There has been a post and debate on another blog about self-promotion, specifically concerning the group Young Harmony. Since the comments have degenerated into a flame war with some irresponsible gossip, I won’t link directly to the story, but here are my thoughts.
I have no problem with self-promotion done responsibly. Especially when a group is starting, their audience simply isn’t going to find them. They have to invest in advertisements, networking, personal contacts, and basically every route they can to get their first bookings and studio time.
At what point does self-promotion cross the line and become irresponsible self-promotion?
One obvious line is if something unethical is done. For example, if it is unethical to sign up all your fans for Gospel Music Association memberships so that they can vote in the Dove Awards, then don’t do it. But if it is not unethical, then I see no difference between selling GMA memberships and Singing News subscriptions. (As it stands, Singing News Fan Awards typically go to the groups most effective at encouraging their fan base to subscribe to the magazine and vote in the awards–not necessarily to the group with the most fans.)
Is there a gray area between ethical and unethical where something may be permitted, but is distasteful? I think it is possible, but I’m not really sure where to draw the line. Fortunately, that’s not my responsibility, and I can analyze decisions with the benefit of hindsight.