Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.
Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.
He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".
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Click here for a printer-friendly version of "Off The Wall Music Marketing Ideas".
Make Fans A Birthday or Christmas Card
Remember your fan's birthdays by creating a musical birthday card you create yourself. Email them the card that is imbedded with a mp3 file of a birthday song you wrote.
Use old school psychology, (if you can afford it) send a real birthday card to each fan that has a simple chip attached to it with a sound file that begins to play when you open the card.
You will obviously have to have your database setup to include a place for your fans to give you their birth dates, but after that, at the beginning of every month simply sort out who has a birthday coming up and mail them off. Be sure to do this at least a week before the beginning of each month.
Think of how appreciative your fans will be for having been thought of, and as your career and goes on and gets more established, your past musical birthday cards will become valuable collector items.
The Beatles used actual Christmas greetings recordings that their fan club members got! Ah-hah... now you're getting it... how about an annual, original Christmas song, written in your unique sounding way, that you can also send out to your fans!
A Sticky Way To Be Remembered: An Analog Idea
Print up promotional "sticky notes" using the Post-It note method for upcoming gigs and send or pass them out to music fans attending live shows. Have your latest shows printed up on them, so fans can use them as reminders to attend your shows and can put them up on their home bulletin boards or refrigerators. You can also use this idea for reminders to buy your latest CD or merchandise you have for sale at your website, blog, or live shows.
Be The Musical Entertainment For Your Favorite Local Record Store
Work with a local record store that carries your genre of music and ask them about participating in a special "after hours" party and special sale where you get to be the band or artist to supply the music for the event. Have them put your CD on sale at a special price during the party only. Take time to sign autographs, and get the customers to sign up on your mailing/database list. The store can add whatever added incentives they want to make the event a special sale and you get to go along for the ride.
Talking House Brings Your Music To Unique Places
A company called Talking House has invented a unique 'broadcasting' tool It was first used by real estate people to transmit descriptions of a house that is for sale. It works like this; a small radio transmitter sits inside a location (such as a local business in your area). Prospects just tune in on their ordinary car radio, while parked out front, and hear a customized broadcast, in this case, your music, while they are nearby.
Talking House can be used by restaurants, bars, taverns nightclubs, music and record stores, independent fast food restaurants... whatever. You name it, Talking House can broadcast it.
Use Your Business Card To Promote Your Favorite Lyrics
On the front cover of a folded card, place a catchy lyric from one of your songs. Inside, or some place other than where your traditional contact information is printed, briefly list information about your CD and other merchandise you have for sale, and where people can buy your releases (internet, live shows, mail order).
On the back, get creative and list other interesting facts about yourself or your music than fans and industry people might appreciate knowing about.
Become a Music Marketing Matchmaker
Maintain a supply of local music related businesses business cards and distributes them to likely musician and music lovers you know. Using return address labels, create a sticker that says "referred by (your name or band name here)".
Placed on the back of other people's business cards, the stickers reminds the person who you are, and you get great word of mouth name recognition over time, and you've helped a local music related business get some customers, as well as helped your music fans learn about where to get the best local help for the their music needs.
The customer is reminded of a cool business, and your name is the first one the prospect hears ("So and so recommended that I talk to you").
Turn Your Fans Onto Other Cool Music
On your website, (you do have your own website don't you?) create a section where you and your fellow musicians regularly recommend other local bands and great music that you think your fans would enjoy.
The benefit of this is that you are not seen as strictly a selfish musician obsessed with promoting your own music. Your fans will benefit and thank you over time for all the cool music you have turned them onto.
On a professional level, as you recommend other bands and acts, they will get the word from others that you have recommended their music. Can't hurt when it comes to finding other artists to perform live with at various gigs.
Additional Columns by Christopher Knab