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Want Your Album to Stand Out? Make it a Video Game, Too!

21 Oct

That’s just what rock band Okkervil River did. Lead singer, songwriter and producer, Will Sheff, thought he’d give his fans something extra. So he designed an 80’s-style online video game to go with the band’s new release, Silver Gymnasium. And they called it … wait for it … Silver Gymnasium. Hey, why not? And the album’s music serves as the video game’s soundtrack.

Reinforce the name of the album, give your fans something else to love about you, and get the word out. Sounds like a great plan to promote your music!



The Silver GymnasiumVideo Game
Okkervil River: Official Website

Wine+Dogs. Music+Homeless. That’s Cause Marketing!

14 Oct

I love dogs. I love wine. Hey, there’s a wine that benefits dogs? Yeah. It’s called Pinot for Paws. What’s not to love about that?

A marketing campaign targeting wine lovers? Check. Targeting dog lovers? Check. Thus it got my attention. And of course, it made me smile. It also got me thinking about Cause Marketing. Because that is what this is.

Post.CauseMktg.Wine.10.9.13.braceletsAnd what is Cause Marketing? It’s a marketing strategy that creates awareness for your brand by partnering with a “cause” that your customers care about. It is a feel good solution for the marketer. A warm, fuzzy feeling that they want to impart so we feel good about them, the brand, and their product. In fact, consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about.

CD.RoyOrbison&RCCola&HomelessI have done lots of Cause Marketing campaigns. For instance, RC Cola’s licensed music premium featuring Roy Orbison’s music that benefited the National Coalition for the Homeless. It was such a success that we even produced a landmark concert. Roy Orbison’s widow called saying that Tom Petty and Bob Dylan wanted in and would play a benefit concert. Well, yeah! Let’s do it! And we did.

We hear about a lot of such partnerships now. Back then it was still new. Not so prevalent. But there is one thing that remains true, then and now. That is, it must make sense. For all parties. The sponsor, the brand. The benefiting charity, the cause. The artist, the talent. And the consumer, the audience, the customer. All must care. All must work together seamlessly. And the campaign must be mutually beneficial for all the participants.

Does Cause Marketing work? Here are some facts. 54% of American consumers bought a product associated with a cause over the last 12 months; 89% would switch brands to one associated with a cause given comparable price and quality; and 91% wants even more of the products and services they use to support a cause. (2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study) Says a lot for the efficacy of Cause Marketing – what it can mean, what it can do, what it can promote. That it can do a lot of good, well, that’s what we marketers strive to achieve.

Post.CauseMktg.WinePetAdoptions.OneHope.10.8.13So back to the wine and the dogs. Here’s the deal. Buy a bottle of a Rob Mondavi, Jr. hand-crafted 2011 ONEHOPE California Pinot for Paws Pinot Noir and half of the profits from sales goes to supporting the ASPCA’s pet adoption efforts.

Match a wine with a cause.
Proceeds of sales go to that cause.
Wine brand gains awareness.
And it’s the dogs that benefit.

I can go for that. Cheers!


Pinot for Paws pic: ONEHOPE Wine Official Website

September Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

30 Sep


Did you know September is Piano Month? Celebrate the great instrument. Listen to the piano opening on Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water…There’s Yamaha’s new stringless piano. WWVCD. What would Van Cliburn do?…Boston rolled out 75 pianos all over town for people with skill or not, to play on and enjoy…Yoko Ono’s new album, Take Me to the Land of Hell, Yoko.albumcover.9.29.13features Questlove and Lenny Kravitz. The ever peace-promoting Yoko took a NY Times full-page, as is her custom, posting the lyrics to Cheshire Cat Cry. “I’m rolling in your dreams, listening to your screams…Stop the violence, stop all wars.”A Night With Janis Joplin concert musical opens on Broadway…Elton John and Sting released new music…The San Francisco Opera premieres Stephen King’s downright operatic story Dolores Claiborne. “With a Stephen King novel you find a person in extreme situations, and I was drawn to the psychology of that, of how we cope, how we feel,” says librettist J.D. McClatchy…The NY Phil played the score to Kubrick’s great 2001: A Space Odyssey, while the Post.RayChalesStamp.Sept.2013film played on a screen behind the Orchestra…Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, and Bono helped fight poverty at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park…Renee Fleming sang, yes, sang the Top Ten List of opera lyrics on David Letterman’s Late Show…The US Postal Service honors Ray Charles with a stamp, released on his birthday, September 23. Also offered is a CD of his greatest hits. Honor this true music icon, buy his stamp. By the way, the stamp sheet looks just like a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. Very cool…And Cher sang and talked everywhere upon theCher-Closer-to-the-Truth-Album.9.29.13 release of her new album, Closer to the Truth. Cher on Cher: “I’m serious about my work, but I don’t take myself seriously.” The single, I Hope You Find It, is pure Cher – all heart…The good news is Maestro James Levine returns to the Met Opera after a terrible fall which kept him away too long…And at the Met Museum, musicians performed period music that complemented the art in the European Paintings gallery…Alas, there is not good news for the NY City Opera company. This “people’s opera” is in need of money, lots of money, to survive. Losing an arts institution is in no one’s interest. The place Beverly Sills called home needs a benefactor who cares, really cares. In the meantime, there’s a Kickstarter campaign…The One Day University offered classes in Beethoven’s Ninth (The Story Behind the Masterpiece) and Gershwin, Ellington and the Search for an American Sound…Music plays a role in two new documentaries. Muscle Shoals about that Alabama city’s huge musical legacy. And Metallica Through the Never, a concert film. Bring your earplugs…Sir Paul, y’know the Beatle, released the single, New. “All my life, I never knew what I could be, What I could do, Then we were new.” Could it be a (silly) love song?…Finally, noted in the NY Times under In Memoriam: Isaac Stern, July 21, 1920-September 22, 2001, Fiddler.


One man follows his dream and is an eyewitness to a noteworthy decade’s highpoints. Documentary filmmaker Chris Szwedo held a private screening of Eye on the 60s, a mesmerizing view of the sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious, and always very interesting photographer, Rowland Scherman. He started out taking pics for the Peace Corps which led to the Kennedys, then BobDylan-Halo.9.29.13RFK’s campaign tour, the March for Jobs and Freedom in DC, and to Life magazine. Barbara Walters, the Beatles, Mapplethorpe and Smith, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Arthur Ashe. There isn’t a pic he’s taken that isn’t seared into our collective memories. Scherman’s passion, his love, and his curiosity are displayed throughout his work – and all share his clear-eyed view of humanity. Oh, by the way, y’know that pic of Dylan with his hair in a halo, yeah, the pic on the cover of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, yeah, that one? That’s Rowland Scherman and it won him a Grammy. This film is not only a wonderful look at the 60s, with all the pleasures that come with that. It is a document of an artist’s intertwined life and career. Hope you catch it. I loved it.


Although her singing has been silenced by Parkinson’s, Linda Ronstadt’s voice LindaRonstadt.9.29.13is open, honest, and sure in her new memoir, Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir. With Heart Like a Wheel playing in my head, her memoir felt as heartfelt as her performance of that song is genuine…Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep arrived. In this sequel to The Shining, Danny Torrance is all grown up. Is he fighting his demons? “Dan didn’t think he’d had such a clear shine inDramaHigh.9.29.13 years. It brought a ghost of delight that went back to earliest childhood, before he had discovered how dangerous the shining could be.”…Michael Sokolove’s Drama High about a public high school’s drama program is “the incredible story of a brilliant teacher, a struggling town, and the magic of theater,” and is a testament to the importance of arts education.


We can be heroes. Animal Planet’s Hero Dogs of 9/11 is a tribute to the 300 K-9 DISASTER RELIEF NIKIEdogs who played an important role in the rescue and recovery efforts at ground zero. “They will literally put their lives on the line for us.”…And heroes were in abundance at the annual AKC Meet The Breeds show. From the Irish Wolfhound to a teeny Chihuahua. Beauties with big hearts all. Alas, the Westies were a no-show at the show. But Angel-on-a-Leash.9.30.13.crI had a wonderful visit with David Frei. Host of the Westminster Dog Show, his Angel On A Leash is all about therapy dogs…Along with a new year wish for peace, I leave you with a Rabbi’s sermon on love. It is not what we feel, but rather what we do…When words of likability come cheap, our deeds matter more. When our emotions become a mere mouse click, our tangible actions define true relationship.” Read it, share it, dig it!


Simon&GarfunkleInCentralPk.9.29.13Posts on Yvette Perry’s Blog include lookalike book covers, Neil Diamond’s songwriting process, the Simon and Garfunkel Concert in Central Park, George R.R. Martin’s take on fantasy, and Diana Nyad’s mantra…Also posted there is this newsletter so you can easily share it with your friends. Just click on any of the share buttons below each post.


 Soundtrack to this Issue is Cher’s Believe,
performed live in concert in Las Vegas.
I believe in Cher.

 Buddha, stay. Good“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”  (Buddha)

Yamaha’s AvantGrand N3: David Pogue, The NY Times
Dolores Claiborne quote: The Sacramento Bee
Ray Charles stamp: Yves Carrère, photographer/USPS
Cher’s I Hope You Find It: The Today Show
Cher quote: CBS Sunday Morning
Eye On The 60s: Chris Szwedo Productions
Bob Dylan Halo pic: Rowland Scherman
Love sermon: Rabbi Benjamin Spratt

Because Patti Smith Knows

26 Aug

I have known Patti Smith. A smile at the ready, a warm embrace of loving kindness always, and a generosity unbounded. Patti Smith, songwriter, singer, poet, painter, photographer, and author. In a word: artist.

MMM.PattiSmith.8.26.13With her 1975 debut album, Horses, a classic, she influenced a music genre. She also influenced a state of being, an attitude, a style. References cite her as the Godmother of Punk. Cliché. Patti, well, she’s everything but cliché. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 and won the National Book Award in 2010 for her memoir, Just Kids. Her honesty, openness, and devotion to truth course through all her work. What Patti Smith is is cool.

As far as optimizing your marketing mojo – that is, your creative integrity – no better advice than what Patti Smith learned from William S. Burroughs:

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful – be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.”



Pic: Amazon (vinyl)
Quote: Interview by Christian Lund, Louisiana Literature festival, August 24, 2012, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Seth Godin’s Got a Point. Doing Marketing? Get It Right!

12 Aug

A Seth Godin blog post about marketing – marketing gone bad – not only resonated with me at the time I read it, it stayed with me. I want to share it with you.

First, why did it resonate with me? It was because of two recent conversations. The first was with an actor who told me that he understands my challenges because he’s “been marketing [himself] his whole career.” Well, that’s not so. My retort left unsaid was, “No, what you’ve been doing is trying to sell yourself.” Using the tools of his profession in the way it’s always been done. Sending postcards and head shots, posting projects and appearances. And that’s just not the same thing. When you have strategy and planning – with the know-how! – well, that’s marketing.

The second example was with a new client. After I outlined such a marketing strategy – with the basics and supplemented with thoughtful ideas to generate new audiences – she told me that she had already done all those basics. Meaning, she was set. But that’s just the beginning. Those basics must then do the work they’re supposed to do. That will involve refining each of those tactics. Getting them right so that they will reach your target. Getting them right so that the target will know what action to take. Getting them right so that your message is delivered.

Marketing and strategyIn both these examples, they’re not getting the results they desire. Why? Because it’s not enough to do the basics, it’s not enough to go through the motions. Marketing is not just a word to bandy around. It’s not something anyone just knows how to do. It took me many years of working with colleagues and clients. Of doing it again and again. Many clients from diverse worlds – music, the arts, corporations, tech products, luxury brands, nonprofits. A gamut of interesting projects. Different targets, but with similar goals. Promote the product, bring in the audience, get new customers, make them loyal. I can do that. Effectively. The magic word. It’s what I do. I also know where my experience doesn’t live. That would be acting, for one, and running a school for another. I’ve honed my strengths and love to share them.

So, Seth Godin’s treatise resonated with me. Everyone isn’t a marketer. Notice what isn’t working. And get help – from a pro. Hey, I do!

Seth Godin’s Blog Post

More people are doing marketing badly…
than any other profession I can imagine. What an opportunity…

If we were building bridges this badly, the safety of our nation would be in doubt.

The local sub shop makes a fine sub, but has a dumb name, a typo in its sign, no attention paid to customer service and on and on. Same for the big hospital down the street and the politician you wish would get a clue.

There are three reasons for this:

1. Everyone is a marketer, so there’s a lot more of it being done.
2. Most people who do marketing are actually good at doing something else (like making subs) and they’re merely making this up as they go along.
3. There’s no standards manual, no easy way to check your work. Without a rule book, it’s hard to follow the rules. (For the innovators and creators out there, this is great news, of course.)

The cure? Noticing. Notice what is working in the real world and try to figure out why. Apply it to your work. Repeat. Learn to see, to discern the difference between good and bad, between useful and merely comfortable. And after you learn, speak up. Noticing doesn’t work if you don’t care and if you don’t take action.


Posted by Seth Godin on July 18, 2013

M&Ms and Meat Loaf: Delicious!

5 Aug

The M&Ms ad featuring the Meat Loaf song, I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) marries music and a loveable character – a great song and a great product – clearly and seamlessly. Mars© calls it their Love Ballad commercial. The campaign’s goal is to show how “M&M’S irresistible chocolate makes moments more fun and delicious.” With the lovelorn Red channeling his inner Meat, the message is delivered sweetly (after all, it is about candy) and not too syrupy (no one could ever accuse Jim Steinman of being syrupy!). This is another great commercial that makes me stop and watch it every time it comes on. Surely, a great song will do that! And never mind that the big question around this #1 Billboard hit has always been: What exactly is that?



Song: by Jim Steinman 1993 Edward B. Marks Music Co.
Video: M&M’S®/Mars© Official YouTube page
Quote and Pic: M&M’S®/Mars©

Geico’s Happy Camel on Hump Day

15 Jul

There is a TV commercial out now that always makes me smile. And it makes me happy. It’s Geico’s happy camel on Wednesday, aka Hump Day.

MMM.HumpDay.7.15.13.camel“Uh-oh. Guess what day it is? Guess what day it is.” Who doesn’t love a talking camel? And it really looks like he’s talking! “Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike…” I smile as soon as this comes on. And I stop and watch it. Every time. Wow! That’s one happy camel.

Can a commercial have such a happy effect? This one sure does. It’s one in a series that is all about making you happy. It’s Geico’s “Happier Than” campaign and the brand message? Thanks to the extra money you’ll save by switching to Geico car insurance, you will be happy, too.

A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”

The great advertising guru, David Ogilvy, said that. And it applies to Geico’s advertising strategy. Geico started out during the Great Depression providing auto insurance to federal employees. It is now the third-largest U.S. auto insurer. How did they get there? They built their brand identity with name recognition and got noticed in a very competitive category. They made their message stick in the consumer’s mind with a compelling message coupled with a whimsical and entertaining approach. By appealing to consumers this way, Geico is standing out in a cluttered marketplace.

The Martin Agency says about its ads, “People can now accept more complex brands with multiple, distinct narratives highlighting various aspects of the brand.” The gecko, the cavemen, the whee! pig. And now the camel. Making all these characters human and likeable while maintaining the brand messaging has been key to their approach.

Another one that makes me smile and happy has Eddie Money happily running a travel agency where he gives his customers, yep, two tickets to Paradise. “I’ve got two tickets to Paradise. Pack your bags we’ll leave tonight.” C’mon, how cool is that?

Applying humor for a product that doesn’t inherently make one laugh (hello, car insurance)? And making it memorable, too? Isn’t that what good advertising is supposed to be? This ad sure is memorable. And not only do you remember it, it makes you smile when you do.


Camel pic: Geico Facebook Page
The Martin Agency quote: The Financial Brand

Monday Marketing Mojo: Dig This!

1 Jul

Start the week off with these thoughts to get your mojo juices flowing.

Why is Y sometimes a vowel?
OK, so with a name like Yvette you got me. I had to know. In school we learned “A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.” In yes, Y is a consonant and in gym, it’s a vowel. Y, I mean why, is that? Because writing and speech are different – the concepts of vowel and consonant properly belong to the domain of speech.

Sony-walkman.7.1.1334 years ago the first Sony Walkman walked the Earth
Sony’s chairman wanted a small device to listen to his music while travelling. And so on July 1, 1979, the Sony Walkman was introduced. The world’s first portable cassette player changed how we listen to music. It cost $200 and weighed 14 ounces (today’s iPod weighs 4 ounces). Sony promoted its portability and hi-tech qualities, touting it as the thing you wanted, that you needed, that you had to have!

Johnny Depp on Music
“Music is my life … It’s my natural habitat, to have a guitar strapped to me.” CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose asked Johnny Depp, “When you play, you didn’t want to be the vocalist, you wanted to be in the shadows?” Johnny’s reply, “… the idea of being the lead singer, of being the front man … I’d rather be Keith than Mick, no disrespect.”

Go to Twitter for Your News?
Here’s what Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein feels about getting your news from Twitter: “I really try not to get my news from Twitter, which has a reputation as a place where people go and find lots of great news. I find it a place you go to find, I guess, your barbecued potato chips … A lot of stuff that is kind of interesting, mostly not that good.”

Record Producer Rick Rubin Is Ruling the Charts
Asked about his working with Johnny Cash, Rick Rubin had this to say: “… there was a song he wrote, I can’t remember which one it was, but I listened to it and said, ‘Do you think you could take some of the I’s and me’s out of it?’ And he thought about it and he was like, “Yeah, I think I can do that.” And he did. So 10 years later, I’m visiting him in Nashville … I said, ‘What have you been working on lately?’ And he said, ‘I’ve been working on using I and me less.’ And I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Yeah. Remember? You gave me that comment on the song? That’s what I’ve been working on.’ Incredible. He didn’t mean it in the context of songs. He meant it in the context of life.” 

Dylan Tribute Helped by a Kickstarter Campaign

10 Jun

A proud city wants to honor one of its own. The Dylan by Duluth campaign is hoping to raise $159,000 to build a statue to honor a favorite son. Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, MN in 1941, or as its mayor calls it, Bobland. The bronze statue will stand over 12 feet tall and hopefully sit somewhere near Highway 61.

MMM.KSDylanStatue. nice way to honor an admirable legend, this is actually a thoughtful way to market a city. As Duluth Mayor Don Ness says:

Bob Dylan is rightfully regarded as one of the world’s most important artists of the last 50 years. I support this project as a way for our city to recognize our most accomplished native son and to celebrate Duluth’s authentic arts and music ethos, inspired by the place we call home.”

MMM.duluth-mapYou know what? This marketing model has potential. It is a soft-pedal approach to generate awareness for a city. Although this seaport city on Lake Superior may not offer the flash of other tourist destinations, it does possess a place in our collective musical history. This soft-sell approach can reach a new audience besides the normal tourism route – Dylan’s fan base, music lovers who may not have ever considered visiting his city of birth.

Creativity, passion, and an honorable goal. By creating a campaign that honors an artist with another artist’s work (sculptor Tom Page), this is something that perhaps Mr. Dylan, too, can appreciate.

As of this post, the campaign which started on June 3, has received almost $7,000 from 50+ backers. If you would like to help make this tribute to Dylan a reality, go to the Dylan by Duluth Kickstarter Campaign page.

P.S. Oh, and Mr. Mayor? Here’s a marketing tip for you. You know your Homegrown Music Festival that happens the first week in May each year that features over 150 local musical acts performing across the city? Be sure to incorporate the festival and the artists into your marketing strategy when you promote the Statue’s installation next year!

Monday Marketing Mojo: Like Wow, TV!

3 Jun

Although this week’s Monday Marketing Mojo is geared towards my music followers, this advice is useful for any performing artists, techs, and small biz owners, too.

What if you could get national visibility on TV? Watching a band get the golden opportunity of a music appearance on a major national morning show this week, got me thinkin’. Are you ready? If you got that chance right now, are you ready? Whether your goal is to keep on keepin’ on or to reach the next level, be a pro in either case. If you act like a pro, you will be perceived as a pro. And being a pro means being your best and bringing your A game to the Big Show.

In promoting yourself to a national audience, consider these factors:

Your appearance: Please do consider how you look. It plays a big part in how you are received. And perceived. What you wear should be what you always wear as performers. Be you. After all, that is part of your look. Right? But please don’t forget about being clean, too. Guitar fingering close ups require clean fingernails. Nuff said.

PercussionYour sound: It’s all about delivering. You want to sound the best you can. Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to do a soundcheck. But there may be space, electrical, or other constraints. So for example, if you can’t set up a drum kit, be flexible. Have your percussionist at a mike with a tom-tom, tambourine, conga, woodblock, or a scraper. Presenting your full sound is important.

What message do you want to send? Are you promoting a new record? Tell them when and where it’s available. Tell them where you’ll be appearing. And send them to your website.

Did you follow-up #1: Did you thank the show? A personal touch showing appreciation goes far. And shows them you’re a pro. You want them to like you. To remember you. And to ask you back.

Did you follow-up #2: Are you promoting your appearance after the fact? Reach out to your fans and make new ones. Tell them all about it in case they missed it. Include the link. Ask them to share it with their friends. And remind them about your new record, where they can get it, tour dates, and website.

Did you follow-up #3: Reach out to the media. Who knows? The more outlets that hear about you, the more exposure you might get. And the more information you give them about you, your product, and your shows, the more interesting you will be to them.

 Let ‘em all get to know you!

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