Octone Records

Case Solution

Anita Elberse, Elie Ofek
Harvard Business School ()

In February 2007 Octone Records founders James Diener, Ben Berkman and David Kastenbaum had great success with the first two bands they signed, Maroon 5 and Flyleaf. Known for its grassroots marketing campaigns, Octone operated through a unique joint venture model with Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s RCA Music Group that enabled the nimble record label to orchestrate mass marketing campaigns once an artist was ready for the schedule. prime time. However, Octone had had less luck with her third act, Michael Tolcher. Despite significant investments, Tolcher’s first full album had not sold enough copies to cover his expenses and gain marketing support from RCA. Octone executives were faced with a decision: continue to support Tolcher’s first album, raise the stakes by funding a second album, or cut their losses and focus on other artists. At the same time, Octone had to consider a proposal from Universal Music Group to buy Sony BMG shares in the joint venture. It allows an in-depth study of new product development and marketing strategies in the context of the music industry. Provides deep insight into how mass and grassroots marketing approaches can facilitate new product / artist development. Octone’s “hybrid” marketing structure is detailed and supporting financial data is provided. By allowing analysis of how long and how aggressively an artist should be supported before achieving commercial success, it serves as a vehicle for comparing different approaches to the new product development process.

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