Hackernoon logoAMA With Musician Turned Growth Marketer, Gaetano DiNardi by@brianwallace

AMA With Musician Turned Growth Marketer, Gaetano DiNardi

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@brianwallaceBrian Wallace

Founder @ NowSourcing. Contributor @ Hackernoon, Advisor @GoogleSmallBiz, Podcaster, infographics

Q - A lot of times, we'll hear from technologists “software is eating the world.”  You and I probably disagree with this as we know there are so many other creative intelligences to add to the picture.

A -  Software might be eating the world, but at what cost to humanity? Are we becoming lazier? Or are we just mentally drained or more distracted?

Being addicted to apps is no solution to being overwhelmed or depressed. We shouldn’t encourage people to be vain digital hermits. 

Automation could be doing more harm than good, especially in the world of B2B, as it has plagued sales and marketing with disgusting amounts of spam and ineffective email sequences. 

What about the SaaS valuation bubble? Is there too much software? Do too many software solutions copy each other, and do the same things? 

The bottom line: software is like a magnifying glass to the end user. It enhances life for those who use it properly, and destroys lives who abuse it. 

Q - You're an interesting mix of a musician turned digital marketer.  Why do you think that so many other musicians do not embrace marketing?

A - Have you heard the phrase, “follow your passion” before? Personally, I think it’s awful advice. If your passion isn’t financially lucrative, it should probably remain a hobby. You need to become financially independent and find ways to subsidize your passions and creative endeavors with your day hustle. 

How can you follow your passion if you’re broke? That’s the problem with most musicians. They’d prefer not to embrace a digital marketing career, because they’d rather be in the music studio all day creating songs. While this is admirable, it’s not realistic in today’s world. (Unless you want to live in your mom’s basement). 

The primary reason I switched to marketing is because I stumbled upon my passion for SEO while blogging about the music business. The idea of not having to promote my own content was very attractive, and I immediately fell in love with SEO. 

As a self-taught growth marketer with an agency background, I soon figured out that my skills were in very high demand, especially within the tech sector. Fast forward to today, and I’m head of growth marketing at Nextiva, a leader in cloud communications. I’ve applied my SEO skills to help the company rank highly in search engines for competitive terms like virtual phone system

I eventually realized that a career in growth marketing might provide me with a more stable income to support my music projects. I haven’t completely forsaken music; now I use it to balance my life and charge up my creativity. Pouring energy into music improves critical workplace skills. Pursuing a passion overflows into inspiration in your marketing. 

That said, all musicians and music producers are their own marketers. Even if they’re successful enough to hire a marketing team eventually, it’s up to them to sell themselves. The more they can improve their marketing skills, the better chance they have of surviving – especially during uncertain economies. And I say this as someone who has experienced some success in the music industry. I’m a singer / songwriter / producer and have produced records for some of the biggest names in urban music including Shaggy, Fat Joe and Ryan Leslie. But at this point, I’ve earned more success as a growth marketer. Not to mention, it’s been more financially lucrative. 

Q - How do you see the music industry evolving out of necessity due to COVID and digital distribution?

A - The music industry is holding on for dear life, trying to survive as a result of the pandemic. Cities like New York, LA, Nashville, Atlanta and Austin are traditionally known for their live music venues - none of which are able to operate due to surging COVID cases across the US. 

Live shows, concerts and performances represent a huge portion of revenues, which are no longer happening. Therefore, it’s 100% digital, but the margins for songwriters, producers and musicians remain very small. While creators have more time on their hands to create music, distribution and promotion has become more difficult due to all the clutter and congestion. 

Unfortunately, songwriters and producers don’t make a lot of money from streaming. Songwriters should focus on sync deals - e.g. placing their music in movies and commercials, in order to generate meaningful revenue.  

So who's really killing it? The major platforms. Spotify, Apple, YouTube, Amazon and many others who are banking on advertising revenue and paid subscriptions. They’re basically collecting the rake, and leaving table scraps for the little guys. 

Q – Is COVID affecting digital marketing in a negative or positive way and why? 

A - Digital marketing is surging due to lockdowns and a dragging pandemic. Software as a Service (SaaS) companies are thriving like never before. The pandemic created a bull market environment for the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which grew by an astounding 40% in 2020. 

Businesses that were already online are expanding and optimizing while those who lagged behind are scrambling to support employees suddenly working from home – possibly indefinitely. 

Seeking Alpha summarized the top segments driving growth and conveniently compiled many charts including the one below. They indicate that  “Software-as-a-Service generates more revenue than any other cloud segment”.   

As Director of Growth Marketing at Nextiva, I’ve seen firsthand the growth being driven by businesses in  technology. According to Coupa, only High Tech is seeing increased industry spend – up 7.1% -- rather than contractions of 5-10% or greater. 

Businesses have no choice but to do more online and improve their business processes. And that is only going to be a positive factor for companies like Nextiva where we are seeing growth of 30% year-over-year

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