At first glance, marketing and music might seem like they are worlds apart. But in truth, to make a living as a musician, you need to grow your reach. In essence, that is what marketing does for you.
When you think of your music as a business, then it becomes clear that marketing is essential. You need to get your name and work out there to be discovered, and maintain constant communication with your fans and followers to stay relevant.
In any industry, it is rare for somebody to go viral overnight. What we rarely get to see is the years of work that went into building a following first. As going viral is unpredictable, the smart thing to do is focus on growth and engagement. And if a viral miracle happens, it’s a nice bonus.
It’s also worth knowing that not all marketing methods are created equal. Some are more relevant than others to the music industry – and sometimes, it’s more about how you use that method, than the method itself.
Here are 4 powerful ways musicians can make their marketing go further.
1. Free download cards
At first glance, you might think that printed forms of marketing are dated. But consider this.
The iTunes festival employs this strategy every summer. At the Roundhouse in Camden, 2500 people walk through the front doors every night for an entire month. Each of them are given a lanyard with a card on it. That card has a code for free music downloads, which are very popular with the guests.
At events in the future, you could harness some of that power by giving out cards of your own. Try a free tool like businesscards.co to create your own. Add your details, your design, and include a link to your YouTube channel, your SoundCloud, or a free download code for your online store.
If you are new to YouTube and currently have less than 100 followers, then you won’t yet have a personalised channel URL. There’s a way around by using a URL shortener like Pretty Links to disguise that.
This will make your URL look much more professional on your card. It will also be much quicker for people to type in and find on YouTube.
2. Be strategic on social
It’s a well-known fact that social media marketing is huge for many industries, and this really works for musicians. But with so many platforms that you could be maintaining a presence on, it’s hard not to lose hours of your working day.
This is where strategy comes in. To save time and to ensure you are getting traction for your efforts, it’s wise to take an inventory of your social accounts. Do this first, before you put any more time, energy or money into your social media presence.
Look at the analytics for all your accounts, and see which ones are getting you the most reach and engagement. Depending on time constraints and energy you have for social media, you might want to choose just a handful of top performing platforms to focus on.
For musicians, YouTube is likely to rank highest in importance. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are still relevant. And TikTok is gaining a reputation for helping musicians to reach new audiences.
Trends like dance and lip-synch challenges are helping new songs get picked up by TikTok’s algorithm and be shown to more people.
3. Have an email list
This one might also seem dated to a musician, but it’s a secret marketing weapon for 2021.
Many entrepreneurs across different industries get the best marketing return on investment from their email lists. On email, you are not fighting social media algorithms to get your fans attention – you go straight to their inbox.
If you haven’t yet started growing an email list, you can get set up for free with a beginner-friendly platform like Mailchimp. Simply set up an opt-in page, and share the link across all your social platforms. It helps a great deal to give people a reason to sign up. So offer them exclusive ‘first looks’ at your new work via your email newsletters.
You can use those email newsletter to boost your YouTube views by sending out a link to your videos. The same approach works for boosting your SoundCloud traffic. This is a great way to build buzz around your launches, or to remind people of your older work with a #ThrowbackThursday kind of email.
4. Build a press kit
PR is a valuable extension of your marketing. And the good news is that you don’t have to hire a PR Manager to get started. There are effective things you can handle yourself.
If you want more invitations to be a guest on podcasts, radio shows or magazine interviews, then the trick is to look at things from the podcaster or journalist’s point of view. If you can make things easy for them by being a ‘ready-made guest’ then you are more likely to be invited.
A great place to start is to have your own press kit ready. This is really simple. An electronic press kit (or EPK) is basically a page on your website where your interviewer can find your essential media info.
You will want to include:
- A short bio of 150 words max
- A longer bio or ‘about you’ section of around 300 words
- A couple of headshots
- Links to your most popular work
- Upcoming performance dates
- Contact information (do not forget this one)
Make sure both the bio text and the photos are in a downloadable format.
Once you have a media kit, then you can start looking for media opportunities. You could join a few Facebook and LinkedIn groups for podcasters, and respond to their requests for guests.
It is also worth searching the #HelpaReporterOut stream on Twitter regularly. This is where journalists go when they need to find an interviewee on a particular subject. If you keep looking, music-related opportunities come up sometimes.
I hope this gives you some confidence in your marketing going forward. Keeping things simple, consistent and strategic allows you more time to really focus on growing your reach. Time spent on growing your email list, YouTube and SoundCloud subscribers is time really well spent.
While it’s perfectly fine to wish for your work to go viral one day – that can’t be your only strategy as it doesn’t happen for everyone, and it just can’t be predicted.
For the time being, focus on simply growing and engaging your following, and you will benefit in the long run.
Drafted by Rose Morin