5 Marketing / Advertising Tips for Independent Musicians
5 Marketing / Advertising Tips for Independent Musicians
Before we get into it let’s start by advising these are not tips on how to get famous, or how to land a record deal. These are some hopefully useful tips for any musician who’s serious about working at their craft in a more full-time capacity, touring more or growing a larger dedicated following.
1. Keep your Goals in Mind, long term and grow your audience.
If a guitar riffs in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it even make a sound? Ha, let’s not get philosophical but let’s agree that it doesn’t matter how good the music is if no one is there to listen. So apart from great music, your first priority should be growing an audience. The audience doesn’t have to be huge, not at first.
Start by making yourself and your music available online. Your music should be on sites like SoundCloud and YouTube already – but also make sure its available on iTunes and Spotify, make sure you’re right where you need to be so people can find you in the moment they decide to look. You may only ever get one of these moments per person at best. Make sure your posts and promotions look professional and well branded.
Make yourself available on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. etc. etc. – every artist and fan base has their preferences, this usually works itself out and often leans to where the artist is most comfortable being available.
Canadian singer Sebastian Olzanski actually makes time once a week for video chats with his fans on Facebook and Snapchat. This is probably a big part of his overwhelming success on social media. Check out his interview on Dropout Entertainment here.
Another Canadian Artist Joey Niceforo, takes the same kind of time and dedication everyday to read, and even respond to almost all of his fans messages on his Facebook.
2. Don’t rely on platforms, especially in the beginning
‘But I thought you said’… I did. Your online presence is insanely important, but the impact you can make there, dwarfs in comparison to the impact you can make in real life. After all, that’s how social media works best!
Get out and play shows. This is probably the number one piece of marketing advice we can give a musician. Be seen. You’re not going to start out playing huge clubs and stadiums but you can get in touch with show promoters in your city, send them a link to your iTunes and go from there. Remember to stay in touch and take the shows you can get booked for. When you get shows, turn them out, and promote them as much as you can. Concert promoters love when bands/acts that help hype there own shows; and are more likely to re-book bands that show enthusiasm and bring people out.
Everyone likes working with people who make their jobs easier and days better. It’s that simple.
3. Get a Website
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. You’re going to need a website to be taken more seriously and the more serious you take your website, the more serious people will tend to take you – when they do some digging.
Secondly, it’s important to put your mark online beyond Apps like Instagram and Facebook – the internet is it’s own place of expression – a website can be a chance to be daring with design or even interactivity. It’s also a place to build your own community and give people the opportunity to opt into you, without overarching social media platforms.
Now, Theres are lots of different ways to get a website put together, and there are some free solutions like Wix or Squarespace, which are fine to a point. There is a moderate learning curve to both and to get anything more than then template you’re still going to need to enlist the help of a designer/developer.
We’re obviously a bit biased with the advice on how to do this, but we make build and design decisions because they make sense – so here’s a bit of insight on how we think.
Apart from highly customized sites we generally build sites in WordPress and here’s why. The biggest argument for having a website of your own is ‘having your own space online’ – We like to think of it as a catcher’s mitt at home plate, the last place that people land and ultimately learn everything they need to know about you in one place.
It’s argued that it’s unprofessional to maintain a home-base like this on social media, as ultimately that space isn’t really your own, even though a social channel(s) may be where you get the most interaction with your fans, it’s not where writiers and researchers are going to look – your communications goal with your site should be to make the lives of people who want to promote you as easy as possible.
But I digress. The core fact remains the same, how you build a site doesn’t matter as much as getting a website in place that is a useful resource for fans; and that speaks to your music’s brand and artistic flavour.
4. Only use GOOD social media tools
Social media is ridiculously time consuming, it can take over your whole day in a flash if you’re not careful and mindful of your posts – and on the flip side of that you know you need to be active to stay visible / top-of-mind in your audience. Best case scenario, one fan starts listing to your song on itunes or Spotify – which they are likely already paying for, maybe they even hit repeat once or twice. It might not seem like much, but if more than one fan does the same thing… you get the idea. So that’s the ideal looking situation, #goals.
It’s pretty tempting to look at bot management service sites and social management sites like Upleap – and while we’ve seen mixed reviews from these sites at best, the consensus is mostly they drop off engagement after the first few weeks, while straight up bots get straight up banned.
Additionally Instagram’s actual level of banning or shadow-banning accounts that utilize services like this is unknown, but we’ve seen regular users with good followings loose engagement and stall growth all of a sudden when these services are connected; when the services app access is revoked engagement and growth go back to normal over the course of a few days.
So yeah, be careful when you’re selecting which app (if any) to give your Instagram password to. This is partly due to Instagram as a company and their value proposition – ie: photo sharing with real people, if people start asking themselves “am I just posting these photos for bots?” Instagram is going to have a very real problem.
Further to that accounts look absolutely ridiculous when they have 50k followers and average 25 likes per post.
We’re going to continue to hedge our bets that Instagram and likeminded platforms will continue to fight against bot likes and follows, ghost accounts and continue implement new strategies to soft this out at the drop of a hat.
Speaking of Instagram check out this article where we discuss Instagrams blacklisted words.
5. Find Someone to Tell Your Story
The world of content is a two way street with the potential for hype, negotiations, leveraging and a lot of attention. Yes you can release a video into the world of YouTube and hope it does amazing things a la Casey Neistat – but why not get some real hype built up for it? Offer the exclusive release rights to a music blog or internet radio station for 24 hours so users have to go on to see it, the blogs need something to talk about too.
There’s not much sense reaching out or sending press releases to Billboard for the moment, unless you’re a famous celebrity musician in which case, I invite you to click here.
The Billboards and Rolling Stone magazines have the five major labels pretty well covered and smaller semi-mainstream outlets like Noisy pick up the slack.
There are lots of specialty music blogs out there though and lots of them would love to hear from a great band / artist with an exciting song or a great video. As we said before the world of content is a two way street between artists and music publishers. Further to that, don’t be shy about doing interviews! It’s more likely to make a connection with an audience when they have a clearer understanding of who you are and what you’re like as a person.
Try and find a band that’s not too far out of reach, maybe a few steps above you in popularity. Spend some time creeping their social and googling them and see who’s been talking about them. These are the kinds of outlets you should start off targeting for yourself.