What I Learned About Marketing from My Favorite Bands

I’m constantly listening to music. From the time I wake up, driving to work, sitting at my desk, making dinner, I always have music playing. Take away my music, and I’m not a very happy camper. I’m even one of those rare species who still buys CDs. Over the years, some of my favorite bands have found creative ways to utilize marketing. Here is a trip down my musical memory lane, into the wonderful world of music marketing.


Sick Puppies – The Power of Branding and Hugs

Sick Puppies made it big in Australia but was struggling to gain popularity in the US market. That all changed when they joined forces with the FREE HUGS campaign and created one of YouTube’s first ever viral videos using their song “All The Same.” The attention from this campaign landed lead singer Shimon Moore on Oprah, Jay Leno, 60 Minutes and a record deal with Virgin Records. In just a matter of days, they went from virtually unheard of, to being a chart-topping band touring with some of the largest rock bands of the time including Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, Papa Roach and Motley Crue. Shimon recently talked about his experience with branding and marketing as a musician in an interview with “The Litmus Test“. To summarize, he says you could be the greatest musician on earth, but it would mean nothing if you didn’t market yourself. Shim, you know what’s up.


Cartel – The Power of Endorsements and Bubbles

When I was in high school, pop/rock music was my jam. Cartel was one of my favorite pop rock bands, plus all of the band members were adorable (don’t judge me). They partnered with Dr. Pepper to record their second album in a bubble in the middle of New York City. Yes, a bubble. They had twenty days to write and produce a full-length album while inside a bubble building. The bubble had 23 cameras throughout the building (to tie along with Dr. Pepper’s 23 flavors) that you could view the band 24/7. I know how creepy that sounds, but if you were a super fan like me, it was a dream come true. You would enter codes found on lids of Dr. Pepper bottles online, and you could view the band writing music, recording songs, eating breakfast or even sleeping. I made myself sick drinking Dr. Pepper to get as many codes as possible so I could watch all day. Needless to say, I now hate Dr. Pepper, but I thought this was a really fun promotion that gained an up and coming band, and Dr. Pepper, a lot of attention.


Ludo – The Power of Loving Your Audience – Even When They’re Awful

Ludo is a St. Louis pop punk band who gained popularity in the mid to late 2000s. They wanted a fun way to thank their loyal fans for their support, so they decided to thank each and every one of their fans on their second album, “You’re Awful, I Love You.” They set up a website where you could submit your name to be included in the CD’s thank you’s. Not only was this a great way to thank their fans for their support, it was also an excellent way to get them to BUY the CD instead of streaming it online or illegally downloading. My brother and I both had our names included, so naturally we had to buy the CD. Oh Ludo, you guys are genius. And I miss you, awfully. Please get back together again soon.


Shinedown – The Power of the Tease and Cutting the Cord

Many bands do a great job promoting music on social media, but Shinedown makes the best use of social media to tease new music. For weeks, Shinedown was posting on Twitter and Instagram the number 5 with random words, 6.29.15 and #CTC. People were leaving guesses on what they thought it meant. On June 29, Shinedown released their new song “Cut The Cord.” It was a trending topic on Twitter and Facebook, and the song quickly topped the rock charts. Would this song have gained as much attention if they would have just released it or told people when it was coming out? I seriously doubt it. I know I was checking my phone right at 12:01am on June 29 to see the announcement. I don’t know if that makes me a dork or just a dedicated fan, but I’m not ashamed.

The moral of my story, other than to admit to some of my beloved bands, is that no matter what industry you’re a part of, there are fun and unique ways to incorporate marketing. It’s exciting for me to see some of my favorite musicians embrace smart marketing practices. Step outside of the box and think of ways to be different and get noticed. It just might land you on Oprah.

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