Arista Hopes Postcard Promo Leaves 'Afterglow'

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Arista Records, a label owned by German media giant Bertelsmann, is midway through a postcard drop to promote Sarah McLachlan, a popular singer back from a four-year hiatus with her new "Afterglow" album.


Using street teams in major metros nationwide, Arista is distributing 250,000 postcards designed to drive traffic to the site at sarahmclachlan.com. The objective is not just to sell CDs but also to build a database of fans for marketing events, albums and merchandise.


"I think what everyone is finding out right now is that there's a real value in getting as much information as possible," said Mark Peebler, president of It's All Good Companies, the Sedona, AZ, marketing firm hired by Arista. "It's not enough just to sell a CD to your prospect."


Each postcard bears a unique MusicStakes number, which recipients enter on sarahmclachlan.com. They also answer specific questions to glean motivations, such as age range and whether seeing an ad in a publication spurs them to purchase.


Participants learn on the spot whether they are among the 30 winners who will get autographed copies of McLachlan's entire CD catalog.


The postcards are not distributed in music stores because that involves complex contract negotiations. Instead, they are handed out at lifestyle locations like coffee shops and yoga centers popular with McLachlan's target demographic of females ages 17 to 45.


Postcard distribution ends Dec. 31. Arista, New York, designed the cards.


It's All Good, which also has offices in Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix, was responsible for printing the cards. It is managing the Web site log-in sequence as well as the database of captured details.


The postcard-and-Web program is part of an integrated push for McLachlan. She is booked on talk shows to play selections from Afterglow, including the catchy track "Fallen." Channels include Nick at Nite, VH1, ETV and ABC.


Arista awarded an iPod as part of a recent promotion to watch a Nov. 9 concert featuring McLachlan and fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne on the Oxygen channel.


Print media has paid attention, too. McLachlan is on the cover of the November/December issue of Women Who Rock magazine.


Online, the new album is VH1.com's "Hear it first" release of the week. Visitors to McLachlan's site can order the release. And Apple Computer's iTunes online music store lets shoppers buy tracks of their choice.


The viral aspect is not ignored. Like many artists' sites, McLachlan's lets visitors join her fan club, buy merchandise or view and send online cards. They also can play "Fallen" for free directly from the home page.


For those not satisfied with these options, they can listen to McLachlan's Live Launch performance of "Fallen" and "Angel" now running on the home page of the site at www.launch.com/yahoo.


Her previous six albums have sold more than 22 million copies worldwide and won her three Grammy Awards. Afterglow sold 360,000 copies in the first week of its Nov. 4 launch.


Arista and It's All Good will not disclose the results so far from the postcard campaign. But the tactic has won favor.


"We're already working on a promotion for February," Peebler said.


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