Encyclopedia of Classical Music’s Marketing Campaign Off on a Good Note
Workman Publishing’s release of “The NPR Listener’s Encyclopedia of Classical Music” marks the culmination of author Ted Libbey’s 11-year odyssey. Libbey, known at one time to classical music fans and listeners of National Public Radio (NPR) as the station’s commentator on the popular “Performance Today” program, is one of the country’s most distinguished classical music critics. The book aims to be the classical music fan’s do-it-all resource—from educating readers on different terms, styles and genres to providing Libbey’s musical criticisms. Most notable, however, is the interactive element: Buyers are given a password that gives them access to a special Web site—run by Naxos, a leading classical music label—featuring 600 examples of some of the techniques, works and performers discussed in the book. More than 75 hours’ worth of content is available.
Libbey’s résumé and wide following made a perfect match with Workman, known for its unique titles and unexpected formats. This latest book follows his best-selling “The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection,” with 174,000 copies in print.
So with the ingredients for a successful release in place, what has Workman cooked up to cash in on its new title?
“As with any Workman marketing campaign, the biggest challenge has been how to reach a large yet specialized market,” says Jen Paré, a publicist at Workman. “In this case, the audience is mostly classical music lovers.”
She adds, “We had to figure out how to reach those that love classical music … NPR was a good place to start, especially given Ted’s former position at ‘Performance Today.’ ” So Libbey will embark on a 12-city tour, stopping at cities where NPR stations are particularly strong and where interest in classical music is high. He will also be interviewed by a number of NPR affiliates and classical music stations, highlighted by an appearance on “Performance Today” in early May. In addition, the book will be offered as a premium for NPR member stations during their pledge drives.
Finally, Paré says, “Classical music magazines and classical music critics at big daily newspapers [are also being] targeted.”
But the interactive, online element to the book really opens up some new channels through which the title can be promoted. Paré says Libbey is currently working with Naxos to create a podcast devoted to classical music that will be downloadable through Naxos and iTunes. Naxos also will promote the book on its own site and via product insertions featuring the new release.
“Basically, [I will be] complementing [Workman’s promotional] efforts so that [we] can reach those classical music critics as well as book [critics],” says Mark Berry, publicist, Naxos of America. “I will help them try to reach those core classical music critics that I usually deal with and who might be interested in this story from the larger standpoint of what Naxos is doing in terms of digital distribution of music or the book itself.”
The idea behind the online offerings, Paré says, was Libbey’s. He approached Naxos founder Klaus Heymann, and the duo put together the first encyclopedia of its kind with an interactive Web site.
Although she would not release specific data on the book’s initial print run or Workman’s sales goals, Paré admits “… given that Libbey’s last book … sold 174,000 copies and continues to sell, we hope to eventually surpass those sales.”
The book launches in early May and will be available “wherever books are sold and, hopefully, wherever classical music is sold,” Paré says.