How Do You Market An Album … Every Way You Can

Record Player

The music biz is a very competitive industry.

For every great success story we hear about, there are plenty of failed attempts. But, that’s the same in every industry, and as with any venture you can jump into, it’s not about what you produce, but how well you sell it.

A question I got a couple weeks ago was “So do you have any good ideas for marketing an album”? I always shudder when I get a question on how to sell because the answer is not what most people want to hear. In fact, even the most experienced business people sometimes don’t ”get it”.

The Brass Ring Of Selling

The answer that everyone wants to hear is an amazing viral marketing idea that puts a product or service on the global stage quickly and effortlessly. Great success and great riches follow.

It happens. These are the stories we all hear about because they’re so amazing. They’re also few and far between. And truthfully, there’s usually a long backstory of hard work behind these success stories that we don’t hear about.

It’s reaching for the brass ring. And for the most part, it’s not so much of a business model as it is a product of circumstance. Right place, right thing, right time. And all the right people.

There’s a better way to ensure success. A much better way that’s practiced by very successful businesses everywhere everyday.

Knocking On Doors

The idea of getting out and knocking on doors to sell is not entirely metaphorical. But mostly it is. Mostly it means getting out there and taking what you have and putting it in front of as many people as you can.

One person at a time. And then as you create some success and grow … 10 people at a time. Then 20. You get the idea.

Build The Up And Down The Street Business First

A very good salesman that I know told me how Naya (a water company that was purchased by Danone) built their business up from nothing to selling 12 million cases a year in a few short years.

When they first started out, the big retailers would have nothing to do with them. So they went after all the little ma and pa corner stores. Basically, they went after what’s called the up-and-down-the-street business first. The more little customers they got, the more the big ones started to see them around and take interest.

It’s not sexy. It’s not a brass ring idea. But while many other companies are sitting around trying to come up with the perfect idea to rocket themselves to riches, this works every time. And it starts working the minute you start working it.

Some EPic Ideas For Music

So back to marketing music. The brass ring scenario is where a big label picks it up and throws a ton of money at it and it becomes a huge success. This could happen.

But by forgetting about whether it happens or not, and focusing on the up-and-down-the-street business, you can increase the odds of making that happen. Drastically. And since different things work better for different people, it’s good to work a lot of different avenues. So here’s a list of ways and places to market an album:

  • Perform at music festivals
  • Perform at coffee shops and pubs
  • Put it on iTunes and other internet download sites
  • Make a YouTube video
  • Put a couple songs on a MySpace page
  • Connect with radio stations
  • Canvas satellite radio stations (there’s hundreds of them)
  • Participate in song writing contests
  • Hand discs out to friends
  • Send it out to a bunch of record labels
  • Get it into the hands of music directors for television and film
  • Perform on one of those little cable shows that feature independent artists
  • Talk to the purchasing departments of major record shops
  • Sell them on consignment to little indie record stores
  • Stage an impromptu rooftop public performance
  • Get a friend to write about you on their blog!

There are probably many more avenues, but this is a good starting list. Some of them are easy and some are harder. But none should be discounted as each of them lead to more exposure and that up and down the street exposure is how you get the big fish to notice you.

Every business should practice marketing “every way they can”. Getting out there and knocking on doors works. You’re taking it to your customers instead of waiting for them to find you. There are always plenty of ideas that are too big.

There are none that are too small.

8 thoughts on “How Do You Market An Album … Every Way You Can”

  1. Great article…refreshing to hear someone speak frankly about the hard work required to market a concept/product. I agree, increasing the odds by getting out there will eventully pay off.

  2. Excellent stuff Shane! All the points you wrote in your post are proven and tested ways to promote a band or artist, I especially agree on the “Stage an impromptu rooftop public performance”, we plan on doing exactly that kinda stuff.

    One thing about the music industry, since I’m in the middle of it right now. You know the, “play as much as you can till you get signed on a major label”, doesn’t really work that way anymore (reason why we have our own label and studio), Most major companies like Warner and Universal and all those are not looking for to sign bands anymore, they are simply holding catalogs, which is cool, but that means the record sales are not as important today as it was 10 years ago. We plan on maybe giving away our music (anyway limewire makes it easy for people to download for free), we will be selling t-shirts, belt buckles, limited edition CDs available at shows only, guitar picks, strings with the band’s logo on ’em, heck even underwear, we even thought about having our own drink!

    Anyway, a couple years back when you were getting signed on a label, even if it wasn’t a major label, a good deal was that the band would get between 3% and 12% of record sales profits, and split that within the band, and the label would provide tour support, the marketing machine and all that stuff. Now most bands makes money from playing live (which is ayway what I love the most), and next is licensing. If you can manage to get one of your song in a video game or in a movie or a TV show or something, that’s where the big bucks are.

    I really like the “street team” idea. One of the reasons why we will probably give our music away, and make the big of our money from selling other stuff, like t-shirts (free promotion from the fans anyway)

    well, not sure if I went maybe a little too off-topic here hehe 🙂

  3. Hey Becky,

    Hard work and increasing the odds always every way you can always works. It’s just hard work! 🙂


    Thanks for your input from a guy who’s doing it!

    I think a lot of music professionals are frustrated by the fact that songs are downloaded enmasse these days. And for free. It’s a trend that’s sideswiped the industry.

    But every industry changes and you have to find “the new way of doing things”, and it sounds like you’re all over it. That’s good business thinking. Forge ahead!

    And when you do you’re impromptu rooftop concert … don’t forget to barricade the door and call the media and the cops HAHA 🙂

  4. I definitely agree that starting off small is a great way to achieve success. This will also prevent de motivation from setting in if you are constantly aiming high and not getting results.

    Start small, and work your way up – have challenging goals but ensure you have a realistic route to achieving them.

    – Martin Reed

  5. I agree start off small, networking, word of mouth I still think is the best way to get the word out there…

    Another idea is I’ve hosted House concerts before for my musician and author friends…All I did was offer my home to host the concert, invited friends, had a few snackies and bevies , charged $10.00 to go to the artist…and voila you have an evening of fun and great music in an intimate setting. Oh ya don’t forget to warn your neighbors or better yet invite them..

  6. I think this is very interesting…aside from the downloads I think in this day and age foot work has to be done. I will test out the waters with some small outlets…I have to think of my friends that have business…shops….the whole shabbang……even restaurants. Because outlets like starbucks usually play music and have the cd’s on for sale!

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