Indie Artists Get Experimental

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Brick-and mortar-record-store shopping might no longer be the norm for access to new music, and marketing for aspiring indie musicians is no small challenge, especially on a tight budget. But according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, it’s a challenge indie artists are meeting head on, starting with corporate ties.

Brick-and mortar-record-store shopping might no longer be the norm for access to new music, and marketing for aspiring indie musicians is no small challenge, especially on a tight budget. But according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, it’s a challenge indie artists are meeting head on, starting with corporate ties.

Greg Laswell, for example, who recorded a demo in 2002, ordered 1,000 copies of his first effort, sold a few in his spare time, and “saved the boxes in which they were delivered to use as a coffee table.” While he was less comfortable with self-promotion at the onset of his career, the realization of its necessity came on the eve of his second record’s release (Three Flights from Alto Nido, to be released July 8 through Vanguard Records).

Mr. Laswell and Vanguard unleashed a cross-marketing campaign with corporate tie-ins, such as Marriott International and Amazon.com, that they hope will make him a staple in hotel lobbies and grocery stores across the country. The songs will be played overhead in Courtyard Marriott lobbies and on the hotel’s website. In addition, his songs are played before previews at large movie theaters and in Pepsi and Amazon advertisements nationally. His story, claims the Journal, is indicative of how indie artists have been pushing their music in new ways.

“Corporate deals used to be anathema to indie artists who feared such tie-ins would diminish their street credibility. But these days, launching an independent artist requires more marketing effort,” the article reads. According to Laswell, getting his songs out and heard is “about repetition of hearing that song in the grocery store or in the movie theater and going to where the people are, because they’re not going to the record store shopping for new music like we all used to.”

“At an independent label,” noted Kerry Borsuk, director of marketing for the Nettwerk Music Group, “you have to figure out inventive ways to promote without spending the money. People are doing what they can these days looking for creative ways to sell music.” Laswell went for it, and in promoting the July release, he joined the Artist Discovery Series of Whole Foods Markets, Inc., where customers in grocery checkout lines saw him compared with EMI’s Coldplay.

It may not be the status quo for garnering respect in the indie genre, but it has worked for Laswell in an era where the search for new places to get music heard rapidly expands. According to Vanguard, there has been an influx of traffic to Laswell’s MySpace page since the start of the various efforts, indicating that his name and music is reaching a wide fan demographic.

Laswell admits excitement about the publicity. “Some really big companies are behind this album. This is the most attention I’ve ever had on me,” he said. “I mean, it’s bizarre to be checking out at Whole Foods and see my face. So I’m up for getting my music out there in any way I can.”



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