Viral may be the only kind of marketing that works with modern music consumers. Who can you trust more than a friend to help you cut through the clutter to find music you actually want to listen to?
More and more artists are encouraging fans spread the word with forwardable ecards, widgets to drop on personal blogs and MySpace pages and a multitude of other devices. But now some artists are going a step further offer rewards for telling friends about a new release or live show.
Dualtone sing/songwriter Brett Dennon offers a free private living room concert, iPods and other prizes to the fans who forward a promotional page to the most people.
Unsigned Ohio band Black Cat Revival goes the next step offering ranks and prizes in their street team "army" for getting people to actually sign up for their mailing list. This promotion is ongoing with rankings and very generous rewards like:
- Sergeant: 25 subscribers. You get a free T-shirt or Baby-Doll T as well as free admission for 2 at a show of your choosing.
- Major: 250 subscribers. This earns you permanent guest list status. Never pay for a show again. Ok, fine, we'll take you out to dinner and have another party for you too.
- Colonel: 500 subscribers. You get a weekend in Vegas for 2. No joke. We pay for the flight and hotel, you go and have fun. 'Nuff said... (Black Cat Revival via Digital Music)
On the surface this is all smart marketing. But how long will a "trusted friend" remain a believable source of music and information when its revealed that their enthusiasm has been bought or as least influenced with prizes?