July 27, 2008

Effective Music Marketing: Cold War Kids

Posted in Music tagged , at 2:02 pm by Andrew McMillen

Cold War Kids are releasing a new album in September. They’ve offered an MP3 of the song Something Is Not Right With Me for free on their website.

No catch. No personal details required. No mailing list opt-in. Just a song, for free.

I’ve already discussed Trent Reznor’s effective marketing for the most recent Nine Inch Nails material. This is a little different – a song, not a whole album – but the concept remains largely similar. It’s another instance of creative artists choosing to control the delivery of their music to their fans.

I downloaded the song, of course, and listened a couple of times. It’s not a great song, but still, I took the time to listen. My interest in their new album has increased as a result of the free offering. Logically, if they’re prepared to release this song at no cost, they’re saving stronger songs for the album release. Right?

Moreover, this is an example of effective music marketing because I was directed to the band’s website, and stuck around for a while.

They’ve got a pretty cool video introduction for their new album. It’s a shame that the user interface is lacking: high definition video is nice, but my connection couldn’t keep up the first time I viewed it. Jagged playback without on-screen video controls? By assuming that their audience all have high-speed connections, they’ve effectively – and perhaps, unconsciously – segmented their market. If the video runs shittily, the user isn’t going to stick around for long.

Regardless, I judge the free download concept as a success. They captured my attention for a few minutes. I listened to their creative output. And as an artist, isn’t that their primary goal? To achieve maximum exposure and visibility?

I generally don’t visit band websites. It just doesn’t cross my mind. I listen to music I like, and if I want to know more about an artist, I’ll check Wikipedia or their MySpace page. That’s it. All of these bands – some of my favourite artists – have websites that I’ve never seen. I assume that in many cases, the band’s record company outsources the build and development of a website for tens of thousands of dollars. And unless there’s a significant incentive – in this case, a free download – I’ll never visit the site.

This makes for an interesting marketing dilemma. How do you capture the attention of a user who rarely voluntarily visits band websites? I’ve already answered that question within this post. That I’m taking the time to discuss the band, their music, and their website suggests that this marketing campaign has been a success.

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3 Comments

  1. […] Right,” or “Web Done Wrong” Andrew McMillen wrote me to make sure I saw his post about Cold War Kids’ latest offering (or preview thereof). After a number of good points, he […]

  2. […] reading Andrew McMillen’s thoughts on the free track baiting game, I figured I’d throw something in to the mix. I do a […]

  3. […] I rarely visit band websites, as I’ve discussed. […]


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