AMN Picks Industry

On the Mathematics of Marketing New Music

Some recent discussions floating around the music industry include the inability of some new artists to get noticed.  If the music is weird (you know, the stuff we like here on AMN), divide the likelihood of being noticed by some weirdness factor.

You can’t just put your music out there and expect a reaction.  You need to do sales and marketing. But, as the professional youtube services from makes clear, with more music being produced today than ever before, how do you stand out?  One person recently quoted a statistic that less than 2% of all media publications bother listening to promo copies of albums they are sent.  While I cannot verify this number, it doesn’t seem out of the ballpark.

But let me focus on a few things I can verify.

Here at AMN we get around 80-120 promo releases per month.  Most of these are accompanied by a request for a review.  We publish about 6-10 reviews per month.  This number is what it is because only four of us write reviews on any regular basis, and all of us have day jobs.  We don’t do it for a living.

Further, finding good reviewers is difficult, and I give them tons of latitude in what they cover.  Thus, they usually pick and choose what to review, which may be from these 80-120 requests, or may be something completely different.

In addition to these promo requests, I request about 3-5 promos per months and purchase about another 10 releases or so with my own cash.  Some of those might end up getting reviewed just because I find them interesting enough to request or buy.

This massive skew between the amount of new music that is available for review and the amount of time that we (and other websites I suspect) have for writing reviews explains the quoted 2% hit rate.

This is one of the reasons I publish the AMN Picks of the Week.  This gives us the opportunity to say, “Hey, this release is pretty good, check it out” without having to review it.

I suspect some sites mainly review well-known artists to drive traffic and hits, and thereby sell more ads.  We don’t have that constraint here, as AMN is a break-even venture at best.  In a good month, profits from AMN will buy a sandwich.  A small one.

So the math looks bad.  Your odds of getting a review on AMN, as well as any other web site, are pretty small unless you’re an established name.  But don’t stop.  Don’t give up.  Some of the best releases I’ve heard over the last 10 years came from artists that I’ve never heard of who sent me an email asking for a listen.  I did, was impressed, and either published a review or included the release on a Picks of the Week, year’s best of list, etc.  I cannot guarantee when this will happen, but I can guarantee that it does.

And for the record, we listen to about 40-50% of all submissions, curve-breakers that we are.

2 replies on “On the Mathematics of Marketing New Music”

It helps if you have a job where you can listen to music… if you don’t (like me), the available music-listening time can be pretty tiny. For me it’s gotten to the point where I work all day (without music), am out maybe twice a week at concerts, spend an evening or two every week working on my blog, spend a few nights a month working on video and audio recordings… there’s not much time left for listening to new music, which is a shame. Most months I only get a couple of new albums to listen to. I almost wish I had a longer commute, because that is a majority of my music listening time sometimes!

My blog focuses on live music, which I guess is even harder to find time for because you can’t listen when it’s convenient for you, it’s time-consuming, and it’s more expensive, too. Good thing I enjoy it so much ;-) I don’t get deluged with review requests like you do, though, thankfully…

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