Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Your Friendly Music Critic

Marketing a work of art through reviews in the media is a risky business. If you're manufacturing vacuum cleaners, all you have to do is make sure your product works well and isn't too expensive, and the media will say so when they test vacuum cleaners. But art is all about taste. Your product may end up in the hands of a reviewer who simply doesn't like vacuum cleaners at all, as it were, and pans them because they aren't toasters. If that happens you haven’t just lost money by sending out stuff for free – the negative publicity may also hurt sales.

But all artists need media exposure to survive. So what do you do? You identify reviewers who like your kind of art, and who have access to media with a reasonable number of readers, and you send them your product. This happened to me for the first time today.

Metaphor Records in San Anselmo, California, knows (from Google) that I’m a Roy Zimmerman fan and (from Technorati) that my blog has a not inconsiderable number of daily readers. They’re gambling that sending Zimmerman’s new album to people like me will help create the all-important buzz among potential buyers of the album. Such people are likely to be vastly overrepresented among the readers of a blog like mine, and so the blog functions as a highly selective marketing channel. If you can just get information about your product past the blogger and into the channel.

In my new-found role as part of the music industry, I will in fact review the album soon. I haven’t listened to it yet, and I don’t know what I’ll say about it, but come on – what am I likely to think about an album of songs ridiculing the war on terror, abstinence pledges and creationism? Metaphor Records certainly seem to know pretty well what I’m going to say. And I have a feeling I'll be furthering their purposes with a smile on my face and a chuckle in my belly.

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Blogger Karen said...

OOoooh yet another step closer to rock star-like fame and fortune!

18 October, 2006 23:32  
Blogger mugabe said...


19 October, 2006 13:22  
Blogger Hans Persson said...

Just out of the blue? I think that's a tactic that has good payoff potential for small promotors.

19 October, 2006 13:23  
Blogger Martin said...

Mugabe: Yeah, I'm sort of cashing in now, capitalising on my towering rep as a music critic who refuses to be bought even with review copies. In fact, I used to refuse to review music that I'd even heard. I didn't want to risk being accused of being unduly influenced.

Hans: Yeah, they asked me by e-mail out of the blue if I wanted them to send me a free copy of the album. Probably Google + Technorati.

19 October, 2006 13:26  

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