What if you released your album and no one cared. Worse, imagine that no one even knew it was out.
With the plethora of information floating in bits and bytes and dead trees throughout the universe, the odds of your release making an impact on the target audience are close to nil. If you're lucky, someone will read a review somewhere and be aware your record came out. Chances are, they won't even know it came out.
Then there's the "superstars". Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Madonna... To speak in advertising language, their marketing plans are incredibly inefficient. A lot of time, ink and dollars are spent trying to reach their fans, but most of it is wasted. Most people don't care, and those who do are bombarded with the same message again and again. Ultimately turned off.
What's an act to do?
To realize the focus should not be on the media, but the fan. Just like the Internet rid the music business of the need to manufacture and ship, this same Net allows an act to forgo interacting with the media, to go straight to the fan. You must go straight to the fan.
We're speaking of the aforementioned e-mail list here. Yes, you've got to collect names. But how?
By making it a better offer, a better business proposition.
A Website is no longer just a repository of information, it's the front door to your fan club. You may be a musician, but second to that, you're running a club. You have to spread the word on your music, you have to create demand for your tour. This is especially true for so called "heritage" artists.
Elton John laments that he can't sell a record, that no one's interested in his new music. That's not true. He's just going about marketing his music in the old way.
Elton needs to find a track, and give it away for free on his site, for an e-mail address. Sure, said track can ultimately be acquired for free via P2P, but the track isn't the only thing the fan gets... He gets $5 off a concert ticket. Discount merchandise. Hell, you're selling direct, the profit margin is huge already! You've got your own store, developing your own fan base.
The problem is the old acts believe they're too big for this. They just want someone to write a check. And now that record companies are not interested, they want it to be Live Nation or another promoter. These complaining acts are not investing in their careers. They want someone else to do all the work. You wonder why no one's interested in their new music?
New, developing acts, that are not "radio-friendly"... And almost no act deserving of a career is radio-friendly today, listen to Top Forty radio, the only format that really sells tonnage, for edification. Do not look to record companies to do the work. There's no one there to do the work. Sony gutted its Net division. You've got to do the work. There is no man behind the curtain.
I'm not saying you have to give up the old ways completely. There's nothing wrong with radio play or record reviews...they just have less impact than ever before. Shit, people don't even write songs about the radio anymore.
How can you get your fans to feel a connection with you? How can you create a bond? How can you create a base that will always deliver? This is the Marillion model. Getting the fans to pay for the record. Other acts, squeezed out of the system, are attempting the same thing. But, the next wave will be giant artists. The ones who fill arenas and sheds playing their old hits. These acts have to hunker down. They may still think they're stars, but really, stars today are Heidi and Spencer, and they're working it!
Maybe the musician can't do it himself. Maybe he needs a team. But do not focus on radio and print to help you along. The public, your fans, don't have time to wade through the clutter. They've got to hear from you directly. They've got to have a direct investment in your future. They've got to feel like they're INVOLVED!