Small-Scale Music Marketing

Last weekend I recorded my friend Chris and his band, testing out the new gadget. I sat in the second row and held the recorder in my hand on my thigh. Considering the situation, the recording is surprisingly good.
I gave Chris copies of the audio and the .wav file, and encouraged him to post it online. Of course, the band needs to make the decision as a group, and they might want to break it into tracks instead of one 56 minute piece, but the idea was to put it out there.
Chris responded:

I don’t think I’ll post the whole thing — our playing isn’t up to our snuff throughout — but definitely snippets.

My internal reaction was, “What if the Grateful Dead or Phish had only put out their perfect playing?” Rarely did a full Dead or Phish show contain flawless playing. We never would have heard anything but official recordings under this criteria. It’s also worth noting that I listened to the recording the day after the performance and didn’t hear a single error—not that they don’t exist, just that the typical listener is not working from the score to easily hear or find mistakes.
Chris’ music is much more formal and structured, so you could argue that this style should have a higher quality standard than rock ‘n roll. But I would retort by pointing to the boatload of lame classical releases which pale in comparison to the premiere performances of any given composition. Chris’ response got me thinking about what I would do if I had a band and wanted to spread the music (assumption alert: they may not want to spread the music). Here’s what I consider the basics of small-scale music marketing.
On the website, have a music archive page, and put up mp3’s of every show, or at least put them up on and point to them there. (This is what Oshe did before they broke up.) Then, sell compilations of the best cuts. Create CD-length “albums” that you can buy (or download from iTunes) that have good flow, that put things together in a new way, that are built around a theme, whatever.
The basic idea is to give away the full-length works for the hardcore fans, for people who went to the show, for people who are going on a long drive and want a full-length work, etc. Then sell the “best of” discs/downloads as the consolidated snapshot. List these at the top of the music page. Feature them on the home page of the website. “Lead” with them, as they say in journalism. Encourage your hardcore fans to buy the compilations to support you, even though they already “own” everything. Present it as a new experience, the Band’s Choice, as it were.
This is the model that the Grateful Dead pioneered in the ’60s and ’70s. Use the free trading to drive people to the live experience. Give away full performances, because what people want to pay for is a unique experience, either live in person or via the “official” CDs. The advantage of putting up everything comes later on, when someone discovers your music and wants to dig deep. Now they’ve got a huge archive to listen to, and while they’re focused on you for a few weeks or months they’ll tell their friends, who will go check it out too. If there’s just a bit of music posted, you can’t create the depth of engagement. And that depth is what will hook people.
Now, having decided what they should do, it might be good to ask them what their goals are. Oh, wait, did I reverse the order?? Sorry, I was acting like a manager, getting all tactical first, not a consultant, starting with the goals. Oh well, this is only what I would do after all.