The music business has gone through a substantial change over the last few years. If you want to be a successful musician, one skill that is paramount is your ability to market your work. Your success in the contemporary music business hinges on your ability to get your music heard by as many people as possible. Musicians, being artists, more often than not shy away from the commercial side of the industry. However, as an independent musician, chances are that you don’t have a big record label to do your marketing and promotion for you. Therefore, I think every musician should know how to market their music. I’ve listed down some of the fundamentals below:
Step no. 1
Identify your Listeners:
A key step before you begin your marketing effort is to identify the people it will be directed towards. (Business jargon: Target Audience). However, an important prerequisite to this is to determine your sonic identity. By this, I don’t mean identifying the genre you play (I’m hoping you know that already), but a more macro level understanding of the vibes your music gives out. The key thing to understand is that different kinds of music appeal to different demographics. Needless to say, you cannot be a jazz musician promoting your work through channels that are frequented by heavy metal enthusiasts. You also need to understand the set and setting that your music complements. Is your music more suitable for outdoor social settings? Or is it something your listeners will enjoy whilst sipping their morning coffee? These might sound vague, but the answers to these questions need not be worded, an internal comprehension will suffice.
Step no. 2
Build a Solid Digital Presence
This one’s a biggie. Unless you’re Radiohead, your digital presence will play a pivotal role in your success as a musician. The two fundamental steps when it comes to building a solid digital presence are: Having your own website: A well designed website will help your listeners understand who you are as a musician, It helps them find out more about you and your work, your upcoming gigs, and other information that you would like to convey. You can have a form that lets them subscribe to your mailing list, which is an extremely personal way to connect with listeners, and send them updates. Just make sure that the website is well optimized and not glitchy. I personally like Young the Giant’s website.
Social media is a potent tool, and should be used tactically. Your Instagram profile might just be the first thing that people see, before they even hear your music. Push out content regularly and interact with your followers. Also, networking with people whom you would like to work with, really helps. Show some love to other musicians and they will reciprocate in times of need. (Plenty of those in the music biz)
Step no. 3
Line up Performances
Performing live is crucial to your marketing efforts. Identify venues in your city that are frequented by your targeted listeners. Start making calls to artist programmers, do your homework and send them an email that talks about how your music will be a perfect fit for that particular venue. A follow up call after a few days does not seem overly eager, so don’t worry. Understanding what the crowd wants and deciding the set list based on the venue is very important. Always stay back after your set and interact with the crowd. Ask them for their feedback, and work on the inputs you receive.
Step no. 4
Have an Organized Public Relations Plan:
A common misconception amongst musicians who are just starting out is that editors and journalists from prominent publications are not approachable. This is untrue. In most cases, journalists are looking for new and interesting content to showcase. An effective strategy when it comes to contacting them is to fetch their contact details on LinkedIn or their website, and sending them a well drafted email (Keep it brief and to the point) that talks a little bit about your music, with relevant hyperlinks to your work. Even a weeklong effort where you contact 2 journalists a day will guarantee you productive leads. Even if you don’t get a response, it puts you on their radar which is always good.
Step no. 5
Identify the Best Digital Distributor:
A digital distributor helps you put up your music on all the popular streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Music, Deezer etc. Till recently, there were just a couple of distributors which helped musicians do this, CD Baby and Tunecore being the most well known. However, today this space is crammed with many companies coming up, all of them with their unique terms and conditions. Choosing the right distributor is very important because these are the services that will help you reach a global audience. Moreover, the analytics that these services provide are crucial when it comes to executing a targeted marketing campaign. Many of these services also help you market your music amongst other services so it’s important for you to choose the right distributor. Check out this comprehensive comparison between major digital distributors.
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