My mentor at Rykodisc, Jill Christiansen, used to talk about the “mystery” associated with rolling out an artist campaign. For example, when going through a photo shoot to determine which image to use for promo, perhaps consider the sly, slightly-out-of-focus image as opposed to the straight on shot that “gives everything away.” It’s an interesting idea, given this age of everything being instant, with artists laying it all on the table immediately with social media and everything else.

Anyway, below is a great example of an artist that’s playing it close to the vest with an upcoming release. I have no idea what this release is – a DVD or future audio release – but I’m intrigued enough to give my email so I can find out. OF COURSE it doesn’t hurt that the band is Sigur Rós, OF COURSE they have a massive fan base, but I think it’s a solid example of a band properly rolling out a campaign that relies on subtlety and mystery perfectly focused on a core group of fans, as opposed to unfocused repetition and noise out of the gate. Cool approach.

There’s no debating that the Phish organization were marketing geniuses when it came to building and nurturing their community and creating a brand that hundreds of thousand of kids identified with. How many bands do you know that can put together a festival in upstate Maine that can draw enough people to be the largest city in the state for the weekend, complete with their own radio station?

Distinctive artwork has always been a key component for Phish’s branding efforts, starting with the cover art of their first record, Junta. Jim Pollock, a college friend of the band, has been the driving force behind the band’s artwork since the mid 80s – creating album covers, t-shirt designs, stickers, and perhaps most importantly, the bands limited edition, signed and numbered tour posters.

Jim’s most recent work for Phish was his limited run of posters for the bands first dates in four years, at Hampton, Virginia. Take a look at the video below detailing Jim’s time-intensive process for creating his linoleum cut prints. Phish’s connection with Jim is a wonderful example of creative musicians aligning themselves with a creative artist to provide their fans with a more rich and engaging experience.

Phish artist Jim Pollock’s Hampton 2009 concert poster from Jason Kaczorowski on Vimeo.