When Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave and his long-standing collaborators the Bad Seeds released their latest album, Push The Sky Away, last year, they got creative in the way they marketed the album.
Cave, along with his artist managers, agreed on a strong digital push, releasing a video trailer marketed through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The band launched their album last February with a special, sold-out show at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, and a short work by film- makers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard about the making of the album was screened at the event.
Cave's co-manager Brian Message says: "We did probably just two interviews for the campaign, but there were no interviews with mainstream press, no television - we were just using the digital platform to get the word out."
He adds that the album has been faring well since its release.
Message, 48, who is also co-founder of ATC Management, which manages top-notch alternative rock acts such as Radiohead and PJ Harvey, was in town this week as a guest speaker during the Music Matters trade conference for industry types.
In an age when revenues from recorded music are sliding, he says the biggest difference between now and the 1990s is that there is a bigger emphasis on the "partnership with the artist in trying to grow his business".
"A critical part of growing that business is digital strategy and creativity. Digital allows you to be more global, trying to find communities of people whom your artist can resonate with and have some sort of relationship with," he says.
In the case of Cave, a film called 20,000 Days On Earth, which captures scenes that are meant to add up to a day in the life of Cave, will be released in September, on the back of his latest album, which won Best Album at the British Ivor Novello awards. "Much of the awareness of the film has been done through digital strategy," he says.
Cave is not the only established artist to come up with innovative ways to launch albums.
As early as 2007, British alt-rockers Radiohead released their seventh album, In Rainbows, through the band's website as a digital download for which customers could make whatever payment they deemed fair or even not at all.
Their frontman Thom Yorke later said in a 2007 interview with Wired Magazine that "in terms of digital income, we've made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever - in terms of anything on the Net".
Last December, R&B diva Beyonce dropped her latest self-titled album without warning at midnight on iTunes, delivering 14 new songs and 17 videos. The move was a success, with the album shifting 430,000 copies in one day in the United States alone.
Message says of Beyonce's strategy: "The visual side is really key, much more so than in the 1990s. You were making music, then making visuals to support it. Now, you're using visuals, whether short-form videos, lyric videos or long-form movies, all of that forms part of the overall plan."
Message says even for brand new acts starting out, getting creative is key in getting discovered through a variety of channels, including music streaming services such as Spotify and video- sharing site YouTube.
While he notes that "the digital world enables everyone a chance to be discovered", he cautions: "We live in a fantastic democratic world where it's inexpensive to make a record and video. But that doesn't mean you have the right to be successful. Success depends on a whole myriad of other criteria."
This article was first published on May 24, 2014.
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