The music industry’s troubles are well documented, hinging on contradictory realities: Music is too free to be expensive and too expensive to be free. People no longer spend money on music automatically, so promoting it is arguably more important than ever. One approach is to try to “turn your band into a virus.” Let’s take a look at three other proven ways to promote music: merchandise, apps, and location.
Some artists find that fans are more keen to buy “merch” than music. Solution? Pair the music content. I wrote previously about the Playbutton wearable pin, which contains an entire album, but the T-shirt you might pin one of those to has also become a music delivery platform of sorts.
Inspired by its musician founder running out of T-shirts but still having CDs left over after a tour, R-Evolution makes QR-coded shirts that bundle a digital album along with the apparel, and it’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
Then there’s the Music Tee, already sold by artists like The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Mos Def, Santigold and Miike Snow. This one features artwork on the front, track names on the back, and a download code for the complete album on the hang tag. Any branded T-shirt is always already promoting something — indeed, it’s amazing, the number of unpaid walking billboards that can be found on any city street, and in this case, the product is the promotion. After they use the code from the label and download the album, T-shirt clad fans are effectively promoting the artist just by getting dressed in the morning.
Meanwhile, Beck made waves by releasing his album as a collection of sheet music called Song Reader, which can’t be pirated as something audible. These songs won’t be released until December anyway, but when they are, various renditions of them will be posted on Beck’s site. The point isn’t so much that Beck has invented a new method that will apply to other artist, but he’s certainly getting a lot of press for this stunt, and it’s also interesting from an artistic standpoint.