Music Marketing: Are YOU a Purple Cow in the Music Business? By Xavier J. Powell

"FatbeatsNY" photo by Natalie Crue

Following the traditional rules of music marketing just isn’t enough anymore. Doing the same mix-tapes, performances and other tired methods of “creating a buzz” is simply not working. In today’s competitive music business, companies that want to create a successful new product must create a remarkable new product. It has to be innovative. One of the new P’s of marketing called being a “Purple Cow.” For many years, marketers have used the five P’s as guidelines for selling their product and achieving their company’s goals. The Ps includes:

* Product
* Pricing
* Promotion
* Positioning
* Packaging
These are the basics of marketing (according to what they teach you in school). These are the basics. According to this theory, if all of these elements aren’t in place, the marketing message is unclear and ineffective. Blah, blah, blah… Most music professionals don’t follow these rules and probably don’t care, but the one P that you should care about and follow, is the Purple Cow.

Just imagine if you were driving down a country road. You pass a field of black and white cows. There is nothing special about these cows and chances are, you won’t tell anybody about them either. This is how most artists, producers, A&R’s, and others appear in the music business. They’re what I call the “Me-Too” Factor. The same rhymes, the same sad outfits, the same tired performances, the same approach to business, the same clichés at seminars and the same marketing strategy. There’s nothing special about them and chances are, other people won’t tell their business circle about your product. Just imagine if you saw a Purple Cow in the middle of that field. Not only would you stare in awe but you’ll tell everybody about that purple cow. You might even come back just to see it again. This is what you should strive for when developing your character, creating your product and service, and/or performing to your audience. Innovative, stand-out, special, and result-oriented.

Let me explain what Purple Cows in the music business is NOT:
1. Purple Cows don’t create Mix-tapes but uses Mix-tapes to complement their own product that they offer to their audience.
2. Purple Cows don’t perform their songs the way you hear it on their records.
3. Purple Cows don’t wear cheap outfits or “work” outfits onstage while performing because image is everything.
4. Purple Cows don’t perform for A&R’s.
5. Purple Cows don’t give away their products for free but as a gift when their customers purchase something.
6. Purple Cows don’t pay to have A&R’s “critique” their music because they know A&R’s are NOT their paying audience.
7. Purple Cows don’t pay to perform.
8. Purple Cows don’t have lazy marketing.
9. Purple Cows don’t tell you that they will call you and don’t.

Now let me explain what Purple Cows in the music business IS:
1. Industry Purple Cows create music that will inspire and provoke emotion to their audience.
2. Industry Purple Cows incorporates theatre, dramatics, lighting, props, and outfits each and every time they perform to give their audience the best show possible.
3. Industry Purple Cows have a genuine love affair with their audience.
4. Industry Purple Cows develops and maintains relationships with decision making executives on a daily basis. They also know that A&R’s are just a small factor in this equation.
5. Industry Purple Cows are very comfortable with standing out amongst the crowd.
6. Industry Purple Cows knows that their audience wants celebrities and that celebrity’s mixes drama, dating, sex, and quality in their business.
7. Industry Purple Cows keeps their commitments, hates excuses and holds their own self responsible for what happens in their business.
8. Industry Purple Cows creates and uses an air-tight business plan because they know where they’re at and know where their going.
9. Industry Purple Cows network and follow-up the very next day to start developing relationships.
10. Industry Purple Cows puts their faith first, customers second, their business third, family forth, relationships fifth and then take action……..

I can go on and on but I’m sure that you get my drift. Most artists spend their time trying to get A&R’s to pay attention to them and completely ignore their own customers. Or worst, they spend ample time fishing for new customers and haven’t satisfied the ones that they already have. The simple truth is that it’s cheaper to keep an old customer than to try to attract new ones. I know an artist who walks around showcases asking where the A&R’s are at. Since she’s not a Purple Cow, they look right over her each and every time. Another reason why you need to be a Purple Cow is because in today’s music market; 1. Most people can’t buy your product – they don’t have the money, don’t have the time, or simply don’t want it. 2. Consumers are hard to reach because they are overwhelmed with information and will tend to ignore you.

The old rule was “Create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing.”
The new rule is “Create remarkable products that the RIGHT people seek out.”

So my question to you is “Are YOU a Big, Fat Purple Cow?”


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