Home | Articles | BookstorePromote Your Music | Music is Your Business | Subscribe
Twitter | Start a Record Label | Radio Promotion | CD Art Design | Music Career Help

"Gum at the Wall"
Marketing Approaches:
Why The Don't Work!
by Robin Spielberg, Independent Artist
Added March 2004

Back to The Academy

Focus marketing has been key in the success of our indie music label playMountain Music. I am constantly astounded by the sheer number of artists that take the approach of "throwing lots of gum at the wall and settling for what happens to stick". This is not only a waste of time, but a waste of energy and financial resources--all so precious to the hard working indie artist.

To be successful in this ever-changing business with ever-changing challenges, today's indie artist simply MUST be as passionate about business and marketing as they are about their music. No amount of money or hired expertise can substitute for the artist's own passion of getting his/her music heard.

And so, my first word of advice is start with your passion. Who do you want to reach? What are your sales goals? (come on, pick a number, any number) Is it your desire to build a huge radio audience? Is it to have a busy tour schedule? A little of both?

Here's one example of the "Gum At The Wall" marketing approaches not working:

I have seen artists whose egos were well-served by hiring radio promoters so that their indie records would gain airplay and perhaps even show up on radio charts. This is all fine and good. But what happens if you are actually successful in such a campaign?

Let's say your CD holds a position in the top five of your genre for several months? Ok, so some people have heard your music. But if you have not worked on successfully marketing your music to distribution outlets and stores, or if you have not at a minimum set up a web site shopping cart, you have spent good hard earned money on radio promotion without putting the building blocks in place and your CD buzz will end as soon as the radio campaign ends.

If this seems oh so obvious to you, then good! I have seen over a dozen artists make the exact same mistake I just mentioned. Their records received air play on nationally syndicated radio programs but were nowhere to be found in stores on or off-line.

Here in my own business office, we have a multi-pronged approach to marketing. First, we keep track of purchases made through our web site (www.robinspielberg.com). Having 12 CDs and 4 songbooks for sale, we know, for example, that we can send mailings to those who have previously purchased sheet music about an upcoming book release. This saves us the expense of mailing to the thousands of buyers who have not purchased sheet music, but are perhaps interested only in the holiday CDs. By using a database program like Filemaker Pro, we can organize our mailings by purchase, state or zip code, and coordinate these mailings with upcoming concert appearances. Moreover, e-mail newsletters advertising internet-only specials, go out quarterly.

We still use traditional methods of distribution such as Borders Books and Music, but now we complement them with the ease-of-use sites like Amazon.com and BN.com as well as our own site.

There is no need to be in every store in every state, or on every web site that sells music. Keeping our invoicing streamlined is, for us, the way to go. It can actually be HARMFUL to be in too many stores. Why? Because that means your inventory is "all over the place", and after six months time, it may very well come back to you cracked, chipped, broken, stickered... and all at your expense. Rotating distribution outlets , for us, makes a lot more sense. Believe me, if your fans are looking for your music, they will find it. And if stores are getting repeated requests for your music, the distributors will find YOU.

After experimenting with MP3.com, offering free downloads, we decided that digital downloading was not for us. Yet. Yes, 3000 people downloaded my bonus track from "Dreaming of Summer", but that just proved people enjoyed downloading the track for free. I am not yet sold on the digital download sites as a profitable business for indies. At the moment, I would rather put energy into foreign music licensing. It's a big world!

Contests, free concerts, playing for a cause (benefits), are all ways to grow the indie artist's mailing list, which is the #1 marketing tool in my book.

Focus marketing is not only the most economical approach to your music business. It is a way of focusing yourSELF, your music, and your own goals.


Robin Spielberg is a classically pianist and composer. After earning a B.F.A. with high honors from New York University, Robin began a performance career as a soloist in New York City’s finest piano rooms. In the Summer of 2000, she formed her own record label, playMountain Music with her husband, Larry Kosson. Robin has played Carnegie Hall to sold-out crowd, has been featured on Lifetime live, ABC World News This Morning, CBS This Morning and Good Morning Arizona. She has been a recipient of the ASCAP Popular Music Award each year since 1994.  

Submit An Article for Consideration!
Would you like to submit an article for publication at MusicBizAcademy.com? If you have music-related expertise you'd like to share with other musicians including career tips, how to's, or general music business-related articles, please feel free to send them our way. We'll be glad to consider them.
Submit your article!


Follow The
Music Biz Academy
on Twitter. Get instant notifcation of new music promotion tips tips, music business articles, resources and news. It's all business, all the time.

Subscribe FREE...
to the
Music Biz Academy newsletter! Music promotion tips, articles, site recommendations, and industry news will be delivered to your inbox. Details Here

How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet

How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet
This easy-to-read guide to music promotion teaches you how to effectively sell your music online! Learn what works and what doesn't from a musician who's now promoting music on the Internet full time!

Get Educated...
Master the Music Biz!
Online Courses. Many Programs. Learn Day or Night.
Details Here

Our Top 25 Articles
How to Write an Artist Bio
Performance Contracts
Mastering Your Music
How to Copyright Music
21 Songwriting Tips

Tax Tips for Musicians

Sell Your CDs Online

What's a Record Deal About?
Artist/Band Interview Form

Inside Record Labels
Internship Do's & Don'ts
How to Make a Living w/ Music

How to Write a Press Release
Reasons Demos Are Rejected
Facts About Music Licensing

Trademark Your Band Name?
Planning A Radio Campaign
A Legal Checklist
Industry Quotes to Live By
Songwriting Techniques
Guerrilla Marketing Tips
Starting a Music Business
Live Performance
Music Marketing Plan
Can U Afford Distribution?

Lots More Articles...

All Content © 1996-2013
Midnight Rain Productions.
All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy