Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

November 28, 2006

Sweet Tracks & Cheap Tricks

I was in the check-out line at Best Buy yesterday and came upon something I immediately wanted to blog about. As it turns out, I am blogging about it, but for all the wrong reasons.

What caught my eye near the cash register was a display of what looked like candy in bright, shiny wrappers. Looking closer, I saw that the packages read "Sweet Tracks." The text on the back read as follows:
Sweet Tracks is a delicious blend of 14 free holiday music downloads. You'll also enjoy 5 mouthwatering bonus tracks and tasty holiday ringtones ...

Sounded good. What a creative packaging idea to promote music! I was hooked. When I got home, I opened the package and went to the web site listed on the enclosed fold-out card. That's when things started to go down hill.

First, I had to register for the Best Buy Digital Music Store. Fair enough. Turns out this "Sweet Tracks" thing is a cross-promotion with Rhapsody, the online music subscription service. To take advantage of the "14 free holiday music tracks," I had to download and install Rhapsody. This was an unexpected hurdle. But I've heard good things about Rhapsody and figured I'd move ahead to check it out.

Once the program was installed, I had to register with Rhapsody. Yet another task I had to complete before getting to the free holiday music. Then I was given the option of signing up for a free Rhapsody trial (with a monthly subscription payment to follow after the trial period). I wasn't ready for that commitment just yet, so I opted for Rhapsody's free version.

Well, when you don't sign up for the potential paid membership, all you get of the holiday music is 30-second streaming samples of each song. So much for the "14 free holiday music downloads."

This is a great example of two corporations with money and the ability to reach lots of people taking a good idea and blowing it. Why make it so hard for people to take you up on an offer? Why mislead music consumers with the promise of free music downloads and then put so many hoops and requirements in the way?

I scoured the "Sweet Tracks" retail package in search of some indication of all that was needed to actually get the downloads. There is no mention of having to join Rhapsody in order to get the 14 full music tracks. Maybe they just figure consumers will deal with it. But frankly, I find it misleading and frustrating.

In my next post, I'll spell out what indie musicians can learn from this promotion and how to create your own version of it -- one that will endear music fans and not piss them off.


posted by Bob Baker @ 11:58 AM   6 comments


At Nov 29, 2006 5:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm irked at Best Buy, too.

I wanted to buy a cd (the new P.O.D. greatest hits with the out of print Warriors EP, ONLY available at Best Buy). Their ad gave me the impression it was limited edition (and ob-sale for $10, Great!).

So, my local store doesn't have it. doesn't have it. I find a store 70 miles away who has it.... but won't sell it to me over the phone or work out any other way to buy it. I'm irritated and outta luck, right?

Yesterday, I go into my local Best Buy to check, and, lo and behold! they have 6 copies (that conveniently came in after the sale is over).

I'm irked. I felt misled about the availability. It looks like they shipped it in a way to avoid selling it on sale (after advertising it so. I thought that was illegal.).

I complain to a manager at the store. I complain to The responses I got were pathetic and seemed to lack any real sense of empathy. Nobody seems to really care.

I was trying to spend money with Best Buy, and they wouldn't let me. Well, now I won't buy anything from them again. There are other ways to get the music and electronics I want elsewhere.

- John

At Dec 2, 2006 10:28:00 PM, Blogger Marc Gunn said...

As I understand those "limited availability sales", they only stock like ten. Course those are gone by 10am. It's designed strictly to get you in the door.

At Dec 3, 2006 8:41:00 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Actually, if you just search for 'Sweet Tracks' in the trial version of Rhapsody, you can download all of the 14 tracks for free. It is kind of confusing though.

At Dec 12, 2006 11:25:00 PM, Anonymous Steve100 said...

I'm a bit miffed with Best Buy too. The last few years they did the right thing with these Sweet track CDS. That is, they rewarded their loyal customers with a freebie of Holiday music. In teh process they intorduced me to some new musicians and I even bought a couple of CDs subsequently based on what I heard on Sweet Tracks. No problem. Win-win. Tit for tat.

2006. No CD? Gotta buy a Rhapsody player for $150 (incl tax). C'mon. Gimme a break. That's lame. Some marketing heads should in Bloomington should roll over this gaff.

Best Buy, you have definitely not endeared yourself to your customer base this Holiday season. Better luck nest year but if this is your idea of serving your customers then I think I am going to start shorting Best Buy stock.

Steve in MSP

At Nov 12, 2007 3:16:00 PM, Blogger Ben C said...

It doesn't appear there is any 'Sweet Tracks' promotion for 2007, at least I have not heard of one yet. Last year was the 4th year of Sweet Tracks at Best Buy. I am disappointed there is not even an annoying method (like last year) for some 2007 tracks. Not knowing it was possible to obtain the tracks as a trial Rhapsody member, I went through the hassle of signing-up for Rhapsody and then trying to cancel twice. It wasn't easy to cancel because the outsourced India representative was difficult to understand on the phone and simply extended the free trial for another month. I did receive an email after that explaining I could cancel if I replied to the email stating that I wished to have my account terminated. I did terminate the account in this way without getting any charge on my credit card. I agree companies should not offer 'free promotions' that require the consumer to embark into contracts. The 'red tape' is hard to cut.

At Mar 31, 2008 11:14:00 AM, Anonymous Tylamar said...

I'm going to do that! I have to look into possibly getting my songs on there! Me being a singer, this sounds like a good promotional oppurtunity for me.


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