Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tips for becoming not quite famous by building your band brand

I must apologize for the length of this post, but it is something I am passionate about.

Derek Irving, guitarist for the San Francisco Bay area blues band The Aces, posted a question on Linkedin, “Do online distribution services really work for press releases?” First, great place to put a question to get some of the finest minds in the world to promote your band. Second, great way to use social media.

Derek hopefully posted a Twitter tweet that he posted the question on Linkedin and announced his band’s MySpace (theaces) site, as well as the band’s own Web site, on Facebook too. I let friendfeed automatically handle all that for me.

I tried to persuade Tiffany Giardina to contribute to this post. She is a marketing genius. At 15, she has street teams, on Radio Disney Incubator, on a Disney soundtrack, a hit single, a rapidly rising CD, performing everywhere, including the NBA 2009 All-Stars national anthem. Yes, I think she’s a marketing phenom, and she’s 15!

Derek got a response from one of the greatest music minds today (outside of Chuck Morris), Bay Area Musician founder Dennis Erokan. Mr. Erokan was responsible for the revival of Santana, launched Huey Lewis and the News and I believe Eddy Money. Think also Journey or one of those bands that all sounded alike in the ‘80s (Kansas, etc.).

Let’s look at marketing The Aces. First, they have a MySpace. Required. They should also have their own unique Web site, a blog too. Street teams (used to be fan clubs),

My philosophy is the fan is king. We’ve all heard the story of the rising band that plays to two people and gives it the best show they’ve ever done. In this day, you go out to the audience and get your picture taken with your fans and you post those pictures to MySpace (where you have a blog) – at the bare minimum. We’ve all gone to the battle of the bands to see the hair metal guitarist shaking his hair, thinking he’s the hottest, then runs to his friends and ignores the fans. Has that guy’s band ever won?

Let’s dissect The Aces MySpace page. I don’t want to be cruel. My daughter was just telling me how her fraternity grilled her in an interviewing and resume writing group. Essentially the verdict was she sucked. I told her – in all seriousness – it must be nice to have a group who cares for you so much they would take their time to help you improve. I hope The Aces go through this in that spirit, and other bands learn from The Aces.

First what hit me off the bat on their site was – before I heard the music or anything – their tour schedule is posted – and current. I like that. Also like they have their own Web site posted on their MySpace page (except it is only their MySpace page – hope they change that – see my Linkedin answer to Derek’s question). Is there a way to create a link? Also a Facebook link - great!

Now for what I don’t like – no opportunity to purchase a download. That is available on MySpace now and makes the site great. Second, the songs run too long. Guns “N’ Roses killed “Chinese Democracy.” Why should I go to Best Buy (I hate exclusive offers) when I can hear half the CD on MySpace? You want to offer each song for 90-seconds. Either buy it or get off the pot, so to speak. Don’t see the band listed on Amazon downloads. You want those downloads everywhere.

The band has a video on MySpace. When I went to YouTube I couldn’t find it when I plugged in The Aces. I’m sure it’s there, but I couldn’t find it. Put it on all these sort of sites.

Love that they are opening for Charlie Musselwhite and Tommy Castro. Get creative in your “band brand” thinking. See for ways to develop your creative thinking.

Here’s a brief one-minute research I did. Musician’s Friend has Hohner Piedmont Blues 7-Harmonica Pack with Case for $20 per set. I’d buy $200 worth or more and have Musselwhite sign them. Hold contests – before they open for Tommy Castro, have the owner of the club get on all the morning news shows (radio and television) – or Tommy Castro himself – to talk up the upcoming show. “By the way, our own local band, The Aces, are giving away a signed set of harmonicas; signed by Charlie Musselwhite. That will be after their set May 8, 7:30, at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma. You can find them on MySpace under The Aces, all one word.”

Find the biggest social event you can find (doesn’t matter if it’s local – just a good place to draw fans from, like the W.C. Handy in Memphis the night before the Petaluma gig). You don’t have to be there. Call all the blues stations throughout the nation two weeks before and announce the giveaway. If the awards show doesn’t have an auction, find another society event in Memphis the same time and give those puppies away. Make sure you’re mentioned in the benefit’s program, on their Web site, in their newsletters – buzz, baby, buzz.

Then when you open for Tommy Castro (or whoever), get the most inexpensive guitar like the artist plays – for Castro you get a Squier bullet for like $99 (as many as you can afford) and have him sign it backstage. Secret to guitar signing. Sand away top varnish (leave color) where the signature will be and then polish (varnish) after it is signed.

Again, charity events, future gigs, anywhere you can creatively think of to build a following. If it doesn’t make sense for your group (like a high school band – you know, “One time at band camp….”) find something else to do creatively. Ask Tiffany Giardina. She may have some fantastic ideas.

For all those bands that benefit from this advice, let me know. Remember, the Jonas Brothers were bounced from Columbia Records. Joe Walsh’s daughter, Lucy, was bounced from one or two labels and is the Internet queen of music.

Watch your friend’s on social networks. If The Aces noticed my MySpace page, they’d discover Bob Corritore is a “friend.” Bob owns the Rhythm Room, one of the finest blues show clubs in the world. I’m confident he’d do a night with The Aces. It called a social “network” for a reason.

Good night and good luck.

More "Band Brand" brain farts - looking for a band to try this

As stated in the last post, have people Twitter from your show. As a responsible marketer, you’ve posted videos to MySpace and YouTube.

Now I had an idea. You’re in Salinas, California. Your home base/street team is Seymor, Indiana (two points for whoever figures out the musicians I’m thinking of from each city). With today’s technology, you take that $300 computer mentioned in previous post, the $45 per month you’re paying for wireless broadband (even cooler if the venue you are in has WiFi – faster, or broadband access, even faster) and stream your concert worldwide.

Sure you’re going to get ripped off. Make sure your band name and Web site are all over that live stream video.

If anyone is doing this, please, please let me know how it is working on revenue streams. If you like the idea and try it, let me know.

New marketing tool for bands

Again, I love the Internet. Was discussing marketing strategies for “band brand” with a San Francisco band member.

Came up with some new ideas. We’ve all been to shows where CDs and T-shirts are for sale. For about $300 you can have a laptop full of MP3s for downloading onto iPods at your show. One-dollar a pop and it takes like a minute. Have a show special, the entire CD/album downloaded for like $8. Make sure you exchange Twitter accounts and ask them to mention your show – right from the show – on their mobile Twitter (cell phones are a great Internet accessory).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Making money in cosmetic stock - ?

I’m more than likely an idiot, but I was at an outdoor mall today and every girl and woman from age five up was wearing makeup. We’re in a depression (recession). Yet women still have funds to wear makeup and go to beauty parlors, or whatever they call them today? Even pre-tweens (I invented a new term).

Cosmetics and beauty products are not my area of expertise, but I’m always keeping my antenna out for making profits in stock trading.

Looking at the makeup sector of stocks, if it was any other sector, like restaurants, energy or power, I’d run like hell.

Yet I go back to my idiot response that everyone is wearing it. It’s like Twitter. If everyone is doing it, it must be bringing in money. A question on LInkedin revealed the opposite. It appears companies are investing time on utilizing Twitter, but no one is making money from it.

But to wear makeup, you must purchase it. Not so with Twitter.

Revlon is down from its five year high of nearly $40 to just above $2 and still falling. Why isn’t every fiber of my being yelling, no, no, no?

I will admit I’m twitterpated here. When I walk by a MAC counter, or the Scottsdale Mall store, the most gorgeous women are there. The ones working there and others getting makeup put on (maybe that’s the secret, nobody buys, they get it put on like the cheap guys put men’s perfume on at the stores). It doesn’t matter. The most gorgeous women in town seem to be at MAC.

Estee Lauder, a huge conglomerate, owns MAC. Its stock is around $23, near its five year low of just under $20, hit recently. Its five year high is nearly $60. Either it’s a buy or I’m an idiot – and the jury is definitely out on that one.

Look at the originator of modern makeup, Max Factor. It is owned by the 21st Century equivalent of AT&T. When I worked for AT&T – before the 1984 divestiture – it owned the world, literally. No one told it what to do. It spent money like there was no tomorrow. AIG is a boy scout compared to the way AT&T spent money when it was the only game in town.

Max Factor is owned by Procter and Gamble. Yes, they do own everything you put on and in your body, including Tampax to toilet tissue. They do razors, dog food, batteries and tons of shampoos.

I hate companies that diversify like this. It’s like buying mutual funds when you buy their stock. PG stock is at a five year low around $45 from a five year high of $75. I have a term for these type of companies. I call them the Willy Loman (main character in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” Blogging is educational. I read that book in the sixth grade, 10 years after it was published – okay so in literature I was precocious. Didn’t everyone read Shakespeare in the seventh grade?) company – trying to be everything to everyone.

So if you go out and buy any of these stocks (Revlon looks the best) remember you’ve done it listening to an idiot. All the charts have sunk to unheard of low levels (except PG). As I said, all logic says run, but there’s that MAC counter emotion saying, “oooh yeah.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How NOT to do Tween public relations

For weeks I’ve been trying to get hold of the Disney Channel’s PR department. I call, get routed everywhere and a message says, press 1 for this, 2 for that. Disney Channel appears to have no real humans working there.

That is a great way to build an image. Sure we live in the day of Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, but please, get real people to answer your phones. Eons ago companies would hire an answering service. Disney Channel does not even let you select voice mail. What’s up with that?

Yet, they own the world in creating stars. Miley Cyrus, Zac & Vanessa. How can they have such a crappy way of dealing with the public (guess what public relations means) and still be numero uno?

Call me, Disney Channel. I have questions.

There’s a great story coming here about casting the Hannah Montana show if I could ever get hold of Disney Channel’s PR department!