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A common promotional strategy for music enterprise is to employ a street team. This is essentially a group of nonaffiliated individuals who are enthusiastic enough about the music to put up stickers, distribute flyers, and generally enthuse about an upcoming release, gig or event.

Of course, the same thing can be done — perhaps even more effectively — in the online environment. It takes a little bit of thinking through, but once you know what your strategy is, having genuine enthusiasts at your disposal can spread the word like wildfire.

Social networking sites such as MySpace amplify and multiply the amount of reach your message can have as a result of each of these individual enthusiasts.

Personal blogs, MySpace comments, MSN chats, and other on-line social networking activities can reinforce your brand, music, or upcoming event in exchange for trinkets such as free CDs, T-shirts and concert tickets.

However, one thing is going to need to be true in order for this to work: as with the traditional ‘physical’ street team, your ‘virtual’ street team must be comprised of genuine enthusiasts.

And bear in mind — online enthusing is a little bit more sophisticated than simply handing out flyers to friends and classmates.

Assuming you find your enthusiasts, it would be a good idea to ensure that they know the ways in which they could be helpful to you.

One idea might be to have a preprinted list of approaches that they could take. For instance, a line that they could add to their e-mail signature, a phrase that they could add to their MSN identity, or just some clear information about where they can find music files that they can add to their own MySpace page would be a good start.

It might even be sensible to have a street team website where registered members of your team are able to source images, media files, up-to-date news and hints about effective techniques. This website would also provide an opportunity for a street team community forum where “official” fans can exchange stories, have privileged access to the artist, or simply socialise.

Of course, a properly rewarded street team will be an active street team — and active members of your street team will provide your best opportunity to network outwards and recruit further street team members. Never underestimate the value of freebies.

Of course, underlying all this are my usual assumptions and assertions. That is, that results may vary (and different genres will see different results) – and that you will not take this advice to mean ‘engage in spam’, ‘exploit the young’, or ‘poorly reward legitimate employees’.

It has to be a win-win situation.

After all, it’s hard to make the most of a band of enthusiasts if their enthusiasm is being undermined by the sense that they’re being ripped off…