Sign Up Now
Sign Up Now

5 min read

MAXtape Live with Jeremy Gruber

MAXtape Live with Jeremy Gruber

Welcome to the next episode of our MAXtape Live podcast!

In this episode of MAXtape Live, Craig Rector and Lindsay Benedetto sit down with Jeremy Gruber, Head of Artist Marketing at Friends At Work. Jeremy's experience, expertise, education, and passion for music and marketing spans nearly every aspect of the industry, which made our conversation with him information-packed! We talk about how the collapse of the music industry in 2005 and the evolution of digital marketing over the last few decades has impacted artists, particularly as it relates to artists owning the relationship with their fans.

The conversation highlights superstars in music history who rose to stardom before the explosion of TikTok (like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, etc.) and whether or not there's a cultural moment for artists today to achieve that level of super stardom.

Highlights from Jeremy Gruber

  • Importance of artists engaging with their audiences at live shows
  • The evolution of digital marketing and the shift from traditional methods to the prominence of online platforms
  • Value of strategies like email marketing and SMS to maintain a direct connection with fans
  • Exciting possibilities for artists to succeed without a traditional record deal, due to the shift in the unpredictability of today's marketing channels like TikTok, social media, and creative campaigns
  • The enduring value of email data and its direct relationship with fans and the ability to avoid limitations imposed by third-party social media platforms

Listen to the full episode below–and let us know if you’d like to be a guest on our show!


episode summary

Jeremy Gruber's Background and Role at Friends at Work

Jeremy Gruber, currently the Head of Artist Marketing and Digital Strategy at Friends at Work, discusses his role, which involves online artist marketing, emphasizing the importance of artists engaging with their audience. He manages a roster of artists, including John Legend, Charlie Puth, Lindsey Stirling, Rafael Siddiq, and Hunter Hayes. Jeremy traces his passion for music back to his early experiences at punk shows and narrates his journey from playing bass to studying music industry at USC.

The Evolution of Digital Marketing in the Music Industry

Jeremy talks about the evolution of digital marketing, highlighting the shift from traditional methods to the prominence of online platforms. He reflects on the transition from "new media" to social media marketing, acknowledging the challenges and opportunities that arose. Jeremy emphasizes the significance of owning the relationship with the audience, focusing on strategies like email marketing and SMS to maintain a direct connection with fans.

The Changing Landscape for Independent Artists

The conversation explores the current landscape for independent artists and the democratization of the music industry. Jeremy notes the exciting possibilities for artists to succeed without a traditional record deal, attributing this shift to the unpredictability of today's marketing channels like TikTok, social media, and creative campaigns. He stresses the level playing field and the diminishing impact of large budgets on an artist's success.

Challenges in Identifying Future Superstars

The discussion turns to the concept of superstar artists in the contemporary music scene. Jeremy and the host ponder whether the era of iconic superstars like Beyoncé will continue, examining recent artists' trajectories. They discuss the influence of platforms like TikTok in propelling artists to fame and question whether the cultural landscape supports the emergence of new superstars. The conversation reflects on the challenges of predicting the next groundbreaking artist in a rapidly evolving industry.

The Swift Pace of Cultural Moments

Jeremy highlights the speed at which culture evolves and shifts, affecting artists' ability to capture and maintain attention. Using Taylor Swift as an example, he explores how an artist like her strategically utilizes various mediums—tours, social media, and film releases—to stay relevant and maintain a constant presence in the public eye. The discussion contemplates the difficulty artists face in keeping up with the rapid pace of cultural moments in the digital age.

Taylor Swift's Fan Engagement Mastery

Jeremy highlights Taylor Swift's exceptional fan engagement skills, especially her ability to cultivate and own relationships with her audience. Jeremy acknowledges the challenges of replicating Swift's success but emphasizes the importance of recognizing the fast-paced nature of the industry, where discussions about an artist like Olivia Rodrigo can quickly fade.

Attention Span Challenges in the Era of TikTok

The conversation shifts to the shrinking attention spans of audiences, influenced by platforms like TikTok and social media saturation. Jeremy, Craig, and Lindsay discuss the struggle for artists to capture attention amidst the constant search for the next big thing. They touch on the balance between investing in traditional efforts like touring and the impact of viral moments driven by algorithms.

The Significance of Viral Moments and Algorithmic Success

Hosts Craig and Lindsay probe Jeremy about the role of viral moments and algorithmic success in an artist's career. Jeremy shares insights from his experience, citing a case with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, where a TV performance triggered a significant increase in popularity. The discussion underscores the importance of both organic growth and strategic marketing efforts in an artist's journey.

The Evolution of Marketing Strategies

Jeremy emphasizes a shift from focusing solely on streams to prioritizing audience growth. He details a recent success story with an artist named Frawley, showcasing the effectiveness of targeted digital advertising, influencer campaigns, and a deliberate focus on marketing for audience growth rather than immediate streams.

The Role of Email Data in Artist Marketing

Jeremy emphasizes the enduring value of email data, citing its direct relationship with fans and the ability to avoid limitations imposed by third-party social media platforms. He shares historical perspectives on the revolutionary idea of exchanging free music for email addresses and stresses the importance of providing value in marketing emails. The discussion highlights how technologies like set.live contribute to gathering valuable data during live events.

Artist Perspective on Email Data

Craig and Lindsay ask Jeremy how artists like John Legend, Charlie Puth, and Lindsey Stirling perceive the value of email data. Jeremy explains that established artists understand its importance, while younger and developing artists might need more persuasion. He stresses the significance of owning email data for long-term relationships and contrasts it with social media numbers that are owned and limited by third-party platforms.

Metrics and Impact of SET.Live on Artist Bottom Lines

Jeremy discusses the early stages of measuring the impact of set.live on artist metrics. While acknowledging challenges in attributing specific results to set.live, he notes the effectiveness of email as a driver for e-commerce and highlights the need for continuous improvements in geo-targeting and localized marketing. The conversation touches on potential integrations with platforms like YoTixi to enhance fan notifications about upcoming events.

The Artist's Desire: To Be Listened To and Data Access

The segment concludes with Jeremy stating that an artist's primary desire is for people to want to listen to their music. He reiterates the importance of gaining access to fan data, specifically email addresses, and the ability to reach fans reliably—an essential aspect for both artists and marketers in the music industry.

Frustrations with Platform Engagement

Jeremy expresses frustration with platforms like Spotify and YouTube: the follower on Spotify or the subscriber on YouTube is not easily reachable. He points out the hurdles such as ringing the bell for notifications. The desire is for a reliable way to send messages to fans. Jeremy voices dissatisfaction with Spotify and YouTube, citing difficulty in reaching followers and subscribers. The need for a straightforward and cost-effective means of communication with fans is emphasized.

Direct Reach and Affordability

Craig and Lindsay reiterate the value of direct reach without excessive barriers or costs. The discussion revolves around the importance of making the connection with fans more direct and affordable. Craig concurs with Jeremy, underlining the significance of direct and affordable fan outreach. The conversation delves into the idea that simplifying and reducing the cost of this connection is invaluable for artists.

Memorable Concert Experiences

As the conversation turns to memorable concert experiences, Jeremy shares details of his first concert – Cam FDM and Pig on the cymbals tour at the Birch Hill nightclub. He also reminisces about seeing Nine Inch Nails in 2008 and Damien Rice in a unique solo performance in a church in Los Angeles. Jeremy recounts memorable concert experiences, including his first concert and exceptional performances by Nine Inch Nails and Damien Rice in unconventional settings, reflecting the diversity of his musical tastes.

Preferences for Sphere Performances

Lindsay asks Jeremy for his thoughts about artists performing at the Sphere, a venue known for its grandiose settings. Jeremy deliberates on the challenge, expressing that the Sphere de-emphasizes the artist, making it about the spectacle. He mentions Sigur Rós as an artist he would like to see in such a grand setting.


About Jeremy Gruber

3Jeremy is a music marketing and technology executive. He is currently the Head of Artist Marketing at Friends at Work where he works with clients including John Legend, Charlie Puth, Lindsey Stirling, Hunter Hayes and many others. In addition, he was a partner in the music marketing technology platform found.ee, which sold to downtown music services in 2021, and he's an adjunct professor at the USC Thornton School of Music where he teaches music marketing.

MAXtape Live with Luke Pierce

MAXtape Live with Luke Pierce

Welcome to the next episode of our MAXtape Live podcast!

Read More
MAXtape Live with Chris Fox

MAXtape Live with Chris Fox

Welcome to the next episode of our MAXtape Live podcast!

Read More
MAXtape Live with Kaitlyn Moore

MAXtape Live with Kaitlyn Moore

Welcome to the next episode of our MAXtape Live podcast!

Read More