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Welcome To The Heist: Marketing Tips to Help You Stand Out and Succeed

sourceWith Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ recent success of winning 4 awards at the Grammys, I wanted to explain a few factors that I think made the duo successful. Some people say they’re an “overnight success.” As a fan of Macklemore’s music, I can safely say this isn’t the truth.

It’s important to note that the duo is not signed to a major label deal. They operate independently with the help of a distribution company. I think all artists can learn from these guys’ success. Here are a few key points:

1. Stand Out From The Crowd. Be YOU!!

While the rest of the Hip Hop community seems to be focused on boasting about their riches, jewelry, cars, popping champagne, etc., Macklemore and Ryan are taking a different approach, like for example releasing a song called “Same Love,” which covers topics including sexuality, homophobia and gay rights. These subjects are definitely not common place in Hip Hop, but by raising the issue and standing by a controversial topic, they stand out from the crowd.

Another example of the duo standing out is their single “Thrift Shop.” This track doesn’t fit the mold of a usual Hip Hop track either. Macklemore isn’t talking about buying expensive high-end brand names, he’s talk about going shopping on a budget and not getting sucked into corporate brand marketing. This track again separates them from other artists, and most importantly, it’s relatable, which helped make it so popular.

2. Be Patient

There’s no such thing as an “overnight success.” Macklemore met Ryan Lewis in 2006, they released The VS EP in December 2009, and it wasn’t a very successful release. Prior to this, Macklemore released Open Your Eyes in 2000, The Language of My World in 2005, and The Unplanned Mixtape in 2009.  It wasn’t until 2012 when they released The Heist they had their first real taste of success.

As well as releasing albums, the duo spent years building a local audience, which later led to a nationwide movement. Another import aspect of their rise to success was getting a good booking agent, who started to secure small gigs for them. They continued to grow, playing at Seattle Mariners open day in 2011 and progressing onto festivals later that year.

3. Build A Strong Team

Building a strong team is a vital part of having a successful career in music. It doesn’t have to consist of industry veterans — a team of top execs may not always be the best option. You want people that believe in you and your music, and who you can fully trust. Invest in people that share your vision and have your best interests at heart. When Macklemore and Ryan Lewis met, Ryan was a producer, guitarist and photographer aged 17. He was far from an industry veteran, but Macklemore related to him as a passionate creative and they were both chasing the same dream.

If you look at the list of contributors on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ album, The Heist, you’ll notice there are no big-name artists. They used local singer-songwriters and musicians from Seattle. In addition to this, Macklemore’s merch and tour manager also manages their finances. It’s all about trust.

4. Connect With Your Fans

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis always connect with their fans in an honest and authentic way. Take a look at their Twitter and Facebook pages to see just what I mean.

For Macklemore, “being transparent about every aspect of my life is what makes my music relatable and how I’m able to be an individual amongst the mass amounts of other artists.”

5. Creative Control Is More Important Than Money

Of course having a certain amount of money is important, but I think it’s better to have creative control to express what you want through your art and make your own decisions. Referring back to my first point, I highly doubt that releasing a single about marriage equality on a Hip Hop album would ever have been allowed if the duo didn’t operate independently. If you combine creative control with a quality product, money is much more likely to follow. If your main focus is on making money, your art will suffer and reaching success will be more challenging.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis make music they want to make and let the world critique and create opinions. I personally have always stood by this and believe you should never make music to cater to a market; you should create something that you feel satisfied with, and whether or a not a person likes it is up to them. I can guarantee, if you don’t feel confident enough to stand by your own product, no one else will.

Numbers Don’t Lie

To conclude, here are a few stats on the three top singles from The Heist:

Thrift Shop

  • 500+ million YouTube views
  • US & UK sales approximately amount to over 8 million
  • No.1 in the UK Singles Chart and US Billboard Hot 100
  • Two Grammy Awards

Can’t Hold Us

  • 204+ million YouTube Views
  • US & UK sales approximately amount to 4.9 million
  • No.1 in the US Mainstream Top 40 Billboard Chart

Same Love

  • 114+ million YouTube Views
  • US & UK sales approximately amount to 2.2 million

Follow these simple suggestions, and you’ll be one step closer to seeing numbers like these in your future.

The Marketplace Presents: Naked Press

NakedPressHiring a publicist can be daunting and expensive. We’ve sought to make it easier for you with the launch of Naked Press in The Orchard Marketplace.

With a focus on UK press — an important market, to say the least — Naked Press will pitch your release to targeted outlets including The Guardian, TimeOut, Mojo, Uncut, Q Magazine, Drowned in Sound, The Times, and more. They can take on artists in any genre and come at an exclusive discounted rate of £80 per press release, negotiated specially for you.

How do you get started? Just install the app in the Marketplace for the artist you’d like to promote, verify your artist name and contact email, and fill out a description of the release in as much detail as you can muster, including genre to key in on, specific requirements, highlights, deep, dark secrets, and more. Well, as long as you’re ok with seeing those last ones in print — that is the goal, after all!

Once you’ve sent that off, Naked Press will review your request and reach out via the email you provided. You’ll discuss the release directly, get the approvals needed, and Naked Press will work its magic on your behalf. Check back in the app 7 and 21 days after your press release has gone out to review number of contacts reached, opens and click rate. You can also access a PDF copy of the release for your records.

Get a visual tour of the app below:

Naked Press is available via The Orchard Marketplace. Find out more about them on their One-Sheet.

Case Study: Red Fang “Whales and Leeches”

Red Fang

Goals

As a big priority for Relapse Records, our goal with Red Fang’s third album, Whales and Leeches, was to create an engaging digital marketing campaign that exposed the band’s music to new fans while giving their existing fan base the high quality interactions they were used to.

Tactics

Given the band’s charismatic and fun nature, optimizing Red Fang’s social media was key. We provided social post guidance that maximized our other marketing endeavors and organized a Reddit AMA to get fans excited and engaged about the album. We also designed multiple iterations of a Red Fang splash page with an embedded YouTube video, pre-order information for multiple retailers, tour dates and our Red Fang game link.

Speaking of, we highlighted the band’s penchant for fun, beer-chugging antics with an interactive online game, created by developers Eyes & Ears. The game challenged fans to digitally chug beers to the tune of Red Fang’s music, progressively unlocking new tracks from Whales and Leeches. We included multiple links to pre-order the album in various formats, and required fans to connect their Twitter accounts to join the Leaderboard, further leveraging the social aspect. The highest scorer won a Red Fang Prize pack.

Using the loyalty platform Tunespeak, we ran a ticket/prize pack giveaway for both legs of Red Fang’s North American tour from October through December. The contest encouraged fans to listen to, watch and share content for points to win the prize for each city. We also set up a SoundCloud guitar solo contest for fans to upload their original solos for the song “Blood Like Cream” to a group created for the contest. We received social support from SoundCloud on their blog, Facebook and Twitter, and the winner took home a gigantic prize pack including a custom guitar pedal from guitarist David Sullivan.

On the video side, we coordinated the filming of three videos at YouTube’s Next Labs space: an interview for Metal Injection, whose channel is part of our Multi-Channel Network (MCN), a track-by-track album commentary for Relapse’s YouTube channel, as well as a play-through video which premiered on Gear Gods. Additionally, we secured VEVO playlisting and coordinated a Rolling Stone exclusive premiere for the “Blood Like Cream” video.

Last, we ran an extensive and successful ad campaign including Facebook, Adwords, pre-roll and banner ads. We built a remarketing group through the splash page to better target our ads, and placements included Rolling Stone, AV Club, TimeOut, Loudwire and more.

Results

  • Facebook Page Likes increased by 30.2% and Twitter followers increased by 18.8%
  • Beer-chugging interactive game attracted 16,295 unique visitors and 41,802 pageviews in one month, with an average visit duration of 2:07 minutes (NB: typical average page visit < 1 minute)
  • The Tunespeak giveaway generated 41.9% share-to-action participation, with 56% of full songs played and 69% of full videos viewed
  • 75 entrants submitted their original recordings for the SoundCloud guitar solo contest, which is impressive given the specific and highly-involved task at hand
  • Whales and Leeches debuted at #67 on the Billboard Top 200, #12 Independent Albums, #9 Hard Rock Albums and #21 Tastemaker Albums

Start Tagging on Facebook, It’s Time

label_tagTwitter and Facebook both offer the ability to tag people and pages. Twitter got us in the habit of using that @ sign early by offering the instant gratification of alerting friends and creating conversation. Facebook introduced tagging later on, though. Although tagging a page alerts the owner and might display the original post on a condensed sidebar, Facebook lacks the quick amplification of something like a retweet.

Well, it’s time to get in the habit of tagging relevant pages on Facebook. Big changes to the newsfeed algorithm will affect who can see the posts that your page makes. Facebook will soon be showing your updates to the fans of pages you’ve tagged whether they’ve liked your page or not. Here are some tips for making the most of this new feature:

googleplay tagged on faceook post1) Tag retailers

This one is simple. If your album is on iTunes and you’re sharing an iTunes link, tag iTunes’ Facebook page in the post (or Amazon or Spotify or Rdio, etc.). Just make sure you’re tagging only one retailer per post. Facebook won’t want to show a post including Spotify tags to Amazon’s followers since the content is inaccurate and irrelevant to the fan base.

2) Tag similar, relevant artists

Posting about tour dates? Tag the other bands that are also on the tour. If an album has guest appearances, tag the artist appearing on the track(s). Tag the director of a new video and tag the blog or website it’s premiered on. The information in your post is interesting to the fans of the pages you are tagging, so make sure you share this info with them, too.

spam facebook post3) Be relevant

Notice a word that I keep repeating? Facebook isn’t going to share just any tagged content with any page. Facebook wants to increase the reach of content by matching it to potential fans that will genuinely find the post interesting. Facebook doesn’t want a crazy spam situation where every band is posting a link to purchase their music and then tagging @Pepsi @LadyGaga @KanyeWest @Ford to try to get the post in front of everyone possible.

4) Be patient

Just like everything on the internet, this will probably lead to a lot of complaints. Algorithms need data to better themselves and there will probably be quick changes and less-than-perfect user experiences as this new feature is integrated into the newsfeed.

For more info on making the most of your Facebook posts, check out our best practices guide.

Engage with Streaming Services to Better Engage Your Fans

Engage with streaming services: playlistingAs more and more of our clients here at The Orchard see streaming services generating a major share of their revenue, a blog post about marketing your releases on streaming services seems pertinent.

À-la-carte download stores do not always have the discovery dimension that full-length streaming functionality offers, and the structure of the store is very much built around a lead homepage and a few editorial pages. Marketing your releases on such a service is therefore highly dependent on the relationship you’ve built with the editor and the quality of your pitch.

With streaming services who boast about 20 million tracks open to for users to browse and listen to, the game has somewhat changed. Other than Beats who position themselves slightly differently, a lot of these services make heavy use of algorithms to populate their recommendations or browse sections, limiting editorial placement so far.

To help increase your visibility despite these restrictions, here are a few guidelines on what you can do to market your content on streaming services:

Less is more (isn’t it always?)
It’s more effective to make fewer playlists containing a limited number of tracks (10-15) and keep them updated regularly. Every time you update your playlist, your followers receive a notification.

Keep an eye on what’s trending
Consider including tracks that are popular at the time into your playlist in order to increase your chances of gaining more followers. Your playlists don’t necessarily have to include releases from your catalogue only.

Weave your own web
Good ideas for artist playlists are themes such as what they listen to before going on stage or what they listened to while writing their album. These playlists also offer a great opportunity for artists from a same label to include each other.

As a label,  you can take advantage of a large catalogue by creating playlists around  one of your strongest genres.

Be active on the service, even when you don’t have a recent release
No matter what stage you’re in in producing a new record, it is important that you not wait until said release is coming out to start engaging with streaming platforms. On a service like Spotify, you want to build a base of followers before the release comes out, so that when it finally does, all your followers get a notification about it.

In a nutshell, you want to keep your profile exciting. If you need ideas or additional best practices, keep an eye for service-specific resources, like Spotify for Artists, and follow our updates on The Daily Rind.

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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