Capricious Marketing

3:18pm Fri Oct 17, 2008

Remember this Seinfeld episode?

Jerry : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

George : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!

Well, I have a new album, Shed, and I’ve applied the Costanza Hypothesis to my marketing approach. I even hesitate to call it a “release” because, although it is technically available to the public, I’m consciously NOT doing almost anything you should do when releasing a new record.

Shed is on iTunes, my web site, my distributor’s web site, and everywhere my distributor sends it, both digitally and on CD. I didn’t get a full run of replicated CDs (and I only got a limited run of duplicated CDs very recently), send it to a single radio station, book a performance, or even write a press release. In fact, for months it was solely available at my virtual club in Second Life since the “official” Tuesday, June 3rd release, limiting its exposure to the handful of the 50,000 residents who are logged in at any given time and manage to find their way there.

I didn’t play the instrument I was trained to play, drums, but piano instead, which I’ve only been seriously trying to learn for a couple years. I recorded all 11 tracks in one day, and spent less time trying to get a good sound on the recording. I didn’t even write all the tunes - almost half are covers and, of those, none are a standard jazz or blues number or even arranged in a particularly jazzy or bluesy way.

Here’s the interesting part: It’s getting a measureably better response after only four months, at a lower cost to me in time and money, than any of my other records.

Shed is, in fact, responsible for selling MORE of the other titles, as people who buy it seem to want more of my music. Of course, time will tell if it ends up doing better over the long term than my other releases, which were each an expensive full time job to mail to and follow up with radio and press, hire sidemen to perform at CD release parties, to say nothing of the actual production costs.

I can only attribute this unprecedented success to my following in Second Life, which says as much about the kind of people I’ve come in contact with there as anything. Maybe there are just more of my kind of people there, maybe it’s because it’s a more level playing field than the real life music industry.

It could be that I worked so hard on my previous releases that I was just spinning my wheels and concentrating harder on promoting the music than I was on actually making it. I doubt I’ll ever know for sure.

Because trying to track sales was another very expensive and time-consuming job 🙂