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Successful online music marketing case studies

Connecting with fans is imperative in today’s music industry. It’s that connection that can give them a reason to buy and support your music. Utilizing social media and having a strong online presence makes connecting with fans much more achievable. Below are some good case studies of bands that found success through an online campaign. I encourage musicians to review these examples and pay attention to the elements that made them successful. Then think about how to implement those strategies into your own marketing plans.

  • Arcade Fire – Interactive Music Video Using Google Street View
  • Watch the video

    Arcade Fire utilized HTML5 to create an interactive music video for “We Used to Wait.” Users are prompted to enter the address of their childhood home at the start of the video. While watching the video, scenes from your old neighborhood are pulled in using Google street view.  The elements of new technology, interactivity, nostalgia, experimentation, and personalization all aided in making this video a huge hit. Think about those factors for your next campaign.

  • Jason Parker – Name Your Price Using Bandcamp
    You may recall this example from our previous blog post: Pay What You Want Model: Does it Work? Jason Parker is a Seattle-based jazz musician that has found a lot of success utilizing Bandcamp, a site for bands to sell their music and merch. After deciding to allow fans to name their own price for his music, revenue increased from $15/month to $300/month. Pay attention to what Jason is doing on his social networks. He knows how to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy. He says the majority of his sales from Bandcamp are directed from Twitter, “I see a direct correlation between how much I converse on Twitter and how many downloads I sell. It’s a no-brainer.” Read more about Jason Parker and how he utilizes Bandcamp and social media in this Techdirt article.
  • Josh Freese – Crowdfunding and Miniature Golf
    The one size fits all product days are gone. Having something for the casual fan to the super fan is a great way to be able to sell more and put additional money in your pocket. One way to utilize this method is through Kickstarter, an online funding platform for artists, musicians, inventors, filmmakers, etc. Josh Freese decided utilized Top Spin (a similar site that becomes available for all artists next month) to help fund an upcoming album. The thing I like about what he did was the creative “product” offerings that fit his personality, including:
  • Lunch with him at Cheesecake Factory or PF Chang’s
  • A round of miniature golf
  • Josh washes your car or does your laundry
  • He joins your band for a month
  • A private drum lesson
  • Take three items out of his closet
  • Josh writes a song about you
    See the full list of packages and items Josh made available, which ranged from $7-$75,000. Check out Kickstarter to see how you can use it creatively to fund your next project. Just remember to do something that fits your band’s personality. If you make it the right fit and support it correctly, it can work.
  • Amanda Palmer – Turning the Power of Twitter into $11,000 in 2 Hours
    Amanda Palmer is widely known for her social media expertise. Advertising Age said, “Palmer is more sophisticated than almost anyone on the internet — musician, brand or otherwise — when it comes to gathering her audience around her and keeping the conversation going.”
    On a boring Friday night, Amanda managed to rake in $11,000 in just two hours. It all started with her tweeting about how she was alone, again, on a Friday night sitting in front of her computer. Others started chiming in and began claiming how “we are all losers.” Dialog continued and grew at a rapid pace. A faux organization was started called, “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation.
    A follower suggested the group create a t-shirt. Amanda quickly decided to run with it. She took a sharpie and made a t-shirt design. A website was thrown up that night with the t-shirts available for $25 a piece. 2 hours later… $11,000.
    What can you learn for this example?
  • Interact with your followers and don’t just mass broadcast.
  • Be personable and share a variety of things with your fans.
  • Always be on your toes, ready to act quickly when opportunities arise.
  • Matthew Ebel – Subscription Site for the Super Fan

    The packages range from $5/month to $15/month, as well as annual options.  He offers a wide range of perks are including members-only parties, VIP seating at shows, access to new music as soon as he creates it, new live concert recordings every month, broken apart tracks ready for remixing, behind-the-scene sketches, drafts, and ideas, and many more. View the full list of packages and perks here.
  • The Poison Control Center – Tumblr Tour Blog
    A special shout out to Iowa’s own The Poison Control Center for their awesome tour blog. The band uses Tumblr, a simple and free blogging platform, to regularly update their fans from the road. After each show they share pictures, videos, and posts about their experiences, even down to thanking the sound guy, door person, bartender, and of course the fans. They do it right by updating frequently, providing a wide variety of content, and always remaining authentic.
  • Gossip Grows on Trees – Building Your Email List with a Fortune Cookie
    Email is one of the best ways to directly reach your fans, but sometimes it can be difficult to grow your subscription list.  Gossip Grows on Trees from North Carolina executed a creative way to gain more email addresses at live shows.
    They created a download web page that gave visitors a free music download in exchange for their email. At shows they walked around and handed out custom fortune cookies with the URL of the download page and a short message from the band. This gave the band an opportunity to spark conversation and develop relationships with fans. Plus, a lot more people visited the download page and provided their email address because they were approached in a memorable way.

All of these online music marketing case studies have a common theme of musicians connecting with fans. It isn’t enough to put your music out there and hope people will gravitate towards it. You have to be willing to push it out there and utilizing online mediums is a key element.

If you know of a successful online music marketing case study, please share it with us in the comments.

Developing Your Email List

Even if you have 10,000 Facebook fans (well, I guess now they are called “likers”) it’s still essential to have a strong email list. Email really is the best way to directly reach people and cut through the clutter of busy news feeds. Plus reach more casual fans that aren’t regularly checking your website or social networks.

Make sure you are executing the traditional tactics: sign up sheet at shows and subscribe widget on your website and social networks. But to take it to the next level, try some new methods to develop your list.

For example, take a look at what Broken Social Scene is doing on their MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/brokensocialscene. Fans enter their email address to download a free track from their new album. To make the track (and email list) more viral, after fans enter their email they can then embed a code to place a Broken Social Scene widget on their site or share via Twitter and Facebook.

If you want to implement something like this, be up front about the fact they have signed up to get future communications from you. Otherwise you might be labeled as a spammer. When you get the email from Broken Social Scene to download the track, the message includes:

“By clicking on the download link, you agree to the terms that we may send you future updates from time to time. The option to unsubscribe will be included with all the updates we send you.”

If you are interested in having us create a widget like this for your website or help starting an e-newsletter, get in touch with us.