The cost of promoting music -- Record companies are willing to spend as much as $300,000 for marketing purposes

By Melissa Rawlins
Updated July 23, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

”If you serve free drinks, they will come.” Party wisdom courtesy of Kathy Gillis, senior publicity director at Virgin Records. And, in an effort to hype an album to the press, free drinks are the usual lure. Occasionally, though, record companies throw in the kitchen sink, spending as much as $300,000 — the rumored cost of the October 1992 bacchanal celebrating Madonna’s book, Sex, and her album Erotica (hosted by Warner Books and Sire/Warner Bros. Records). ”You don’t do big parties for every artist,” says Melani Rogers, vice president of publicity for Epic Records. ”In general, you throw a large party to celebrate something special, whether it’s an artist’s birthday, or a gold, platinum, or multiplatinum album.”

In short, bigger sales equal heartier partying. To celebrate the release of the Beach Boys’ new boxed set (see review), Clark Duval, senior director of catalog marketing at Capitol Records, wants to cart in 650 tons of Malibu sand, volleyball nets, Muscle Beach bodybuilders, and a barbecue to Capitol’s L.A. parking lot for a beach-blanket extravaganza. Estimated cost, according to New York party designer Philip Baloun: $100,000. Baloun helped assess the damage at three other bashes in honor of new releases from deserving talent:

· Gloria Estefan, for her Latin (and favorite) album, Mi Tierra (Epic), in June. Where: New York’s Copacabana. Theme: 1940s Cuba. Giant palm trees were installed, and authentic Cuban food was provided. Estimated Cost: $75,000.

· Duran Duran, for their current self-titled album, nicknamed the ”Wedding Album” (Capitol), in June. Where: Amazon Village, a nightclub on a New York City pier. Theme: A radio contest offered a lucky couple a free wedding, including wedding cake, cheesy band covering Duran Duran tunes, and attendance by Duran Duran and assorted top models. Estimated Cost: $25,000.

· They Might Be Giants, for their Apollo 19 (Elektra), in March 1992. Where: New York City’s trendy Industria Studios (site of Madonna’s Sex party). Theme: Virtual reality. Three hundred guests were captivated by synchro-energizers (headphones accompanied by light and music displays), stray-light virtual reality headsets, and a live performance by the Giants between bites of gourmet veggie fare. Estimated Cost: $30,000. — Additional reporting by Anderson Jones