Marketing Groups (and CD Reviews)
What is the value of a CD review?
Former Bishops bass guitarist Steve Perkins, who contributed to Mark Bishop’s Fields of Love project, proposes the question:
Either way, what can we (artists and record companies) do to better serve this SG internet community and translate their passion for SG into revenue? Do reviews from anyone (no offense to Doug, SN, or other print and online outlets) really have any influence one way or the other on your music purchases? What would you say is your main reason for purchasing a SG CD?
He raises several questions, but I wanted to look at one in particular. What is the value of a CD review?
Rarely does someone purchase a recording by a group he has never heard–a group that doesn’t already have a track record of producing recordings he likes–on the basis of one review alone. But CD reviews and word of mouth (from forums) can, over time, get people curious about a group. This leads them to check out the group when a chance arises, be it a sale at a bookstore, a concert in the area, or a showcase at NQC. That, in turn, can often lead to product sales.
Marketing a group–taking it from zero name ID to having an established fan base–isn’t an easy thing. It will typically involve some mixture of paid marketing (advertising) and free marketing (publicity–product reviews and press releases).
The first step is making people aware that the group exists. This is often done through some mixture of advertisements and press releases–the press releases being more likely to be printed if one or more members of the group come from an established group. The second step is making people curious enough to want to check the group out. This is where reviews come into play, a positive review, like this one, can make people curious enough to check out a group. Once you have their attention and they try a CD or concert, you get to the third part of the process, the make-it-or-break-it step: Delivering on the potential and landing someone as a fan.
Of course, the same principles apply to marketing other things, such as this website; you had to find out about it, perhaps through a link somewhere, and be curious enough to click the link. But getting you here wasn’t enough; I had to come through with content that made it worth your while to stay and keep coming back, or else you wouldn’t have come back.
While I’ve marketed this website and other projects, I have never marketed a group. Those of you who have done so undoubtedly have more insights about the process; if you are so inclined, feel free to share those in the comments.