Here are 5 really bad (and common) promotional ideas

Promotion is a risky game. You can put endless energy into it. You can burn through a big budget to support your efforts. But in the end, you’re never guaranteed results. That being said, there are a handful of things you CAN do to ensure you will get NO results at all. So, if you happen to be crazy, or if you’re just looking for the best way to maximize your workload for zero return, go ahead, follow these 5 tips and waste everyone’s time (mostly your own):

1. SPAM folks on Facebook and MySpace- If pissing people off is your idea of a good time, post links to your music, videos, blog posts, and events on the wall of someone you don’t really know. Don’t stop there. Do this every day. Yes, people actually do this and expect the world to stop, listen, and be blown away by unrivaled brilliance. Expert time-wasters take this one step further. They just leave a wall post that says “Check out my hot new track” without any links, URLs, web addresses, band names, song titles, or binary breadcrumb trails.

2. Maintain a one-sided Twitter feed– Having a one-way conversation is the equivalent of a monologue. That gets BORING to read, but it might be great for your ego! So if you’re looking to bore your fans, forget about dialog, engagement, networking, interaction, and fun. Instead, just blast them all with and endless stream of “Buy my music” tweets. Oh, and friend/follow absolutely everyone you can find regardless of their interests or connection with your music.

3. Poster over other posters– Telephone poles aren’t very wide, so obviously they are coveted and scarce real estate for promotional posters and fliers. The best way to make sure no one actually sees your posters is to put them on top of another band’s posters before the day of their show has passed. Once they see you’ve done that, they’ll double their efforts to go back and poster over yours. It is really good fun, and a great time waster! Back and forth. All over the town. A bitter band war. Oh, and while you’re at it, print fliers. Then put them in all the least relevant places.

4. Pad your press kit with fluff- No one cares what your friends and family think about your music. So if you want to turn off reviewers, bloggers, music critics, and bookers before they even listen to your music, include quotes from Aunt Dorris and “R. Stephens, #1 fan” in your press kit or one-sheet. Also, unverifiable praise such as “The drummer from Steve Miller Band says we’re his favorite blues-rock act west of the Mississippi” is absolutely pointless and silly. So if you really want to convey an amateur-hour vibe, put that stuff right at the top. While we’re on the topic, the phrase “shared the stage” can only be taken seriously if you played the slot directly ahead of the act you’re citing. So another surefire way to make sure your press materials end up in the trash is to say you “shared the stage” with Dr. John when really you played at the same festival the day before on the local farmers co-op stage 500 yards away from the main stage. That spells c-l-a-s-s-y!

5. Abuse your email list- Lose fans every time you send out a newsletter through an intoxicating combination of poor grammar, bad formatting, redundancies, long-winded trivia, constant exclamation points, and ALL CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Once you’ve mastered this, make sure you email your list way too often. When people start unsubscribing from the list, refuse to learn the lesson. Take it personally.

OK. Sarcasm aside, I hope that none of you are doing any of the things mentioned above, but if you are, STOP! Reverse course! There are far better ways to spend your promotional time and money and we want you to get the most out of your efforts.

As always, if you’d like to share your thoughts, stories, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

-Chris R. at CD Baby

P.S. Every once in a while, we’ll find a particular kind of person who wants to purchase their OWN music from CD Baby to make it show up on’s top-sellers lists. This is a terrible idea. Firstly, depending on the genre, you’d have to buy a lot of your own music. Second, it won’t count anyway since our orders staff will see that the customer IS the artist! Thirdly, the money you’re spending on your own music could be put into a promotional campaign to attract actual fans, actual buyers, actual sales.