I’ve been recently reading about this concept of ‘Priming’ in relation to psychology, and how we all unconsciously respond to marketing around us. Priming is the idea that exposure to one stimulus may influence a response to a subsequent stimulus, without conscious guidance or intention. It has a particular relevance for any artist trying to get interest in their music because we are all ‘primed’ to take the most interest when our favourite artist releases anything new.
Imagine two artists presenting the exact same album, literally the same songs, same singer, same band, same audio. One is released by a high profile artist that we know, the second is released by a completely unknown artist. Each is given the exact same marketing budget, is promoted on the same platforms, with the same advertising copy. It will be no surprise that the high profile artist will enjoy much greater interest, and will generally receive more engagement. Less surprising is that they will also receive much more negative criticism… The reason for this is that the audience has been primed with an expectation of how that music should sound. The reality may not meet their expectations. There are other priming influences; People will respond generally when they know other people will respond, a rolling snowball of engagement fuelled by feedback from others… The signal to purchase will be much stronger because people are primed to respond to similar buying signals when others do the same. There is a reason that people buy more band merchandise at gigs, this is priming in action.
The unknown artist will present their same album to an empty room. Much like an exhibition stand at a sales conference, the lack of interest, will fail to create any more interest. With no existing priming information, there is no reason even to walk over and investigate, no reason to click the link and hear the music. When you understand that people need to be primed to act, the way the marketing world works starts make sense, why large organisations spend millions putting logos in weird places with seemingly no context about the product they are selling. They are seeding primes… At the mere mention of the artist name, will have a view of what we think about them. This dictates all our future responses to anything they have to sell or promote.
When the product comes, we will all respond..or not..