How to market music when no one wants to pay for it

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Information about How to market music when no one wants to pay for it

Published on March 15, 2014

Author: kentonnormanlarsen



Great case studies for music marketing - from the horses' mouths.

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 “”  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.

David Byrne

David Byrne

David Byrne

David Byrne

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

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