Saturday, June 6, 2009

FootColumn: Part 5 in an analysis of past singles and what that could mean for this new album

DISCLAIMER: In no way do my opinions reflect those of ATO Records, lowercase people records, Red Light Management, or the band Switchfoot itself, nor any other managing partner thereof. This is merely a fan-written, speculative piece on the marketing of the album. It is NOT to be quoted, used as a hard piece of evidence in any debate or argument. It is only a blog post. Thanks for understanding

Ok. This marks a bit of a departure in these singles articles. It’s also the last one (for now). But in this segment, I will put on the label executive hat for a moment. The one difference, however, is that I’m a COOL label executive. ;) So have a seat, grab a sweet, relaxing drink, and hopefully enjoy. This got a bit long... sorry...


~puts on hypothetical label executive hat~

So, ladies and gentlemen, the new Switchfoot album “Hello Hurricane” is still a few months away from dropping. But we’ve been busy and have chosen the first single, and I believe that it’s going to be the title track, “Hello Hurricane.” The reasoning behind this is that it’s a highly popular song already amongst the Switchfoot message boardies, the Switchfoot faithful, if you will. They all will be pumped to help push this song in any way they can. If we’ve got the fan-base pumped to deliver the single to their friends, family, school friends, and co-workers, half the battle is already won.

So this song, (judging by what we’ve heard of it so far) is incredibly accessible and catchy, with lyrics that can relate to every day life. It’s a song about movement, about daring to stare down the storms of life. “Hello hurricane, you can’t silence my love.” Reminds one of “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move” lyrically. Seeing how those two songs did at radio and MTV, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go back in that direction, marketing-wise. It’s a song of hope. And especially in these times, Hope is attractive.

Our marketing plan then is going to be laid out as follows.

*Late June, 2009:

-Deliver the single to radio and iTunes. Make an effort to create great cover art. Andy Barron will be put in charge of this.

*Late June through late August:

- Throughout the summer, we will work the song to radio stations, delivering cd singles to various DJ’s at key radio outlets across the nation (KROQ comes to mind). This will cost some money and won’t guarantee big-time success at radio, but will guarantee that all the key stations will at least have the song at their disposal.
The radio campaign will be widespread, but we will hire key promoters to work the key stations across three formats: Hot AC, Top 40 Mainstream, and Alternative/Modern Rock.

Here is a list of the stations we will be targeting heavily:

WDVD Detroit Hot AC
WPLJ New York Hot AC
KHMX Houston Hot AC

KISS Los Angeles Top 40
WHTZ New York Top 40
WXKS Boston Top 40
WKSC Chicago Top 40

KYSR Los Angeles Alternative
KITS San Francisco Alternative
WWDC Washington Alternative
KNDD Seattle Alternative

Getting these key stations will go a long way in achieving success, because these are the stations with the largest listener bases in their markets (stats according to Generally, if a station like KROQ picks up a certain song, a slew of other Alternative/Modern Rock stations will take notice and gobble the song up. That is our goal at radio – to grab the big fishes that influence the rest of the pond.

It is also important to communicate to the various promoters to slowly work the song. We’re going for a slow-burning, steady build at radio instead of a gigantic assault. Long-term success is better than a bullet single (meaning, a song that explodes to the top of the charts and is gone a few weeks later). We want the song to be steadily played all summer, much like “Dare You to Move” was back in 2004.

- We will also launch an online marketing campaign for the fans. Communicate to the street team (Footsoldiers) that every effort, every person, every chance for a listen is an important opportunity to spread the word about new music.
Twitter plan: On the day the single is launched, have a “re-tweet” mission. Make sure the fans re-post two key pieces of information on that day: “@switchfoot” and “Hello Hurricane.” The goal is to turn the song into a top trending topic, and the more times twitter users include those two key words, the higher up it will go on the trending topic list.


Banner plan: Much like the Fiction Family street team campaign earlier, fans will be given banners to post on message boards, myspace, facebook, xanga, etc. The banners will be coded to keep track of how many unique impressions they accumulate. The top three fans will win prizes


Radio calling plan: We will keep a list of stations spinning the single. It will be updated daily, with markings on “priority” stations, “hot” stations, etc. Fans will be encouraged to target stations and call to request the song. Online request pages and phone numbers will be provided.


Note: Because the fan base is not as large as it used to be, we will have to be careful to help give the fans a hand. It is ESSENTIAL that the label ensures that the fans efforts won’t be in vain. Long-term commitment from the fans is definitely helped by success.

*Mid-August, 2009

- shoot a music video with the band and package it together quickly to prep for a VH1, MTV, and FUSE TV campaign.

-The video will be premiered the Saturday before the week of the album release on Vh1 (we will make that happen), and shortly after on the band’s Youtube account.

- The video will then be pushed for adds onto Vh1’s Top 20 Countdown voting list. Once that is secured, fans will be encouraged to vote like mad for the “Hello Hurricane” music video.

- Fans will also be commissioned (via a new Street Team mission) to spread the video across the web, much like the aforementioned Banner plan.

- FUSE and MTV rotation will be worked for as well, but the focus will be on Vh1.

- late-night TV spots will be worked for too.

And once the album is released, we can revel in the success it will get in terms of the first week. ~takes off hypothetical label executive hat~


Well friends, that’s my dream marketing strategy for the upcoming Switchfoot “Hello Hurricane” record. Hey, if anyone out there has connections to ATO Records or Red Light Management reads this, why not suggest a few of these ideas? And if this is pure madness, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section either. It’d be appreciated. :)


amylynnequist said...

hahah smart thinking, Job. That must have been a brewing idea for some time, huh? (:

Anonymous said...

dude. their independent now. people like you, who sit around planning things like this, are the reason why they parted ways from a record label.

Their independent now, so let the band be in charge.

Job said...

@amylynne, hey thanks! =) I put some time into these ideas because I really think Switchfoot can prove to the world that they've still got something BIG to give.

@anonymous, hey man (or girl...? hehe) thanks for the comments. There are a few things you should take note of however:

1. The band did not part with a Major Label because they didn't like the "business side" of things. It was more a matter of artistic vision. Sony wasn't putting out the records in a manner that the band agreed with, and had their hands in a lot of the creative aspect of Switchfoot's records. The story is definitely different this time around.

2. The band is "independent" but still have a stable of people around them ensuring they get as much distribution as possible.

a) lowercase people records is merely an imprint label, meaning it is nothing much more than a brand name (speaking in terms of business). The Switchfoot records are to be marketed and distributed through ATO Records, which is a full-fledged record company that also handle Fiction Family's releases. ATO is distributed through RED, which is a distribution service that is owned by Sony. The people running ATO include Will Botwin, who was one of the key people Switchfoot worked with while they were signed to Columbia. So, I'm sure it's safe to say Switchfoot haven't completely left the world of labels.

b) The band is managed by Red Light Management, a management company that I think is on the cutting edge and doing revolutionary things in terms of management goes. Red Light is a sister company to ATO is run by many of the same people on both sides. They have done great things for the band in terms of publicity, touring, etc.

My friend, being a truly independent band is tough, and even close to impossible these days because you can't expect to carry on making a sizable living without selling records and shows. The band recognize this, and have surrounded themselves with good people they can trust to guide them along the business side of things. And Switchfoot definitely have a say in that as well, it's not like they're selling their soul to a huge corporation again.

Artistically, Switchfoot is in FULL control. ATO/Red Light stay completely away from the creative process of the music, but they are there to help with presenting that music to the world in a strong, impactful way.

So, having said all this, my essay was just a little collection of ideas running through my head. If you don't like it, fine. But I'm basing all of this off of the band's current partnerships and situation... and it is ALL hypothetical. I hope this has helped you, my anonymous friend. Thanks again for even reading my blog. :)

Taylor said...


I really like this plan. Alot. I think it will really work.

I think my only problem is the marketing ploy towards MTV, VH1 so much.

Idk, even during the times that their stuff was played on there, I was very uneasy with the idea.

I'm the last person to ever say what's right and wrong and what the Foot should do but I've always thought of Jesus as wanting us to be in the world, not of it.

MTV/VH1 is very worldly. They benefit 99.9% of the world's problems today.

I know the thought is good, because so many kids listen to that and it'll get more people led to Christ in that mind set, but again, just feels weird to me. Idk.

Anyway. very well thought out, amigo. I like it. (:

majkl said...

Hey Job, thats a really good plan, I hope it will works!

SoliDeoGloria said...

I hope Hello Hurricane does well. But if not, we still have a band who will not be swarmed with hundreds of thousands of fans. I'm ok either way.
And to Taylor, switchfoot's job as musicians is to reach people. If they are always played by Christians radio stations and such, how will they be heard? A passage from Matthew comes to mind;

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

Job- nice work man. I have really enjoyed all of your essays. You rule.


another Switchfoot fan said...

Nice, Job. Although, I would add one more promotion idea.

I'm sure there are plenty of boardies on the official forums and LOBH (and other fansites)that go to other forums for other artists. They could promote any singles on those boards as well. I know SF fans generally like Anberlin and Relient K (well, from what I've seen), and assuming that's reciprocated, then there's 2 more music fanbases helping out. So cooperation from other music fanbases would be immense help as well.

eh, just my 2 cents there. I might try to help out by advertising on the David Cook boards as well. I'm sure there are SF fans there as well. but no promises.

-Another SF Fan

Anonymous said...

we're looking at a #25 34-37k first week no matter what.

we can all pray they chart at Hot AC...they really are no longer anything like music on rock stations (not that that's a bad thing at all)

watch what i just said...happen :)

Anonymous said...

@ Taylor

think of it this way then. would you rather keep MTV/VH1/etc as the crap that it is? as job mentioned, this song has some hopeful, insightful lyrics, and a good message. if it did catch on, perhaps it would be better if people heard more of that and less of the crap that's currently on there. just a thought =] i definetly understand your concern though. but like you said, in the world, not of the world. MTV is definetly of the world, but god does not call us to stay out of what is evil. instead he calls us to go in and change it to good. unless switchfoot goes in and shoots a porno to fit in on VH1 (which you know won't happen), then it's really not violating anything at all biblically

Job said...

@Taylor, I understand your idea. But why not get a band like Switchfoot in there, as a way to CHANGE that culture? Make Vh1 and MTV something that will benefit society instead of degrade it? We need more bands out there with a hopeful message, a message that promotes good in people. Switchfoot is one of those bands... I guess that's why I have such a desire to see them be huge. Plus, BRAGGING RIGHTS!!! ;)

@majkl, hey thanks! :) I hope we can do something similar to this...

@SoliDeoGloria, Thanks a bunch Stephen. I agree, even if they're not popular again, I still will consider them my favorite band. They've done a lot for me, and I'm sure for other fans as well, so I just hope we can give back in some way by spreading the word.

@another Switchfoot fan, WOW. Great idea. I didn't even think of that one... sweet. That's something we fans can just do, without a label-sponsored street team event. ~high five!~

@anonymous, I'm really hoping that we can at least get those numbers first week. Anything greater would truly be icing on the cake, unless a single really takes off this summer.

I think Hot AC is still our best bet as far as Switchfoot's music goes. I'd like to see if they can try to reestablish themselves at Modern Rock though...

Anonymous said...

I hope you guys are a success this summer. My b-day is on the first of july and all i want is for you guys to release your singles on itunes. I am soooo excited for this summer just because of this new album. you're all in my prayers. You will be a big success. I can feel it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Switchfoot. You guys are an inspiration in my life. your songs, lyrics, everything. This new album is all i've been thinking about over the last couple of weeks. I can't wait to see it get out there. I especially can't wait for the singles to be released on itunes. I'm also excited for the new music video you are making. I hope it all turns out to be a success. You guys rock.