Published Apr 01, 2005When one thinks of Vice (magazine, record label, clothing store) one rarely thinks of marketing. Vice has cultivated an image that isn't so much anti-advertising as anti-everything. Yet, they have spawned a marketing group called AddVICE that represents nearly 30 of your favourite bands. Vee Popat has been the Canadian branch's general manager since its inception in September, 2004.
What services does AddVICE offer?
We have a "street team" that does stencilling, postering and handing out flyers outside of shows. The other stuff we do is street level marketing. We have a lot of lifestyle partners: hotels, restaurants, cafes, boutiques, vintage stores, tattoo parlours and hair salons where music fans hang out and we partner with them to get bands' music played in there in a credible and unobtrusive way. We also offer full-service marketing, radio and video promotion, media-relations publicity and we have a deal with Maple/Universal where we can offer a band national distribution. So if there's a hot band out there that doesn't have a distribution deal we can offer them a deal if they take our marketing services. Universal will distribute them because they know they're going to be marketed well.
Is street team marketing limited to major label acts?
This type of marketing is more for the independent act than the major labels. The major label act is going to have a bigger marketing budget because they've already sold a lot of records, so they can do TV and print advertising. You don't even need that much dough to do this kind of thing; we'll cut them a break because they're on an indie label. Bands can do it themselves if they're enterprising enough. We love to work with indie bands, to take their record and work the shit out of it because it's really satisfying at the end of the day knowing that you helped these guys out.
Is it possible to be a successful band without an aggressive marketing strategy?
The list of bands that are looking for radio play or video play is long. And radio stations aren't in the business of playing music, they're in the business of selling advertising. They want to make sure that listeners don't turn to another station so they'll play the most familiar music. If a band already have a marketing campaign behind them where people want to hear about the band, those radio stations and video channels are going to be more apt to play that band because there's a story behind it. It sucks, because it all goes back to having a story behind you.
Could anyone parlay their experience with a street team into a job in the music industry?
I worked on a street team when I first started out. There's a large percentage of people working at labels who started on street teams, or at least as interns with labels; there are directors of marketing at labels who started out on street teams. It's the same as anywhere, labels think, "Why hire someone you don't know when you've got some kid in here who people like and is a hard worker?"