Marketing first: creativity tip!

Have you ever heard of Robert Pollard?

He was the lead singer of a band called Guided By Voices and is one of the most prolific songwriters of all time. Over 2,000 of his songs have been commercially released and he has a backlog that will probably still be trickling out long after he retires from music.

How does he do it? He’s incredibly talented, for one thing, but there are also interesting things he does that we can mimic. I watched a documentary on him and I noticed that instead of starting with a song and then trying to find a place for it, he sometimes works backwards. He is constantly looking for song titles all around him. Interesting intersections of words that out of context could make for a poetic song, album title or band name. Then, he designs album covers with track listings for these imaginary groups. He has boxes of them in his house.

It got me thinking. Wouldn’t that work for anything creative?

Couldn’t you design book covers and movie posters and then make the movie they inspire? Why not write a blurb for the back cover or your own review? In fact, you can design a whole marketing campaign to help you focus and make it more real. What is the name of your gallery show? What would the commercial for it look like? What would you say when David Letterman asked you about it?

I’m betting a lot of musicians spent their high school years designing fliers and album covers for bands that hadn’t written a single song. Actors spend time imagining an acceptance speech for an academy award. Sometimes it’s the unimportant stuff that drives us toward the meat of creativity.

A friend of mine pointed out a cool way to make up your own band and album. (Although with slight modifications, this could give you a book title and chapters.)

Get your band name by using the title of the article you get clicking here.

Then, get the title of your album by taking the last four words of the last quote you get by clicking here.

For your album cover, click here and use the third picture.

And last but not least, write the album. That’s the easy part, right?

(Need more help? For song titles try this song title generator. I got Confused Riot which sounds like a Guided By Voices song title.)

4 responses

  1. My album:
    Perv Park
    “On the Unreasonable Man”
    .marley love.
    I’m linking rather than hotlinking as the photo is (c). Cool photo. Weird album cover for PERV PARK!
    I read in an article about Cloverfield that the movie poster of Escape From New York (with a decapitated Statue of Liberty, which isn’t actually in that movie) was the genesis of Cloverfield.


  2. I don’t know, it seems a really disturbing cover to me. I’m imagining hardcore angry punk with lots of forbidden words.
    Mine was:
    Blond Barbarians and Noble Savages
    Ashamed of the Human Race
    This picture:
    Im trying to hide from them.
    I hadn’t heard that about Cloverfield, but it reminds me of a story I heard about science fiction mags getting an awesome cover and then having a writer write a story to fit it.


  3. Sam Arkoff at American International Pictures used to have his staff make up a dozen or so movie posters for movies that hadn’t been written yet, put ads in Variety showing the posters and announcing release dates, and if a theater chain called wanting to book a specific movie, that’s the movie he would go ahead and write and shoot.


  4. That’s creative marketing. Not creative film making, but creative marketing. It’s no wonder that all those b-movies had such great titles and posters. The trailers were always good as well…


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