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My Morning Jacket Demonstrates a Savvy Business Approach

March 6, 2011

My Morning Jacket (“MMJ”) has recently begun a promotional campaign where they are periodically releasing live recordings of songs for free on their website, as a run-up to the release of their new album, Circuital, on April 12th.  I for one, am impressed by this savvy approach and some of the nuances they have chosen to employ.

For the next 6 weeks, MMJ will release one live song a week–a live version of a previously-released song, recorded last year at Terminal 5 in New York City.  Fans can either visit the website (and give a much-appreciated hit) to download or subscribe to receive the songs automatically as they’re posted.  This is intelligent on several levels.  For one, they’re driving up visits to their site and simultaneously bolstering their email lists.  Secondly, this could be a hedge of sorts, reminding fans and listeners of songs they’ve already come to know and enjoy, thereby getting them more interested in the album they haven’t heard yet.

MMJ is not a new band–they’ve consistently been on the charts since 2003, so we’re not discussing some baby band that’s looking for their big break, they are an established artist.  Their sales (both CDs and digital) of previously-released material have likely leveled off and MMJ is not likely losing significant revenue by the release of more sought after (at least by fans) live recordings.  This is resourceful in that the marginal revenue remaining in sales is being transferred to promotion and marketing purposes.

In sum, MMJ has combined promotion for a new album with reinforcement of their brand.  Listeners who are already fans will eat up the live recordings (and hopefully share it with their friends) and new fans will appreciate a legitimate way to get high quality recordings.  Both groups will be thinking about whether they want to pursue MMJ further (either in concert or by listening to more of their music) based on previously-released material.  As far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been a release of a single off of Circuital yet, which stands in contrast to the strategy I’m more familiar with of releasing a song with the support of a music video and radio play (for established bands).  But, this should not be surprising as MMJ is not trying to grab casual (read: car radio) listeners.  At some level, I see an interesting method to drum up interest in a new album, give stuff away for free (people always love that).  MMJ are coming off as legit with their fans (increasingly important as touring revenue overtakes sales), are opening avenues for new listeners to find them, and as an added bonus, are going back to the material they know sells to promote their new album.

-Lenny

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