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Barenaked Ladies’ Creative Marketing Delivers Sales

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Knowing their newest release, Barenaked Ladies are Me, was coming out on their own Desperation Records, Barenaked Ladies and Nettwerk Music put a lot of thought into how to best get the album in the hands and ears of their listeners. In a world of MP3 players and computers, it would seem simply releasing CDs was not the best answer.

According to this week's soundscan report the album was #17 in the US and #7 in Canada. Not bad for a new release on an artist-run independent label – but what these reports don't show is the creative and multiple formats used to make these sales. BarLa01hIndividual digital track sales, digital album purchased directly from the BNL website, Nettwerk website, and Myspace, the combined sales of the standard album and the Deluxe Edition, USB drives and sales resulting from the re-mixing contest the band is holding are just a few of the different mediums the band is using to distribute the album. Barenaked Ladies Are Me can even be purchased on vinyl if that is your preferred way to listen to music.

Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group and manager of Barenaked Ladies lays out what he sees as the future of selling music. "Nettwerk and BNL are trying to get people to see beyond the physical number. Generating revenue, especially in the artist-run model, is about selling music in various mediums, selling concert tickets, licensing music to TV, ring tones, packed USB drives, etc. That is how success is measured, not by the physical album sales."

Barenaked Ladies is not the first band to forge out on their own label and with the changing face of the music industry they certainly won't be last. The internet allows artists who want to control the marketing of their music to create a website with a storefront. An artist-run label also has the potential to make as much as five dollars an album. Forward thinking artists and bands who are tuned into the technology will achieve potential sales by these non-traditional means.

McBride says of Nettwerk Music, "The artist-run model is the future. If we can break bands using this model, the industry will be forever changed. We are making a music company, not a record label."

About Connie Phillips

  • Mark Saleski

    can even be purchased on vinyl if that is your preferred way to listen to music

    folks would be surprised to learn that a lot of people are releasing new vinyl all the time.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    You’re right. I knew there were still some vinyl being released but as I poked around the net to night I was surprised to see just how many albums are coming out in that format.

    I think the variety of choices is the key – a download direct to your iPod to a USB drive to a vinyl LP. The only thing that seems to be extinct these days is 8-track.

  • http://www.smsmktg.com Mike

    As a BNL fan, I am thrilled that the band has pumped out a new album (and a good one, at that), and as a marketing guy, I also like that they are looking into new avenues to market their music. Bands and labels have always looked for new ways of marketing their music, whether it’s through concerts, getting more airplay on the radio, selling band gear, or using the internet. Inevitably, the best way to market a band’s music, in my humble opinion, is to use the music itself, and it seems like BNL is doing just that. To put up an ad announcing the arrival of a new CD is nice, but it doesn’t feature the band at their best– at their instruments.

    Cheers to BNL and best of luck in their quest to entertain more and more fans. And as they said in their own words… “Buy buy buy buy, Sell sell sell!”

  • http://www.collectingvinylrecords.com Robert Benson

    As a BNL fan from the beginning, I am hardpressed to keep up with the technology used (yes, I show my age here). I will never download a song, own an ipod and Mp3 players are not for me….I am a vinyl junkie, always was, always will be and to have this “album” available in that format is music to my ears; as that is the only way the human ear was designed to hear music-Rock -on Ladies and keep the vinyl coming for those who enjoy it, there are more of us here than you think!

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Hi Mike,
    I think you hit the nail on the head with marketing is key for success in the music world these days and I think the Internet played a key role in forcing that need for change.

    With the busy lifestyles most of us have, downloadable music and the iPod is the medium of choice. I know I would be l-o-s-t without my iPod.

    However, Robert, there just as many purists out there like you how love vinyl. I still have every one I bought through my teen years (Several boxes full of well-spent babysitting money.) How I wish I had a working turntable!

    BNL rocks with the latest album(s) and the way they are marketing the 29 songs (but it all – or get it in pieces) is revolutionary.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    It is good to see bands fighting for their albums rather than allowing them to be swallowed and ignored.

  • Mark Saleski

    connie, if you’re ever thinking about making the “reverse turntable plunge”, let me know. there are quite a few cheap alternatives out there.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    DJRadiohead – I agree. Especially in this day when many artists are on independent labels, and the major labels are dropping artists left and right should their albums not make what they perceive as successful.

    Mark – I’m open to any alternatives, especially since you used the key word – cheap!

  • http://www.knownjohnson.com Tom Johnson

    Well, I must be the cynical one here then – I don’t think the Ladies’ multiple formats and bonus tracks tactic is a good one. I think it’s just going to encourage fans to trade the songs they don’t have amongst one another rather than buy multiple copies of the album in order to get everything they’re releasing on the various versions of this (and its follow-up) album. It’s this kind of “gouge the ‘true fan’” mentality that contributes to the mentality that record labels are only out to purge every last dollar out of our pockets. Am I really the only one to see this as a negative development?

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I don’t like seeing a situation where you have to buy 10 copies of the album in 8 formats to get all the songs. I agree with you there, Tom. I am also aggravated that Sony is going to nail me for a second copy of Springsteen’s Seeger record in less than a year.

    That said, I think the idea of trying new ways to bring the music to the fan is a good thing.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Tom and DJR, that is a negative aspect. I know my son was disappointed because he didn’t do the iTunes presale right and missed out on two tracks. He’s planning on picking up the USB when we go to a show next month to get those and the other extras. Releasing special editions with bonus tracks a few months after a standard release does seem to be a new trend that really hurts the completest or true fan.

    I *might* be wrong about this, but I think the USB has everything in the one place. And the good thing about that is you can put the songs on your computer, burn them to CDs if you want and you have a thumb drive you can use for files you want to back-up or carry elsewhere.

    Strictly from the marketing angle, I think offering multiple formats for the *same* album will only result in an increase in sales.

  • Josh

    It all depends on how you want the album, and how much music you want at a time. If you wanted all 27 songs right now you could buy the deluxe addition, like I did, and if you pre-ordered you could have got two bonus songs, which I messed up when doing so and didn’t get them :’(. You can also get all the songs, the bonus songs, and many other bonuses on a USB version of the album. Or if you like you Ladies in phases you can buy the standard thirteen song hard copy of Barenaked Ladies Are Me now and early next year buy the hard copy of Barenaked Ladies Are Men. In all of these situations you’re getting all the tracks without buying a single one twice.