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BizReport : Viral Marketing : September 27, 2006

RBC Records Takes Viral Marketing To Prison

RBC Records is using a very creative viral marketing technique to promote an Arizona based group's label; it's sending promotional material of a band made up of ex cons to several dozen of the band's friends in prison every two weeks, hoping the group's popularity catches on.

by Angelique van Engelen

Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that the band members are residing in an Arizona prison. This is not true. Our apologies.

The LA Times reports in an article that the group 'have no hope of cracking mainstream radio or MTV'. The paper puts this down to their song lyrics and a professed affiliation with the Woods, a white power prison gang. So far, few big established labels have tapped prison marketing channels, even though they incessantly search for highly creative approaches.

A representative at RBC, Brian Shafton, is quoted as saying that prisons host some influential trendsetters. "Prisons are great because you have an incredibly captive audience that has a lot of entertainment time on its hands. These people are definitely influential, and not just in the prisons" the LA times reported him as saying.

Taking the power of viral marketing to the test at a grassroots level, the record company is using a viral marketing ploy to create word of mouth. Hip hop music generally is marketed in what's known as gangbusters business; marketing campaigns that are swamped with the hand out of free merchandise and free flowing champagne. The prison marketing technique is seen as innovative and highly targeted because it capitalizes on the opinion maker capacities of rebels. The rebels themselves believe that a decent prison record sells 1,000 copies. RBC has created success for several bands, including the underground Compton rapper-producer DJ Quik and Memphis rapper 8 Ball. The record company says, it believes that a good hit can reach outside sales of up to 300,000.

Tags: music, prison marketing

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