Derek Sivers: Promotion! Creating the music is easy (though still underrated). Distributing the music is so easy it’s moot. So now the delicate art of calling attention to your music means everything. Marketing is distribution.
I just read this interview and the above quote in particular got me my mind racing. Especially about this: If you are running around saying that you want to be “a successful musician” – what does that actually mean? What will you be doing from day to day when you are a successful musician?
When I started out in music I knew what I wanted – big crowds, pretty girls falling at my feet, free beer and weed – and a get-out-of-work-free card that lasted the rest of my life (which at that point I saw lasting until about 1998 if I was lucky).
Well I got the first three for a while before the sum combined effect of these gifts on my little boy mind caused a complete blow-out and I went off the music scene radar. And now, at the youthful age of not quite 35 I am playing a kind of music that I can see myself playing when I am 95 and I am eager to get out there and “be a successful musician again”. Not because of the same reasons though. Not because I need the ego trip – but just because I enjoy making music. Not because I think “I’ll be happy when” but because I am happy now – even when I am not (weird but true) – and this gives me a a kind of freedom and confidence to just do what feels right. And not because I want to get rich but (call me a hippy) because I am abundant.
So I have my new CD – click here and go have a listen and then if you like it you can buy it. It is also available through digital distribution outlets like iTunes and the like. And I have well and truly returned to live performance. Yup, I am slowly but surely getting my thang back on the boil.
But what does this actually mean?
Well I know what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean hedonistic excess for me anymore – I’m over it. And it doesn’t mean ‘not having to work’ because I love my work which is more like play and have no desire to give most aspects of it up.
And it doesn’t mean “Rock Star”. That concept is hackneyed and irrelevant as far as I am concerned although I concede that this may just be because I am, like, totally ancient.
And I don’t want it to mean countless gigs in front bars full of barflies who don’t care about my music. Why would I bother with that strategy? Popular wisdom has it that you do it to build a following – but is it really an efficient way to do that? I seriously doubt it. All those hours spent negotiating with horrible grumpy egotistical promoters just for that? Pah.
Personally I think that what is called for is a new model. This may not be revolutionary for others, wiser than I, but for me it needs to get clear in my head if I am to take my new music and get it heard by a decent amount of folk who will appreciate it.
So here is the model I have in my head – well it’s a model in the making actually and far from complete (and assumes that great music is being made else why would you bother). It draws on Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow” book and the business strategy called “Blue Ocean Strategy” so instead of being a blue ocean it is a purple one to combine the two (very similar) theories.
My Purple Ocean Music Marketing Model
- Use Social Media to promote music:
I know, revolutionary hey? But actually it is.
If you were to successfully use social media to actually sell a largish amount of music then you’d be a God in my eyes because you’d have done it from your lounge room which is actually very flipping revolutionary.
And in my limited but rapidly increasing experience with using SM it is not just a case of jumping up and down screaming “look at me, look at me”. You have to have something to say otherwise you might as well not bother. I suppose there are people who do this already. Be cool to know who and explore their methods.
- Do Purple Gigs:
Seriously you don’t want to be stuck in front of a screen all the time as this will never come close to the sensation if playing live. (I mean it’s just crazy how much screen I do these days and yet ten or twelve years ago I didn’t have so much as a hotmail account and everything to do with music had nothing to do with computers for me then.)
But like I wrote earlier, I don’t want to do the same old rounds of crap gigs all over again. I might take the easy gigs that come my way but I am sure has hell not going to invest bulk time and energy into chasing two bit gigs. But how to approach playing live then?
Well, I have this model in mind of basically just copying what theatre people do which is they book out a theatre and pre-sell the tickets so that on the night they know how many crew are going to be there and all the emphasis in the lead up to the night is on the actual show itself.
None of this madly texting everybody at 6pm to try and convince them to come out to some crusty bar to hear you sing. No way, instead the idea is to book one night in a small theatre, pre-sell the tickets and then make sure it is such an awesome show that word of mouth kicks into gear and the venues start getting larger.
Think about it like this: Hit theatre shows don’t do endless gigs in two-bit dive bars. They rely on good self-promotion and then word of mouth based on the quality of their show.
- Sell Across My Brand
What I mean by this is:
- I, Seamus Anthony, am a brand. My brand is that I am a musician, a writer, and an entrepreneur.
- Giving away music is an excellent promotional strategy but relying solely on music sales is a poor business strategy.
- So I will give away as many mp3s for free as people are willing to take. I will also sell them to those who are happy to buy them and will also sell other forms of music like CDs, USB sticks and live shows.
- But I will also sell across the brand into my other offerings. For example, at Rebel Zen me and my business partner Steve have released an eBook I wrote about how to get high without drugs, call Psychedelic Meditation.
So you might come across my free mp3s, dig them, dig my blogging style here, also get into my writing style over at Rebel Zen and then buy the e book.
Voila. I gave away music and free blog content to sell a book. And that’s just one cross selling example. I have many more. But I’d rather do them than hypothesize about them.
- This is where the Blue Ocean theory will come in because a lot of musicians don’t offer other services and products. Ok it has been done – Henry Rollins’ spoken word for example – but it isn’t wide spread and I am not aware of anybody who has offered the kinds of stuff I am thinking of.
4. Start Pumping Out New Music – and partner up to do it.
Although ‘Dogs May Bark’is a 100% solo effort, and while I will surely do more solo stuff, I am currently preparing to team up with some other dudes to release music under a couple of different names. I don’t see why you wouldn’t. Mixing it up with dudes always makes for different music than I would just make by myself, and if one project takes off, then I suppose we’d just run with it. Meanwhile you could cross-sell the acts amongst each other.
5. Re-Package the Past
One thing I think is a real shame is how some bands burn really bright for a while and then just get forgotten because they are not then re-packaged and re-marketed (yeah, I sound like a corporate tosser I know, can’t help it, I flick from business to artists brain really easily, but really I am just a nuff-nuff in a funny hat).
For example I was in one band called reckoning, and not to blow my own trumpet but well, you know, Bwaarp! So me and Peter from this band are getting back together this summer to record new music and meanwhile we are going to put together a website and a best of compilation (plus make all the mp3’s available for sale too) of the old band because it was a great band and more to the point, when I get into a new band or solo artist, I always want to know what other stuff they have done, so I assume that’s how other music fans also think.
So yeah, don’t let the past just die (but focus on making new music of course). Your history gives you context and depth.
6. Just Study the way things are done and try to do new things. (or if not new then just plain excellent).
If any readers could offer some ways to help invent a truly different music marketing model then I’d love to hear them so leave a comment (so far very un-comment-y visitors to this site, I see the stats but I don’t get much feedback, speak up! I love it!)
Enjoy this post?
Then why not
click here to Subscribe by RSS
Or fill in the form below to receive updates to the blog by email. (I hate spam too so relax.)