There seem to be two major schools of thought regarding music band promotions.
Talk Marketing (aka "hype")
One is the old fashioned hype generator school. I call it Talk Marketing.
They're not talking about the style of music or the band's influences. No. They just talk about the band's alleged impact on the audience, how they're more [fill in the blank] than other bands.
"This band really touches the heart" is one approach that is used over and over again. Like when you're looking for new music to listen to, "pull on my heart strings" is a high priority.
Maybe for females, this is important. Most red-blooded males and regular guys don't care about "emo" music. We want music that will make us laugh, party harder, or hate our jobs more.
MP3 and Video Marketing (aka "music itself")
The other school, which I advocate and teach, is MP3 and Video Marketing. This approach takes the music itself, and uses it as the primary promotional tool.
Let people hear your sounds and view your visual style. Quit bragging and spewing nonsensical hype. Let your music do the sales job. Get your music to fans, directly. Let them download FREE mp3s of entire songs and entire albums. Permit fans to burn your songs to CDs and take them to parties, to share your tunes with others.
You want fans talking about your music. Fans are more influential than hired marketing firms who cannot cut through the clutter of hype anyway. All they do is add to the noise of pushy, empty promotional efforts.
Here's what Bob Baker, a smart music marketing specialist, said in his newsletter today, in "Wampus packs a wallop".
But something about this one from Wampus Multimedia caught my eye. It had everything to do with this lead-off description of a new CD release:
It isn't about image. It isn't about entertainment. Great rock is about movement -- of the heart, the mind, the feet. The May Bees, a scrappy, uncompromising duo from The Netherlands, understand this instinctively. They want to make a good impression, sure, and they want to amuse and engage you. But mostly they want to move you, to change you, to leave an indelible mark upon you.
What an awesome way to introduce potential fans and reviewers to a new band! Read that paragraph again. It isn't a dry reading of facts and features about the band. It's an intriguing description that puts the focus squarely where it should be: on the reader (the fan) and what you'll get from hearing the May Bees' music.
Plus, it's a great lesson on how to promote music using emotion -- engaging the imagination and painting word pictures that stimulate the senses.
Sorry to disagree with you, friend, but this promotion sounds like every other band that tries to manipulate us psychologically, and convey some supposed emotional benefit to their music.
So...this music will REALLY make me tap my foot and snap my fingers and sing along at the top of my voice? Yeah. Right.
It's always the same: "We're different, we're special, we really rock, we care about fans, we're all about good tunes..." ad nauseum.
In the new digital universe, such "we" oriented bragging is moldy and outmoded.
I am much more attracted to a music artist who actually describes their sound, and even compares it to other bands, or at least lists some major influences.
Look at all the rotten MySpace band sites and artist home pages. Mostly, they just rave about how great they are, but give no description of what their style is.
I prefer bands that take themselves not so seriously.
I am attracted to bands that trash themselves, that practice Winning Through Self-loathing (title of my new book, soon to be released), who despise the rock star syndrome and celebrity infatuation.
I like bands who are not overly-enchanted with their own motivations and the sincerity/superiority of their output.
I like bands that are more like ordinary people, and thus know how to reach them with real music. Music that makes fun of evil politicians, that makes me think more deeply about serious issues, or makes me happy because I can relate to a tale of woe or oppression.
I like happy music and sad music. I like lyrics that deliriously make no sense, but show a bold experimentation with language. Songs that defeat and confound my expectations of what a song is. Bands who are innovative, rather than imitative.
The best way to promote music is to distribute FREE mp3s and videos, on multiple channels, at multiple social networks, to as many people as possible.
It's the only way to go from Unknown and Unwanted...to...Known and Craved.
FREE mp3s and videos do not "devalue" the music.
They represent you more fully and perfectly than any ad agency or PR firm. Your own music is a better salesperson than vain talking, exaggerated narrative, or emotional gimmicks.
Let people hear your music, not your hype. Your music is your ambassador. Distribute your music freely. Lots of it. Then, if your music is really good, and the lyrics hit home, you'll get loyal fans, gigs, and recording contracts (if those old fashioned things still mean anything, when we can bypass them and reach fans directly now).
Here's a good example of a video that promotes speedcore anarchist band Ambassador 21.
Ambassador 21 & Converter
"New Doctrine About Trinity"