Music marketing is everything these days, at least when it comes to being successful in this notoriously difficult industry.
As has been noted by millions of listeners for decades, it’s not always the “best” songs or albums that rise to the top, but rather those that are marketed intelligently, intensely, and creatively. Sure, it’s important to make wonderful art, and this should be your primary job as a musician, but without marketing, it can go absolutely nowhere.
If you want to make a living with your creative works, you’re going to need to learn everything there is to know about music marketing, and you can begin by perusing the article below.
Here are eleven effective ideas for music marketing:
- Build online relationships and share music
- Organize livestreams with other artists
- Know what you’re selling
- Create unique content
- Set up your online presence
- Start a newsletter
- Play gigs
- Get radio promotion
- Post flyers
- Meet other artists in your scene
- Get acquainted with other industry types
If you want to reach both current fans and future fans, you need to give them something they want, something that interests them, and you have to do so where they are. Who is your target audience? Is it 60-year-olds who live in rural areas? Teenagers in cities? Depending on what kind of music you make, you’ll likely be going after a different crowd, and that dictates everything from the type of content you should create to how you should be promoting yourself and your work to what platforms you’ll want to focus on.
If this doesn’t seem to make much sense to you, start doing some simple research on current digital marketing best practices. You’ll soon begin to understand that platforms like TikTok will be best for younger listeners, while Facebook advertising and traditional media will likely do the most for you when talking about older groups.
Being successful in the music industry isn’t just about crafting excellent music, it’s also about relationships. In this business, relationships are everything, and they can make or break a career, so it’s incredibly important that you dedicate time to forging bonds with tastemakers and those in positions of power.
You may eventually hire a PR team to handle outreach to blogs, magazines, TV, and even radio, but until you are at a point where it makes financial sense for you to do so, you’ll likely be handling this work on your own. It’s hard and time-consuming, but having your music featured on a blog is still a great way to get your art out there.
Start with smaller outlets, ones that focus on the style of music you make, or perhaps even acts that are specific to your area. You’ll have a better shot at hearing back from these Writers and Editors at first, as opposed to those who work at larger publications.
While traditional media and blogs are still very important and useful marketing outlets, the last ten years have seen a shift in how many people discover music. Millions now turn to streaming platforms and YouTube to hear the latest tracks and unearth great talent.
Many rely on curators to do this work for them, so you’ll want to either hire a professional who has relationships with these deciders or do the research yourself and find out how to submit your work to these YouTube channels, as well as those making playlists on sites like Spotify, Apple Music, and others. One excellent feature can make all the difference.
Livestreamed performances aren’t new, but they took on updated importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as musicians couldn’t tour and billions of people around the world were stuck at home without much to do. Now, these events are still commonplace, and even as things change for the better and concerts become the norm once again, fans are used to watching simple musical events online.
Reach out to musicians you like, ones you know, those who are in your city, state, or who create the same kind of art that you do (or who do something completely different, if you think you can make it work) and set up a livestream event. Tell your fans and make sure they do the same. This way, you can introduce yourself to their followers and entertain yours at the same time.
Now that you know who you are trying to reach, and what they care about, you should consider again what you are selling. Make a list of the products or services, the cost for each, with the amount of profit you can earn based on predicted level of sales over a specific time frame (most people use a year, broken out monthly).
Clearly describe how the sales will take place, how you will get paid, and how you will deliver value to the fans with your products or services. This information will be needed in order to create your marketing proposal.
Finding success on social media requires a healthy mix of following trends and doing something completely original. Whether it be via photos, videos, GIFs, text, or anything else you may want to utilize, you want to give your audience, and the world beyond that, something they’re familiar with…only different. Don’t copy what others are doing, but find a way to work within the framework of what seems to be successful. If you can put your own spin on whatever is going viral, and people react well to it, you’re off to a fantastic start in terms of creating your own unique content.
Before you worry about going viral or teaming up with other musicians, you need to make sure you have your ducks all in a row. Set up accounts on all of the major social platforms, as well as those that are brand new or largely ignored. You don’t have to interact with all of them, but it’s better to save your name first. This is step number one in music marketing.
Open a YouTube channel. Launch your website, and make sure it has all the content and information anyone who may be interested in you could need. Also, you’ll want to make an EPK (electronic press kit), which will be vital when it comes to pitching yourself to booking people, Radio DJs, Journalists and even those at record labels, when the time comes.
You might not need any of this for some time, but if your music begins doing well and you’re not really ready, you’ll miss some incredible opportunities that may not come your way again.
A lot of music marketing exists online, as is evidenced by the first half of this article, but there is still work to be done in the real world when it comes to promoting your work!
These days, as album and song sales continue to fall and streaming numbers don’t quite add up, earning money from playing live shows is how many musicians pay their bills. This is largely true for the biggest names in the business, but even those smaller acts can fill their bank accounts better with concerts than revenue derived strictly from their recorded music.
Playing gigs may be a moneymaker, but it’s also a fantastic way to reach new audiences. Look for opportunities to not just perform for your own fans, but to sing for those who don’t know you. Music festivals and opening slots for other acts provide excellent chances to stand in front of complete strangers who have never heard of you and introduce both yourself and your work. It allows you to reach many untapped listeners all at once.
Just like PR, radio promotion is something you may opt to do on your own, or you may want to hire a company or a solo Promoter to do the work for you. It all depends on how much time you’re willing to invest, how much cash you have on hand, and what your goals are. Having your song played on the radio, whether it’s a major station, a local outlet, or even a college option, helps you reach new audiences and spread your work. Radio doesn’t break new acts in the same way it did a few decades ago, but it certainly isn’t gone.
Of all the activities mentioned here, none is more underutilized these days than posting flyers. This used to be a common practice for Promoters and musicians themselves, but in the era of blogs, radio, and social media, many have chosen not to spend the time or money bothering. These people do have a point, but their lack of effort does mean there’s a chance for you to stand out.
Work with an artist to create something eye-catching and have hundreds of flyers printed up. These can be to promote a show, an album release, or just you and your work in general. Post them all over town, on college campuses, and in highly-trafficked areas, and you may see your social and streaming numbers climb as at least a few people take a chance on you.
As is mentioned above, relationships are key, and that extends not only to those who run the music industry, but also other musicians and bands in your area. Get to know them. Listen to their music. Follow them on social media and say hi. Share their work with your fans. After forging friendships with these people, you can one day ask to collaborate with them, open for their next concert, or maybe even set up a complete tour. This is all much, much harder if you don’t have a pre-existing relationship of some kind.
Just as you want to know the other musicians working in your area, you’ll also want to develop relationships with others who are involved in the scene you’re attempting to break into. Promoters, booking people, venue owners, DJs, Radio Personalities and those who work at stations, influencers, Publicists and marketing professionals, Journalists, Bloggers, and so many others are just waiting to hear from you. Go into these friendships with pure intentions, knowing that one day they may be able to help you in some way, whether professionally or otherwise. Don’t meet people just to use them, as many can sense that from a mile away.