List compiled by the Billboard staff
THE MAXIMUM EXPOSURE LIST
September 27, 2008
It wasn’t so long ago that a comprehensive promo plan meant working a record to radio and maybe buying ads in the local alternative paper when a band went on tour. This may sound quaint, or maybe, if your job depends on successfully promoing a band, it sounds blissfully simple.
Today the ways artists can promote their music have proliferated so rapidly that it can be hard to keep up with what’s new — what’s actually cutting through the clutter. It’s in this context that Billboard decided to geek out with 20 promotions and publicity experts across genres and mediums to create the ultimate multimedia metric: Our first Maximum Exposure list.
Ever wonder about the relative value of a cover of Rolling Stone, a gig on “Oprah” or a song on “Gossip Girl”? Read on.
1: SYNCH PLACEMENT IN A TV AD FOR APPLE
Promo spots provide coveted showcase for music
Patrick Wimberly can’t stop giggling.
The reason for his uncontrollable mirth? The drummer for Brooklyn-based indie rock act Chairlift can’t quite process what he saw on a TV screen the day before. It was a 30-second commercial advertising Apple’s newly launched fourth-generation iPod Nano—with the Chairlift song “Bruises” playing in the background.
Bandmate Aaron Pfenning had a similarly surreal experience. The Chairlift guitarist happened to be at an Apple store in Boulder, Colo., when the “Bruises” spot aired. “I was picking my computer up from the repair desk, and all of a sudden there it was,” Pfenning says. “The employees just swarmed me.”
Wimberly and Pfenning certainly have every right to be euphoric. Chairlift is one of two bands featured in a new set of Apple ads, a platform industry experts surveyed by Billboard view as the best way to expose an act. For Chairlift and Copenhagen-based Asteroids Galaxy Tour, the band featured in a new iPod Touch ad, the question now becomes how they utilize their new exposure to grow and build their careers.
Perhaps it’s best that the bands take a moment to gain some perspective. It’s easy to be blinded by Feist’s blue sequins or the Ting Tings’ dancing silhouettes and think that an Apple ad is the ticket to instant stardom. Even huge stars like U2 and Coldplay have profited from their appearances in Apple spots.
But while pretty much every band that appears in an Apple TV spot enjoys some sort of sales boost, more often than not, the increases are modest. Brazilian band CSS, for example, saw steady increases in album sales after an iPod Touch ad featuring its song “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex” started running in October 2007, but the sales figures crossed the 1,000-copies-per-week mark only twice and have petered off since then. The band has sold 48,000 albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Likewise, Cut Chemist, which was featured in an iPod Nano ad in September 2006, had a modest boost in sales of single “The Audience Is Listening Theme Song,” but sales of album “The Audience Is Listening” declined from August to October 2006, with the band’s October total of 2,600 copies almost half of its August sales.
For Asteroids Galaxy Tour, the group’s biggest hurdle might be that it doesn’t have a full-length record available. Yael Naim’s single “New Soul” sold 135,000 copies the week after it was used in a MacBook Air commercial that began airing in January. The song has gone on to sell more than 1 million units. Yet her album, which wasn’t released in the United States until late March, entered the Billboard 200 at No. 55 and has sold slightly more than 100,000 copies.
Still, no music promotional platform boasts a perfect batting average. And thanks to the still-massive popularity of the iPod and Apple’s reputation for product innovation, the company’s TV ads provide lucky recording artists with a highly coveted public stage.
According to Kay Quartararo, co-owner of Chairlift’s label Kanine Records, the band’s placement in the new Apple Nano ad was shrouded in secrecy. “We got an e-mail from someone at Apple who wanted to check them out in L.A. in July, and then we didn’t hear anything for a while,” she says. “In mid-August, they called us to get permission to use the song, but they didn’t tell us what the song would be used for or if it would even be used.”
Although the band had received some play on noncommercial station KCRW Santa Monica, Calif.; toured with Ariel Pink; and received some blog buzz, Quartararo says she has no idea how the song came to Apple’s attention. Apple representatives declined to comment.
Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s road to an Apple TV ad was a little more traditional. According to Tim Clark, co-owner of ie Management and a member of the band’s management team, they worked with New York-based synch agency Zync to try to place a song in ads. Clark says that Zync told them there was a possibility of “something special” happening, but they didn’t think it would be Apple-related. Band bassist Lars Iverson says that he was told that Apple “loved” the song a few weeks before the ad launched and that he was sworn to secrecy until the campaign started.
Now that the word is out, though, how will the bands use the campaign to build their careers? Clark says the Asteroids Galaxy Tour plans to remain unsigned and release music on its own. The band will put out a single Sept. 15 in the United Kingdom and has moved up the release date on its EP to mid-October. Clark adds that the band is planning to play gigs in the States in mid-November and will launch a larger tour in 2009. “We have the opportunity to exploit this, but we don’t want to overblow it,” Clark says.
Chairlift also plans to do plenty of touring in the coming months and will be on the road with Yeasayer in October and then head to Europe in November. Quartararo says she’s ordered more copies of the band’s album, “Does You Inspire You,” which is available at iTunes and other download vendors but won’t be released on CD until Sept. 30.
Aside from that, Wimberly says, “We haven’t changed the plan that much.”
And then he giggled again.
2: PERFORMANCES ON “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”
Important stage for established stars
Average viewership of about 6.6 million per show
Oprah Winfrey is one of the entertainment industry’s most influential tastemakers. Her sway over book sales is already legendary. But Winfrey also wields a formidable ability to drive music sales.
On Sept. 19, 2007, Reba McEntire, Justin Timberlake and Kelly Clarkson appeared on the show to do interviews and sing their respective songs from McEntire’s “Reba Duets” album, which came out the day before. “Reba Duets” wound up selling 301,000 units in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, McEntire’s best opening numbers in the SoundScan era.
Another big sales gainer was Leona Lewis, who appeared on the show March 17 to perform her single “Bleeding Love.” For the week ended March 23, “Bleeding Love” jumped 8-1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Lewis only the third U.K. solo female performer to top the chart with a debut hit, as digital track sales surged 83% to 219,000.
Although Winfrey’s producers accept unsolicited pitches (Booking Team, Harpo Productions, 110 N. Carpenter St., Chicago, IL 60607), a couple of Jonas Brothers fans took a different tack when they waged a campaign to get the teen sensations on the show through e-mail, YouTube videos and online petitions. They finally prevailed when the sibling trio appeared on the show April 24 to perform its single “When You Look Me in the Eyes.” But the three brothers were apparently preaching to the converted (or to the wrong demographic group): Their appearance didn’t have any discernable impact on sales. —Kamau High
See the full list of the 100 best ways to get mainstream attention for your music @ http://www.davidcookofficial.com/us/blog/maximum-exposure-the-100-best-ways-your-music-get-attention
List compiled by the Billboard staff
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