Music Marketing

Bands Collaborating Instead Of Competing: Cross-Promoting With

This blog re-post is by Hilke Ros (@colorlessgreen) at Music Music Manager.

In my opinion, there is changing something in the economy because of the internet. Before the internet, it was the best strategy to protect your goods from your competitors if you wanted to be successful and get rich. Nowadays, you get rich on the internet by sharing, by collaborating with other people.

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A good example is the Facebook ecosystem. Facebook gives access to the data of its user base to other software developers, who build nice applications on top of the Facebook framework. Eventually we end up with a better situation for everyone: Facebook users can use great applications, Facebook has an overall better product to offer to the users and the 3rd party developers can build a business around the data gathered on Facebook.

The bottom line is: in the end you reach more by collaborating than by competing. How can we translate this to the music business and the practice of promoting artists? It is quite easy: bands can cross-promote. Artist A says that he likes band B a lot, the fans pick it up and they discover a new artist. Band B can do the same thing in return. is a power tool to cross-promote via social media. In the scheme below (made by Board of Innovation) you can see how the system works. In fact, artists are trading fan base reach with each other. Depending on the size of your fan base (they count your Facebook fans, Twitter followers and MySpace friends), you get a bunch of 'band bucks'. With these bucks you can 'buy' promotion campaigns on the channels of other bands. If the other band approves your campaign, a message about your band is automatically posted on the Twitter or Facebook account of this band.

I think this is really a clever recommendation model to extend the fan reach of bands. The major issue, however, is the following: as an artist I must be very careful about my authenticity and credibility. I only want to recommend the bands that I like and that are relevant for my fan base. thought about this and they stress that they don't send posts unless you approve them. However, that's not enough for me. I signed up for an account with my band Amatorski and I get about 5 promotion requests per day, but I didn't approve any. I think there are some weak points that should improve to make this work:

  • The messages of the bands that send me a promotion request contain too much 'promo talk'. I want to use my Twitter and Facebook account as an information channel, not as a sales channel. I guess the bands should get some education about this. It is like writing copy for Google or Facebook ads: it is important to find the most compelling phrasing and you must search for the best 'conversion rates' by testing different messages. could offer some automatic intelligence tools for this.
  • Closely related to this: I want to edit these posts which are sent to my accounts. It is my communication channel and I want to add my personal touch. The requesting band can make a suggestion, but in the end I decide which message is posted. My fans want to see it is something that I wrote. They hate and will ignore posts that look automated.
  • In the overview of promotion requests I want a simple play button to hear what type of music it is. I only want to recommend the artists that I like. Now, if I see this request from the other band, it's not easy to decide fast about the quality and relevance of the music.
  • It appears that I receive quite a lot of requests from hip hop artists. That's not really a good match with my own band Amatorski and the chance that I would recommend these artists is rather small. Nevertheless, users of can select artists by genre to pick the targets for their promotion requests. Maybe artists need to be educated about this too. Conversion will be better if you target bands in your own niche.This is related to the first point that I made. Maybe it is also a good idea to add some recommendation intelligence from or Pandora into the mix?

Conclusion: interesting model, but it needs some improvements. Below you find the video explaining the concept of Feel free to try it out. Sizzle Reel from on Vimeo.

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  1. Makes complete sense for bands to form casual collectives and build greater tribes together without the burden of a label model. There are lots of synergies between seemingly competitive bands, support acts have been cross promoting for years, so it makes sense to run a similar cross promotion concept on the social network scene too. A win win all round if managed carefully by all concerned.

  2. Once again – this is nothing but a spam machine. completely lacking in any authenticity.

  3. Won’t fans see through this ‘influence swapping’ scheme, just like they do on brand-sponsored tweets?
    I mean, we already recommend our friend’s bands to our fanbase. We don’t need to ‘keep score’ with those bands b/c we have an actual relationship with them, and they help us out in return.
    This whole thing feels a bit icky. No matter how you slice it, it comes down to getting paid (yes, swapping services is a form of currency) to tell your fans about other bands you don’t know.
    Also, I really don’t want to use up the limited attention I get with each of my fans to promote other Artists I don’t know. And I’m just not sure how valuable it is to have others creating non-authentic recommendations of our music.
    But I am curious to know if the company has released any stats about how well it works. but it has to be good stats, not stats designed to skew in there favor.

  4. What hypebot hater said – it’s a spam machine. What is hilarious is that all the artists who are actually taking up other band’s promotions are actually spamming the hell out of their Facebook followers. Some of the bands have NO POSTS WHATSOEVER apart from Headliner.FM promotion posts. Talk about breaking all the cardinal rules of engagement. Even though these bands are posting, I would imagine that hardly no one has been able to prevent themselves hiding those particular streams.
    Saying that, it has brought a few more clicks. But still – you’re only as good as the band who picks up your promotion, and when you’re just another spam message in amongst 1000s it’s going to wear people out.

  5. I’ve gotta agree with everyone. My facebook/twitter followers trust me with my musical recommendations. My only motivation in posting should be that I think they’ll like a band that I like. Not that I will get promoted on their page.

  6. I always like it very much when favourite artists perform on each other’s albums, especially when they are mainly studio musicians or producers. That the kind of cross-promotion works since the old days of “the CD release business” and still works today.

  7. Indeed, at this moment it feels like a spam machine, just like I said in the post. It can work if this type of recommendations are like 5 % of the communication towards your fans and if you can make the message personal.
    I don’t mind a system where unknown bands are recommended, as long as they fit in with my taste and my band’s music. But that doesn’t work well too…

  8. I thought this was a killer idea until I used it for a few months and now all my fans have begun ignoring my Facebook because it is a spam machine.
    Plus I sent out a promo to get more Twitter fans to thousands of people using Headliners own suggested tweet and didn’t get even one new follower.
    Oh Well. Back to the drawing board.

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