"Gum At The Wall" Marketing Approaches And Why
They Don't Work
Focus marketing has been key in the success of our indie music label
playMountain Music. I am constantly astounded by the sheer
number of artists that take the approach of "throwing lots of gum
at the wall and settling for what happens to stick". This is not only
a waste of time, but a waste of energy and financial resources--all
so precious to the hard working indie artist.
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To be successful in this ever-changing business with
ever-changing challenges, today's indie artist simply MUST be as
passionate about business and marketing as they are about their
music. No amount of money or hired expertise can substitute for
the artist's own passion of getting his/her music heard.
And so, my first word of advice is start with your
passion. Who do you want to reach? What are your sales goals? (come
on, pick a number, any number) Is it your desire to build a huge
radio audience? Is it to have a busy tour schedule? A little of
Here's one example of the "Gum At The Wall" marketing
approaches not working:
I have seen artists whose egos were well-served by
hiring radio promoters so that their indie records would gain airplay
and perhaps even show up on radio charts. This is all fine and good.
But what happens if you are actually successful in such a campaign?
Let's say your CD holds a position in the top five
of your genre for several months? Ok, so some people have heard
your music. But if you have not worked on successfully marketing
your music to distribution outlets and stores, or if you have not
at a minimum set up a web site shopping cart, you have spent good
hard earned money on radio promotion without putting the building
blocks in place and your CD buzz will end as soon as the radio campaign
If this seems oh so obvious to you, then good! I have
seen over a dozen artists make the exact same mistake I just mentioned.
Their records received air play on nationally syndicated radio programs
but were nowhere to be found in stores on or off-line.
in my own business office, we have a multi-pronged approach to marketing.
First, we keep track of purchases made through our web site (www.robinspielberg.com).
Having 12 CDs and 4 songbooks for sale, we know, for example, that
we can send mailings to those who have previously purchased sheet
music about an upcoming book release. This saves us the expense
of mailing to the thousands of buyers who have not purchased sheet
music, but are perhaps interested only in the holiday CDs. By using
a database program like Filemaker Pro, we can organize our mailings
by purchase, state or zip code, and coordinate these mailings with
upcoming concert appearances. Moreover, e-mail newsletters advertising
internet-only specials, go out quarterly.
We still use traditional methods of distribution such
as Borders Books and Music, but now we complement them with the
ease-of-use sites like Amazon.com and BN.com as well as our own
There is no need to be in every store in every state,
or on every web site that sells music. Keeping our invoicing streamlined
is, for us, the way to go. It can actually be HARMFUL to be in too
many stores. Why? Because that means your inventory is "all over
the place", and after six months time, it may very well come back
to you cracked, chipped, broken, stickered... and all at your expense.
Rotating distribution outlets , for us, makes a lot more sense.
Believe me, if your fans are looking for your music, they will find
it. And if stores are getting repeated requests for your music,
the distributors will find YOU.
After experimenting with MP3.com, offering free downloads,
we decided that digital downloading was not for us. Yet. Yes, 3000
people downloaded my bonus track from "Dreaming of Summer", but
that just proved people enjoyed downloading the track for free.
I am not yet sold on the digital download sites as a profitable
business for indies. At the moment, I would rather put energy into
foreign music licensing. It's a big world!
Contests, free concerts, playing for a cause (benefits),
are all ways to grow the indie artist's mailing list, which is the
#1 marketing tool in my book.
Focus marketing is not only the most economical approach
to your music business. It is a way of focusing yourSELF, your music,
and your own goals.
This article was made
possible by a call-for-articles, Focus
Marketing, a company bridging data analysis and marketing
strategy development for the music industry, to independent
artists and labels on their experiences in promoting and
selling their music.
by the MusicDish
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It 2004 - Republished with Permission