Selling More Than Adele With MMM?

Comments: 53


Wow, I just realized that I haven’t posted anything since late last year. No doubt the biggest bout of silence since the launch of Music Marketing Manifesto back in 2009. But there’s a good reason for that… I’ve been busy.

It was never my intention to become a “marketing guy”. I’ve spent most of my life as a working musician and – while my primary focus over the last few years has been raising a family and growing MMM – “musician” continues to be my answer to that proverbial question: So, what do you do?

That said, as my record and publishing company advances began to shrink over the years – and always having a relentless entrepreneurial streak – I began looking for new ways to bring in reliable income somewhere around 2006. It didn’t happen overnight, but the result was a booming online business that evolved (somewhat accidentally) to become Music Marketing Manifesto.

I have had many thousands of musicians come through my programs and MMM has become one of the most rewarding endeavors of my life. There is nothing more gratifying than receiving an email from someone who has experienced their first album sale as a result of using the strategies I teach. Hundreds (if not thousands) of those emails have come in over the years, and it’s been incredible to see.

However, one thing I refuse to do is become the “those who can’t do, teach” guy. For that reason, and despite it being a colossal commitment of time and energy (of which I have little to spare), I make it a point to jump back into the trenches once or twice a year and take on an individual client. Both to keep my marketing instincts sharp, and to prove that there is merit to the strategies

I teach.

Over the last few months I’ve had my hands full with two such projects. I was brought on by Blue Elan Records to handle the digital sales and marketing for singer songwriters, Keith Harkin and Janiva Magness. While we are still setting up Janiva’s album, Keith’s album was released less than two weeks ago and we couldn’t be happier with the results.

In keeping with the “windowing” strategy that I spoke about during the build up to the release of “Record Release Formula“, the majority of our focus went into the pre-order campaign. The idea being that the real fans are going to buy the album because you ask them to buy it. Not because the price is right, or because the platform is convenient. I’ve long stressed that it’s important to use an incentive to drive sales with your existing base BEFORE the album is released universally, and especially before it hits the streaming platforms. In this case that incentive was a collection of bonus tracks that were offered exclusively to those who pre-ordered.

That said, each artist is different and while for some it might be best to drive the sales to your own site (as we will be dong with Janiva) for others you might want to drive the sales to third party platforms, as we did for Keith. In his case Blue Elan’s goal was to drive sales to iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble to increase his retail positioning as well as brand awareness with the larger distributors and retail outlets.

We’re happy to report that this is exactly what happened…

Keith Harkin’s new album “On Mercy Street” climbed as high as… wait for it…

  • #1 on Amazon World.
  • #20 in all music on Amazon.
  • #3 in all music on Barnes & Noble.
  • #2 on the iTunes singer songwriter chart.
  • #8 on the Billboard Folk Music chart.
  • …and #10 on Billboard’s Independent Label chart.

Keith Harkin at number seven on Billboard's folk chart

Now keep in mind, this is an independent album, released on a modest budget. I don’t want to over-hype its success because the reality is that it’s tough out there, and there is still a lot of work to do. That said, this album has yet to go to radio, and press coverage has not been a major focus. The overwhelming majority of sales have come in as a result of direct to fan sales. Knowing what the industry is up against, and the big names (and budgets) Keith is up against, I personally find his success to be pretty outstanding, and something I’m very proud to be part of.

I also need to stress that the success of the album is due to a team of people at Blue Elan Records, who believe in Keith, and have been working their butts off to see it succeed. Moreover, Keith himself has done an incredible job at winning the support of his fans, without which nothing would be possible.

But I’ve also been sitting here behind the scenes, watching the needle move every single time we would create a landing page, send an email, or turn on an ad campaign; straight out of the Music Marketing Manifesto playbook.

On a purely superficial level, it’s pretty damn rewarding to hit send on an email and watch the album your working push ADELE out of her spot, bump out a legend like Bob Marley, or mingle with artists such as David Gray, and Jeff Buckley on the Billboard Folk chart.

Keith Harkin ahead of Bob Marley On Amazon World Music Chart

Moreover, all of this activity was a result of “album sales”, a huge majority of which were physical albums. Not individual track downloads, streaming, or anything like that. Just fans buying albums; old school. And once more, giving credence to the fact that (especially on an independent level) people will, and are, still buying albums. You just need to be building a rapport with your audience, and directly asking them to buy your music. MMM 101 🙂

But once more, I really want to stress that this was only possible due to the hard work of Blue Elan Records, and the dynamic personality and abundant talent of Keith Harkin. If you’re not familiar with his album then by all means, grab a copy of “On Mercy Street” and show your support of a fellow independent artist. You’ll be happy you did, and you might pick up a few pointers as you go through the process 🙂

Anyway… that’s about it really. I just wanted to share the win and remind everyone what is possible using the same tactics I teach in Music Marketing Manifesto and my other music marketing programs. Up next: Janiva Magness!

Hope to recap things a bit once the dust settles on both campaigns and I am able to come up for air for.

And for those of you who have been asking, TunePipe is coming. Still finalizing a few things, but beta testing is taking place as we speak, and we hop to be opening it up to the public soon.

Leave any questions you have below. Thanks for reading.


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  • Joul Nez says:

    Thanks a lot John for shearing. I’ll love to use this for my marketing. But the problem I’m having now is to build a solid fan base so I can sell successfully using MMM.I already have a music website.

    Is there anyway I can use MMM to promote my music website and after start selling my music using MMM ?.

  • Fatty bread says:

    I definitely need marketing for my 4 artist I’m pushing the new video of JOE MAFIA OF WU SYNDICATE

  • Sid says:

    That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing the great news and providing real world results from MMM. You get it because you actually take time to respond to comments. By far the most professional and courteous instructor on the web! Thanks again for sharing.

  • You are amazing and it’s great music and just goes to show you have to have a great product and market the crap out of it! : )
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • dan foster says:

    You da man!!
    Thx for sharing that.

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    Always interesting to hear how some things work in the industry.It’s more complicated than most people realize.

  • Brian says:

    That’s fantastic John! I’ve been pretty quiet in the IC lately too, but because I’ve been writing and playing live a bunch. I’m always thinking strategy though, and it’s nice to hear about Keith – I’ve seen his ads in my newsfeed and liked it for sure. Looking forward to peepin the recent IC lesson!

    • John Oszajca says:

      Thanks for checking out the post Brian. Catch you in the Insider Circle soon.

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