They did something interesting that was worth writing and talking about.
Reznor released an album for free when that wasn’t the norm for established artists (still isn’t). That got people talking. He was changing the game and doing things different. The album’s musical quality was not the focus of attention. It was the idea of giving away the music that got the attention.
Amanda Palmer made a decent amount of money using twitter, the social media soup de jour. A ton of people want to know how she did it. The fact that she did that got the attention of music industry and marketing/social media bloggers. She did something that few have and that got people talking. So what if people weren’t talking about her music? I bet quite a few people checked out her music because of the attention.
Jill Sobule raised $90,000 directly from her fans to record an album. That’s a huge feat that not many other indie artists can claim. That makes her stand out and get attention. Again, the music isn’t the angle, it’s the $90,000 part that grabs people. Again, a lot people will at least check out her music because of the chatter around her fundraising efforts.
By now, you get what I’m talking about.
These artists got pretty decent exposure due to non-music related angles. I’m sure NIN expanded their fan base and sold more tickets because of the media attention. I’m not sure NIN would have got all their recent festival gigs if this surge in attention wasn’t there.
I don’t know how Amanda Palmer or Jill Sobule are doing now because of the attention, but I’m sure they’ve benefited.
As an indie artist who hasn’t got much of a track record, this can be daunting, but you really can create something that will get people’s attention and get them talking. Create a video so interesting/funny/trippy that people can’t help but want to spread it around. Easier said than done I know, but I didn’t say it would be easy. Totally doable, but not guaranteed to be easy. That being said, don’t underestimate a simple-to-make video with an enthralling concept.
Finally, make sure the music is there. After the non-music buzz fizzles, the music is what will build on that spark of attention.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFV4Cglw3Sg&feature=PlayList&p=CA472DEA3F109B89&index=2]
Take Control of Your Music