promoting nurture.

CJ One Sheet I thought we were getting better at promotion, too.  We had whittled down our promo list from the 400 or so radio, press, and retail outlets we had mailed Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth in 1993, and now had a solid list of 125 or so that we felt would be more inclined to actually do something with our record.

For the others, we’d be happy to send them a promo – if they called us and asked us for one, which actually would be an indication that they were at least interested in it.  Only a handful did, despite the fact that cuppa joe’s seven-inch EP was our biggest seller and really had generated a good deal of interest, by whatever meager standards we had at that point.

I guess the one mistake that we made was not waiting for Flying Suit before mailing out the promo copies of Nurture.  We had already proven with the simultaneous releases of “Allnighter” and busy work that two releases at once really helped, from a promotional standpoint.  In fact, “Allnighter,” which was by far the more popular song by the more popular band, ultimately did far worse for us than busy work did.  We still had plenty of copies of the former in our inventory; the latter had just about sold out of two pressings.

We remedied that fairly easily, though; after Flying Suit was done, we went back through the Mommyheads’ promo list (which was different from cuppa joe’s, and slightly larger at around 200 or so names) and elected to include a Nurture promo and press kit with some of them.  If there was, in our estimation, any way that we could piggyback one record onto the other, we’d do it.  We had initially planned to do the same thing with the Footstone and Toast CDs (although at this point, we had come to the conclusion that a Toast CD was going to be a 1995 endeavor), but figured we’d still be able to get Footstone some leverage by doing more Mommyheads promotion during their tour, which was slated to run through the fall.  With the Footstone record planned for November, we figured we would still be riding on the heels of Flying Suit.

We had actually begun to promote the Footstone CD as early as September of 1994 in our print ads and letters, because we knew that most of it had already been recorded and it was just a matter of waiting for the band to tweak everything and give me a master DAT for replication.  So I was writing things like “New Footstone CD out soon!” on everything I could – it made for great joint promotion.

With respect to nurture, we immediately began offering radio stations the ability to interview the band, as I had mentioned earlier, and a handful of stations actually took me up on the offer.  The interviews were all conducted by doug, since he was really the chief songwriter and guiding force behind the band, and also because he was very articulate and capable of answering questions well without a lot of thought.  He had a background in college radio, so he wasn’t intimidated by a microphone, and he also understood that the actual listenership of most college stations was very small – so there wasn’t really anything to be intimidated by in the first place.

During this time, doug had sort of decided that he wanted to release some of his music on his own.  As I mentioned in a few prior entries, I wasn’t very interested in “low-fi” music, so despite the fact that the songs were mostly excellent, I never showed much interest in releasing them.  On top of that, I’m sure the band was still stinging from the awful packaging of the nurture CD.  So doug started his own little label, called inkling records, and released a 7″ of his own music under the name “passenger.”  It was quite good.

At the same time, he also made a deal with a Trenton-area band called the Semi-Beings (who, ironically, also recorded at Noise New Jersey with Kramer, and did not sound like big, bouncing tits) to release a 7″.  So his label had some good things happening.

After one of doug’s radio interviews, he sent me a cassette copy – I was surprised to hear that a good chunk of the interview covered doug’s label and its own releases.  We were, obviously, spending time and money to try and promote nurture, and while I certainly understood the enthusiasm behind releasing your own music and starting your own label, I was disappointed that he hadn’t spent more time talking about the Dromedary CD.  

It was another one of those moments when I realized that most bands really couldn’t care less about their label, and that it was really the label’s job to promote itself – along with its bands. doug was going to talk about what he wanted to talk about, which in this case was his own label and his self-released 7″.

I decided to spend less time trying to arrange radio interviews and more time trying to promote nurture on my own.  I figured if the band wanted to promote something else, they were welcome to do so, but I needed to spend as much time as possible trying to sell the records I was releasing.  As a result, I had decided to concentrate more on the press than on radio.

Plus, I had learned that college radio airplay meant virtually zero when it came to record sales.  I’m sorry to say it.  It’s true.  Unless you could get your record played regularly on a really important station, like WFMU, there wasn’t much benefit that Dromedary Records could derive from having a cuppa joe song played once at 3AM on a Tuesday.

~ by Al on June 10, 2009.

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