Overview

CEN serves as your day-to-day contact for all aspects of your campaign. CEN’s role is to build and quarterback the work of all team members and ensure that all marketing touch points and milestones are met and delivered upon.

CEN works directly with each of the independent contractors assigned to your project to ensure that their efforts are maximized. CEN administers all aspects of your release from ingestion in the RED/IODA/SONY systems to release, and has access to RED’s digital sales and marketing departments to help drive awareness and take advantage of retail promotions.

The CEN principals have decades of experience and contacts that they leverage on behalf of their clients; we always know someone, who knows someone, who knows who you need to talk to. We are your champions at radio, retail, media, and the industry, and are your gateway to your future.

From a Management Perspective

Vinny and Adam have both been artist managers at some point in their careers, and as such approach their dealings with their artist clients from a management perspective. Additionally, as musicians, road managers, and signed artists themselves, the CEN principals are intimately familiar with all of the highs and lows of the life of the working musician. While we don’t have the ability to take on managerial duties for our clients we often naturally assume that role while an artist is looking for more established management, and can help counsel them in their search for a manager. If a client has a management team in place our experiences help us understand and anticipate managements’ needs.

Digital Sales

Digital channels now account for 29 per cent of global music industry revenues, up from 25 per cent in 2009. Growth in 2010 was particularly strong in Europe (up nearly 20 per cent), while sales of digital albums rose strongly in major markets (up 29 per cent in the UK, 43 per cent in France and 13 per cent in the US) – IFPI.org

For the first six months of 2011 album-unit sales rose 1% compared with same period of 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan. This represented the first time that album sales had increased since 2004. Including track-equivalent albums (10 digital tracks equal one album); the growth figure was higher, at 3.7%. Digital-album sales were reported by Nielsen SoundScan to have increased 10% year-on-year, with digital-track sales rising 11%. Recent figures from Nielsen SoundScan, for the year to Aug. 21, published in the trade magazine Billboard, suggest that the situation has improved slightly, with album sales up 2.4% compared with the same period in 2010 and album sales including track equivalents rising 4.8%. – musicandcopyright.wordpress.com

While physical CD’s still have a presence in the music retail landscape, an increasing number of CEN’s releases are digital only, and CEN has the ability to release any product digitally worldwide.

Our digital releases are of course scheduled by the RED production team and delivered though the Sony or IODA feeds depending on type of product. RED’s digital sales reps ensure that all accounts, from iTunes and Amazon, which account for over 90% of sales, to many smaller retailers and streaming sites such as Spotify and Vevo, receive all relevant artist info during the pre-release solicitation period.

Once a product has gone live on the agreed upon release date CEN has access, through the RED sales staff, to the multitude of sales and promotion options that each account offers.  Additionally, if there are any issues with a release (wrong artwork, etc) the RED production team is on hand to quickly work on solutions.

CEN delivers weekly SoundScan sales reports, which include album and track sales, by-market breakdowns, and overall industry trends, to all their clients.

Physical Sales

While total album sales in the U.S. leveled off a bit in 2011, space at physical retail stores and infact the number of stores in general, is in sharp decline. Where at one time not that long ago every major market would have a number of prosperous retailers, from the mighty Tower Records, to chains such as Musicland, Warehouse and Coconuts and much loved indies, those days are long gone. In Manhattan you’d be hard pressed to find a store that stocks even the Top 100 on CD these days.

What is left are the mega-chains WalMart, Target and Best Buy, which are buying less and less titles (and for the most part consider CD’s loss leaders that they sell for discounted prices to bring in potential big ticket item shoppers), mid-size regional chains such as FYE, and a small coterie of resilient and well run independent stores. The better indie stores are organized under two national organizations, CIMS – http://www.cimsmusic.com/ – and the Music Monitor Network, which runs the indie store promo events under the banner Record Store Day – http://recordstoreday.com

At CEN we are not in the habit of suggesting a physical release for most projects, however, if it was determined that a physical release was necessary we work with a very affordable CD manufacturer in the mid west who will produce and ship product to the RED Distribution warehouse for shipments to retail.

The typical timeline for a physical release would be as such;

– 8-10 weeks before release – deliver sales sheet to printer for new release book

– 6-8 weeks before release – refine retail goals and advertising

– 6 weeks before release – sales book arrives at retail, solicitation starts

– 3 weeks before release – finished CDs due in distribution depot

Throughout the solicitation period, and once the CD is in stores, CEN is in touch with the RED sales reps to determine advertising strategy. Options from $50 listening stations in single stores, to multi-thousand dollar national campaigns are available to help price and position a release at an account. As the marketing campaign develops CEN is there to maximize awareness at retail through the RED sales department.

As with digital releases, CEN provides its clients with a multitude of sales reports including orders, stock levels and weekly sales.

Publicity

Public Relations as an occupation is a relatively new pursuit. The term first gained prominence after the First World War where the use of tracts and editorial by the military to sway opinion was first put into place. Needing a phrase other than the jingoistic ‘propaganda’ that became associated with wartime PR, Public Relations was born. With the rise of the advertising industry in the 1950’s PR followed, as best exemplified in the 1957 movie Sweet Smell of Success, in which Tony Curtis plays a back-stabbing press agent. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051036/

One of the main credo’s of the early PR man was to always tell the truth, and while part of the job of the press agent is to ‘spin the truth,’ it is still the publicity department’s job to be the first and last word on the respective subject.

In the entertainment industry marketing campaigns are often led by PR. Timelines are based around when certain pieces of information are released; often an introductory Press Release is the first formal correspondence between an artist or product and the industry it is seeking to conquer. Mailings of CD’s or other items are done in relation to the product launch; long-lead press outlets (monthly magazines) normally require 3 months head start on reviewing a new album for example.

CEN believes that matching an artist and release with the right press agent is an integral part of developing a successful marketing campaign. As with musicians, press people have their strengths and weaknesses. A singer/songwriter probably shouldn’t hire a PR company that works with a lot of celebrity and film clients, a jazz artist will want a publicist who can get to the right people at the New York and LA Times and NPR. CEN has relationships with many PR firms, from scrappy one-man shops to bi-coastal powerhouses, and prides itself in helping develop a meaningful rapport between our clients and their new publicity liaison.

A typical publicity campaign would follow the below timeline:

PHASE 1: Starting the Campaign

Create a comprehensive media kit on the group’s members, which will incorporate the following materials (physical and/or digital):

  • – Pitch letter
  • – Press Release on album release
  • – Biography
  • – Press Quote Sheet
  • – Advance of the album

 
Develop the group’s profile with the media.
Plant stories on artist’s upcoming release.
Support any of artist’s live dates through aggressive outreach to regional media outlets in each area to insure proper promotional and profile building press hits at the right time.

PHASE 2 – Album Launch

Prep the online media, such as punk sites, pop sites, dance sites, women’s artist’s sites, hipster sites, alt-rock sites, blogs, etc. to build momentum for the upcoming release.

Prep the album for national print, online, and syndicated radio coverage to coincide with the release. We will focus on the demographic of publications (music, dance, indie, scene, hipster, lifestyle) that best highlight artist’s achievements and represent their image properly.

Target television opportunities to coincide with the tour:

Publicize any upcoming US concert dates on both a national and regional level.

PHASE 3 – Sustaining Media Attention

Following the release of the new album, we will be creative and selective with media opportunities to ensure that the group and album stay in the public eye, including:

  • – Continuously secure important and impactful media coverage for the group and the album.
  • – Secure reviews in regional outlets.
  • – Continue to enhance the profile of the group and their projects.
  • – Follow up on all coverage and revise press kit on a regular basis.

Marketing/Advertising

Marketing

The catch-all term above can refer to a multitude of activities including putting a song on a sampler, promoting a release at a trade show, creating and booking advertising in magazines and online, and much more. At record labels Marketing Departments, and the Marketing Managers and Directors who make up the department, are the quarterbacks for each campaign, and are entrusted to make sure that all the other departments (Publicity, Radio, Video, etc) are working in tandem. An old record label executive once described Product Managers (another name for marketing people) as the waiters of the business; they are there to serve everyone. (Luckily the CEN principals have all had restaurant experience at some point in their lives)

It is the Product Manager’s job to create the Marketing Plan for each campaign, a document that describes how a release will roll out, what departments are involved, and what their responsibilities are. The Marketing Plan also contains the overall budget for the campaign. At CEN we create a Marketing Plan and Budget in tandem with the client and attach it to our client agreement so that everyone is aware of the scope of the project from the beginning.

Advertising

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” – Don Draper (Mad Men)

The type of advertising that falls under the purview of the Marketing Department is consumer and trade advertising and is different for the retail co-op advertising that is booked by the sales department.

Consumer advertising can include print, radio, TV, outdoor, online, mobile and any other advertising that takes a specific message to the consumer. Over the last decade we have see a vast shift in how consumer advertising has been booked, and consumed. Ten years ago most entertainment ads were placed in magazines and on the radio; it was typical for a well funded release to book print ads in Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe, etc. and 30-second radio spots on stations spinning that release’s single. Advertising budgets for even the most developing artists would start at $15K and run to $250K and more for a superstar release (for just the first phase).

Since the internet has come to dominate and consume all humans on the planet (although some areas of New Guinea are still without wi-fi, apparently), entertainment sales, and thus advertising, has migrated online. Google’s $9.7 BILLION in revenues…for July through September of 2011…was garnered almost exclusively from advertising (which includes its little video division You Tube), Facebook will book over 4 Billion in ad sales in 2011, meanwhile Twitter is coming on strong in the ad space, while MySpace has fallen off a cliff. The total US online ad market will be over $25B for 2011.

CEN is a firm believer in the power of targeted online advertising and routinely books ads for its clients on Facebook and YouTube, and, through its Ant Colony Social Media department, can monitor and adjust key words multiple times a day for more effective commercials. We also have the ability to create and book advertising through the more conventional platforms such as Radio, TV and Print.

 

Social Media

Online Marketing

A sub-category under the ‘Marketing’ umbrella is of course Online Marketing, which has grown into a full time job for many new companies over the last few years. Defining online marketing can sometimes be a bit tricky; is contacting a blog about a new release a function of the publicity or the marketing team? If a contest and give-away is set up with that blog is that considered marketing or PR? We find that in some instances, depending on the type of release, that either a press or online marketing company will suffice; with high-priority, well funded campaigns we often suggest hiring both.

Drilling down to the specifics of what an online marketing company can do is best explained in the following example.

ASSET SEEDING

Seed an MP3 link and video for the current single to music and lifestyle sites—over 1,000 websites will receive the content (as well as purchase links and links to more information about the artist and the album.) We will also pitch exclusive tracks, covers and video premieres to destinations like AOL/Spinner, Spin, Rolling Stone, NPR etc. Throughout the campaign we will send these sites news updates as well as any online assets provided.

Pitch reviews to these outlets, as well as contests, giving away a signed copy of the album and potentially other goods. Make sure to hit all outlets that were supportive of the artist’s last album as well as sites that we think might enjoy this one.

Top tier sites include: Paste, AOL, MSN, Yahoo, The Street Date, NPR

Pop music/MP3 blogs include: Consequence of Sound, Pop Wreckoning, Blog Critics

Indie/Tastemakers: My Old Kentucky Blog, Muzzle of Bees, Filter, Stereogum

Social Marketing

“Privacy is dead, and social media holds the smoking gun.” – Pete Cashmore, Mashable CEO

When you come across something funny on the internet, or on the street, or at home, what’s one of the first things you do? If you’re one of Facebook’s 750 Million monthly users chances are you’ll share it with your friends and contacts on that site, or on Twitter, or you’ll Digg It. If you’re a band and you want to spread the news about a new show you’ll probably post it on Reverb Nation or Bandcamp; uploading a new song, don’t forget to post it on You Tube or iLike and add it to your SonicBids page. And if you still have time on your hands you may as well add it to your MySpace page, if you still have one of those. If you want to share something business related you’ll definitely want to do so on LinkedIn, or is Google+ your new obsession?

Whatever you do do, you’ll be participating in the relatively new phenomenon called social media. It’s astonishing to think that before Friendster, the precursor to Facebook, launched in 2002, online activities were basically a one-way operation; you went online and bought something, or looked or listened to something, or you got information, there was no dialogue online. With the rise of social media we now have the ability to buy something and show it off to our friends immediately; listen to something TOGETHER with other friends online; get information and share it with thousands of contacts seconds later. Online social interaction has been one of the most influential inventions in our lifetime; if just having the internet with all its magical powers wasn’t enough.

In addition to creating and booking online advertising (covered here under Marketing/Advertising), CEN, through its Any Colony marketing division works with its clients as needed on making sure that all relevant social networks are kept current and are being populated in the manner that will most effectively drive engagement.

Radio Promotion

Whether media base, indicator or specialty programming, CEN can develop radio promotion campaigns across all formats including College, Alternative, Rock, AAA, AC, Hot AC or Top 40. CEN strategizes and oversees Independent teams that work the specific radio formats. National campaigns are the norm, and regional programs can be called into play to work niche markets if a band is on tour for instance. Additionally, specialty programs exist at almost every format. The radio team at RED, which includes many veteran promotion people, is also available for select CEN projects.

Many radio campaigns also include servicing “New Media Radio,” which includes HD2, Internet and Satellite; Pandora, Shazam, SiriusXM, Music Choice, East Village Radio, Radio IO, Soma FM, Yahoo! Music Radio, AOL Music and more.

Recent Radio Campaigns for CEN artists include

Kate Miller-Heidke – Regional (East Coast) Top 40 campaign for NY Lottery commercial track “Are You Ready”

The Trews – AAA campaigns for both “Hope & Ruin” and “The World I Know”

Regional (SE) college campaign for Hope & Ruin album during tour

Beduk – College RPM and Mix Show campaigns for FUL album

Paul Kelly – AAA and Non-Com campaigns for Songs From The South album

SHIROCK – Alternative Specialty and Top 40 Indicator campaigns for “New Solution”

Video Promotion

It used to be so simple, the groundbreaking music video channel MTV played tons of video, had loads of shows where bands could go to be interviewed and play, and was seeming insatiable in its need for new content. On top of that, music videos were expensive affairs involving days of production and steadycam rentals, craft services, hair, makeup…’flowers;’ most bands on major labels had it written into their contract that the label would make at least one good video (average cost $50K), but if you weren’t on a label good luck getting on the big M. If you were, however, there was a good chance that your video was going to end up on the network at some point. Then MTV stopped playing videos.

But the music video didn’t go away, it’s bigger than ever, it just takes more work getting it seen, and as such video promotion companies have grown to be an integral part of any well-rounded marketing plan. The number of outlets for exposing ones videos is huge, there’s a regional TV channel for almost every genre of music, video pools exist to service night clubs, and retail and lifestyle options (gyms, clothing stores, cruise ships) abound.

CEN works with a number of video promotion companies that can work to you and us to most effectively promote your new music video.

An example of the outlets that would be serviced through most video promotion companies includes:

NATIONAL/ VIDEO ON DEMAND

The Cool TV, MTV/MTV2/MTVu/VH1, Fuel, Fuse, Fuse On Demand,
Much Music, Music Choice, MTV Latin America, XYZMP3 / TIVO

MULTI MARKET / MULTI REGIONAL SHOWS

California Music Channel, Get Reel Music Mix (Voice Of America), Music Mix, R n’ R Television

RETAIL POOLS / CONTENT PROVIDERS

Akoo, Channel M, ClubCom, DMX Music, eVision, MediaPlace / In Store Sports Network
Rock America/Retail Entertainment Design, Screenplay, VME Media

REGIONAL SHOWS

Alternative Currents, American Chart Show, Bad Taste, Eye Music Network
Fox Traxx, H20 TV, Hard Times, Hit Records TV, Homegrown Video

INTERNET

AOL Music, Blank TV, Culture Bully, Discosalt, Indie Music Filter, Loonatic.tv
LP33.tv, Pitchfork TV, Rock This! Singingfool.com/TVGuide.com/Allmusic.com
Spike.com, Stereogum, Tally Ho, Yahoo

Street Marketing

Also called guerilla marketing, ambient advertising or non-traditional marketing, Lifestyle Marketing can include any number of tactics the desired effect of which is to take a marketing message directly to the consumer, to the point of even putting it in his or her hand. Guerilla marketing often involves stunts, which don’t always go as planned, such as the 2007 Boston bomb scare that resulted from Police mis-identifying LED promotional placards for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie.

Street marketing is often implemented around live shows. Standard procedure would be to have street reps start postering around the venue two weeks prior to a show. Reps would also drop off posters and perhaps postcards at the venue for them to hang in the lobby, and would hit appropriate lifestyle accounts such as coffee shops, book shops, etc. and deliver whatever tools are available. A week before the show the reps would do another run to refresh the tools, and on the day of the show the reps would be outside of the venue handing postcards to the fans.

Sniping or wild posting is the, mostly illegal, practice of adhering large size (5’ x 3’) posters to walls, building sites and vacant lots in high-traffic areas in a city. There are companies that specialize in sniping and for the right artist it can be a very effective way of announcing a new release or event.

Note: When designing your snipe poster make the text readable from across the street, it isn’t a print ad.

CEN has relationships with a number of street marketing companies, including the team at RED, and even has its own street tem in select markets.

Website Design

Website design has evolved tremendously since the first simple sites started popping up in the mid 1990’s, and the options for layout, functionality and usability are now so numerous that there is no excuse for any enterprise not to have website that perfectly suits its needs.

Most websites fall into two categories, a brochure or a tool. For a brochure all that’s really needed is having the pertinent information on the site. For a website to become a tool, however, it needs to have features that enable the user to get the information he’s looking for, and in most artist’s cases that involves developing and updating content on a constant basis.

For example, an artist’s presence on the web is spread out over the following channels:

Official channels: Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, SoundCloud

Secondary channels: Search engine optimization (because a search engine could be the first time somebody sees the artist), banner advertising, press, DSP’s (iTunes, Amazon, etc)

Unofficial channels: MediaFire, Torrent sites, Lyric sites

In creating the perfect website for an artist all of the above outlets need to be considered and incorporated in some form into the site design and functionality (and the unofficial channels need to be accounted for).

CEN’s web team creates websites based on the popular and easy to use WordPress platform.  The site can be tooled for whatever the artist needs are, but it typically includes pictures, audio, video, a bio, tour information, retail information, and more.

Prices include a domain name, a year of hosting, website construction, and six months of support.

Additionally, CEN has pioneered the creation of an industry specific website we call a Toolkit. Toolkits contain approved assets that can be accessed for use by press, bloggers, retail, etc. These sites are generally simpler and cheaper to create than more inclusive artist sites. Construction and administration includes one year of hosting and six months of admin.

An example of a CEN Toolkit can be found at: http://www.soundawake.net

Branding

The concept of branding, or identifying and promoting a specific brand through targeted marketing and promotional initiatives, has become ubiquitous to the point that the New Yorker magazine recently ran a cartoon of a teenager explaining “not now, I’m working on my personal brand.” This might be taking things a little too far. For actually commercial entities, however, developing ones brand is an essential part of the marketing process.

Bands and artists are brands, and as such can engage in targeted activities that help develop said brands. CEN works with a number of companies that are active in this arena and for the right client can develop a branding strategy that if successful can help propel the artist to new levels of awareness.

Examples of branding activities include:

Brand Partnerships/Strategic Alliances

Work on identifiable list of potential and prospective brands and clients appropriately suited for the band according to their affinities, aspirations, and ability to both generate profile/visibility and revenue generation.

Create specific program concepts and ideas around relevant brands that will attempt to supplement current bands activities (i.e. touring, single release, social media marketing, merchandise, etc)

Review existing touring exhibition with band and local/national tour promoter to identify appropriate brands and partners to affiliate in ways to help subsidize and elevate tour presence.  We will look to develop local brand affiliate programs in some cases, working with local promoters to create programs around ticketing, merch, contesting, incentives, in-store and digital promotions, etc.

Sync/Master Licensing

Identify key tracks to be solicited for master and sync licensing opportunities with relevant production companies and creative commercial agency relations. We suggest starting with select production shops and agencies that have shown a propensity to feature artist’s music and masters for various broadcast and digital campaigns.

Identify similar path and approach with key music supervisors across various television and film production units.  Again, will look to prepare outline of those relationships and inherent associations we have with the right licensing groups; film and TV production agents and units.

Touring

Touring is the best way for a band to reach new fans and turn them into consumers, and going on the road can be an exciting experience for any musician. It can also be really boring, scary, expensive and heart-breaking…just like life. It has been, however, a constant in any working musician’s world since the days of traveling minstrels.

CEN is not a booking agency but we do have inroads into them, and we do have long-standing relationships with numerous managers, and can reach out to a vast majority of artists and their management teams.

CEN also has access to numerous programs that help support the touring artist including retail, radio, street and lifestyles marketing, and localized social advertising, and can help build artist specific national marketing teams. CEN has access to high school marketing and touring companies who can get you in front of that particular demo and help you book live shows.

CEN clients also have the ability to register road sales with Soundscan through RED’s touring department.

Promotional Tools

As with everything in the music business budgets for tchotchkes, those fun, brand-focused, giveaways, have gone down, down, down. Over the years we’ve seen promotional tools as extravagant as hubcaps, satin jackets, and laser lights but with shrinking budgets those items have been the first to be cut.

These days promo items need to do more than sit on someone’s desk (chunk of Berlin wall promo for benefit album), or be thrown in the trash (TV dinner package containing CD for radio promotion), they need to do something, and with the new digital realm we all work in, effective, cost-effective promo tools are the new useless bit of plastic.

Digital tools include toolkits, websites, social network pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) YouTube channels, advertising banners, widgets for contesting, and flash movies, among other things.

Don’t forget about physical assets. Physical assets that still have value include posters, stickers, flyers, download cards for tour and street marketing, and more.

CEN has relationships with designers and printers and contractors that allow us to create low-cost options on all promotional items, and can work with our clients to create top-quality, affordable products that won’t end up in the trash.