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<title>Avoid advance promotion. Be buyable first. </title>
<p>
I often hear musicians say they want to do advance promotion - <strong>telling people about their new album before it's available for purchase</strong> (whether digital or physical).
</p><p>
Though the plan may be to generate excitement, I think the opposite happens. Imaginary dialog:
<dl>
<dt>Check out my new music!</dt>
<dd>Where is it? Can I buy it?</dd>
<dt>Not yet - but soon!</dt>
<dd>Why are you telling me now?</dd>
<dt>So you can be ready for the announcement!</dt>
<dd>(... 2 months pass ...)</dd>
<dt>Check out my new music! It's ready!</dt>
<dd>I think I already heard of this. Not new. Delete.</dd>
</dl>
</p><p>
Or, as <a href="http://www.locusmag.com/Features/2008/05/cory-doctorow-think-like-dandelion.html">Cory Doctorow says</a>, “<strong>Internet users have short attention spans</strong>. The moment of consummation — the moment when a reader discovers your book online, starts to read it, and thinks, huh, I should buy a copy of this book — is very brief. That's because <strong>‘I should buy a copy of this book’ is inevitably followed by, ‘Woah, a youtube of a man putting a lemon in his nose!’</strong> and the moment, as they say, is gone.”
</p><p>
(Next time you think a song you wrote deserves 5 minutes of someone's attention, <a href="http://www.vimeo.com/993998">look at what this guy did</a> to compete for that same 5 minutes of someone's attention.)
</p><p>
So, the best plan goes like this:
<ol>
<li><strong>Record</strong> your music.</li>
<li><strong>Start conversations</strong> with bloggers and other biz-people you'll want to turn on to your music later. Nothing to pitch them now, just get to know them.</li>
<li><strong>Prepare</strong> your marketing/promotion plan, but don't do it yet.</li>
<li>Get your music up <strong>for sale</strong> (on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, etc).</li>
<li>Once it's available at every store (and you've tested it by buying one copy yourself) - update your websites (including MySpace, etc) to make it <strong>obvious everywhere and easy to buy</strong>.</li>
<li><strong>NOW do your promotion</strong>. Tell fans and friends repeatedly. Contact people you've come to know from past conversations, let them know it's available, and ask if they'd like to hear it.</li>
</ol>
</p><p>
NOTE: the exception to this rule is when you're raising money by letting hardcore fans buy the album before it's released.
</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/sale_closed.jpg" width="500" height="379" alt="http://www.flickr.com/photos/86887807@N00/175404574/" />