Marketing is a term which has gained respectability within the music business in recent years.
During the sixties and into the seventies, artists particularly worked to perpetuate the myth that, if a record was good, it would sell itself, and that to promote it through advertising and other artificial means was simply to devalue the work of art.
It would be nice to think that was true; it’s not nice hearing people talking about ‘product’ when they mean ‘record’ or even ‘song’; it’s not nice to hear people speak of ‘target groups’ or ‘consumers’ when they mean ‘people’, ‘fans’ or ‘audience’. But over the past 10 years the marketing of records has become an important part of the work of a record company, and the people who do it need to be dispassionate about the ‘product’ they are selling. Otherwise, each marketing strategy would be based, in part, on the whims and preferences of the people in the marketing department, and this would not be fair on those acts which didn’t find favour with the marketing people. To take a few steps back from the artist and the music means that a clearer marketing strategy can be applied, and that should be beneficial to everyone concerned.
In fact, there has always been marketing; it simply wasn’t always called that. When Brian Epstein put The Beatles in their grey suits and when Andrew Loog Oldham put The Rolling Stones in theirs, these were marketing decisions on the part of these two managers, subtly different marketing decisions too. The Beatles’ suits were about respectability and uniformity,