Online shops like iTunes, Beatport etc. all have featured artists on their homepage or a section for a selection of upcoming releases, so how do you get your music featured?
Getting your release featured on the homepage of an online music shop is basically the equivalent as getting your physical album displayed with a big poster at the entrance of an actual record store. Nowadays a lot more people are shopping online than in actual brick and morter record stores. Artists and labels may believe that there is one singular path you need to take to get your product promoted and that involves hiring a promotion agency or simply paying the right contact the right amount of money to get featured in the best places. Though all these aspects are important and do function in the real world, there is never any guarantee it will work.
Who are the mediators between the artists/labels and online shops?
The mediators between online artists/labels and the online shops are the music distributors and the various chains of contacts within distribution, promotion and marketing companies. These separate organizations are working much closer together than is apparent, and many independent companies are coming together creating all in one service cooperations that are offering distribution, promotion, and marketing all under one roof.
Every label and artist wants to get the featured placement but the entire market is swamped with ‘run of the mill’ average product so the job of a marketing agency is to work with the label/artist and create an extensive, all-inclusive, persuasive and practical plan that the online stores will review before deciding on offering a featured placement. Online shops like iTunes don’t only choose featured artists based on former record sales or their brands reputation or character. What they are considering is an artists projected career trajectory, successful radio and TV performances etc. and what kind of promotional plan the record label is paying to achieve.
Are promotion agencies taking care of getting featured product placement?
Yes they do aim to get featured placement and that is why you hire them. The people that work at promotion agencies rely on contacts, favours and a network that is developed over many years in the business. If you want to see how probable it is that a promotion agency will get you a featured placement you must check the history of other artists who have hired the same agency for the same job and make an assessment. Fact is, it is always up to the people working at the online shops to choose who and for what reasons they feature which products on their homepage.
How does it work?
You have a product, a distributor, and you pay a promotion agency. But releasing the record and paying the promotion company are actually the smallest steps in the entire process of an album campaign. The biggest, most complex step is the actual marketing plan. Which is all about timing. First you must have lots and lots of lead time, the more the better, in presenting your product and your plan to be considered for featured placement. Three months in advance is a very safe estimate. In other words planning time for the online shops to incorporate your product into their homepage at a particular point in time when you product is getting other kinds of promotion such as radio, online radio, television, newspapers, music magazines, blogs, social media, playlists etc.
The product must have a compelling and crystal clear marketing plan behind it in order to convince the gatekeepers of product placementin online shops that your product will sell well to the masses if they put it on display. Of course, this is impossible to predict and many music products that don’t get featured are selling more than those that do. It is a mysterious game of work, luck, professionalism and probability. Like everything in the world of marketing appearance is key andimage is everything. If your product looks unprofessional, forget about it! Your brand of product must stand out amongst all the millions of others and at the same time be attractive, familiar and interesting. Not such an easy goal to accomplish in such an over-saturated market.
How much does it cost?
Usually promotion and marketing companies offer different types of ‘packages’ which cost various prices depending on the services involved. These prices will be different for every agency in every part of the world and can range from $400 to $5000 (and even much more) per campaign package. There are so many promotion and marketing companies today that it is essential you do some diligent research before hiring anyone. Promotion companies cannot actually promise you any guarantees in a contract, they can only offer the service of presenting and promoting your product. It’s an open market and every artist has an equal chance of getting featured but obviously if you are already on a successful path and generating a buzz than you do have the greater possibility of getting featured. Bottom line is the bigger online shops are looking for products that will sell and they will choose which artists they want to feature depending on the projected outlook of sales.