Quantcast

Music Marketing Author and Course Instructor

Blog Post
Mercury Rev Using Free Music to Connect with Fans

Posted on 10/2/2008

Of course giving away a free record is nothing new huge bands who've had major label support throughout their careers (Radiohead, Prince, Nine Inch Nails, etc) have the luxury of releasing free music to their massive fanbases with the understanding that doing so will fill the seats in the stadiums when they are on tour. But how does a band capitalize on free music when they don't have this built in community, when they are not a household name?

Although Mercury Rev was signed to Columbia for their first two records, the bulk of their material was released by then-independent V2 (Richard Branson's post-Virgin label). The band has fluttered close to mainstream success (1998's Deserter Songs is a masterpiece), but has remained an indie favorite playing mostly mid-sized venues in the US.

Indie Label Yep Rock (who signed Mercury Rev for their latest, Snowflake Midnight) has put together a great plan to leverage free music to build up the bands fanbase, and draw interest to their new release. Promotion for the new record draws folks back to their Website (not their Myspace!), where the band is giving away Snowflake Midnight's companion release Strange Attractor, another full length record. Folks that sign up for the Mercury Rev mailing list get a link to download Strange Attractor as a high quality DRM-free mp3 that can be played on any device. The free release became available on the same day as their paid release hit the stores.

I think this is good marketing: they're providing a value add for old fans, giving new fans a reason to get on board, and most importantly, collecting a ton of email addresses that they can use down the line to announce tour dates, sell merch, sell tickets etc. And the fact that they are providing music that people can own outright, share, play at parties etc is huge. The fans are part of the action, and are playing a part in making the release of the proper record a true event (via word of mouth). There is SO much music out there, that it is easy for folks to get distracted. Bands need to take special care in keeping their existing fanbase interested, providing incentives for potential new fans, and above all continuing to build their community.

Blog Index

Interview with Don Passman
    posted 11/18/2009

Clay Shirky on Social Media
    posted 8/6/2009

Covering an Entire Album in a Day
    posted 6/18/2009

Goodbye Jay Bennett
    posted 5/26/2009

This Old Argument Again
    posted 5/22/2009

How to Get Your Music in TV and Film
    posted 3/24/2009

Mother of All Funk Chords
    posted 3/12/2009

Changes at Touch and Go
    posted 2/19/2009

Estelle Bennett – Ronettes
    posted 2/16/2009

Radiohead at the Grammy Awards
    posted 2/9/2009

Apple and the Replacement Cycle
    posted 1/25/2009

Lessig on Colbert
    posted 1/10/2009

Using uStream to Host a Webcast
    posted 11/19/2008

Top 20 Online Promotions for October
    posted 11/8/2008

Talk About Leveraging New Technology!
    posted 10/14/2008

How To Sell Music On Your Website
    posted 9/8/2008

The Word of Mouth Manual Volume II
    posted 7/21/2008

SXSW Interviews
    posted 4/19/2008

Record Store Day
    posted 4/17/2008

SXSW
    posted 3/16/2008

Why I am a fan of TuneCore
    posted 3/4/2008

How to get your music on iTunes
    posted 2/4/2008

The Trouble with the Future of Radio
    posted 12/3/2007

More losses at Big Box retail
    posted 11/25/2007

The (growing) Cost of Doing Business
    posted 10/30/2007

iTunes drops price of DRM-free music
    posted 10/17/2007

Instant Music
    posted 10/10/2007

Very Legit iTunes Rival
    posted 10/1/2007

Quote of the Year
    posted 9/21/2007

Prince and the Devolution?
    posted 9/14/2007

Does Street Date Still Matter?
    posted 9/13/2007