Sell The Product, Not The Packaging

It used to be that one could look through racks upon racks of vinyl records, in search of a new listening experience, just from an eye catching album cover. That was during a time in music where the packaging played as much of a role in selling the product as the music itself. 

I remember, as a young kid, going with my brother to the local record shop. I’d be fascinated as I flipped through all the album covers. There were some that had incredible futuristic artwork, others had photos of the artist or band in unique clothes or locations, many were a combination of both photos and art, and there were even a few that were just downright frightening to someone my age. Whatever it was, the intrigue and excitement of looking through these album covers added to the mystery of what might be inside the plastic shrink-wrap. 

Out With The Old, In With The New

As vinyl gave way to cassette, and cassette gave way to CDs as the prominent music platform, the excitement of going to the record shop, and looking through bins of music, still remained. Although the product was much smaller, and the impact of the image even less, there was still the experience of finding something new based on a package that caught your eye. Sadly, those days no longer exist as we now live in an era where music is discovered online.  

Add to this the ability for almost anyone to create and record music in their own home studios, and there is an abundance of new music available to us on a daily basis.  We no longer live in an album-oriented music world. We’ve come full circle back to the 1950’s, with music is once again driven by singles. The packaging no longer matters. It’s nothing more than a small image that appears in an iTunes catalog along with your song, or album. 

Start With Why

So, with that in mind, how often do you see people post the following on social media?

  • "Buy my album..."
  • "My new record is now available..."
  • "My new single is now up on iTunes, check it out…"

You can be sure that your potential customers are asking, “Why?” 

  • "Why should I take the time to check it out?" 
  • "Why is your new song or album different from anything else I already have access to?" 
  • "Why should I spend my money to download your song?" 

What is the experience you’re providing in exchange for their time and money?  In this modern era of music consumption, where music is consumed for free, your job as the independent artist/marketer is to show your customers the value of your product, and why they should buy it.

Show The Value

As someone who’s built his career licensing music, I always include a thorough description, as well as descriptive key words, for each piece of music I write. When my song shows up in a music supervisor or music editor’s search, I want the description of my song to ‘sell’ them on it, before they even hit play. The goal is to lock in every potential license, and that description plays a large role in making my song stand out from the others. I’m always offering them a reason why they should listen to it, and, at the very least, audition it for the scene. I'm selling them the product... the song.

Now, as an independent artist promoting your music to potential fans and customers, how do you do this?

One suggestion would be to include something unique about your song, or album, in your  social media posts. That could be an accomplishment or nomination the song or album achieved. If you’re actively licensing your music, and get it used in a tv show or film, include something about the placement.  

Post reviews of your music to generate interest from other potential customers.  Understand that anytime something has been validated by a reputable source, people will take notice of it. If you can generate some traction via tv placements, spins on local radio, reviews in music magazines, or even through song competitions, that provides proof that your music has value, and that value will bring people to your product.   

Sell The Product, Not The Packaging

There has never been a better time to be an independent artist. With the ease of creating 1 minute promo videos for Instagram, short clips on SnapChat, and full length videos for YouTube, as the artist you have more opportunities for promoting your music to tens of thousands of potential customers than ever before.  

Your success is no longer dependent on getting past the gate-keepers… there are no more gate-keepers. However, your focus, when promoting your music, should be to ask yourself:

  • "Why should people listen to this?"
  • "What value does this bring to their lives?"
  • "What story am I sharing with the world?" 

If you can answer those questions, you will already be giving them a compelling reason to spend their time and money with you.

Always remember to sell the product, not the packaging.

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