February 6, 2009
My favorite country music-related headline of the week: “Toby Keith Takes On Fashion with TK Steelman Clothing Line.”
In case you missed the latest in a long line of increasingly bizarre marketing attempts by country stars, Keith is planning on introducing his own clothing line into the marketplace. The “part rocker, part biker” themed clothing line will have a wide selection of options, including Keith’s trademark sleeveless shirts and leather wrist straps. Overall, the line is aiming for a “country sexy” aesthetic. (Somehow, that managed to put a smile on my face for an entire day.)
While Keith’s clothing line may be a little more about raking in the dough (and maintaining his spot on Forbes) than about selling albums, with the economy as it is and albums sales at an all time low, most country stars are resorting to almost anything to sell an album these days. But, what works? Does an appearance on a talk show (Letterman, Leno, Ellen, Today) pique your interest and convince you to buy? Do online blogs such as this one? Do online performances through Yahoo or AOL or videos posted on YouTube? Does intense fan devotion on MySpace or Facebook? Does promising backstage passes? A great bargain on Amazon? An exclusive with Walmart? Commercials? Radio play? Giving your music away a la Radiohead or Prince?
Or does the promise of an awesome concert sell albums? I applauded Kenny Chesney this week for announcing that Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert would join him on his upcoming summer tour. Those were genius choices. One leaning pop, the other country rock. Both are younger, with rising fan bases and great word of mouth. They should both help Chesney inspire people to come out for his annual summer tour based upon a lackluster album. My question this week is therefore the following:
If you were managing a new group, based on your own experiences, how would you go about marketing them? What works for you?