Sometimes, its helpful to learn how launching happens in other industries. I know I’m inspired by the product launches of movies, books and music are launched.
When I’m not helping others run their online launches, I’m singing on stage with my band Rosie & the Riveters. In October of 2015, we are releasing our first studio album, Good Clean Fun! I thought I would share what happens behind the scenes to launch an album like this.
A little background
Rosie & the Riveters is a 1940’s inspired all-girl folk quartet. We perform at folk festivals and theatres in Canada. What we do is very niche. You’ll never hear us on your regular radio station, though you will hear us on CBC in Canada and fingers crossed, NPR in the US on something like Prairie Home Companion.
Rosie & the Riveters is an independent band. We don’t have a record label or manager. We manage ourselves and will hire contractors to help us release our album. Our album, the launch strategy and implementation is all done being done in-house.
A band is a business. We have more admin meetings than we do rehearsals. Performing takes about 10% of our time. The rest of our time is spent doing the same things you do in your business: accounting, administration, sales, marketing, strategic planning and customer service.
How is launching an album different than launching a program/product or service?
You get one chance to launch
In the music industry, you have one chance to launch. If your launch does not meet your expectations or goals, there is no do over. You cannot re-release (unless of course you’re as big as the Rolling Stones and its 30 years later). You cannot add bonuses or try at a different time of year. One run and you’re done.
You make a significant investment
The cost of creating an album can range from 0 to millions depending on your goals and your market. Our investment to create the album was $30,000. A good rule of thumb in the music industry that I like to follow is to invest the equivalent in marketing that you did to make the album. So, we’ll be investing $30,000 into the marketing of our album. This means before we’ve launched, we’ve committed $60,000 to the creation and launch of a single product that sells for $12.99-$15
There are at least 2 target markets
All musicians have at least two target markets: direct-to-consumer (a.k.a. fans) and business-to-business (booking agents, radio programmers, venue owners, festival directors, music supervisors and press).
Multiple income streams flow from one product
In this business model, an album feeds other income streams. The product generates more than just digital and physical purchases. It can generate radio and performance royalties, or license fees from placement in movies. It’s part of your online store and other products.
The album also serves as a business card. You send your album as an example of your work to generate interest. This interest fuels individuals to hire you to perform at festivals and venues. It also generates interest in covering your band in the press.
How is launching an album similar to launching an online product, program or service?
Launching an album follows the same system as an online product, program or service. I teach this system in the Fun & Simple Launch. You start with goal setting, creating a marketing plan, mapping out the timeline, and budgeting.
When the members of Rosie & the Riveters sat down to begin thinking about our record we started by asking ourselves these questions:
- Who are our target markets?
- Whats the best way to market to them?
- What kind of product do they want to buy?
- What are our creative and collective goals? What do we want to be known for? What kind of work do we want to do? What market do we want to serve?
The answers to these questions form the foundation of our launch marketing plan. Our fans are middle aged women. How you reach a woman in her 50’s is drastically different than how you reach a 17 year old male.
During this stage, we also assess the financial viability of our investment in this product by asking:
- How will this album make us more money?
- How many albums do we need to sell to breakeven?
- How will this album feed our other income streams?
- What is our estimated return on investment?
The Launch Marketing Plan
When creating a marketing plan for any launch you need to create multiple touch points. It’s also important to have a marketing mix that includes online AND offline strategies to reach both target markets. Ideally, most of your marketing will reach both targets at the same time since you only have so much time.
To reach our target fans, our marketing matrix includes online activities; such as, videos, blogging, email newsletters, social media and online advertising. Our offline activities include radio promotion, press, touring and postering to promote the live performances.
To reach our target market of music industry professionals, we utilize all of the above; as well as, attend and showcase at industry specific conferences where we extend personal invitations to connect with a handwritten branded postcard and email follow-up.
During the creation of the marketing plan is when we connect with collaborators that will help us execute the marketing plan. Some of the work, like design and online marketing, is handled by members of the band. Other activities such as radio promotion and publicity are hired out.
The Launch Timeline
Once we have an idea of our launch goals and the plan to market it, we develop a timeline. This is when we:
- Set a release date
- Work backwards from there to determine what needs to get done when
This sounds simple enough, but if you’ve ever launched you know that this is rather complicated. Implementing a launch marketing plan is far from linear, its more like a star formation where you are doing 5 things at once to move to the next level. You’re working with a large team with various deadlines, communication needs and strategies.
The product launch for our album Good Clean Fun! was over a year in the making.
That’s just the planning stage!
In the next instalment of “Behind the Scenes of a Product Launch”, I’ll share how Rosie & the Riveters are building desire for our album and creating the foundation for a successful product launch months in advance of the actual release.