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Beyond the soundwaves: the importance of musical marketing

Posted by Tom Croft - Head of Marketing at PHMG on

The streaming revolution changed the way we all consume music. It’s now easier than ever before to hear the discography of your favourite artist, but it also poses a new problem for them – one of survival. Over recent years, musicians have challenged themselves to conjure up new and innovative marketing techniques to help themselves stand out, and we’re about to explore some of the most remarkable.

However creative, music remains a commodity, and is obviously traded as such. Yet to stand out, many artists have subverted the traditional model of sale to varying effects. In 2007, Radiohead challenged the capitalist template of the industry at the time by allowing their fans to pay what they wanted for their album, ‘In Rainbows’. It was a risk, but this freedom saw plenty of diehard fans pay more than they usually would in a retail store. Seven years later, we saw behemoths U2 try the opposite approach. When iPhone owners woke up on September the 9th, 2014, they saw the band’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ album appear in their iTunes account, whether they wanted it or not. This led to a backlash even from people who liked the band, proving not all the greatest things in life come for free. Prince recognised this fact when he gave his album ’20-Ten’ away to those who bought the Daily Mirror for just 65p. The success of this endeavour was proof that choosing to pay a small price for an album is a more attractive option than being forced to have one for nothing.

Going against the norm is arguably the most powerful tool in marketing, which is why the artists mentioned above caused such a stir by abandoning the traditional business model. There are many ways to promote an album that bit differently, as Marilyn Manson did when he emailed his fans telling them he knew where they lived. And as we now so expect artists to heavily promote themselves, the lack of traditional marketing can be an equally powerful subversion. The world was stunned when Beyonce’s 2013 self-titled release appeared in the iTunes store 12 days before Christmas with barely a whisper, and this got people talking even more than a full-scale promotional campaign.

Clearly, Beyonce’s bold approach wouldn’t work as powerfully for an artist of a lesser calibre. And sometimes, in our technology-focused world, it can be more effective to go back to the streets. Tom Meighan and Sergio Pizzorno of Kasabian opted to drop their guitars and microphones and pick up paint brushes when it came to promoting their fifth studio album ‘48:13’, covering the outside of an East London storefront with the minimalistic cover. And in 2015, Manchester icons The Stone Roses made their third coming after mysterious lemon posters and billboards appeared throughout the city, sending generations of music lovers all over the world into a frenzy. All it took was the icons scattered about for people to know the band were back – and they announced four huge hometown shows a few days later.

By using an audio branding production, a company proves they’re forward-thinking and focused on professionalism in every channel. And with the triple elements of music, voice and script all illustrating identity, it builds a brand in three powerfully creative ways.


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