Table of Contents
There are countless marketing strategies out there for bands and many of them are very good I have to say. I have devised my own Top Ten Music Marketing Strategies from my 30 years working experience in Business, Marketing and Music. I have placed each specifically for artists who are starting off and are looking for steps to build a solid platform right up to launching their first album. I will be releasing a small course this year on these very Strategies. This course will help you implement each one of these Marketing strategies with me guiding you through the process. Feel Free to comment on anything. Feedback and suggestions are always good. We are all here to help one another.
This is the First Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career
This may sound like an unusual place, to begin with, but most business when presenting their business plan must be able to clearly answer these questions before the journey begins. The artist needs to be able to have their own unique story where people can connect too. Many artists do not know what that story is and get lost very quickly. The story is not only the music but the artist or artists behind the entire venture. The reality is people need to relate to both and many artists miss out on this from the beginning of their music campaign. Why are you doing this? What's your Story? How are you going to achieve your goals?
The second part of this is expressing this to the potential Fan. Why should they get involved with you and your Music? What is it that will make them connect with and you and come back for more? How and where can they get involved and what benefits can you offer them. All this has to be very clear from the very beginning before any campaign is planned. In the Coaching world, this is called setting your intentions from the beginning. When you do that, you are making a statement and it's coming from the heart. The heart and not the head is where the true intentions are and asking yourself these three critical questions from there will be closer to what you truly want moving Forward.
If you are a Band then each individual should be asked to ask themselves these questions also so you are all on the same page. You will realize their intentions very quickly and will save yourself much wasted time if a member or members are not on the same page as you. These questions are also a very good way to iron out any misconceptions of the path ahead and align everyone towards the same goal. If you can get an agreement with everyone involved then you are off to a great start.
This is the Second Strategy and an important one of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
Over the years I have seen so many artists not knowing what their Genre is. Most will say they are a bit of this and that and get caught up in the influences that have inspired them. This is all very interesting but in my experience, you need to focus on a particular Genre. Now I know many will argue with this but this is for the fan to identify with you and what music they label you in. Leave it to the fan to add in the extra bits. So determine what genre you are on a single term. Folk, Ballad, Rock, Punk, Country, Heavy Metal etc. Again this relates back to the Why, What and the How Description. Know what genre you are, Why you are that genre and how you have come to that conclusion.
There is another group of artists that don't seem to know what genre they are. They get stuck in between Genres or many Genres and can't quite put their finger on what suits them best. Again listen to the Fan or family with this. They will have taken an interest in what best suits you if you are confused. Another thing, If you are confused then your Fan will be confused also and not be able to determine who you are in relation to your music. If you are changing all the time, many fans will abandon you because the direction is all over the place. Find your genre and stick to it.
This is the third Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
Connecting with artists from the same genre is a critical part of the Music Marketing process. They will have similar fans who like this Genre of Music and you will have your own fanbase that will like them also to help them also. Too many artists are suspicious of other acts and this is a major mistake. Artists need to understand that this is not a competition but a collaboration. There are plenty of fans to go around and a Knowledgeable Musician will know this and will engage with other acts to work together for the same cause. That cause is all about the fan.
The fan is simply a customer who likes your music, likes you and wants to buy what you have to offer. It is no different than any other business. As a business, you have publicly announced that you are open for business and are looking for customers to buy from you.
Another point to connecting up to other acts with the same genre is you have just opened up lots of touring opportunities. You will be invited to perform at the other artist locations and they will have the same opportunity to travel to you. This is the quickest way to set up a touring circuit and have your music heard in many different areas and new fans.
This is the fourth Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
This is probably the most important strategy as most of your success will be revolved around this. I remember asking a music friend of mine in the US to answer a very important question. He had been a music manager for 50 years and was one of the very first Music Managers to manage the Eagles. My question was " What's the best tip you could give to any artists or bands starting out on their Music Career. Without delay, he answered, " If you can't make it in your own back yard, you ain't going to make it anywhere ". When I asked him to elaborate he simply told me that artists need to set up in their local community first and not be focusing on the outside at the beginning. "Master that first and the touring comes later", he said.
As a venue manager for many years, I understood John's advice very well. Many artists didn't seem to understand the power of the venue, their place of Operations. John had used this resource to his advantage all throughout his career. Its where he grew his acts from the ground up. The local venue is where everything began. From there he could reach out to other acts of the same genre to his bands. He would invite them to perform and they would invite his band to perform at their Venue. The rest is history as he went on to manage over 100 bands. Even in this new digital age, this process Of venue and artist working together is the backbone of any success, to begin with.
I have a great Blog about myself and John and how we managed to connect with one another. Why not have a read. There is a free book you can download on there along with a whole nest of information about John. I think you will find all this very interesting and helpful as you progress in this business. Music In The Digital Age and John Hartmann
To finish up on this point, I wrote a blog a few years ago about approaching a Venue and what to do while you are there. It all about collaboration with the venue and they will work with you to get the best results. Venue and artist is a joint venture so make sure you tell them about the Clear intention you have and you can both work together. Together you can make it a success.
REALITY CHECK FOR THE IRISH ARTIST / BOOKING A MUSIC GIG IN IRELAND. This blog was written over 3 years ago and is still very popular with readers today.
This is the Fifth Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
As you are not a stationary business( not including your local Venue ) the website will be your main base of operations. Its where all your information will be located. Over the years, I have seen some terrible websites which are unnecessary in this day and age. There are so many options out there now so there is no excuse for a poor website.
With the likes of Wix and Squarespace, So anyone can afford a decent website. If you are not that good at designing it, then find someone that knows what they are doing and get it done just right. I can't stress this enough and especially the front page. Don't clutter the front page. Try and keep it minimal with a cool picture of the Band and all the tabs at the top and social links. You should have a shop set up too. Again all these platforms have this option. Any Physical CDs, Albums, t-shirts etc should be available for purchase. All you need is a Paypal account and you are set.
One of the most important features you should have is an email subscription so fans can sign up to you. Be inventive and not have "sign up for our newsletter". Have sign up and get a free ticket to our next show Or sign up and get all our freebies throughout the year. Give your new fan something and keep giving them till they trust you and you have built a relationship where they will follow you to the ends. There is a magic in giving that few know about. Give to receive and receive to give without expectation. This is a natural law of nature. I don't want to get into any laws of attraction here but this works so be generous with any fan and you will be paid back in full and much more. The secret behind all this is give without the expectation of getting something out of it. It's going to happen anyway so don't worry about it.
Again I can't stress this enough. Email marketing is the single most important ingredient to the overall success of your entire operation. Any marketeer will tell you that its the most effective as many emails will be opened if you give a little something. More times I have opened emails from artists and it all about Me Me Me and not the fan. You brought them over to your email list and now you want them to listen to you? Sorry but you haven't even built a relationship yet. I've had artists tell me it doesn't work and they are getting very few opened emails. These same artists haven't bothered or don't know that they must build trust and keep in touch.
I have subscribed to dozens of email lists from artists all over Ireland and can safely say that in all those years I have received less than 20 emails from my entire list I signed up too. No relationship built, no communication, no Consistency and me me me all through the email? Artists need to get this right or else you are wasting your time completely. If you don't get this right then no point reading any further. How are you going to sell your music with no trust built up? How are you going to sell a ticket to one of your shows? How are you going to do anything if you can't get the fan to open your email of see your post on Facebook? It's just not going to happen unless you start communicating personally with the fan.
One more final thing that baffles me every day. People like myself doing what we do ( and they're quite a few of us around ) are regularly dismissed as a fan? People like us should be the first on your fan list and be in regular contact with. If you can't communicate with the people that are trying to help you then what chance have you got with the general public. I can answer that! ZERO. I can't tell you the number of times I have been contacted by a passionate artist who has asked for advice and have a feature on my website. As soon as the advice is absorbed and the feature page is published, this same artist is gone, never to heard off again? Sometimes I may get the odd Generic email newsletter from one of these artists a year later with the expectation that I would open it. What would you do? anyone who shows a spec of interest in you, you should keep and cherish. To finish, go to the trouble of putting their name to the email sent and not Hi there or Howya. Email platforms have the ability to have every individual name at the top of each email newsletter. All you have to do is write the name in once on that platform and every email will be sent to your email address along with your first name.. When someone addresses me by my first name I will open and read. The sender went to the trouble to apply my name as this a personal touch and I like that and so will everyone else.
This is the Sixth Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
So now we come to social and all its misconceptions. Don't get me wrong Social Media is very powerful and has lots of advantages. Trouble is many artists cant see them. We all know from experience that most artists have a pain in their face putting up posts and very few responding. A few likes and loves, The odd comment from the very few die-hard fans and that about it. So what's happening here?
I hate to tell you but its boring and people are being bombarded with this type of post every day. Listen to my new song, my ep or my album etc. The answer is why should we listen? Have you personally Contacted each fan with the news, Have you built that relationship I spoke about in the above tip ? are they on your email list? Have you reached out to them recently about how things are going? Have you told them how much you appreciate them personally? Have you given them any gifts to stay interested?
If you haven't done all of these things then that's your answer there. Social media is a public platform where people are being bombarded will all types of information and you are no different ( Unless you build a relationship separate to social media Via email ). By doing that you separate the real fan from the ones that give you a like to be nice.
Use social media as a source of capturing Real fans and get them on your email list. Social media has become a display advertising platform. It was created for business and not for your personal posts. Everyone's information and behavioural habits are widely available and marketed too So you as a business need to get on board and do what's best for your business. Every post should have email signup with a brilliant offer so they want to join you. when you have them on board you look after them from your own platform which is your own website and the communication from your email announcements. That's how all businesses do their business. For artists, you can either do this with live steaming with an offer and a subscription page or a targeted ad with the same.
Did you know that you can target any specific audience in every niche possible? let's say you are a Rock band living in a certain area. You find the best rock acts all around you and you can target all the people who like their band page? How powerful is that? Imagine you have the right song, with the right offer and targeted the right audience? What do you think would happen? Would you attract some of those people? What would you do with those people once you have them on your fan list? Would you look after them? Would you build a relationship with those people? My guess is you would say yes to all of this? So why not do this?
This is the Seventh Strategy and a little warning of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career
This tip goes back to all the previous tips. The Cart before the Horse plan that seldom works. How could it work? The preparation wasn't done. One big night with family, friends and a few loyal fans and its all over. Years of practice, Studio time and money and then the disappointment kicks in. What was that all about? The music was brilliant, the album was classic and no one bought it only people on the night of the launch.
For many, they do this all over again and get the same results and then resign themselves that the music industry is against them and only people with contacts and money have the power to make this happen. This is not true and is an illusion that was created around disappointment. Now I know there are also many other factors that would prevent success but I have seen this type of Music Launch over and over again. Money is not the problem. Preparation, knowledge and communication is the key to all of this.
Launch when you are ready. When you have that list of people who love your music, love you and know what you are all about. Allow then to follow you on your journey by communicating your goal and being generous and consistent with them. You must stay in touch personally and not just a public display poster or post on Facebook and all the others. Facebook tried to capture the email market by introducing groups to their platform. It didn't work as its still public posting and not personal. I personally set up many groups myself over the years and had 1000s of followers and very few reading any post or listening to any music. Why?
Artists have the same habit there also. Display posting and not getting involved with anyone else's post or track. It's too impersonal and leads to nothing. On top of that the constant notifications when someone posts on a group. If you are a member of a few groups this you are going to be bombarded and that's just too much for anyone to take.
I hope you are getting the picture here? It's a communication problem and it needs to be separated into just your own segment of People. This cannot be done on social media unless you have a massive following but it's still it's public and has its limits. Social Media is Public announcement and public conversation and email is private communication and relationship building. Big difference.
So if you are lacking in any of the above then please reconsider or pause your Music launch till this is sorted. You should have at least 500 to 1000 fans on your list to have a realistic chance of a successful campaign that you can be proud of and remembered as a positive experience.
Being ready to strike and the eight Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
Launching an album has to be one of the biggest statement an artist or band can make. Years of practice, promotion, marketing, touring and so much more have brought them to this place in time. It is a sign of growth, accomplishment, musical excellence and a vision to where the artist or band is going with their career. Everything up to now has lead them to this point.
Over the years I have watched the digital age takes its toll on the music community and transitioning through it has being hard slog for everyone. I set out over a decade ago to investigate ways to break into the industries secrets and allow me to show the artist what is wrong with this industry and what can be done to fix it. On my journey, I have found many holes in it and unfair rules to make it successful for anyone. I suspect the major labels share big responsibility in all of this as they scrambled to survive in this ever-changing and now digital business format.
I have to say that the artists themselves also share in this responsibility as they became too reliant on the labels to do their bidding or marketing for them. That came at a very big price for many as they decided to concentrate on their Music and let the labels do the rest. All communication was primarily the responsibility of their creditors who Compensated themselves very handsomely as a result of the Musicians signed contract. When digital arrived, this created a gaping hole in the Artists' understanding of the Communication and marketing process to make a Music career.
Never before was the artist faced with the job of commander and chief of the entire operation. No longer could he or she rely upon the lifting work of any label. The money for that was no longer there. Many labels closed or got swallowed up by the bigger ones who jumped ship and went where the money was in digital. So the artists had two choices. Sink or Swim for independence and do it all yourself from now on. Opportunity for all those who dared to swim and take their place as independent artists. It was a frightening place to but liberating to think that maybe, just maybe this Independence could be achieved. No more being mortgaged out to the eye gorging labels That had capitalised on the backs of music excellent and the human expression through music.
They ran away to the lucrative Digital world to capture a piece of the pie and created their genre of capitalism and invented popular demand for the masses. The same old, same old again and again and again. the beast needed to be fed and they came up with the idea of competitions and a conveyer belt of the best talent and manipulated them into the same popular demand.
They hypnotised us with dazzling lights and showbiz to entertain and buy into this fiasco and support our desperate artist who longs for stardom. We all like a good story, a sad story, a convincing story so we connect with our young and talented stars. You see they had all this experience from the old days. The tricks of the trade in showbusiness at its best and the doors were shut tight from anyone else getting in on the action.
Where were the Independents during this time and how were there going to respond. After all, they were the creators of this great music but no one was getting a look in. They had to learn the trade in painful steps. Steps that would take years to learn and master. That time is indeed fast approaching and the time of the independent is ever near. They have become masters of the game that is the music business. They are beginning to see that it is possible to achieve great heights and be independent in all of this.
It's an even field when your know-how. All that's required is Communication, marketing knowledge and excellence of their god-given Art. It is there for the taking if they see the opportunities right in front of them. Communication through their art was enough in those times but more is needed now.to connect on a personal level like the label so skillfully did for decades before. No more lost in the bottle of oblivion from the disconnect to reality and the human emotion. No more excuses to the self-isolation that was chosen with the signed contract, resulting in the supervision of all emotional communication from the outside world.
Independents have a real chance of stepping forward and Connecting with the fan on so many levels. They can lay it all out and just go for it. Nothing stopping them except themselves and the feeling that all is lost to them. It isn't and is there for the taking.
I remember when I first started on this journey and artists who were not signed and had a habit of referring to themselves as unsigned artists. This term always bugged me as It implied to me of some failure or not yet successful in music yet. I believe that this term no longer applies and Independent artist is the correct term to use.
Anyway sorry for the rant there. Let me get back to the album launch. Assuming that you have all the Steps in place in the above-mentioned list of Strategies, there are lots of ways to increase the success of your album launch.
By now you will have realized that the backbone of your entire operation is the fan and the fan list, period !. You will have already announced to them the dates and given them samples of tracks, freebies and generally a good experience. You may have also set up and some pre-order of the album through your email posts before the event. You will have contacted radio stations ( Most of which will not acknowledge or respond ) and that's fine. Contact them regardless and put them all on a separate email list. Make sure the email is short and sweet. Email them after the launch and again short and sweet and a little of the success you had.
Digital is where we are going. we are all aware of this but you must remember that physical sales are also still relevant. Golden Discs revived itself on the back of the new upsurge of Vinyl sales.
Cds are also still there and quite popular with fans. I am one of those people who love my CDS for example.
The reason I mention this is that these two items are more valuable than you might think. Here's why. A single sale of a Cd or Vinyl has the same value as 1250 streams on Spotify when it comes to a possible Chart entry. CDs or Vinyl need to be sold in a record store registered with the Official Charts Company for consideration for a Chart entry.
Most stores offer Independents a space in their store for album sales. They are especially interested in Artists who have their homework done and have an army of fans waiting to purchase their album. Again this goes back to your fan list and all the work you did to keep your fan happy and ready to buy your anticipated album.
Make sure you ask your fan what format do they like, Cd, Vinyl, Download or Streaming. You will need to know their preference. Ask your Record store to make it available online so your fans can purchase from anywhere and not have to travel many miles to buy the album. If the record store refuses then take your business elsewhere. Remember you are offering them an opportunity and not the other way round.
The Hidden Gem and the ninth Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
There is one more thing that many artists are not aware of and its hidden from you. Very little is written about it for some odd reason.? There was a new initiative brought out by the official Charts company called " Lightning live ". It was introduced to assist artists who didn't have a big following and wanted to give the Charts a go. I spotted this back in 2015 when it was introduced into the UK. At the time I was bemused that it wasn't laid out in Ireland as the same company are responsible for both the UK and Irish Charts. So I emailed them and asked about this. They told me that this was being introduced in 2017. True to their word it was introduced but barely a word about it from our music communities here in Ireland.
So what is all the fuss about? Well, this allows any artist to launch their album at any venue and all music sales can be counted towards the Charts. That a very big deal Guys. Not only could you have your album available online for fans to purchase but also at your launch or two launches if you wanted. This opportunity gives any independent with their homework done as good a chance as any big act out there. I was screaming about this last year and very few took any action?
Finally, I had the opportunity to speak to one of the top men in Golden discs and I asked him a very important question? How many sales would it take to get an artist into the top ten in Ireland? I was told that he had seen artists reach this with just 150 sales in one week. I was shocked by his answer but pleasantly hopeful for independent artists to actually have a crack at this. Now wouldn't that be a very nice launch indeed? I'm sure the radio stations would like to hear about that in your second email, don't you? I wonder if they would reply? You have just proven that you are the real deal and they will want you on their show to talk about it. It's all about the latest music news with them after all. Lightning Live Details found at the bottom of Irish Album Chart Rules.
Finally, the Money Conversation & Budgeting Strategy of the 10 Marketing Strategies To Boost your Music Career.
The final tip I have is the importance of Budgeting. Every business needs to have a budget. So many costs like equipment, posters, recording, fuel and Merchandise etc. All of these costs should be taken out before a penny is paid to anyone. Maintaining the business should the basic focus for everyone involved. I've seen many instances where one member seems to be coughing up all the expenses while the rest look on and then expect an equal cut of the band's money at the end of the night. This is not a good situation and will cause problems down the line. Everyone is responsible for the costs from the very beginning and that includes the manager if you have one. How many times I have seen managers pay for everything and the last to receive a penny for a job well done. Share the cost and everyone is equal and know where they stand.
Set up a band or artist account. Make a plan at the beginning of the year and put in all the costs for everything. Then divide it by 52 and that's the amount that will be the weekly cost. it's as simple as that. Whatever is left will be split evenly. If you don't meet that cost then you all add to it so the business is sustained each week. This is not a joke guy. You do what is necessary to stay afloat and keep the dream alive. Having a budget also will keep you all on your toes and drive you to succeed. Any lacking and there will be a personal and financial cost to you each week. If you are looking for accountability then this is it. Nothing more powerful than making the Ego accountable financially. It will shift anyone into gear and create unbelievable results. Some will fight this but if you are serious, you will be doing yourself a favour in the long run. You must make yourself accountable and do exactly what you say on the Tin.