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    O'Neill Brothers Mix Music and Marketing

    Tim and Ryan O'Neill Turn Talent to Musical Gold


    BLOOMINGTON, MN (February 11, 1998) — Midwestern recording artists Tim and Ryan O’Neill have turned their passion for music into a thriving business, selling more than 80,000 CDs nationwide, all without the benefit of association with a major record label.

    The O’Neill Brothers have found a way on their own to write, record, produce, market and sell seven albums of mainly instrumental songs by combining their desire to make music with the business spirit of an entrepreneur. "Basically we're our own record company and managers," Tim says. "We book the studio time, we decide what music to play, we find the artwork for the cover, hire a company to press the CDs and then find ways to introduce our music to new people. We just thought there had to be a way to make music and make a living without having to depend on a major record label and trying to convince others that our music is worth recording," he says.

    The road to a musical career for Tim goes back to family holiday gatherings where he would sing and play the piano. His relatives liked the music so much they asked him if he could make tapes for them to listen to when he was not there. Tim saw an opportunity, checked out recording studios and tape duplication companies and realized it was possible to produce his own music.

    "The biggest challenge was finding a way to sell the music. The big music stores deal with major music distribution companies who are selling millions of CDs and really control the pipeline. I’m too small for them and I needed to find another way to reach an audience," he said. To bring his music directly to consumers, O’Neill began performing at a Minnesota grocery store before moving to shopping malls in 1995. Since then, his concert schedule has expanded to include stores in 20 states.

    Most ingenious of all, O’Neill has blended his marketing savvy with technology, and come up with a way to keep his music playing in stores, even when he’s hundreds of miles away. "People were lining up to buy my music when I was playing at a store, but the sales slowed down when I wasn’t there," O’Neill says. "I was able to find a device that turns any piano into a player piano, and I worked out a deal to use that technology to make sure the pianos in the department stores were always playing my music. It turned out to be a close second to being there in person, and the customers loved it."

    Tim plugged the computer into pianos in JCPenney stores where he regularly played and watched the sales volume increase. Store managers also noticed the success Tim was having, and now Tim O’Neill and his music are in JCPenney stores across the Midwest. Tim continues to make live appearances at each of the stores, performing several times a year and letting the automatic piano fill in when he’s traveling across the country.

    "Traveling around the country is a wonderful experience because it gives me the chance to do what I love and then watch people enjoy my music," O’Neill says. "This is the greatest job in the world."

    The O'Neill Brothers' toll-free music line (1-888/9-ONEILL) features updated information on concerts, in-store appearances and CD availability.