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Promotional Tools and Merchandise

Promotional tools and merchandise are two important things that all bands should know about and utilize to the best of their ability. Both should be considered forms of advertising and marketing for your project, though merchandise can also be an important source of income. Promotional tools are marketing that is given away or used as a form of barter. Merchandise is marketing that people pay you for (if you give merchandise away for free, it's a promotional tool). In this section, we'll try to help you realize the benefits of both forms of marketing, as well as give you some basic cost vs. profit estimates. I'll also try to give you some creative ways to utilize both these mediums to your advantage.
Promotional Tools
The best way to understand what promotional tools are is to use major labels as a starting point and work your way back. When a major label begins to promote a given artist, they will create a variety of promotional items. Usually, these items are linked in some way either to the artist's album or first single. For example, when Matchbox 20's single "Push" was being promoted, Atlantic records had Push stickers made up (include the band's name) to look like a sticker you would see on a door in any public or private facility. They then sent these items for free to retail outlets everywhere. The outlets stuck them on all of their doors, and voila, every time you looked at a door, you were reminded both of the band and of their new single. However, you don't always need to tie the item directly to a single or album. Sometimes, it's better to get creative in other ways-- maybe your album title doesn't lend itself to a clever item; or maybe, you just think a seemingly unrelated type of item looks cool. One of my favorite promo items was the that Epic created for Pearl Jam's "Ten" album. Eight years later it still sits in the hallway of my office. Major labels spend a ton of money on promotional items because they know that a free and clever promotional item can be a contributing factor in getting someone to pay attention to a piece of music. However, don't think that just because you make a killer promo item that it's going to make everyone sit up and listen -- it won't.
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