INTERVIEW: Steve Palfreyman (Music Launch Summit)

SP ProfileSteve Palfreyman is a lot of things. He’s an artist and a marketer. He’s charismatic and passionate. He is also the mastermind behind the Music Launch Summit. But above all else, Palfreyman is genuine and has an incredible way of connecting with people.

We got the chance to pick his brain and learn more about Music Launch Summit and Music Launch Hub, a Facebook community he created for artists and industry professionals.

We talked about creating a conference that is accessible to artists and industry professionals, using Music Launch Hub to build your own support system, and the importance of establishing a solid plan for your launch. Read all about it, below.

Music Launch Summit is the largest virtual music conference in the world. What motivated you to create such a big thing?

Well, it wasn’t meant to be this big. I wanted to bring the type of inspiration that I’d had from physical conferences to everybody. That’s the main thing. That and the support system that kind of goes along with those conferences. While you’re there you get to see so much and meet people. And the industry is so open, and you realize that everything is much closer together and more connected than it feels like the rest of the time. And I really want people to see and feel that we are actually much closer together all the time, not just at those conferences.

So, yeah, it’s exciting. It spiraled out of control. There was meant to be 20 off guests, and it just kept growing and now we’re nearly at 50. It’s exciting.

You talk a lot about building a support system. So, what do you need to create a solid support system especially now, with the current state of the music industry?

I think, firstly, it starts with you. I think it’s really easy to feel like “I’ll just sit out here and watch.” But everybody that’s taking part, whether it’s a physical community of an online community, they’re the ones that get it moving along the road.

I think first it starts with the person going “I want to reach out and start making something or connecting with people” and that can be just as beneficial, whether someone feels like they might be a leader or not. Or an extrovert or an introvert. It doesn’t matter. That’s the most important thing.

The second thing is, there obviously needs to be people there to connect with. That’s kinda why I started the Facebook group to show that there are actually a lot of people that really care about any artists’ career and any industry professional trying to get their own shot at doing their own career.

Well even in Music Launch Hub, I find myself just reading people’s things, and not really starting conversations. What tips do you have for people jumping into the community? How can they be successful?

That’s such a good question. I’m so glad you asked that. If it feels weird, that’s a good thing. Embrace the weird. Embrace the feeling of “Oh, what do I say?” and just say it anyway. Because these same fears that we have that hold us back from interacting with people are the same fears that keep us from being able to market our music. Those same fears stop us from achieving whatever we want to achieve.

It’s that “Oh that feels strange, I’m gonna resist.” If I was facing that, and I’ve faced that resistance heaps, if I was living with that resistance, in a way, this summit would not exist. The Facebook group would not exist. I had to push past pretty severely. So my big fears, just to make this happen, haven’t even happened yet. I’m still facing some of these resistances, daily, at the moment. You’ve just gotta push. But, I will say as well, once you jump over and you start interacting with people and you get to know some people a little bit more and see that “oh wow, I’m now a part of this conversation.” People want it. So, you’re actually denying them the opportunity to have a good time by hiding back, as well. Just get out there. It’s good for you, and good for other people.

The summit focuses on launching. Why is launching so important?

I find, especially something that I found really interesting, I’ve always been working on launches, even if I didn’t realize it. Even, since I was 16, and it’s one of the hardest things to do. And even during this launch, I’m remembering why I resist launches, like big launches. Small launches are great. Big launches are really hard because there’s so many cogs to piece together. I think it’s a hard thing to pull off when there’s lots of things going on and it’s really hard to keep the ball going. The main reason I wanted to focus on launching music, in the beginning, is I saw so many artists releasing music, but not launching music. That’s an important distinction to make. Because putting out music is not a launch. Having a strategy in place is a launch. And also, anything can be launched. It doesn’t have to be a full album. The difference between a launch and release is just having a plan and knowing how you’re going from A to B. What B is, where C is and how you’re going to A, B, C and basically building up in momentum rather than just throwing stuff out and that falling on deaf ears. That breaks my heart when artists just go, “hey here’s my new track.” Nobody’s gonna listen. It’s awesome, but nobody’s gonna listen.

You are a musician too, aren’t you? How do you think that perspective is helping you create the summit?

I know what questions to ask. I know what my problems are. I know where I get stuck. I understand the artist’s point of view. And I know that a lot of industry resources are quite industry focused. And it’s really easy, as an artist to dive in. And then that resistance comes out. “Oh, that’s not very creative. I just want to play music.”

What I want to show is, well, one: I wanted to ask the questions that don’t get asked in conferences. When you’re sitting there and you’re like “Can somebody please just stop talking about artists that aren’t like me. I just want to know how Joe Bloom does it. I want some real stories.” So I think I’m asking questions that an indie artist wants to know, based on things I want to know, or things I’ve wanted to know. But the other part, too, is trying to show that all the businessy and marketing stuff is very creative, as well. I think a big advantage we have, as artists, is to approach that stuff from our strength, which is our creative side. And if you blend them together, we realize it’s all very simple. The concepts that it takes to launch effectively, just in the marketing side of things, is understanding humans and making interesting stuff for them. That is the fundamental thing that it takes to be a good musician. We’re writing songs for other humans. We can do that with our marketing strategy as well, just by stripping away all the fluffy stuff and looking at, “Well, how are we gonna do this?” and there’s heaps of that stuff at the summit.

I like how a lot of the topics are tailored to musicians, but also marketing or industry people can also relate to them, too.

Totally. I really wanted it to be accessible for artists. I also really wanted to make sure that industry pros would get stuff for it, as well. I think that there’s a lot to be got, from this. I know the people that are  more experienced are probably gonna be like “I don’t need this, or I don’t don’t have the time for that, or I don’t know if I should spend the time on that,” and I will actually push and say, “You do. You need to remember this stuff.” Because there’s times where I say “I know that, but am I applying it in my day-to-day” and the answer a lot of the time was no. So I would say that for the people that think they know this stuff, they should at least watch some of it anyway because they’ll get reminded of things they already know.

And the industry pros that already need that kind of step up, there’s a lot of stuff in there that will help build their career, but also then work on the launches of other bands. They can actually learn a lot for two different things at once, which I think is a really good approach for industry pros.

How are the courses going to be organized?

There’s gonna be about three sessions a day. Any day I reckon’ there will be one or two sessions people should go for. People will be able to go, “Okay, that’s the one for me, today.” Each one will stream for three days, too. So there’s plenty of time to catch the ones that you want to catch. And that’s all in the free pass, over the two weeks that it’s running. There’ll be a highlight day, as well, where some of them will get replayed. There are like heaps of opportunities to get it all for free.

For the people that want the VIP kind of experience, they’re actually about to get some of the videos now. They’ll get videos early, and they’ll have them forever. They’ll also get some extra stuff from bonuses that I’ll organize later, as well. I’m going to add in some things after the summit is finished. But the thing I’m most pumped about is working with the VIPs on their launch strategy for four weeks after the summit, and implementing everything they learn. That’s the bit I’m most excited for.

Yeah, like you said a lot of times it hard to follow through after you learn these things, so that will help, for sure.

100 percent. Everything I’ve done around this is for a reason. I think that’s really important for an artist to think about in their launch, too. They need to know every single piece of what they’re doing and why it’s a thing. It’s the “Why this is a thing” that matters. “Why does somebody want to listen to your music?” is no different from me going “Why are the sessions only free for three days?” Because I know that if someone was consuming something for free and it was just available 24/7 they’re gonna go “Oh that’s cool, I’ll get to that tomorrow.” But I’m here wanting to go “Excuse me folks, tomorrow’s not good enough. Lets go!” If you want this, you’ve gotta fight for it now. Come and watch. But I know, once people invest, they’re gonna consume the content. And I know that because some of the VIPs are already consuming the content and giving me amazing feedback.

But what happens next is they’re gonna go “Hey, Steve,” and I’m preempting the next question, “What do you think about these four ideas? What do I do next?” So, I know what’s happening next. They’re going, “I want to implement this.” And that’s where the people that really want to dive in, I’ll make sure that follow up is there. And it’s totally fine for people to be at both stages, as well. I’ve already told people not to buy a VIP pass. I think it’s important to understand where you’re at and go “Does it make sense for me to go all in on this in the moment or do I need to spend more time on my songs before I start confusing things?” I think it’s important to know what you want out of it, and then make a decision on that. But, if anybody is a bit of a procrastinator like I definitely can be, I’d say do the VIP pass. It’s a million times cheaper than it should be. It’s an opportunity and a half.

Can you tell me about the welcoming session?

On the first day, I’m gonna hand pick. It’s a summit plan for people, so almost as if you walk into the SXSW foyer and you got to talk to the person who booked all the speakers and say “Hey, what should I watch?” That’s basically what we’re gonna do. So it’s gonna be a live stream thing. People can come and comment and say “Hey, I am at this stage and I am stuck on this.” And I’m gonna say, “Great, you should watch this, this, and this. These are the ones that you need, maybe some of these as well.” And basically point out the sessions that are gonna make the most sense. That’s mainly cause I know there’s  a lot in there and consuming everything isn’t practical and I actually think the wrong thing to do. But consuming the right things is important. And I’m probably the only one that knows what people need to see because I’ve been in there through all of it. I want to handpick that stuff and also we might do a bit of a Q&A and live workshop of people’s current launch plans, as well.

You can check out a list of announced speakers and workshops, here. You can secure your free spot here.


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Angie is a Boston-based music photographer, journalist, and marketer. Catch her out and about at local shows and drinking more coffee than she should

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