Saturday, February 6, 2010

The anti-promoter

A few days ago, a reader made this remark in the comments thread for my informal piracy poll.
I listened to your stuff on MySpace and loved it--and I expected to not like it at all for some reason ...

Naturally, I'm thrilled whenever I hear that somebody loves our music. It means we're doing something right.

But, "I expected to not like it at all ..." What to make of that?

I'm lousy at promoting Cinder Bridge. I know it. I can even list some reasons why: I don't spend enough time getting our name out there. I haven't discovered where potential fans hang out. I don't know how to get people to buy without being spammy and annoying, so I don't try very hard.

That said, I thought my only sins were not connecting with enough people, and not sufficiently engaging their curiosity. It never occurred to me that I could be making people think they'd hate us.

So now I have to figure out if I am, in fact, giving people a bad impression of Cinder Bridge, or if the commenter had preconceived notions that had nothing to do with me. Any insights would be appreciated.

P.S.We don't suck.

P.P.S. Please buy our album.


Three Chord Monty said...

I'm sorry--I'm a grump when it comes to stuff like going to MySpace pages. Nothing to do with you or your music, which I hadn't even heard! I think I did mention I tooled around in bar bands with people who were eager for success. I hated having to deal with promotion, which is ironic since this post is all about me & my biases. I'll email you through MySpace when I get a chance & try to explain a little more.

There's a line in the Replacements' 'Bastards Of Young' that I think speaks to inner conflicts in some like-minded folks when it comes to trying to achieve success in a rock band:

'The ones who like us least
Are the ones we'd die to please
If it's any consolation
I can't begin to understand.'

cinderkeys said...

Hey there. No need to apologize. I'm constantly searching for stuff to blog about and you provided me with a great topic. ;) Plus, if I were doing something to turn people off, I'd want to know about it so I could stop.

I tend not to receive my Myspace mail, but I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me at susan (at) cinderbridge (dot) com.

kylben said...

You might be interested in Seth Godin's take on promotion.

It's nominally a marketing blog, but more about principles than techniques. His take is that attention is the coin of the realm, and you have to earn it. You can promote yourself once you have earned a person's attention, and only to the point that you haven't overstayed your welcome. You earn it by providing meaningful content people want to see, and you spend it wisely by doing so in a way that is respectful and considerate.

Given that, why can't somebody listen to your songs, or buy your CD, right here on the blog page? You've already earned some attention whuffie from visitors here.

cinderkeys said...

Coincidentally, I just started reading Godin's Tribes.

I think I understand how to sell, say, a how-to book. How-to authors can go to other people's relevant sites and dispense useful, free advice without ever mentioning that they're writing a book about it. Then, after rightfully earning everyone's attention, trust, and respect, they mention the book, and people are excited to buy it.

I don't have advice. I have songs. The only problem most of them solve is "What should I listen to?" (The lone exception is "Everybody Knows About Me," which can be used to promote awareness of ME/CFS. I've gotten great feedback on it, but it hasn't led to people then buying our other songs.)

I'm hoping Godin addresses this kind of thing. Will give a full report on Tribes when I finish it. :)

kylben said...

It doesn't have to be advice, just interesting content. You can write about what it is like to do what you do, about songwriting, about other musicians you like, stories about live performances, qualities of different makes and models of keyboards, the history of music, the local Tucson music scene, things about the general indie music world, ME/CFS, etc etc etc, whatever it is you're interested in.

You already do some of that, so you've got a positive balance in your whuffie account.

Heck, you could even write about rebuilding truck transmissions or the taxonomy of palm tree species, if, for some strange reason, you are passionate about those things.

I once read a blog by a London high-end suit maker. He talked about fabric selection, the intricacies of matching pinstripes on seams, stuff like that. It was fascinating. If I ever want an English cut suit, you better believe I'm going to give him a call first, but I'm not ever going to use his advice to make my own suit.

The point is that if you give them something valuable, you have earned the right to ask politely to sell them something. It's better if the two are related, but not strictly necessary. And it doesn't have to be a sample of what you're selling, except in the sense that what you are really selling is yourself.

And to bring more readers here, you can find other places where people are talking about the things you are interested in, and participate in the conversation. A substantive comment earns you the right to put a link to your blog in the sig line.

Jannie Funster said...

Yes, I am going to buy it! Thanks for reminding me!

cinderkeys said...

Wow, the direct approach worked. Cool, and thanks!

Kyle: I'm already commenting on other blogs (the readers will have to judge whether they're quality comments), and that gains me a little traffic. But now that I think about it, I realize there are other places I could be doing this more. Onward.

Fireblossom said...

For the record, I love it when you visit and comment on mine.

cinderkeys said...

Ditto. And also for the record, there aren't too many poetry blogs I'd follow. I'm always interested to see what you'll think of next.

MOS said...

I'm puzzled about something. I read your blog both because I like your music and because we're closely related (even though you never write, you never call). How does someone who doesn't know you personally and has never heard your music come to read your blog?

cinderkeys said...

Ahh, technology. Providing new and exciting ways to mediate familial guilt. :)

Anyway, it works like this. Look at the names of the other commenters above. The names of those with a blog or other website are clickable. Click on one of the blue names, and you'll go to their site.

So when I leave a comment like that on someone else's blog, they can click on my name and see what else I write.