A contact of mine in New Zealand has a band on his hands that might just be interesting enough to get a bit of traction on the world stage. It’s niche, it has ‘geek chic’ written all over it — and he needs a few pointers. Let’s be helpful.

browsingI thought it was about time we did a case study, so we can see some of the main tenets of the 20 Things in action. It’s one thing to have a set of general principles, but quite another to see how those principles can be applied.

So I was delighted when I received an email from Scott Muir from Dunedin Music with a request for guidance on a really interesting promotional challenge he’s been giving a bit of thought to recently.

The challenge
Scott writes:

I am in a bit of a quandary and hoping you can help. A little band from here called Haunted Love made a video and put it on Youtube.

Its called Librarian.

It’s had nearly 39,000 views since Apr 9 and is the most popular Dunedin search on Youtube (I know that doesn’t mean much but…). They are getting around 1500 views a day and it’s taking off.

They have had 2 invitations for it to be screened at US film Festivals.

Now, we are wondering what to do next.

  • They have a Myspace page
  • They have a profile on our website and Youtube
  • They have 2 singles recorded of broadcast quality
  • They have a live show or 2 up their sleeves that they can point people at when they sort their own site (I have advised them to sort a basic blog page of their own this weekend).
  • The mainstream media haven’t yet picked up on it yet but I am fairly confident I can get them some airtime in NZ with it.
  • The question is how do they leverage this from there?

    The challenge unpicked
    While I would tend to ask far more specific questions about goals, ambitions and conditions if i was doing an actual consultation, I’m going to assume, for the sake of this exercise, that Haunted Love are interested in increasing their profile, playing larger and more frequent gigs and that they’re prepared to venture outside New Zealand for performances, but would like to continue to reside in their beloved Dunedin.

    This would, at least, be typical.

    I’m also going to assume that the band is more interested in longevity and sustainable careers as artists than they are in a one-hit wonder flash-in-the-pan success. I haven’t actually asked, but this is a case study not an intervention, so go with me on this.

    A quick SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) reveals that they would do well to focus on their quirky, ‘geek chic’, smart-women-are-cool appeal. This plays well in the US — particularly on the coasts. There are some particularly influential web-based opinion leaders in those territories, and not just to do with music and media.

    Things to bear in mind
    Of the 20 Things I go on about — while I’d argue that all 20 are important — it would pay in this case to give particular attention to Things 3, 10 and 19. That is:

    3. Opinion leaders rule
    One of your biggest assets here is the fact that the kinds of people you’re looking to connect with are the kinds of people who tend to read and write blogs — and the song is already in a format that people who write blogs and zines can easily put into their sites.

    I’d go one step further and offer these sites an mp3 to give away to their readership.

    There are a couple of places to go looking for the right sorts of people. First of all, I’d do a Technorati search on Librarian blogs and make sure you get in touch with as many of them as you can. I’ve taken the liberty of introducing the video to both Blyberg and Librarian.net. These are sites I read anyway, and it was on my way.

    Repeat this process for the Werewolf song (available on the MySpace site). There’s bound to be blogs and sites devoted to all things Werewolfy. I know that Whedonesque has a large readership — and that’s the spiritual home of all things even vaguely Buffy the Vampire Slayer related (for the uninitiated, that includes werewolves). I think you’ll find interested parties there.

    You also want to go to the Hype Machine, search on a few artists you think are similar, or represent an intersecting audience (I searched for Feist), and then approach the blogs that come up there. They all have audiences that might love to hear what you do.

    And of course, there are some very popular sites of all kinds that are read by geeks the world over, and you’re bound to make some connections there. It’s amazing how infrequently blogs get targetted in press and publicity plans, even in this day and age.

    I bet if you offered free downloads of the music through library websites, did a Libraries tour or something similar, BoingBoing would find that noteworthy.

    10. Professionalism
    It’s a great video, with high production values given what I imagine to be challenging budgetary restraints. The look of the YouTube profile is clean and professional, and it would make sense for the band’s website to reflect this.

    Not wishing to labour the connection (after all, this is not a one-song band) but having allied yourself with the library profession, I would be very careful about spelling, grammar and punctuation — but also I’d be clear about information organisation and layout. Having brought these people on-side, the last thing you want to do is send up ‘not one of us’ flares.

    The website for the band is the most important aspect of what happens next. Make it count.

    You’re building up a fan base at this point. 300-odd MySpace friends isn’t going to make for a sustainable live career, so think about giving away a track in exchange for an email address, so that you can start an ongoing relationship with people who have heard (and presumably enjoy) your music. Personally, I love the Werewolf track. I’d go with that one.

    19. Make it viral
    In a way, this is already taken care of, if only because YouTube videos are so easy to send to each other. However, it would be a great idea to find a way to get the URL of the website you end up with (I’m presuming hauntedlove.com is the way you’re going with this) as part of the viral marketing strategy.

    You need to think about the New Zealand angle. There is an existing professional context within which to fit — but this is changing all the time.

    Russell Brown’s started posting videos he likes at Public Address. That would be a great start — and I’m not aware of anyone directly targetting that as part of their press and publicity agenda, though it’s bound to happen any day if it’s not already.

    There are some other great New Zealand websites and blogs that would tell your story to their constituency if given good enough reason to do so – and don’t restrict yourself to music sites. Hell, if there was a website about movable shelving, I’d send them a link to your video.

    Get people to bring their friends. Get your message in front of more and more people. I mean, without wishing to labour the point, have you thought of CD giveaways from Libraries? Or — at the very least — flyers offering free downloads (in exchange for email addresses) at library issue desks?

    I won’t suggest the guerilla tactic of flyers inside library books (as bookmarks, perhaps). Surely that sort of thing is frowned upon.

    But maybe there’s a friendly librarian with a mailing list that will put a link to your site on their regular e-newsletter. Can’t hurt to ask…

    Haunted Love

    Overall Strategy
    Mostly, it’s about figuring out what you want to achieve with this stuff, and thinking laterally about the connections that are latent within the material. Then it’s just a process of joining the dots.

    If it was me, I’d be pressing up a double A-side 7″ record and selling it via mail order from the website.

    From all the free promos you’re giving away, there’ll be a significant proportion of people who want to have some tangible relationship with the band, and a nicely packaged slab of vinyl with a nice photographic sleeve might be one way to achieve that.

    I get the sense that here are two strong and interesting personalities. That’s always good material for a podcast. You might want to take a leaf out of the Lascivious Biddies book…

    Your turn to help
    There are, of course, a lot of other things that Haunted Love can and should be doing to capitalise on this initial modest success. Traditional media will be important, not least because there are a few really good stories at work here.

    But I’m interested in what the New Music Strategies readership has to contribute here. What do you think the next, most important steps for Haunted Love?

    Let’s be helpful in the comments.