Ever since Radiohead released In Rainbows in a pay-what-you-want format, bands and record labels have sought out new ways to use the Internet to their advantage.
Often times, this occurs in the form of PR agencies emailing bloggers links to “exclusive” MP3s, which then become recycled throughout the blogosphere. Then there are the Nine Inch Nailers – bands that want nothing more but to connect fans to the music and (sometimes) screw over their old labels. Somewhere in between these options are the little bands, who post free songs or whole albums on sites like Gimmie Sound and Bandcamp in the hopes that fans will pick them up and fall in love with the tunes.
What’s missing for so many little groups that simply post their music online is any ability to connect to fans. There’s hardly any outside help for a band from Middle of Nowhere, U.S.A., that wants to get their music to the unaware public. They don’t have the advantage of publicists, they don’t have a big name that will automatically generate traffic and they may not have any support on the blogs.
For those bands, a site like Kickstarter may have the key to finding a fan base. Bands can post potential recording projects and ask for donations to help fund said projects. In return, the funders can get great swag, such as free songs. Simply having a project in the Kickstarter database can get a group’s name out to an entirely new audience, but the payoffs may never work, especially if a project doesn’t get full funding.
So what can smaller bands do when they want to get their music out to the public, even when giving away your music may not see any response in return? How can bands engage listeners and get people to tune in?
With Everyone Everywhere’s self-titled LP set to drop in May, the band, their label (Tiny Engines) and their publicists (Beartrap) have decided to give away all the songs on the album for free. They’re doing it with the help of 10 blogs.
They’ve dubbed their project the “Everyone Everywhere MP3 Blog Tour.” Since Monday, one of 10 selected blogs have begun posting one song from the upcoming release, one song at a time. So, for example, on Friday, music blog Battle Of The Midwestern Housewives will post a link to download “Tiny Boat,” the fifth song from Everyone Everywhere. On Monday, The Ripple Effect posted “Tiny Planet,” the album’s lead off-tune. The tour continues through next Friday, when the album’s tenth and final song will be posted on Clicky Clicky Music. Once the tour is over, Punknews.org will be streaming the album in its entirety beginning May 4.
It’s a pretty genius idea. Not only does the blog tour put a new spin on the “legal free music” idea, but it engages Everyone Everywhere’s audience and builds a community at the same time. Listeners not only get some great tunes (and yes, so far the songs debuted on the various blogs are fantastic), but they get to discover new blogs: Fans can read a little about the band and find a modern critical voice they may not have been aware of before.
Tiny Engines co-founder and Beartrap PR employee Chuck Daley took some time to answer a few questions about the blog tour via email. Daley had some great insight, and below is the interview, along with more information about the Everyone Everywhere Blog Tour:
Who came up with the blog tour idea? Was it one of the Everyone Everywhere guys, or someone at Tiny Engines or Beartrap PR? Why this particular record?
Chuck Daley: It was a combination of different people and ideas, beginning with Everyone Everywhere and the band’s desire to feature the release an invitation-only file-sharing website. Initially, I was hesitant (still am, actually) because although I understand that the world has changed and we need to adapt / evolve, yadda yadda, it still doesn’t alter what I know … which is that ridiculous amounts of time, energy and resources that go into making a record like this. I’m sorry, kids – you can justify it however you’d like, but download an album without paying for it and someone suffers in the process.
So without getting too deep into cantankerous / righteous punk rocker territory, my partners and I eventually decided that we’d give the file-sharing thing a shot. Everyone Everywhere isn’t an outfit that’s able to tour that much, so beside all the promotion that the label and Beartrap PR does, one quickest, easiest ways for them to distribute the music would be through one of these free file-sharing outlets.
Anyway, I started to kick around other ideas to get the record out to people in more creative (and admittedly controllable) ways. I remembered that my Tiny Engines / Beartrap partner Will Miller – who also runs a great music site called SoundAsLanguage.com – had participated in something dubbed the “Albums Of The Decade Blog Tour,” which was basically ten blogs listing their favorite albums from the past ten years and trying to create a forum for interesting discussion regarding those choices.
I just sort of put two and two together and that was that. I do believe that Josh Spilker from Deckfight.com was the creator of the Albums Of The Decade Blog Tour (and is also participating in the Everyone Everyone Blog Tour as well), so I suppose a lot of the credit goes to him. I’m just the dude who stole other people’s good ideas and smashed em together.
What did everyone find so appealing about the blog tour idea?
CD: As I mentioned, from the beginning the members of Everyone Everywhere were always interested in new ways to distribute their music to a wider audience, especially in lieu of them not being able to make the band a full-time career right now. This certainly satisfies that criteria.
What I appreciate – other than the fact that it might net Tiny Engines some new fans and perhaps sell a few LPs – is that we also get to bring 10 awesome blogs into the mix. There are all people whose opinions and critiques I really respect, and I would love to see the MP3 blog tour help increase traffic and win over some new daily readers for them as well.
Were there any concerns over possible monetary setbacks by giving away all the songs for free on 10 different blogs?
CD: Of course, but it was realistic to assume that even if we hadn’t gone through with the tour, the Everyone Everywhere record would have ended up being posted for free somewhere … probably multiple outlets. I’ve been involved in this scene for long enough to know that much was almost a certainty. At least with this endeavor, we’re the ones steering the ship. We get to decide how long the free download is available, the quality of the mp3, etc etc. Soon, all that will be out of our hands. It’s nice to have this blog tour right now so we can make a bit of noise and whip up some early excitement about the release.
How were the 10 blogs involved in the blog tour selected? Was there an established relationship between the blogs and Tiny Engines, Beartrap or Everyone Everywhere?
CD: Essentially, Will and I exchanged a few emails and came up with about 15 – 20 blogs who have always been very supportive of what we do. We sort of pondered traffic stats and whatnot, but ultimately the people who we considered were the ones we thought would be most interested and whose blogs would be the best fit for the record.
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that of those first 10 we approached, all said yes … even though for a few, Everyone Everywhere might be slightly outside the realm of what they normally cover. Still, pretty much everyone jumped on board with virtually no hesitation. They were unquestionably excited to be part of the tour and it was definitely nice to get that response from people you work with and of whose blogs I’m a personal fan.
The only downside is that there was a handful of blogs that we love that couldn’t be part of the tour. That was sort of a bummer, but I’m sure we’ll hit them up next time around.
Is this a project you would hope to continue doing with other bands in the future?
CD: Yes, I’m sure there will be another tour … or at least something similar. We might need to jazz it up or explore other ways to get people stoked, but I really dig the concept and it seems like everyone else does too.
The only downside of this tour has been the sheer amount of time and organization devoted to putting it together. Not exactly a small amount of work. On the flip side, once I finished setting things up and dealing with shred of minutia – making sure the blogs were clear on the plans, uploading the songs, writing a press release and creating a page on the website – I took a step back and was really proud of the effort, and I suspect that it will always be something I will remember with fondness.
What are you hoping to get out of the experiment?
CD: Obviously our end goal is the spread Everyone Everywhere’s music to a larger audience. We wouldn’t have released the album if we didn’t love it and think it deserved a permanent spot in every music lover’s collection. And of course, it would be sweet to sell a few records as well. Putting aside the fact that this is an “MP3” blog tour, we started this label because we dig the vinyl format and we really care about packaging, artwork, lyrics … the general aesthetics of what makes record buying so special.
We’ll never make enough money for Tiny Engines to be a full-time job – anyone who releases vinyl record will tell you it’s virtually impossible to break even – but it’s our hope that we can at least earn a few bucks from each record to put directly back into the label for releasing more great music in the future. Every little bit helps, so if you’ve downloaded all the songs on the Everyone Everywhere MP3 Blog Tour, think about picking up a copy of the record or buying it on iTunes … or at least attend a show when the band travels through your town. And definitely take a few minutes to explore all the blogs involved in the tour because they should all be scheduled stops in your daily web adventures.
The Everyone Everywhere MP3 Blog Tour:
01. Tiny Planet @ The Ripple Effect – Monday (04/19)
02. Raw Bar OBX 2002 @ Can You See The Sunset? – Tuesday (04/20)
03. From The Beginning To The Tail @ Built On A Weak Spot – Wednesday (04/21)
04. Tiny Town @ Dryvetyme Onlyne – Thursday (04/22)
05. Tiny Boat @ Battle Of The Midwestern Housewives – Friday (04/23)
06. Music Work Paper Work @ Deckfight – Monday (04/26)
07. Blown Up Grown Up @ The Album Project – Tuesday (04/27)
08. Fld Ovr @ Familiarize Yourself – Wednesday (04/28)
09. I Feel Fine by Everyone Everywhere @ Reviewsic – Thursday (04/29)
10. Obama House, Fukui Prefecture @ Clicky Clicky Music – Friday (04/30)