Learning from Taylor Swift

Or from her marketers. I’ve said before that commercial marketing has gone in new directions, and that we can learn from that. The Hunger Games film, for instance — even though it was just about guaranteed to be a hit — launched an extraordinary campaign to get fans (who already loved the book the film’s based on) to promote the movie to each other. Follow the link above for more on that.

And now comes Taylor Swift, with a new album, and a marketing campaign based in part on retail tie-ins — Walmart, Target, Papa John’s, Walgreen’s. The retailers might do in-store promotions, or Swift might provide special songs for the albums sold at certain stores. Or a 96-page book that’s part of a special edition of the CD sold only at Wal-Mart. Or Swift-branded guitar picks, sold only there.

This is bigtime stuff, and might seem out of reach to classical music institutions, let alone classical ensembles or soloists. Or it might even seem distasteful. Some people might not want to get into bed with Wal-Mart to sell records.

But we can do this! In our own way, of course. And with full integrity, for those bothered by big-business tie-ins. If you’ve got a recording coming out, look at your own situation. Who supports you? Who are your friends? Where have you played? Is there a coffeehouse, an art gallery, a club, a boutique, an indie bookstore where you know people, where you hang out, where you’ve played or worked, where you feel at home?

See if the boutique or gallery will partner you, or at least help out, with the album release. Why not some in-store promotion from a hair salon you go to, and where you played, the day they opened, and had a celebration?

The only limit here are your contacts and your imagination. Big classical music institutions can surely find some bigger partners.

See my post on actively finding an audience for related ideas.


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  1. Tim J says

    I am reminded of an incredible viral marketing thing that Taylor Swift did at Auburn University. It started organically from a couple of Auburn students who were fans. They started a campaign on their website and YouTube to get a hug from Taylor Swift. She found out about it and embraced it and ultimately, they got their hug, and she got some priceless marketing.

    My daughter was in the crowd that day at Auburn when she showed up to give these guys their hug. My daughter doesn’t like any band that anyone has ever heard of, but she is now a Taylor Swift fan for life.

    I will post the links to some of the videos that tell the story. There are many more videos than this that quickly went viral on the day of the event.

    http://youtu.be/GEyo3ZHIsfs A hug from Taylor Swift part 1

    http://youtu.be/WqsRzjUD22k A hug from Taylor Swift Part 2

    http://youtu.be/z0H9f0NST6o A hug from Taylor Swift Part 3

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9jo896fOe0 A Hug from Taylor Swift the Concert

    Can you imagine this level of creativity applied to classical music?