Published on March 15, 2014
How to promote your band ( W H E N N O O N E P A Y S F O R M U S I C A N Y M O R E )
Coldplay Album can’t be longer than 42 minutes or nine tracks. Fewer tracks, more quality. Imagery must be colorful and different. Videos and photos must be great and original. Keep the mystery. Don’t do too many interviews. Send out promo copies on vinyl – sounds better and prevents copying. Align with charities – be enabling and constructive.
Weakerthans Use people you know in your videos. “The record” is your public relations – craft is more important than glamor, hype, or money. Use an independent promoter – get to know people at the record label personally. Be “the most-interesting thing” – valid, meaningful experiences. Send your music to reviewers you trust. Send an advance single to iTunes. Don’t promote on TV; drive people to website – but license your music (Less Than Kind, for example). Write niche songs (about curling, for instance).
Jane Siberry / Radiohead Pay what you want – “The Honesty Box.” Show “the average price” to give people an indication of how much is the right amount. Siberry’s average track makes $1.30 – more than her fans would pay on iTunes.
Passenger Make, market, sell CDs yourself. Get your advance from the record label, then pay it back.
Marillion When you have a die-hard following, get your fans to bankroll your tour. Call your album “marillion.com.” Database marketing: 30,000 names collected at gigs (“That’s all there is to it”). Sell your gigs online. Hold three-day mini-festivals at “holiday camps.” Forget the record company.
Ben Griffith Put your website link in print ads. Linked with Ford Focus – gets a free car to drive to his sponsored gigs, and he appears in the car ads (brokered deal through Ogilvy ad agency). Quadrupled his email list after the ad ran – “Further down the road to stardom.”
The Crimea Give away your CD online and let word of mouth do the rest. Your first tour is your “seeding tour” – crowds build on subsequent tours. Money: 40,000 downloads a year, playing to 350 people a night = $3,000 a night in tickets and merchandise.
The White Stripes
Bernard Lachance Sell CDs on streets and in shopping malls. Rent your own venues, sell your own tickets. Mailed a cassette to every person in Montmagny, Quebec inviting everyone to his concert – he sold 600 seats. “Be a huckster.” Appeared on Oprah’s show after selling out the Chicago Theatre.
Santigold License your music to ads, video games, soundtracks, and movie trailers. Appear in ads (“Get over it”). Sell the concert, T-shirt, ads on your website, and your brand. Honda
Jonathan Coulton Write and record one song a week, and post it to your blog. Sell songs on your own website – eliminate the iTunes middleman. 41 per cent of income: downloads from his website. 29 per cent of income: CD sales. 18 per cent: ticket sales to live shows. 11 per cent: T-shirts sold online. Increased web hits from 1,000 a week to 50,000 in one year. Five songs became breakout “hits.” Build a solid living knowing that you’ll never be “crazy rich.”
The Hold Steady Balance mystery with intimacy online. Have an official band discussion board. Discuss technical aspects of playing – equipment, etc. Respond to fans. Avoid questions about your family and deflect come-ons; don’t post when you’re drunk. Remember that everything you say backstage can show up on social media the next day.
Q Magazine Conclusions: In one month, band has a 500-fan database and several offers to play live. Better than self-promotion in “the old days.” Music has to be good, or “it all counts for nothing.” No interest from labels – but one offer to play live from Alan McGee (Creation Records). “You’re now Malcolm McLaren, but on a smaller scale.” Day 28: 557 friends. Invented fake band (“Hope Against Hope”) and promoted it on social media and other bands’ message boards.
YouTube/CD Baby Give your YouTube channel a good name. Choose a great background and photo (panoramic, landscape, large). Set the default tab display. Fill out descriptions and tags. Alert followers when you update. Promote with YouTube playlists, annotations, great titles. Earn money with partner program, licensing program, video contest.
YouTube/CD Baby Videos: Story Live footage Ambient location Interviews and mini-docs Video Press Kit Behind the scenes Fan covers Animation tools Archival footage
How to market music when no one wants to pay for it. of 21. How to market music when no one wants to pay for it. Kenton Larsen.
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