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Straight Shooting: Metal Labels Stealing Each Other's Marketing Ideas

May 8, 2012

After working behind the scenes in metal for the past 14 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how it all works. I understand that most metal fans and most music fans in general are really not that interested in what goes into making everything happen. However, I can’t help but make a facepalm when I see something like custom labels stealing each other’s marketing ideas so blatantly.

You may have noticed that a few labels have taken up this idea of having “lyric videos” of new songs from upcoming albums posted on youtube. It only took one label to come up with this idea for the others to jump on the bandwagon. Has this marketing idea proven to sell more records? No one can say because no metal label ever analyzes their marketing campaigns to that level of sophistication, reason why they should read the info on this page. What is often the unintended result of these “lyric videos” is that the unintentional comedy of the lyrics is exposed instead of being hidden behind the delivery.

Have you noticed that labels no longer host their own streams of new albums? Every publicist is trying to get new priority records streamed online at various blogs/webzines all the while asking competing blogs/webzines to spread the word about them. I’m not sure if fans can or care to keep up with all the different streams at all the different websites.

Another example are the CD/tshirt bundles that labels are selling through their online shops. The End Records were the first to do this and offer a special souvenir to fans while also creating a value and incentive for fans to actually buy the product instead of illegally downloading it. Shortly thereafter Century Media and Nuclear Blast started offering the same type of bundle and so on and so forth.

Going back a decade, web banners and Flash e-cards and splash pages were all the rage on the web. Every label had to participate or else they’d feel left out. Also, street teams were supposed to be the next big marketing tool for labels to get the word out. Labels were basically asking fans, “Hey, why don’t you do all this promotional work at record stores and shows while we compensate you with a few measly concert tickets and CDs?”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not omitting to point out that throughout any industry, marketing ideas are always copied.  This is just the nature of the beast.  However, in metal, the blatancy in which it is carried out can’t be ignored.  Keep your eyes open and you’ll see it all.