1 Easy Way Stones Throw Records Can Regain Me As A Brand Evangelist

I have been a fan of Stones Throw Records since the late 90s.

I enjoy their brand of music. It always seems as if they understand their target audience.

That is until the music industry started to tank.

Then they realized they needed to ante up on the creativity.

This meant releasing new music styles and creating purchase-worthy physical goods.

Stones Throw… made me feel inadequate.

That got me to thinking, “do they really understand their customers?”

Now this was not a problem for me.

The release of long-time acquaintance Mayer Hawthorne was genius.

James Pants – I get it.

Anika – they had me at the single; lost me at the album (sorry folks).

This activity actually was strengthening my Stones Throw advocacy.

What put me off was during the release of the first Mayer Hawthorne album.

Mayer Hawthorne heart-shaped 45
Collectables on top of Collectables

They released the heart-shaped 45, which was supposed to be a limited run.

I bought two copies, thinking it was definitely going to be an instant collector’s item.

They released some subsequent 45s, which I also copped.

Then something weird happened.

They released a second run of the heart-shaped 45s.

That was when I got a little upset.

Then there was additional vinyl coming behind it.

A remix 12″. Another 45. An alligator-skin-embossed double LP.

That is when I am thinking, “Stones Throw, you are killing me here!”

Now my “investments” have been rendered dubious and I cannot afford to be the fan I’d like to be.

Stones Throw, you made me feel inadequate.

That got me to thinking, “do they really understand their customers?”

We have been in an interesting period in the economy. Why release so much material?

It would seem a better business strategy would be to sell out of your goods to heighten demand for upcoming releases.

If people knew that a Mayer Hawthorne 45 is going to double in value within minutes of selling out, you would sell them faster.

In turn, this would give you room to charge more for your products.

That is what Third Man Records does.

Sure, they know that people buy their stuff, only to resell them. That sucks.

Yet it does not stop them from sticking to releasing high quality product that is desired by their target audience.

I get email blasts from Stones Throw that make me want to unsubscribe and end my relationship from them.

Why? Simply, the feeling that they do not understand me – a long-time fan – has not gone away.

I am receiving large notices highlighting a lot of news that I do not want.

I am a fan of certain artists on their label – J Dilla, Mayer Hawthorne, Madlib, Heliocentrics and others.

I really only want to hear about things regarding artists that I have purchased.

I hope you see where I am going with this.

Stones Throw should have this information on me. If they do not, they are leaving money on the table.

Segmenting Their Customer List Will Increase Their Sales Efforts

I truly believe this.

Instead of sending a general onslaught of material to a general list, customize emails to particular fans.

Madlib fans should be a list. Fans of DAM-FUNK should be another.

There are those that only care about instrumental releases. That can be another list.

Segmenting your lists will help you provide relevant content to the people that keep you in business.

Marketing is everywhere. We have learned how to ignore it.

I still read the Stones Throw emails, because I have hope they will get better.

At the same time, I also do not want to miss out on the next big thing.

I just bought the DOOM “Rhymes Like Dimes” 7-inch.

If I did not get the email, then I would have never known.

Thing is, I wish I would be sent a message specifically when new DOOM material is available. That’s it.

I hope someone at Stones Throw reads this. I still rock an ST t-shirt from 2004. I have been thinking about donating it to the Salvation Army. Please do not force my hand. Get with the times and segment your customer lists.

Questions for Music Business CEOs on the Rise
ARe yoU segmenting your contact lists? If so, how many segments do you have?
Do you think I am being too harsh on Stones Throw?
What other ways do you think you can personalize the customer experience when it comes to your music business?



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  • Benny Ben

    Rasco is the first artist that got me into Stones Throw, and everything else followed. I tried to get into the re-issued / unreleased/ rare jazz & funk stuff, but it wasn’t me. It’s a great label, but not everything needs to be repackaged all the time.

    • Wow, Rasco. I haven’t heard anyone mention that dude in ages!

      Thanks for your comment, Benny. I definitely find Stones Throw’s catalogue to have its fair shares of misses, but I know people buy just about everything they release. They just need to do a better job of discerning who those people are, then separate the rest of us by the stuff we do like from them.

  • I’ve always found their releases hit or miss because I’m a moody music lover.  I agree, sort your list into groups based on what they want to hear.  Doom, Dilla, Madlib, Mayer are all favs of mine and sometimes the other artists I just don’t care about.  It should be up to me, the subscriber, to choose who I am interested in.  Mailchimp does a great job at breaking lists up into groups based on interest.

    Great stuff Hubert!

    • Hey Nina! Thanks for your comment.

      Yeah, in the day and age, there is no reason to not take the time to customize your communications for your customers. It is so easy to do now. I am sending emails to my list regarding new content and I send a follow-up email to those that didn’t open it on the first share. I always squeak out a few more clicks and it helps me discern who is really into the content and who isn’t. At some point, I will remove the emails of the people that never open my stuff. It just isn’t worth me paying the fees for subscribers that aren’t responsive.

      Again, thanks for your comment. Come back again soon!

  • Jonathan Cunningham

    Any word back from Stones Throw on this?
    This is the type of pointed criticism they should eat up!
    A lack of response…and this isn’t meant to put either of you on a pedestal, is basically a signifier that they don’t care.

    • I haven’t heard a word. I didn’t really expect to hear from them though; even though, I secretly hoped they’d rise to the occasion.

      This only cements my complacency and makes me “unsubscribe” trigger finger stronger. Oh well…

      Thanks for stopping by, Jon! Always a pleasure.