Written by That Retail Chick

Sometimes I feel like the music industry is turning into a large Chinese buffet with a bunch of chicken samples.   And the artists are the people that stand in front of the restaurant saying “free sample” or “try one”.   There are so many artists that believe “if it’s free they will come”.  Or, I just want to be heard so I will give it away and everything else will “jump off”.  I don’t think that artists or their teams understand that just being “free” is not good enough anymore.  There’s so much more that goes into developing talent, building a fan base, and being successful.  Even if free is the beginning of your plan, ask yourself what comes next?  After I see that free download link, what’s going to make me click “download”?  Or after you pass me the free CD, what is going to entice me to play it and not stick it in the side panel of my car or throw it away?  I mean really, these days, it’s just another free cd.

The most important lesson that I learned in music retail is that free music is no good if no one is listening.   Free is no good if no one is there to talk about the new free music with some excitement.  It’s no good if it’s sitting in a box in a backroom collecting dust because the guy on the street team did not introduce it the right way.  It’s no good if it’s just sitting in a gas station because gas station attendants do not promote music…they SELL GAS!  I think people have forgotten, or they just don’t know, how to introduce new music to others.  The plan should be, let me get your attention and share music with you, not let me give it away for free and see if they listen to it.  Who does that?  Oh yeah…you do.

Now, if you are lucky enough to find a good promotions company, they know how to introduce your music to the people that can reach others.  Believe me, after 14 years in music retail, I know the difference between ”Des give this away for me” and “Des check this out its HOT!”  If the person giving me the music is someone I respect, then we talk about the music.  If I like it, then I share it with others and say something like “Ooo, you should check this out!  ____ brought it by the other day and it’s great!”  Now if someone tells me , “give it away”, then my response to the customer would be “Here’s some free music.”  See the difference?

At the end of the day, when you, or should I say “if you” create that great marketing plan, and free is at the beginning of it, just remember that TRC told you, free is not enough. There is a process to “breaking new music,” “building a fanbase”, or “creating a buzz.”  Most of which is based on how you work your project.   And if you need help with that marketing plan, let me know.  Although having great free music may be at the beginning of your plan, the rest of it is about…


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