As you know, here at Cyber PR we love to put the spotlight on dear friends and awesome women in the music industry. Entrepreneur, musician, and founder of Women of Substance, Bree Noble, has long been both of those things to us. Since starting Women of Substance in 2007, Bree has been championing female independent artists across the genres. Everyday she brings attention to talent that deserves to be heard in a supportive non-judgmental space. We thought we’d turn the tables a bit and put the spotlight on Bree and her popular online radio station and podcast, Women of Substance.
1. Do you think that it’s different for female artists than it is for men?
I think it shouldn’t be, and I think it’s getting better, but I still think it’s different. I think it can become an issue if you are trying to get signed. Labels and managers tend to have their own “ideas” of what kind of female artists will sell. At that point, money is the big motivator and they may try to “mold” a woman into the image that they think the marketplace wants, which usually involves skimpy clothes, certain hairstyles, makeup, etc. They also may want to “sex” up the lyrical content of the songs.
I don’t see this happen as much with male artists. The important takeaway in my opinion is to have a strong sense of self and values before you go “on the market” as an artist and stick to your guns.
2. What inspired you to start your business? Did you do it with profit in mind or with Passion?
It started with passion, and it’s still about passion, but profit has slowly made it’s way onto the scene. I started Women of Substance Radio as a passion project in 2007. I wanted something to keep my head and heart in the music game while I had small children and was not working a full-time job. At first, it was all about compiling a great playlist of the music that I loved and that I couldn’t find on the radio. This was music from Indie artists like myself, but better! This was music I wish I had written. I came up with the name for the station to describe the music I had compiled – the common thread being “substance” – significant quality with the implication of a hidden or special significance. I began promoting the station and attracted submissions from artists. I ran it as a hobby for about 3 years – just breaking even each month with the costs of hosting and royalties, website, email newsletter, etc. We became a “commercial” station on Live365 in 2012. At that point we started selling advertising. It took a while to catch on, but we began finding sponsors which helped us turn a small profit for the next few years (keep in mind at this point I was still donating my time and juggling with taking care of young kids). In 2014 we moved to a more robust platform which had more opportunities for advertising and created branded mobile apps. This move allowed us to grow our sponsors and affiliate relationships. Just before Thanksgiving 2014 I launched the Women of Substance Music Podcast. Within a week it was #1 on iTunes New & Noteworthy in all of its 3 categories. The new podcast brings in even more sponsorship revenue and promotes our brand on new platforms like iTunes, Soundcloud, TuneIn and I Heart Radio.
Because I have been working with tens of thousands of female artists over the past 7 years, I have the vantage point to see the common denominators that make Indie artists successful. The natural next step in my career was to take all that I know and am constantly learning and provide guidance to female artists. I LOVE working with women in music and it is my true passion to do what I can to help them grow their business, increase and connect with their fan base which will allow them to make a living at music. This is why I created my newest Podcast “Female Entrepreneur Musician” – to educate and inspire female musicians through the stories of artists like themselves who are making a sustainable income in music. I also bring on Industry Pros with valuable advice to share.
Finally in 2015, my knowledge and experience in Finance, Marketing and the Music Business has allowed me to make a living doing what I love as well.
3. How did you get your high ranking on iTunes?
The biggest factor I believe is having a weekday 5-day-per-week show. We put out a LOT of great content foe people to consume and enjoy. I had also build a large email list and a Facebook following of over 10,000. When I asked for help in getting listens, subscribers and reviews on iTunes, they responded. Those are the major factors that affect your iTunes ranking.
4. 2014 & 2015 seem to be the year of the WOMAN – more women than ever before are appearing in bold roles on TV – do you see this translating over to the Music Industry / artist community?
What I have seen is a lot more REALLY high quality female artists emerging. These are bold women who know who they are, have a unique presence and are ready to take the industry by storm. I am not sure this is translating into more “signings” for women, but if you are making quality music, great videos, developing a loyal following using your own assembled team of professionals working with you, I don’t think you need to get signed in 2015. In fact, it might be detrimental to your bottom line.
I see more young women, especially teens, putting themselves out there with amazing songwriting talent and a well-developed image and “brand”. I think young women have been emboldened by watching the “power” women that have been emerging in the media. Even on “The Voice”, the women are dominating!
5. How do you think social media has impacted the success of Women of Substance?
Social media has been an amazing tool. I grew the WOS Facebook following from 0 in 2009 to over 10,000 now in 2015. It has given me another way to communicate with our artists outside of email to provide them valuable tips and articles. Facebook has also attracted listeners to the station and podcast because I post videos from our artists, our Top 20, and show announcements. I am able to leverage the fans of all our artists by tagging them whenever we feature their song. The artists are very good about sharing with their fans because it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. I use Twitter on a daily basis with @artist tagged and hashtag-specific tweets. I also share a direct link to all of our shows on Facebook so people can listen right inside Facebook. We have been gaining a following on Soundcloud as well which is a form of Social platform. Since so many musicians hang out on Soundcloud, it’s a great secondary strategy for us besides iTunes.
6. Any marketing predications or great trends you see bubbling to the surface for 2015?
Mobile will be huge. Mobile devices already have a much bigger share than desktop for Podcast listens, and it’s going up every month. Mobile marketing is the next logical step – getting people to opt-in to your newsletter through text message (it’s already happening, especially in the podcasting world, but musicians will want to jump on the bandwagon). Musicians will need to learn to market on Instagram if they aren’t already, especially because of the gaining share of mobile. Learning how to use the power of photos and short videos with a hashtag strategy will be vital for future marketing efforts of Indie artists.
About Bree Noble:
Bree Noble is an entrepreneur, musician and speaker. She founded Women of Substance Radio and Podcast to promote quality female artists in all genres. The Podcast, a 5 day per week show which promotes Independent female artists, hit #1 in New & Noteworthy for the Music, Arts and Society & Culture categories and #4 Audio Podcast on all of iTunes. She draws on her extensive experience running her own music business, both as a solo musician and as an Industry professional, to train and mentor other female musicians through her “Female Musician Academy”. On her newest Podcast, Female Entrepreneur Musician (also #1 in New & Noteworthy), she conducts interviews with successful Indie female artists and industry pros that are both inspirational and informational.