Marketing That Works

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Marketing That Works

Post by shane » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:03 pm


As promised, here's the first installment of Marketing That Works – I am still editing details on some great campaigns submitted, but I'll start the series with two suggestions – one basic, the other a little more advanced. The first one is pretty simple, very 101, but needs to be put down as a rule. Not as an absolute rule, but flexible:


If you're a brand new band – give it all away, no questions asked. Start with four songs on MySpace, YouTube (even if it's just posting music over a static image and lots of relevant tags), ReverbNation, your blog, wherever you can get a foot in the door, wherever you can view stats & capture info. Register it with Tunecore so you can get it sold on Amazon & iTunes. But DO NOT spend the money producing a CD until you start getting feedback, until you start getting an audience. Burn some discs to sell at shows, but don't go throwing down $2500 to master & press 500 units until anticipated demand justifies the expenditure.

Cover other people's songs, post ‘em on YouTube & MySpace to build an audience. Trickle out additional new songs online, find friends to make cheap videos (or seek out local / student directors on Vimeo), until you have an album's worth of material. Play locally constantly, tour regionally as you can afford to, keep girlfriend, because she is gonna be the one paying the rent and reaching out to blogs of interest while you make pizzas by day and practice by night. Pray that iTunes picks your song as Free Download of the Week.

If you've established a following, released a record, sold a few copies, prepare album #2 – leak a track for the fans. Post it to your site, post it to MySpace, pass it along to the blogs that supported you on the last go round. But do NOT give up the single as the released track. The giveaway track is the track you show fans that you're still down with the sound, that you thank them for their support. Sacrifice fly. If you think you can get something in return for that track, then ask for a retweet (using CultureJam) or an email address (using TopSpin).

Now the SINGLE is the one you sell, the one you take to radio, the one you pitch to music supervisors and ad agencies. If you've established a following and have a LOT of demand, then you release the single *maybe* only with the pre-sale of the full-length. And also offer the album with ticket purchase package. And if you're big enough, create a special package for fans to get with purchase of the album, like the track-for-track commentary Rihanna did with iTunes. Oh yeah, and add a premium limited edition package for the super fan (print run: 50 - 20,000 -- your call).

Support with video footage for Amazon, full-length stream on MySpace the week before release, Spinner the week of release. Work with Yahoo / CBS Radio, Clear Channel, NPR, ShockHound, Think Indie, Stereogum, Pitchfork, and the usual suspects to make sure that each channel gets unique content.

But you knew all that stuff already right? Good.

Now here's one you may not have thought about much, because it requires some of that outside the box thinking – go where you are not. Dig deeper into smaller, more passionate audiences. Look at every site, every channel, and think about what you can do to appeal to that audience's tastes, in THEIR language. Case in point -- Jason Feinberg of On Target Media Group used a site that I LOVE called Reddit to promote Steve Vai's new live DVD. Headlines on Reddit appear as trending topics, whose order is based on the popularity as voted by its members.

A recent trend on Reddit's community has been IAMA, in which users say what they are / what they do, and you can ask them ANYTHING. (I am a police informant, body piercer, I lost 30 pounds in 3 weeks, etc.). With Steve Vai's permission, On Target posted something along the lines of "IAMA Grammy Award winning career musician with 3 decades of experience. Ask me anything." Immediately the questions (and identity guesses) began, with some people getting close and others calling BS on the entire post. Jason funneled the best questions to Steve, he supplied the answers, Jason posted and monitored, repeating the process a few times.

Someone finally guessed it was Steve, and arguments broke out if it was him or not. Just as the entire thing was about to collapse (people began voting it down thinking they had been had), Steve took a picture of himself in the mirror holding up a note saying "Hey Reddit You Won." Then the real madness began -- people started commenting like crazy, voting up the post til it was #1 on both the section and the entire site! This also spawned a number of other posts which also quickly gained popularity, garnering over 1000 comments and a massive presence on the site for a few days.

The label and official sites saw a surge of traffic, Google search numbers went way up, email addresses were captured and DVDs were sold. Eventually, Reddit pulled the thread and now disallows such stunts, but this is a great example of tailoring content to fit the community and engaging a niche to fire up awareness. You can't always get the front page of AOL / Yahoo / MSN / iTunes / Pitchfork, so always have an arsenal of ideas in your back packet to get the word out.

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