Anti-Marketing

post by Derek Miller

The Atlantic did a killer piece that highlighted the trend towards band’s using Anti-Marketing.

Short Version: Some indie bands are purposely obscuring their names, hiding their faces, and refusing interviews as a means of image-management.

Love it.

As I mentioned previously, becoming too popular too fast will hurt your band’s longevity. 

Buzz magnifies people’s expectations, which in small doses is beneficial for a band. But if too much buzz is laid on, the gap between fan’s expectations and the actual music is too wide, and the fan is left with a foul taste in their mouth.

Smart bands need to adjust how much hype gets pushed on them. Too little and the band’s fan growth stagnates but too much and the band’s fan base deflates. It’s all about managing expectations.

From the article:

From that point on, there has to be enough substance to the group to sustain them through the post-hype phase. Look at Die Antwoord. The South African rave-rap duo baited the media for months with a lewd web art, bizarre videos, scarce information, and exotic promise. Once people learned that they were a satirical act helmed by Johannesburg performance artist Watkin Tudor Jones, who had released music under other personas in the past, excitement for the group largely vanished, right on time for their Interscope debut, $O$, to debut at 109 on the Billboard 200—a flop by major-label standards.

Anti-marketing is a valuable tactic. It’s a pressure-release valve for when you feel that the press is going a little too far in their promotion of you. How to make the call when you’re getting extravagant praise is the real challenge here. Intuition is all you’ve got here, and that’s easily clouded by the ego getting all warm-fuzzy from the attention. In all likelihood you won’t need this tactic though, since most artists don’t get explosive hype storms.

Anti-marketing, like all tactics, needs to fit within the strategy of your art. Using a tactic that doesn’t fit your strategy is not a good idea. Self-aggrandizing rappers probably don’t have much use for anti-marketing. Bedroom produced indie-electro-pop is a different story.

Keep an eye on how much hype you get. Anti-marketing may one day be just the tool you need to keep buzz under control.

Derek is an MBA in entrepreneurship, painter, and bassist for Onward We March, a local progressive metal band. He teaches business skills to artists and writes weekly music business advice for his blog Derek Thinks Music. Got a business question about your art? Shoot him an email at derekmiller5@gmail.com

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