If you’re a musician, you know that marketing yourself and your music can be difficult. It’s all too easy to put all of your focus into creating great music and forget about the other facets of promoting your work. But it’s best to have a plan to market yourself and your music, or it won’t be heard. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to make it a bit easier.
When considering the types of marketing activities you want to undertake, the critical thing to keep in mind is that your marketing goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, Timed.
- (S)pecific: Your goals need to be specific. For example, I want to increase my “Spotify Monthly Listeners by 50%” or “I want to book two festivals this year.”
- (M)easurable: You need to be able to measure your goal. “I want to book festivals this year” cannot be measured, as you need to have a target to see if you’ve reached your goal. Whereas “I want to book two festivals this year” will let you know if you’ve met your goal and how much you’ve missed or exceeded your goal.
- (A)chievable/(A)ttainable: Do you have the resources and ability to achieve your goal? For example, if you’re a relatively young band that hasn’t grown its local fan base, being able to play festivals may not be achievable.
- (R)ealistic/(R)elevant: You must be realistic, and your goals must be relevant. While realistic is closely tied to achievable, being relevant fine-tunes it. For example, if you’re a reggae band that is not well known, your marketing goal would look something like “I want to increase my Spotify Monthly Listeners by 50%,” not I want to increase my Linked In followers by 50%.”
- (T)imed: How long do you want to allow yourself to achieve your goals? Goals must be time-bound so that you can stay on track. You must have a start and end date. This is how you keep yourself moving forward. You want to increase your “Spotify Monthly Listeners by 50% in the next 6-months.” That’s specific. It also lets you know how much of a push you need to put behind your goal. If there is no time-frame, it could be five years to reach this goal, which will not help you reach your goals.
So, now that I’ve laid the groundwork keep these principles in mind when you think about your marketing plan and the goals you want to set.
Here are eight marketing tips that should be a part of every musician’s marketing strategy. When you look at these tips, think about strategy and how you can create specific goals. For example, if you don’t have a website, a worthy goal would be, “Get our website up and running by a specific date.”
1. Set up a good website
There’s a saying, “Don’t build your house on someone else’s land.” This is just one of the reasons why having a website is essential. You can control what you put on it. Unlike social media pages, it cannot be taken down or censored based on social media’s ever-changing rules. Also, this is the place for your Electronic Press Kit (EPK).
You’ll want to have a visually appealing site where you promote your shows, sell merchandise, and share the latest happening with your fans. You can also sell show tickets from your site as well. Make sure it’s clear what type of music you perform, when your next show is, and how fans can get in touch with you.
Encourage fans to sign up for emails. And those fans that sign up should be the first to hear new music and tour dates. Treat them like the special group they are, give them first access to new music, presale on tour dates, and discounts on merchandise. These are just a few ways to make this group feel special.
You’ll want to have a menu with links to your music, videos, merchandise, and tour dates from your website’s home page.
PRO TIP: When sharing new music videos, upload them to YouTube, then use the embed code to share them on a separate page created on your website. And then share the video from that page on your socials. In this way, you’ll drive up your view count on YouTube while driving traffic to your website.
2. Make the most of the internet
You have the ability to reach your fans from the comfort of home, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money touring the country or the world. You can use the internet to your advantage by giving your fans the option of paying for downloads online (try Bandcamp) and the possibility of streaming your music on SoundCloud. Be a part of Spotify for Artists.
To get the most out of the internet, you should also try vlogging about the process of creating the music, the inspiration that led you to the genre you play, or the life experiences that have influenced the lyrics. Upload these snippet videos to YouTube, and use the share link to post on your socials and website.
By vlogging, the fans have an inside look into the artist’s mind, and the songs become more personal.
You can make this specific by setting a goal of making X number of videos per week. To make sure your goal is attainable, consider your availability. Only commit to what you can do with regularity.
3. Build a strong social media presence
Social media is the best way for musicians to reach out to their fans and gain new ones. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are the top social media platforms for musicians.
Social media platforms are perfect for building your identity and creating personal relationships with your fans. Your content should be interactive. Engage with your fans. Respond to some of the comments by giving them a Like. The fans will love it, and it’ll keep them coming back to your page. Remember, fans want to feel like they know you.
Share all of your music videos on Facebook and Twitter. But, it’s not only about the music; remember, your fans want to get to know you. Make humorous posts or quotes from your songs, and the fans will share them on their social media accounts as well. Once the word spreads, more and more people will see the link, and the more likely the post will go viral.
To get the word out about your music, share the links from the music on your Soundcloud on Facebook and Twitter. And, also share as much as you can from your website.
The key is to vary your content. Don’t only share your music. Share videos, photos, funny memes, show posters, behind-the-scenes footage, and if you want to get really personal, share family photos. However you go about it, remember that you don’t always want to be selling, you want to be sharing.
A specific goal for social media would be something like, “I want to increase my Facebook engagement by 25% over the next six months.”
4. Get your music into the hands of those that might like it the most
One marketing strategy that the average musician too often overlooks is the idea of giving the music away for free. This is the idea behind the ‘name your price’ system on Bandcamp. Since the music is digital, the fans don’t have to worry about the physical cost of the music. They just have to enter the amount they feel the music is worth and then download the track accordingly.
Another strategy along this line is to pair your new album with merchandise. For example, you can offer, “Buy $25 worth of merchandise from my website, and get a free download of my latest album on Apple Music.” This is a great way not only to sell merchandise but get downloads of your album. And, guess what? These albums count as album sales.
Also, don’t shy away from sending links to your latest music to music influencers in your genre. These people are often looking for new content and like to be early in the game of introducing new music. And they will promote your music on their social pages for free. We do this all the time on Reggae in Seattle.
An excellent album release strategy is to have a pre-release for music industry influencers, bloggers, reviewers, and super fans, “X” number of days before it’s released to the public.
5. Play as many shows as you can
Playing shows is the easiest way to get your name out there. For up-and-coming artists and undiscovered acts, this is the best way to hone your craft and build up your fan base in your local area.
Go to the local clubs that best support your genre and look for open mic nights. Look for opportunities to open for visiting mid-level artists. This strategy doesn’t work for large acts; however, this is highly doable when a more prominent named artist is playing 300 – 500 capacity venues. And an excellent way for you to build your fan base.
Contact every venue booker or venue manager in your local region about getting on their lineup. Ideally, you want to get to the place where you’re playing shows weekly, at some location in your town. You will have to build up to this, but you can start, for example, by setting a goal of playing locally once or twice a month.
6. Record and release new music regularly
If you’re the type of musician who already has a fan base that keeps asking for new music, the best thing to do is release the music the way they want you to. You can’t be the type of musician that only releases new music when the time is right because the time is never right.
The new rule is to release new music once a month. Or at the very least every six weeks (Hint: this is a specific goal). A new single is an opportunity for you to pull out all of your guns when marketing. Please do not just throw it out there without having a plan beforehand.
Research has shown that people need to hear your message at least seven times before they think of taking action in marketing and advertising. This may seem like overkill, but trust me, it’s not. You’ll want to employ various tactics that ensure that your fan base and target audience know that you have released new music. This is especially important on social media due to their restrictive algorithms (another reason to pay to boost your new music posts).
With a new single-release strategy, you’ll want to share it with your email subscribers, on your social channels, and send links to music influencers, radio programmers, YouTubers, curators, and even other artists. This is where networking comes in, which I discuss below. Create several avenues to promote your new music.
7. Collaborate with other artists
A great way to get the word out about yourself is by collaborating with other popular artists. This is particularly an excellent strategy for reggae and hip-hop artists, as this genre and its fan base love a collaboration. Collaborations are often used to introduce similar artists to each other’s fanbase.
Also, it’s not only about increasing one’s fan base. Working with others increases creativity and productivity by sharing ideas, helping combat writer’s block, and inspiring each other. And the best collaborations are going to come between artists who vibe (Hint: This is why networking is important).
Collaboration between two like-minded artists is the best marketing tool that the artist will ever get. The only drawback is that the collaboration needs to be done right. Your music styles don’t necessarily need to be of the same genre, but they have to be complementary, such as what we often see between hip-hop, reggae, and dancehall artists. But we’ve also seen this with genres in which one would not think they would work, for example, Run DMC featuring Aerosmith in ‘Walk This Way.’
Probably one of the best ways in which artists can collaborate is to tour together. This can include an up-and-coming artist with a more established artist, or two artists of equal footing, playing separate sets and then coming together on stage.
I would encourage you to make it a specific goal to collaborate with at least one artist a year with a larger fan base than yourself.
8. Network with industry professionals
Networking with industry professionals is a great way to get the word out. Go to industry networking events, local music shows, or music festivals. Set a goal to meet a specific number of people, say 3 – 5 people, be it other artists, producers, or music industry execs.
Hang out at music venues and music studios, and offer to back up other artists if you play an instrument. Go to music industry conferences and trade shows. I know many musicians who are more comfortable on stage than in one-on-one situations. However, do not let this deter you. Be confident, and just start conversations. Exchange contact information. It’s as easy as saying, “Let’s stay in touch.” And then follow up!
People who are willing to talk with you at these events are the type of people who will help you promote your music. But, remember, networking is a two-way street. No one likes a taker. Have something to offer as well. Always be looking for ways to contribute to someone else’s success. For example, if an opportunity isn’t right for you, call the artist you met at the music festival and share it with them. Down the road, you may be able to utilize this contact for insider information or whatever else they may be able to help you with.
So, there you have it! Eight great marketing strategies for musicians to help get your music out there. Of course, this is just a starting point, and you should tailor your efforts to fit your unique situation and goals. But if you’re looking for some general advice, these tips will set you in the right direction.
Are you ready to start marketing your music like a pro? Lundberg Entertainment Group can help! We offer a wide range of services that are perfect for musicians, from social media management to publicity and promotion, and everything in between. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!
Thanks for reading!