Fence-sitting has no place in marketing and release plans. When planning a release or campaign around a tour, for example, it is integral to define your marketing strategy and make sure you give it your all. In a music marketplace that is saturated with artists (many that have a larger marketing budget than you), it has become even more difficult to stand out. Marketing endeavors or companies who are constantly saying “we’ll just give it a try for now, with a small budget” without the right care, attention to detail, and most importantly attitude behind it, will come across as half assed in the marketplace. Potential fans can tell when you’re not committed and it seeps into every aspect of a project in peculiar ways.
How to decide if you have the right strategy for your release?
Run through this checklist and see how your release campaign fairs.
– Is it in line with my core message as an artist? Does it represent why I do what I do and strengthen my moral fabric? if it is not in line, throw it out.
– Is there a demand? Do you overhear people asking, “when are you posting new material?” etc.
– Is the timing right? Do you have the manpower to support this release? Do you have the right talents within your team or do you need to outsource to get the job done? If so, can you afford the investment to do it right?
You Can’t Fool Anyone
If you aren’t committed to your marketing strategy and handling it in the best way possible, your fans can tell. You can’t expect to stump them or test them, they will get the mixed message loud and clear. If you pull back, change, or are not sure about your campaign you might as well have not done it in the first place.
We work with artists all the time who say “Well can we do a smaller project just to start,” then say, at the at the end of the project, “Hmm well we didn’t get much of a return on our investment”. This doesn’t really surprise me because they never really tried to give it a proper go, and didn’t commit the amount of time and energy to let something play out properly. People are making big decisions that affect their music careers by making decisions off the back of half-assed campaigns that were doomed from the start.
I will bring you into a real life experience. My company was hired to conduct a national street team campaign for an artist who was touring through Canada. We had materials ready to be sent out to all the tour markets, like-shows lined up to be hit and so forth. Right before we go to print our client asks us if we can cut down on quantities of materials… they want to see if they can only spend X amount instead of XX amount. Ok we say and we adjust the order.
The company liked the ideas we put forth but throughout the project budgets were slashed and constantly getting smaller. When we went to do the final artwork the label asked if they could use their in house team instead of the designer we recomended who would be best for the project to cut costs, again. The copy and language were not adjusted from their previous campaigns, the imagery not updated to fit a fresh audience that we were targeting, and therefore the project was not carried through to its fullest. The tour went on and tickets were selling well in some markets, but slowly in others.
Right after the tour (in the middle of the campaign in my opinion) they started to say “I don’t know… I don’t feel like we’re getting much back from this audience” and started pulling back on the future commitments. Our hands were tied and I calmly explained to them that if they truly want to appeal to a younger audience they must go the distance and give it the time and follow up needed. They agreed that they didn’t have the time and resources to pull it off even though they thought they did, and we said we would circle back when they do. Small elements like this, not going the distance to ensure total brand consistency, and not speaking directly to your audience will decrease the chances of a successful campaign. The time and funding spent on half a campaign was now a waste. This example translates to many artists’ releases as well, when they don’t fully implement their plans and ideas in order to get the full effect of their campaign.
I know it is hard to find funding, and convince managers/bandmates/labels and any other person that has some sort of stake in your project to take these risks, but I strongly encourage finding a creative way to segment, give it your all, and then review with the team. Too many projects and great ideas are not given the attitude they deserve and they die in the process along with your reputation and brand credibility.
Do you have some examples of your own to share?
Thank you for reading!
*Previously posted on MusicThinkTank July 2013
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