No more marketing jargon!
Since successful independent musicians these days are expected to be marketing-savvy, it’s not surprising that you occasionally hear jargon like “value added,” “direct-to-fan,” and “call to action” slip into communications with fans.
I find it a bit creepy though. While these terms are fine if you’re discussing the concept behind certain actions, your fans don’t want to hear the awkward grinding of your marketing machine’s gears. They want the tunes, the tour dates, the story, the drama, the connection.
What is the opposite of a “call to action?”
Let’s take a step back for a minute. It seems obvious that the easiest way to get someone to do what you want (buy a CD, check out a review, attend a concert, etc.) is to quickly and clearly convey both the benefit and the steps someone must take to achieve that benefit. While this is true in most cases, there are plenty of examples where a connection is forged with fans through the exact opposite of a clear “call to action”– with elements of mystery and disinformation.
A perfect example arrived in my inbox today from Tom Waits.
The email from Epitaph Records was titled “Tom Waits: Permission to Come Aboard?” The body of the email was an image of Tom dressed as an eyepatch-wearing pirate, wielding a cutlass– and it simply said “Coming August 7th.”
What was coming? An album? A tour? A film? A Tom Waits-themed pirate cruise? The blogosphere is abuzz. Rolling Stone, Brooklyn Vegan, San Francisco Weekly, they’re all wondering what the hell is gonna happen come August 7th! And when August 7th rolls around he’s going to have double the coverage– the teaser plus the actual news.
Tom Waits is an artist who can get away with this kind of thing. If it were some other artist, we might find such an unhelpful email annoying, or worse— assume they’d left out some crucial info by accident. But from Waits,… it’s cool.
Is mystery “scalable” for indies?
We can’t all be as strange as Waits, as willfully obscured as Radiohead, as aloof as Pink Floyd– but there must be some way that independent artists today can step away from their 24-hour availability via Twitter, Facebook, blog, YouTube, Last.fm, etc., if only for a few moments– and hint at some enigma worthy of their fans’ best sleuthing skills.
What do you think? Is mystery possible in the age of social media? What are some good examples of independent artists teasing their fans without annoying them? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.