One of the least understood aspects for modern record companies, and radio executives is social media, a business which unlike radio and records is seeing explosive growth in the second decade of the 21st Century.
Their lack of expertise helped the Tucson, Arizona native and veteran radio executive Jessica Northey become a, “SocialMediologist, taking over Country Music, and Radio one Tweet at a time!”
That’s truly a mouthful, and a year or so ago some label and radio types would have said that anyone describing herself that way must be some kind of a modern, tech-based, snake-oil saleswoman. Some still might. But the results show that Jessica, her companies FullThrottleCountry.com and Finger Candy Media, are having a major impact, and helping new, tech-savvy artists like CJaye LeRose, reach millions of viewers, listeners, and Twitter followers on the Web.
“What I’m finding by making a living working with artists, companies, celebrities – is that the realness and the lifestyle is more than just the music,” Jessica says in a conversation from her office near Tucson, the desert city which is the home of the University of Arizona. “This is a whole new ball game and I love to help people use social media strategically to achieve online and real life goals!”
Northey knows that the old-school media – including radio, whose advertising she sold with great achievement for years – is slow to embrace the potential of new, tech-based media including Twitter and Facebook.
“Radio is a little behind,” she says. “That reminds me of the guys who sold phone books. They used to say, `we’re a phone book company, not an Internet company' but where are they now?”
Jessica began as an on-air reporter for SkyView Traffic/Metro Networks, and sold TV advertising, “There were lots of opportunity for someone who sold ideas not just spots,” she said, “I went far with that, having the creativity of a radio mind. I migrated back over to radio and had such instant success, becoming a top Salesperson right out of the gate.”
In the process, she discovered what radio programmers call NTR – Non Traditional Revenue, an opportunity to create income from something other than on-air or commercial spot advertising. Around 2005, Northey says she “discovered MySpace, and kept wrapping my brain around how radio and social media, but we didn't actually call it that yet, could connect to create Non Traditional Revenue, making money.”
Ironically, at about the same time, another female, this one in Nashville, was taking her first steps into the MySpace world. That female was Taylor Swift, who blew up as a MySpace sensation with millions of enthusiastic followers before she had ever scored her first No. 1 single or album.
When the Great Recession hit the last few years, Northey says she noticed “more people using Social and New Media strategies and after all the years of making other people money, why not start my own business?”
In fact, she started several Web-based businesses, and grew her personal brand and those of her clients every step of the way.
She partnered with Chuck Geiger in FullThrottleCountry.com, which bills itself as “Country Music Radio’s new idea sharing platform.” Geiger says: “Jessica translates the confusing points into an easy to understand platform.”
And people are noticing. With over 100,000 followers on Twitter and a second order influence of over 4 million she is ranked in the top 500 most influential people on Twitter (in the world)-ranking #211 and according to Fast Company Magazines Influencer Project one of the 150 most influential people on Social Media ranking at 109.
With blogs, tweets, and features, Northey and her clients are reaching countless existing and potential new clients, fans, radio stations, and artists each week.
This involves a new set of business models for many in radio, music and touring.
“With social media or any new media, you have to think way past, whats happening right now,” she says. “Are you trying to connect with people, send traffic to your website, iTunes or fan pages? You need to be clear what your goals are. People call me and say, `I need to be in social media.’ I say, why or what are your goals? I can almost hear the 'dear in the headlights look on their face'.”
And unlike mainstream radio, whose playlists change at painfully slow paces, social media allows for lightning-quick changes in tastes.
“We are trailblazing right now,” which coincidentally is the award she was recognized for by SMAZ-Social Media Arizona. “I am passionate about helping other people reach for their dreams! Creativity is my calling and I am blessed to do what I love, and love what I do.”
By Phil Sweetland