the lookout for new talent and great music.