At the BMIFC Convention this past weekend, Barry Manilow’s manager mentioned something about not being sure as to how to market Barry in the U.S. Sales for Greatest Love Songs of All Time were not at the levels they achieved in the UK.
I will first say that Barry needs to put out original material. Desperately. It’s been a while since he’s released something that didn’t start with the word “Greatest…”. You get the idea, and from the sounds of the three CD’s he’s working on, it sounds like he will be releasing some new material soon.
The next question is: who is the intended audience for this music? Who, besides Barry’s hard core fans, will this music resonate with the most?
I’ve heard the CD “15 Minutes” is supposed to contain more guitar (I’m assuming this is electric guitar). Is the music upbeat or is it slower and mellow? This can help to decide which demographics to go after with this CD. Instead of just releasing it out to the world, have multiple plans of action for marketing the CD, according to the demographic.
Which demographic is more likely to buy a CD vs. a digital copy from iTunes? What added perks could be made with purchasing a CD or likewise with purchasing from iTunes? They did a nice job with extra cuts with the last album to purchase with iTunes, how about the CD sales? In the past they’ve done CD’s where there was a video included that showed the behind the scenes look at how the CD was made.
Here’s an idea: since “15 Minutes” is supposed to contain stories of people seeking their 15 minutes of fame (at least that’s what I’ve heard), perhaps a portion of the money from the CD could go towards the Manilow Music Project or a scholarship to help Julliard graduates get that shot of 15 minutes of fame. Something along those lines. A special cut could be added to the iTunes purchases to go for the same purpose.
The symphonic album and the jazz album will also need their own ideas to separate them from the rest of the releases coming out on a constant basis from other artists.
There are other ways of also promoting new CD releases, as Barry and Co. well know, such as appearing on the talk show circuit. While this provides great television coverage, I don’t know that the ratings are there to generate enough sales. Barry needs to be out and about more, especially when a new album is being released.
A few ideas:
Discounts on the show and CD’s through AARP. Now that Baby Boomers are retiring, more are joining AARP. Does AARP have any type of convention? Be sure to perform there and/or time a performance in the same area at the same time. Be sure to put print ads in their magazine for the Paris show and the CD’s. Try to get a cover interview with them.
Coachella. Ever hear of it? HUGE weekend of concerts not too far from where Barry lives, if I understand correctly. GREAT coverage and publicity if you can get booked there. This is a younger crowd, make sure you plan and arrange the music accordingly.
Are there any jazz festivals Barry could sign up for? Do some cuts from Paradise Café, some of the other Johnny Mercer songs he’s put music to, and DO A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE NEW JAZZ ALBUM, BEFORE IT COMES OUT!!!! Try to time the release of the album to closely follow the jazz festivals so that Barry will still be on listener’s minds when they shop for new jazz music.
Also do some promotional visits to jazz radio stations, try to get Barry’s music on there. While a radio show (like the ones Barry's done for UK stations) may not work on mainstream radio stations, would it work on the jazz radio stations? Look into it.
Contact some of the different symphonies around the U.S. to make guest appearances at their concerts when his album, backed by a symphony orchestra, comes out, and even afterwards. Barry might find he has an audience there he wasn’t reaching. I know symphonies have also been hurting for money, appearing with some of these orchestras might be the boost they also need.
This Christmas, perhaps Barry could get with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra At Temple Square for their annual Christmas program. It would provide fantastic coverage of Barry, especially if he does the Gift of Love shows again in Palm Springs.
With all of this, make sure Barry and Co. give advance notice of these appearances on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to post videos to be shared on YouTube. Plan the internet appearances like you do everything else, but make sure Barry DOES have a presence, and a current one at that, on YouTube where people can share the videos. The latest music video of Barry on the "official" channel is from two albums ago.