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Promotional Tours
Thus, the record industry is forced to spend millions of dollars a year pushing songs to radio in effort to get them actually played over the air. Although promotional tours can involve other sections of the music industry, like press or retail, generally, they are focused on radio -- the logic being that if you can get radio behind a project, press and retail will most likely follow. Generally, I have found this to be the case. While there have certainly been instances of bands that have been lucky enough to get lots of airplay yet little press and retail support, they would be exceptions and not the rule. A promotional tour can take on many different guises. They can be as simple as bringing one or two band members to radio stations to have them play acoustically for programming departments, or they can involve lavish performances and parties at clubs at night. Which will be more successful depends on a variety of factors, including: the reason for the tour, the genre of artist, their individual work ethic, the project budget, and ultimately, the quality of the music itself.
Why Organize a Promotional Tour?
Ostensibly, it would seem that there is only one reason to organize a promo tour: airplay. Then again, because radio airplay is basically the endgame of any music marketing plan, the above question invites further discussion. I have been involved in several promo tours in which almost everyone involved, (excluding the artist and manager) recognized that the project in question had a snowball's chance in hell of getting on the radio. So why do it? Why spend money and time taking such an artist to radio stations to push for a song everyone just knows is not going to make it? Answering this question involves a basic explanation of record-company politics, and I'll let you in on a little secret: Labels often end up pushing acts they don't think are going to sell. There are many reasons certain acts get pushed and sent on promo tours. Here are just a few:
  • The artist is represented by an important manager or lawyer.
    Sometimes labels will get stuck with an esoteric or worse -- a mediocre -- record from a band no one was really excited about signing because the higher-ups at the label trusted or wished to please a certain powerful representative. You may shake your head in disbelief, but it's true.
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