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Music and marketing

January 31, 2014

Not surprisingly, there is a direct relationship between the degree of marketing knowledge a musician has (or has access to) and their ability to attract wealth. These concepts go hand in hand. Are you familiar with the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing?

Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote this book in 1994 and it still holds up today as a standard for the key principles of marketing (for any business). The first two laws are:

1) Being first in a market is more important than having a better product than your competitors in that market (the law of leadership).

2). It’s better to create product in a new category than try to fight for market share in an existing category (the law of category).

Some examples…
When you ask someone for a Kleenex, you are actually asking them for a nasal tissue. When you ask for a Post It Note, you are asking for a small adhesive piece of paper. A Wet Wipe? That’s a moist towelette. The brand name unconsciously takes over (replaces) the category.

Why? The brand was the first to produce a good in this market, or possibly even created the market from scratch. And being first in the marketplace gives you the advantage of owning the lion’s share of that marketplace. Any newcomers will need to play a serious game of catch up.

So what does this law tell you about your music endeavors? If you can create a new music- related category, you can own it. Here are some examples of “music-related” categories:

*create a new genre
It’s certainly been done before; create a new sound. The secret to this is deceptively simple – know thyself. Be authentic. Be what you were meant to be. Write music that comes naturally to you and you stand a very good chance of it being unique.

*mash-up two or more genres that have never been combined before
If you’re having a hard time discovering what your music was meant to be, think about your influences and put a few of them together. There’s no shame in modeling someone else. After all, most musicians are just amalgams of their influences.

Can you create a new music category?  If so, you can own that category...

Can you create a new music category? If so, you can own that category…

*add instrumentation that has never been done before (or perhaps in a very long time)
An easy way to create a new sound is with new instruments, or old instruments played in new ways, or other tools that you turn into instruments. Hook up with some new musicians from different worlds and this will be easy to accomplish.

*add a theme, gimmick or motif
All of these components are really just different ways of expressing your brand, what you stand for, or your mission. Here are a couple local examples…

This strong female fronted punk/metal band celebrates zombie-hood mashed up with anarchy, dictatorship, brass knuckles and chains. Who is it?

This rock nouveau trio is all about Venezuelan trance music tied up with classical training, and effects-laden violin plus miscellaneous string experiments. Who is it?

This Colorado Springs pop/rock/indie/hip hop band is a “sum of a bunch of parts.” Five musicians with nothing in common on the surface, come together to express an appreciation for diversity and individuality and a unifying force. Who is it?

*find a new way to tour
In general, the touring mindset can burn a good band out. You have to ask yourself if it’s really a good return on investments these days. But you should also think about alternatives. House tours, library tours, the Farmer’s Markets – these have all become viable new channels for artists. Think hard: where are your fans most likely located? How can you best get in front of them?

*incorporate new levels of entertainment
We’ve seen singers hanging from bungie cords. Rollerblades on the stage. What else can you do with a movie screen? Animals? Paint splatter art connected to your rumbling bass amp? Imagination is the primary ingredient you need here.

*find a new marketing niche
There are many niches out there for musicians. Perhaps you are working in the “gamer” niche, or music in movie trailers. Maybe you market to Christians, Muslims, or atheists. Would nerds like your music? Explore who you resonate with and get the marketing wheels in motion. Remember that there are lots of nooks and crannies (sub-niches) in the marketplace.

So right there, seven great places to focus on improving your band’s marketing efforts. The mind can only hold 7 (plus or minus 2) concepts at any one time, so zero in, make a concentrated effort, and transform your band…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2014 5:46 pm

    Good post. One of the most common marketing pitfalls is also to appeal to everyone, which ends up being that you please no one. Working your niche is scary, because at first it feels like you’re shrinking your market, but that’s really the only way to create a scene and make a splash. It then becomes infectious.

    • January 31, 2014 7:35 pm

      I thoroughly agree, Andrea! There’s plenty of time to ripple out, but it all starts with a focused splash…

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