A couple people have sent over Bob Lefsetz' recent post, where he bashes some of the "extreme marketing" efforts
from musicians lately. In fact, he picks on quite a few of the examples that we've set out as good examples, including Josh Freese
, Jill Sobule
-- complaining that these are all gimmicks that outshine the music. He asks how many people who have heard about these gimmicks actually heard the music from these artists.
I think he's both right and wrong on this. First, you have to say "compared to what." If Freese, Sobule and Moldover had just come out with an album in the traditional way, how many of the same group of people would likely have heard the album? I'd say a lot
fewer. I doubt I would have heard any of them, and now I'm quite familiar with the music of all three.
But... his larger point is definitely dead on. At the core of all of this, it is the music that is key. But putting out good music and being a good marketer are not mutually exclusive. If you do something cool -- something fun or valuable or neat beyond just the music -- it's not going to matter as much if the music itself isn't good. This is why, I have to admit, the one area where I think all three of these artists could have done a better job is actually making the music itself free. All three offered really compelling reasons to buy, but they still hid away the actual music. Why not free up the MP3s, continue the cool "reasons to buy" and get the best of both worlds. Then you get everything: you get people listening to the music and feeling a connection there. You get people paying attention for the "marketing" part, and you still make money thanks to the "reasons to buy."
But that doesn't mean that doing a smart marketing promotion is a bad thing. It just needs to tie in well with the music. The existing "true fans" will already want to hear the music, but if part of the goal is to attract new fans, you have to go beyond just the marketing to give them more access to the core music -- and focus on selling them on real reasons to buy something above and beyond the content.