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Top 7 Promotional Music Gimmicks -- Both Used & Unused

Top 7 Promotional Music Gimmicks -- Both Used & Unused

One of the most interesting things in the music business is how managers and record companies promote and market their artists. Sometimes they do a great job, and other times they fail.

When they do fail, they're like that hickey you got three weeks ago -- still there. But, like a hickey, people eventually forget about it. Here are some of the most memorable gimmicks that have already been done:

7. Garth Brooks appears as Chris Gaines to promote a movie about the fictional character...Chris Gaines: In 1999, Garth Brooks decided to make an alter ego for a movie he was going to star in called The Lamb, about a fictional alt-rocker from Australia named Chris Gaines. Brooks released an album as the character, a sordid "pre-soundtrack." However, people didn't really get the whole Chris Gaines persona. Therefore, the movie was never made and Garth went back to being Garth.

6. The Newsboys release Take Me To Your Leader at Space Center Houston: Once upon a time in Webster, Christian rockers the Newsboys decided to have a release party at Space Center Houston for their now-classic 1996 album Take Me to Your Leader. The event ended up being a first of sorts for Space Center Houston: It was the first-ever live satellite concert to actually originate from the space-themed amusement park.

It was broadcast to many satellite locations (such as retail outlets) where listening parties were taking place. It was a very fitting place because, if you look at the album and even some of the videos, there is a very Buck Rogers-like theme.

5. Madonna combines tickets to her upcoming tour with her latest album, MDNA: Want to guarantee your new album is going to at least go platinum? Sell a "ticket bundle" that includes concert tickets with the purchase of said new album.

Though Madonna's MDNA debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance Albums charts earlier this year, the next week it experienced an 86.7 percent sales drop. Why? Because the album sales were greatly helped by the ticket pairing. The tickets to her show were selling out, but people only needed to buy their tickets once (or could afford to).

And now for the ones that would be really cool to see....

 

A still from the 1976 Nicholas Roeg film The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring David Bowie.
A still from the 1976 Nicholas Roeg film The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring David Bowie.

4. David Bowie visits San Diego's Comic Con as Ziggy Stardust, OR has a full conversation with a Ziggy Stardust hologram to announce a full theatrical re-release of The Man Who Fell to Earth: Imagine for a moment if you went to the famous comic-book and sci-fi convention and there was a Q&A session between David Bowie, the audience and a hologram of Ziggy Stardust. Personally, it would be rather cool. However, it would be to promote a full theatrical re-release of The Man Who Fell to Earth and a remastered version of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie himself would perform some of his greatest hits including "Life on Mars" and "Fame."

3. The King of All Parodies, Weird Al Yankovic, takes over FUSE TV for the 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition of UHF: Remember the movie UHF, where Weird Al Yankovic inherits a television station? Let's just imagine for a second if there was a UHF-style takeover of the music-video network -- complete with fake shows such as Conan the Librarian and Town Talk, and of course fake commercials like "Plots R Us Mortuary." Of course, this would be hosted by Weird Al himself.

2. The B-52's show up incognito for a surprise free concert at Kemah Boardwalk or Galveston's new Pleasure Pier: Next to the Beach Boys, The B-52's are one of the best summertime bands. They are fun, vibrant and just plain crazy. What better way to kick off the summer than to hear them perform unannounced at Galveston's new Pleasure Pier? Who wouldn't want to hear songs like "Mesopotamia," Funplex," "Cosmic Thing" and the ever-popular (and, in this case, appropriate) "Rock Lobster" while near the beach on a hot summer day?

 

1. Kate Bush and Florence + the Machine perform a secret concert at London's Royal Albert Hall: Let's face it, Kate Bush is one of the most unique rockers of all time. However, there's one small caveat: She's not one to do a whole lot of live shows and has only performed live on U.S. television once -- on Saturday Night Live in 1977, when Eric Idle hosted. She did one tour of England after that, nothing else, but Bush has still been a big influence on artists such as Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine and Tori Amos.

So it would be a great idea for her to do a social-media-promoted surprise concert. Here is what would happen: A Web site would be set up where people from around the world sign up (and pay $30). The faux site would promote a surprise from Kate Bush and send fans on a geographical scavenger hunt based on their location. (It would involve mostly getting clues from their local record stores.)

The clues would be trivia questions based off Bush's albums and songs. For example, one clue would be "What novel is also the same name of a very popular Kate Bush song?" (Wuthering Heights, ahem.)

Eventually, the scavenger hunt would lead participants to the Royal Albert Hall, where first Florence + the Machine would perform a few of Bush's songs as well as her own as "James and the Cold Gun," "Them Heavy People," "Shake It Out," etc. Finally, Bush would then take the stage while Florence sings one of Kate's songs and both artists perform each other's songs.

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to make use of the comments section.


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