PREFACE: this post is targeted primarily at musicians/bands/producers/etc.
We all know that the music business is in flux. Record labels are dying, physical CD sales have plummeted, nothing that used to work works any more, and we as independent artists have to keep adapting to have any chance to find some level of success. Yet, there are still tremendous opportunities at our fingertips.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how much potential there is for us helping each other gain more exposure, traffic, hits and eventually, fans. Does this sound attractive to you? If so, read on. Now, these ideasI’m writing about aren’t exactly original or new – in fact I have read about them on the web. So the concepts already exist – but they usually fall flat in practice.
We as independent artists need to start working together. (And yes, it is work. None of it is particularly hard, but it all takes time and consistent effort). These ideas WILL work, as long as we as artists figure out a way to Connect, Collaborate, and be Consistent. (Let’s call them the 3 C’s). I will walk you through the rough idea below:
1. First off, let me specify that I will only cross-promote artists that I actually like or are of extremely high quality, and I would ask that you feel the same about our music. This is about raising awareness of quality independent music, not tricking people into buying mediocre or bad music. Besides, its actually quite difficult to write a good review of something you consider bad.
2. Second, this idea focuses on the iTunes music store and Amazon.com. Why? They are the top online music retailers IN THE WORLD.
3. That said, you must have a CD on Amazon.com or a digital album on iTunes – preferably both. (Getting your music on these two sites is another topic; it’s really not that difficult.)
4. For the purposes of collaborating with us (Mr. Meeble), your music should be *somewhat* related to the music we create – for simplicity’s sake, let just say anything electronic and/or experimental.
5. The first step is getting some positive ratings and reviews for both of our albums. I can post three 5-star reviews of your album on both iTunes and Amazon. You simply need to be able to do the same for our album, in return. All you need to do is have 3 accounts setup on Amazon.com and 3 on the iTunes store. Easy. If 3 sounds like a lot, let’s just trade 1. If you want to trade 5 reviews, even better. Here’s another idea: If we both like each other’s music, we can insert a brief mention of the other project in the reviews! Not a good writer? No worries. These reviews can be 50-100 words long, i.e. just a few sentences. If you *really* can’t write, perhaps one of your friends or fans can write a few small reviews for you.
6. Now, with Amazon.com, there are a few other things to take into consideration. One, is establishing credibility in the system. The more ‘helpful’ reviews you post, the more weight your reviews will carry. One way that we can help each other is to mark all of each other’s reviews as ‘helpful’. The other factor is establishing a history of music preferences. For each account on Amazon you should go to lots of similar artists and mark that you own the album and rate it with 5 stars. Thirdly, make sure to use plenty of appropriate tags along with your reviews: genres, descriptive words and phrases and similar artists (there is a separate field for tags). Lastly, you should use the “insert product links” feature in your reviews. If you mention Massive Attack, for example, you can make that be a link to a Massive Attack album in the Amazon store.
7. The next step is to create iTunes iMixes and Amazon ListMania lists. What are they, you ask? An iMix is a play list or collection of songs found on the iTunes music store. Any iTunes user can create them, and any iTunes user can vote on them. The more votes they get, the easier they are to find on the iTunes store. The secret is to create an iMix that has some well-known artists included and then slip in one or two of your tracks. Amazon ListMania lists are similar, except they usually are collections of complete albums, versus songs in an iMix. The same effect is achieved – more exposure for our music!
8. Now, if you have an iMix and a ListMania list published, I can give you 3 positive votes for each. You would then give me 3 positive votes for each in exchange. (As of this writing, we haven’t published our lists yet – but as soon as we do, I will update this and post the links.)
9. I am also open to the idea of creating hybrid iMixes and ListMania lists – i.e. iMixes with a track of ours AND a track of yours in it. I have no problem adding your album to one of our ListMania lists as well.
10. Now, you should ask all of your friends and fans to help with the process. Many of them would be willing to write a short positive review of your music on both sites. And voting on an iMix or ListMania list is easy.
11. Consistency comes into play here. Obviously, making one or two trades won’t help much. With perseverance and consistency, though, you will see real results.
Remember, this is just my first draft of this promotion strategy. I will be refining this thread over the coming days/weeks – hopefully adding more blogs with more specific discussion on what I’ve hinted at above. I think the REAL secret to our success is building a massive interconnected network of artists and fans helping each other. Imagine if we had 500 iTunes accounts and 500 Amazon accounts that could be used to promote ALL the artists involved. This really could become something quite substantial. I am certain that there are enough quality electronic independent artists out there to make this a reality.
If you have ANY comments, questions, etc. please post them below. I will do my best to respond promptly.
If you are a band or music artist interested in this promotional collaboration – post a comment stating so. We can then proceed via private messages or email.