How to spend $100,000 to break an artist
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Two conversations I keep having as a music marketing consultant:
- “We’ve got the money, we just don’t know where to spend it. What actually matters?”
- “We have high hopes for this release but the budget’s tight because we’re already so far in the red”
When thinking about marketing a record, the first place I start is with the overall budget. It’s your greatest predictor of marketing activities and provides the following:
1) Viability of your marketing ideas
Many a time I’ve lead brainstorms that result in some sort of “pop up” concept around release week. Things like: storefront takeovers, artists giving tatts in real time, a stage where the artist can perform the new record with bespoke, themed cocktails for the event. There is absolutely no way you can execute this at the highest level on a $10,000 marketing budget, heck, probs not even with a $100,000 marketing budget. Therefore, your team should spend its time/resources investigating other ideas.
2) Feasibility test to see what shape ideas take
The budget determines how you pull off your marketing ideas. For example, if a music video needs to be made for $2,000 — the treatment and team will look a lot different to a $75,000 video. At $2,000, your cast are friends. The crew is stripped back and clothing will be borrowed and returned to store. Hair and makeup looks will be done by friends or by hitting the Sephora stand — you get the gist. The marketing budget predicts how something will be made — the creative restraints around the idea.
3) Prioritization of marketing activities
There’s the impulse to do everything — artists are creative by nature; they have squillions of ideas all the time. Music is one of the fastest evolving artistic mediums. Plus, with an ever evolving media landscape, you’ve got legitimately hundreds of paths to success. The marketing budget will tell you what to focus on and what to ignore at the given time.
4) Risk tolerance for new ideas
With a $10,000 budget you’ll be more risk averse. At $10,000, you’re likely self funding, so every dollar spent hurts. At $100,000, you may have outside investment from a label, distributor or private investor — therefore more open to risk. You also have wiggle room to experiment more.
So, the first question you should ask before starting any marketing campaign is, “What is the overall budget?” You should have an answer for this — put a stake in the ground rather than meet the question with “Well, it depends, what do you need?” or “We’ll spend if it looks like it’s working.”