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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section


    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.



    A brief and humorous look at a couple of common,
    and irritating, marketing schemes in use by many independent electronic musicians.


    So...as if I didn't already have enough problems in my life: people thinking my name is Gabrielle and not Gabriel, figuring out how to cook anise so that it doesn't make my whole family puke. My problems are only compounded by finding all of this annoying junk in my inbox. Good with the bad, I've also discovered how much about a person you can tell just by empathizing with their motivations.

    This is an essay, a description, of a void I recently discovered. A place in mental space and time that is filled with a wicked silence, a vacuum of rational decision, a place that lies between the moral and philosophical distinctions of right and wrong. An ethical void, in the universe of rationality. This void affects us all, it is a crucial border between two answers to a question that every musician must ask when they move forward in their endless quest for intellectual respect, financial success, and self-valuation. The question of marketing.

    I've been pondering an existing scenario for a very long time: some of the best music I have ever heard, the true "thinkers" of musical sculpture, have often been produced by bands I have never heard of; and some of the most generic and uninspired music I have had the displeasure of listening to, has been created by bands I cannot seem to stop hearing about. Is this a question of subjective taste? A question of marketing prowess? A question of public interest? I believe it is a combination of many factors, and I propose that it is important for all musicians to explore the nature of the promotional beast, to understand its primal motivations, to help them to survive the journey through the moral vacuum.

    Let's begin by examining moral rationale as it applies to marketing. All musicians, especially the ones who are not brain dead, understand that the path to success is paved with the ears of thousands of listeners. These same enlightened artists know that every person they encounter, every single breathing and self-aware entity on this rotating rock that we live on is a potential ear to pave our way to success. This metaphor is further enhanced through the promotional and financial programs developed by the various free music sites that most of us rely on to gain our listenership. MP3.com happily provides us cold-hard cash based on the number of unique listeners we can bring to them in a single day. Payback for playback, as it were. A wonderful cash cow for themselves, almost holy in a Hindi/Ayurvedic way, as they are paid back for every view and every click of every banner ad they display on our artists pages. A mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with their musicians and their advertisers. This metaphor, this marketing approach, however, only provides a blank canvas that all artists must sit and stare blankly at, pondering a creative approach to paint a picture that answers a question: how do I get more people to click on those blue links and listen to my music.

    Painters, in fact all artists, must explore their own motivations before they can truly understand the nature of their work. Am I interested in making a commentary on the web of modern politics? The human condition? Maybe I learned something important in my life I would like to teach to other people. Maybe I have a talent and I need to use it so I can eat and drive things like cars. Maybe I just want to have fun with a hobby. Maybe I just want to be stinking filthy rich. Perhaps I even hate the way I look in the mirror, and the only I way I can stand to exist is if I know that other people find value in something I do.

    Once you understand your motivation, it not only shapes the creative approach you will use to make your music, but it also defines the way you will insert your idea into the minds of others. I often receive various marketing materials for many artists who are hitting it big in the payback program and even those that are not. It would seem to me that artists wear their heart on their sleeve not only in the sounds they create, but how they promote themselves as well.

    Consider the case of what I will call, "zombie marketing", or the infamous "form letter" (spam). Every day, millions and millions of these letters are sent to flood the world's post offices as well as every email provider on the net. The letter itself is like a zombie from those old black and white horror flicks, an unstoppable army, mindlessly and ferociously focused on a single simple goal, to eat your brains. They prey on the weak minded, the lonely, the slow. These letters talk to you as if you were the sender's personal friend, but in reality they are simply mathematic formulas:

    Hey X, my name is soandso, and I have been a fan of your music for some time. You are an effing genius, and I am so honored to know you. I've pinned your picture to the ceiling above my bed and I go through several bottles of lotion a day looking at that picture. Hey, I just loved your tune Y, I graduated from lotion to electronic devices when I heard it. Come check out my tune Z, I would love your opinion! Your endless loyal best friend, soandso. (X = target musician's name, Y= song title at top of target musician's list, Z= latest tune released by soandso.)

    Zombie marketing relies on sheer numbers, send this thing out to say 10,000 people, assume that perhaps 2,000 will not trash it, and 1,000 people will actually click. It makes a distinction between "quality fans" and "mindless fans." A quality fan is a person who likes you, your music, would listen again, and who will spread your name around to others as if you were a saint and they were an apostle. A mindless fan is someone who was gullible enough to go click and found themselves horribly disappointed, with teeth marks in their skull, that will go around and hatchet your name into teeny-tiny pieces to all of their friends. Solid vs. hollow. Your motivations. In the void, it's up to you to decide which kind of fan you want. Do you think that a person who sends unsolicited form letters pretending to be your friend respects you very much? Do you think they care who you are?

    Think you are super-intelligent and immune to this stuff? Think again. I am an effing genius and even I fell for a unique marketing technique that I have dubbed, skin sales. You know the old saying: "the oldest profession in the world?" Well, it's true and it invades our little group of independent online musicians. The people who use this technique have added another tool to "zombie marketing", and have aimed it at the one weakness that 99.9% of heterosexual men have: breasts. Just go browse around the top charts at MP3.com, if you click on the right name, you are subjected to images of breasts, lousy music, and breasts. Pretty smart technique, if you ask me, after all I *did* go look and was subjected to some of the worst noise to assail my aural sense since the album: "Kenny G. plays the greatest industrial hits." I considered using this technique, but somehow I don't think that pictures of me half naked would get me quality fans. Again, you're in the void, you decide. Do you think that a person who markets themselves in this way has much respect for themselves? Do you think they care who you are?

    I don't know, I hate this kind of advertising but I also want people to listen to my work plus a little fame wouldn't be bad either. Maybe the trick to being successful and fulfilled in this artistic profession is to screw trying to get rich and have fun, but then again, maybe you are one of those few people that needs to eat and keep warm, and this is what you do best. Then you have to decide if you want a quick buck, or long term respect. Money sure does motivate, doesn't it? ask yourself if you want to expend limited intellectual and creative resources on developing the next major multilevel musical marketing scheme, or writing an evocative, emotional, high-quality song that would make Kenny G. cover it on the next "Kenny plays your favorite goa and big beat hits." I think that maybe it's hard to do both. Then again, maybe I'm just not as smart as I think I am. So I float in the void, between good music and sales, writing this article hoping maybe someone can give me the answer, and maybe send me a good anise recipe.

    You never know, maybe you'll get the next form letter from me? Braaaaaaaaiiiiiiins!!!!

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