The advent of P2P file sharing and streaming services changed music forever. If you just read the headlines, you might think the industry is on shaky ground. Google the phrase "Napster killed the music industry" and you will see 242,000 results. Does that mean music marketing is dead?
Actually, the reality looks very different. In fact, the music industry has been growing with healthy growth every year since 2013. Worldwide sales of over 65 billion US dollars are forecast by the end of 2023.
Not bad for an industry on its knees!
Still, music is a notoriously uneven playing field. Huge names like Paul McCartney, Jay-Z and Madonna have become multimillionaires or even billionaires due to their success. There are tens of thousands of strangers to every superstar.
About 50 percent of the artists who are followed by the online music analysis and insights provider Next Big Sound are considered "undiscovered". These acts have small (and often declining) social followers, minimal views on Vevo and YouTube, and few (or no) radio plays.
Next Big Sound tracks hundreds of thousands of artists around the world, but think how many more artists it doesn't know. This proportion of “undiscovered” artists is probably much higher.
How do you make the leap from unknown to established?
For starters, you have to make amazing music. Additionally, you need to get your music marketing spot straight to the point.
What is music marketing?
Confusingly, the term "music marketing" can refer to several things:
- It could be the use of music in a marketing campaign.
- It can be artists who market the music they create.
In this article, I'm going to talk about the second of these two categories.
10 tips to improve your music marketing
I may not be a global music star (don't worry, that will change when my mixtape drops) but I definitely know a lot about digital marketing. With that in mind, here are my top tips on how to improve your music marketing.
1. Have a website
If you want to market yourself online, a website is non-negotiable. It is the single point of contact for everything related to your action. Whenever I want to review your tour dates, book you for a show, read your back story, or buy your merch, your website will be my first stop.
There's one more important reason why you should build your website: it's an area that you are in complete control of.
Sure, you want to build a following on social media too, but third parties own these platforms. These third parties can (and do) make frequent algorithmic changes that can dramatically decrease your reach overnight.
You don't want your music marketing to be completely dependent on them.
OK, you need a website, but what should it contain? Since this is your website, it can be anything. However, it should have at least the following:
- A news hub: A place to announce things like new releases, future tours, and media appearances.
- Merch Store: You probably want to make money as a music artist, so you definitely want an online store to sell things like hoodies, vinyl, or posters.
- Tour dates: People want to see you live, so tell them when and where to do that (and provide information on how to get tickets.)
- Social Links: Make it easy for people to find your social media profiles.
- Contact information: Whether it's a fan wanting to ask a question or a venue owner looking to book you, make sure you provide an email address, contact form, or other means of contacting you.
- Music player: A built-in MP3 player (or something similar) that makes it easier for people to hear your music.
- Subscribe to Newsletter: Provide a way to sign up for a newsletter that you can use to build an engaging fan base.
- Your Biography: People who land on your website have been actively searching for you. So give them some details about your background, your influences, and who you are as an artist.
2. Create an electronic press kit
You may not need a recording deal to be successful as an artist (just ask Chance the Rapper), but you do need the media on your side to raise your branding profile.
Therefore you should have an electronic press kit (EPK). Creating an EPK and mailing it to publications, bloggers, radio stations, playlist curators, venues, record labels, festivals, and more can make it easier to secure bookings and generate excitement for your action.
Many artists have an EPK on their website. That makes sense: it contains a lot of the same information anyway. If someone is looking for your press kit, there is a good chance they will start on your website.
Instead of emailing someone a PDF, you can just point them towards your EPK landing page.
As mentioned earlier, there should be some crossover between your website and EPC. However, a good press kit is more than just an abbreviated version of your website. It should contain:
- Your Biography: As part of an EPK, your biography is your elevator parking space. This is how you can introduce yourself to someone in person. Make sure you don't use more than two or three sentences.
- Promo photos: First, eye-catching images can make the difference between looking at or ignoring your EPC. Second, media publications or promoters may be in a hurry to need images. So make sure they are high quality and include a range of formats (vertical and horizontal; color and black and white).
- Your music: These people may never have heard your sound before. So add links to your most popular tracks or integrate a music player into your EPK.
- Your Videos: The press, venues, and festivals often incorporate music videos into their articles or artist pages. So include your best videos in your press kit.
- Press clippings: Got some press attention? Include links and quotes from reviews and articles in your EPK to prove you're worth talking about.
- Social Links: While your website offers a more static snapshot of yourself, your social profiles should be updated regularly for better insight into your action in real time. Add links to your most active profiles, preferably with engaged and growing followers.
- Contact details: Make it easy for people to book or write about you by gathering all of your contact information in one place.
3. Create social media accounts for your music
Music fans used to like that their favorite artists were mysterious and aloof. Today we want constant access to the acts we love. We want to know where you are, what you do and what inspires you right now. We'll find out on social media.
A strong (and growing) social media follow-up on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can make a huge difference to an emerging act. It's not uncommon these days for artists to generate a lot of social excitement before the media even noticed it.
Use your social presence to speak directly to fans, promote your music, announce new tour dates and, in general, build a community around your work.
4. Create interactive content to improve music marketing
Research shows that consumers are more likely to think positively about your brand and buy your product (in this case, your music) when interacting with content that speaks to multiple senses.
In addition, 43 percent of consumers say they prefer interactive video content over other types of video. Why? Because they can decide what information they want to see and when they want to see it.
In short, creating interactive content can be a huge asset for music acts. Here are some examples of what it might look like:
Music Marketing Example 1: Wall by MF DOOM
Shep Bryan, co-founder of the music marketing service Beaumonde, created an interactive tribute to legendary rapper MF DOOM. This is where fans can click around DOOM's diverse discography, which includes all of its numerous aliases and side projects. It's similar to an interactive Wikipedia page and has links to every album on Spotify.
Music Marketing Example 2: Dancing DJ Khaled
Augmented Reality is another way to add interactivity to your content, and this is a fantastic example of that in action. The idea is that fans can create content with a dancing AR version of DJ Khaled to encourage the artist's collaboration with Drake on the POPSTAR track. By creating and sharing videos, Khaled's fans did a lot of the promotion work for him.
5. Market your music on as many platforms as possible
Let's take a look at people who like the band Weezer on Facebook.
We can see that the average Weezer fan is a man aged 25 to 34, but there are also plenty in the 35 to 44 year old range, as well as a decent interest in the 18 to 24 year olds (especially the Women).
It is likely that not all of these fans use a particular digital platform. We know they're on Facebook, but probably a lot of other places too. Those on the younger end of the spectrum might prefer platforms like TikTok and YouTube, while those on the older end might prefer Pinterest and Twitter.
The same goes for your audience. Because of this, it's important to promote your music on a variety of platforms, including social media websites and streaming services.
Do not overlook the possibilities of cross-promotion across multiple platforms, e.g. B. by uploading your current video to YouTube and then sharing the link on Facebook.
6. Build a network to market your music
Making the right connections can go a long way in your quest for recognition. However, you cannot just wait for these connections to come about organically. You have to put yourself there and do it through networking.
Again, I'm not a world-famous musician, but I've done a lot of networking in my time. Here are some key tips on how to network effectively:
- Reach through social networks: Find people who work in the right areas of the music business, search for them on social media, and connect with them. When you get in touch, don't immediately ask them to sign you or book you. Start a conversation. Tell them you love their venue or work, ask for advice, or add to their online conversations.
- Get Face Time: Simply put, be as active as possible in your community. Play all the shows and open mics you can, attend workshops and conferences, and meet at places that have lots of local artists booked.
- Adopt a network mindset: Every conversation can be a networking opportunity. You could talk to a local singer who wants to team up for a few shows or someone at a charity that is running a festival. Get used to carrying business cards and maybe even demo CDs, USB sticks or download cards with you.
- Follow up: When selling, 80 percent of non-routine deals require at least five follow-up actions to be completed. Music is probably no different. Unless you make an effort to restart blocked conversations, don't expect results from networking.
7. Email marketing campaigns for musicians
Do you think email marketing is a relic from a bygone era? That it doesn't matter in your music marketing strategy?
Think again Email marketing can be extremely effective at raising your profile, building a community, and making money from your music. Why do you think so many acts are pushing fans to sign up for their newsletter?
Statistics prove this. The average open rate for email sent across industries is 21.33 percent, while the music industry has slightly higher rates at 21.88 percent. The click rates in music are also slightly above average at 2.94 percent compared to 2.62 percent.
In other words, when you send email to your fans, there is a higher than average chance that they will open it and click through the links it contains.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you work on your email marketing:
- Incentives for fans to sign up: Try offering a free music download or a discount on merch.
- Track effectively: As soon as someone signs up, you immediately send a thank you email along with all of the freebies you promised.
- Offer something of value: Give people a reason to stay subscribed by, for example, providing insights into your creative process or making announcements of new tour dates in advance.
- Monetize your mailing list: Add meaningful CTAs that will guide readers to your merch or ticket deals.
- Stick to a schedule: Don't bomb your subscribers. Unless you have big news like an album launch, emailing every few weeks should be sufficient. However, test different frequencies and timings to see which works best.
8. Put your music on media outlets
The ultimate goal of your music marketing is to reach new audiences. Therefore, it makes sense to reach out to people and publications who have already addressed their own audience.
The types of brands you choose will likely depend on the type of music you are making. If your local radio station is all hip hop, but you're the next big thing on the oom-pah scene, it probably won't work.
As a general rule, however, you should try to achieve the following:
- Music and lifestyle blogger
- Music industry press
- local press
- local radio
- national radio
- Playlist curators
At this last point, start targeting unofficial Spotify curators. You are unlikely to jump into any of the Spotify internal lists right away as these are heavily influenced by user analytics. Popular unofficial curators for playlists include:
- For the love of bands
- Howard Zhu
- Work hard playlist hard
9. Create merch to market your music
You should definitely consider designing and selling your merchandise as part of your music marketing strategy.
For one, Merch is big business, with global sales approaching $ 3.5 billion in 2018.
Merch isn't just a straightforward way to make money, however. It can be a stand-alone marketing tool.
People love to wear band hoodies and t-shirts to bars and gigs. If someone sees a hoodie they like the look of, they may ask about the artist, google it, or find it on Spotify. It's like a couple of walking billboards!
10. Invest in your music whenever possible
The saying "It takes money to make money" may be a cliché, but it is often true.
Facebook is a good example of this in action. Pages with fewer than 10,000 fans show an engagement rate of just 0.52 percent for organic (i.e. unpaid) activities. So if you have 9,999 fans, a little over 50 will be interacting with your posts. That hardly seems worth the effort.
It has to be better for bigger, better known sites, right? Not correct! In fact, sites with more than 100,000 fans only see 0.1 percent engagement.
Social media is increasingly a pay-to-play environment. Ads can greatly expand your reach and engagement. So it pays to invest a little money in growing your brand.
Of course, it's not just about social media. You can also hire a PR agent to generate media buzz or partner with a creative agency to strengthen your branding.
Of course, there are many music marketing tactics in this article. Following all of these strategies will take a large chunk of your time and you are a musician, not a marketer.
I am not suggesting that you do them all right now. Start by building your website, growing your social following, and networking with people in your local scene.
Once you understand the basics, take things to the next level by starting advertising campaigns and investing in eye-catching content.
What tactics did you use to win more fans for your music?
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