A Lesson Learned From Managing a Music Marketing Campaign

The Keys by Ian Sane
it is all in the details

Your band’s album has been mixed and mastered.

All the creative design elements have been finalized and accepted.

You know you need an optimized website built for lead generation.

You plot to use your social channels to drive potential fans to the website either through a free song or a new video.

Obviously, you are not going to get fans without help, so you start by engaging your friends and family.

The reception for your feature media piece is well-received. It starts to get shared a bit.

As the e-mail list grows, you get excited. Things seem to be working.

Then you realize something. This is going to be more difficult than you thought.

No Matter How Much You Plan, Some Things Will Be Out of Your Control

Since late in 2010, I have been in consulting mode with a Detroit hip hop duo (D. Allie and Eddie Logix) by the name of Progress Report. It is not something of a novelty that I consult music acts, but I try my best to be sparing with my time. When I do decide to dedicate significant time, it usually means the act is special.

What made Progress Report special to me was simple. I was shown a investor proposal. In all my years being around musicians, I never knew any artist to have a business plan. This is not to say that artists do not write business plans. I just had not seen one in my young life.

The investor proposal was enough to intrigue me into dedicating a considerable amount of ideas, time and energy into seeing Progress Report have a successful launch of their debut record. The duo has put in even more time and energy, which has kept me motivated. As a young business owner, I made it a point to coach the guys into seeing what they were doing was a part of running a business. They made a product that they want to sell, so they needed to do things in a manner that will present value to the desired consumer. Fortunately, this was never a hard sell.

In preparation for Progress Report’s debut releases, we did the following:

From these bullets, you would think we were textbook winning. I am here to tell you that while we have been doing okay there is still that layer of uncertainty that we all know. Being in the belly of the beast [admittedly for the actual first time], I have learned you rarely can plan something perfectly.

This might sound trite, but truth is truth. The dates I had down in spreadsheets, Post-it notes and moleskins were not scripture. The process I had envisioned became a clouded silhouette. If we were not so determined, this project could have easily been derailed. Luckily, our egos were in check and we were malleable to the situation.

We circumvented every slight setback and powered through each obstacle. We had to change CD replication companies. Our press goals had to be adjusted. The website is still a work-in-progress. The contest did not happen as announced. At the end of the day though, we still had an album that has been mixed and mastered for almost a year. It was time for it to be available to the world, so we made due with what we were able to manage.

Sure, I could say we just needed more time, but we needed to go ahead and do this. Honestly, I guarantee we would still have had snags. It is just the way it is. I needed this experience to see how things really work. It was time to put the books away and go to work. I am all the better for it.

What is your most cherished lesson from running a campaign for a music project? Please share with me in the comments.

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  • http://twitter.com/zzramesses Corey Ellis

    It is touch but fun work my friend

    • http://fryinginvein.com HubertGAM

      Don’t I know it.

  • http://mrtunes.ca/blog Mr. Tunes

    well i’ll try to share a very recent campaign. i do a monthly gig here in toronto, and i had been getting by with normal foot traffic that comes to the bar. even though i always put in a good effort to bring people out, not a lot always do. well last night for some reason, the foot traffic dried up too, so i played to an empty room for four hours.

    painful yes, but after i got over the frustration i thought about my actual reach in terms of attentive fans. if i look at my facebook and email, it’s still pretty low. so today i took a look at the calendar and came up with a more solid strategy for april’s gig. it involves building my lists a little better.

    well, sometimes we need to hit rock bottom in order to get hit over the head with reality. then we can work towards really crushing it.

    p.s. – i mention the calendar because i typically in the past worked with to-do lists. i think a calendar is a better place to start though.

    • http://fryinginvein.com HubertGAM

      Thanks for the share, Mr. Tunes. As always, I’m impressed by your ability to see issues and your desire to get a fix for them. I wish more artists I knew were like you.

      In the coming weeks, I am going to disclose some other alarming lessons that I noted from this campaign and some other projects I am involved. Like the fact that large numbers mean nothing when they don’t shake out into anything actionable. It touches on the pain point you allude to here. Again, thanks for sharing!

      • http://mrtunes.ca/blog Mr. Tunes

        thanks. i think you need to find solutions or else the only other option is to quit.

        looking forward to reading more lessons from this campaign.

  • http://nikkilittle.com Nikki Stephan

    Congrats to you and Progress Report for all your hard work. You may not realize it, but you did something extremely important here. You took note of what didn’t work out as planned, you sorted it out in your head and now you’re prepared to learn from what didn’t work the next time. That’s so critical. You’re a stronger person and professional thanks to this experience. So pat yourself on the back. :)

  • http://fryinginvein.com HubertGAM

    *HIGH FIVE* Ross, thanks for your comment. I’m with you on being too perfect or too confident. At some point, you have to give it a go. That is what is good about deadlines. I tell all the artists I work with to create music up to a certain point, then stop and review what they have made. Focusing so much on “making an album” or “writing a hit single” puts the forest before the trees. There are many things we should consider before we just dive into accomplishing a particular music goal. I mean, how do you know if you can make an album in four months until you try it? What do you do when you don’t feel you have an album in that time?

    At the end of the day, you have to be malleable. Deadlines help immensely, especially if you are actually getting things done. Even if they are not exactly as you want them, progress is made and that is something to appreciate.

    Thanks for your comment, Ross. Best wishes to you and your band. Ping me when you get your project finished! I’d love to get a guest post here, sharing your promotional experience.

    • http://twitter.com/whoisross Ross Phillips

      Certainly, will do! Thanks for the great comments and insights. I’ve been diving into your blog more, and am looking forward to more great things to come. Keep rocking keep DOING.

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