It's all about marketing my man!
If you’re an artist, educating yourself about the music business and music marketing is extremely important. Marketing is more important than anything else you do as an artist... aside from making great music.
In this post I’ll give you a top down overview of music marketing, along with a bunch of practical tips to help you and your brand grow beyond your wildest dreams. Be warned, it's gonna take work.
How Do Record Companies And Artist Managers Market Bands? ✅
I’ll admit, when I was a musician and even when I was beginning my music business career, I had the wrong idea about music marketing. I often confused marketing with promotion or the day to day activity of publicizing a brand. And after working with hundreds and hundreds of artists over the past 10 years, it became clear to me. I learned that marketing begins with the brand you create. Get to the root of what you’re really all about, and then convey that to your “market”.
Consequently, great brands understand WHY they do what they do and know how they want to be perceived. These two things are for you to decide and no one else, remember to be authentically you and then turn up the volume on You by 1000% and you’ll do well, I promise. The tips below should get you in the right mindset to get started on your marketing mission!
What Exactly is Marketing? ✅
The best definition of marketing I have come across is “marketing is a battle of perception, not products.” – “22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It means you need to be first in the mind of your scene and the leader. Strive to be the “first in mind” in your genre and let that perception spread like wildfire.
This Quote About Mumford & Sons Marketing Plan Is Awesome:
There‘s a great quote from Daniel Glass, owner of Glassnote Records (Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, The Temper Trap) talking about the Mumford & Sons marketing plan… “There was one line in the marketing plan. Get people to see them live. That was it”. I love this quote because when you’re struggling to find your way it’s a great reminder that you have to start with the core of your brand and “WHY” people should care. You just need to have the self awareness to know what that ONE thing about you that’s a little extra special is. Who are you? What’s your story? What makes you a little different from the pack?
How To Create Word Of Mouth Promotion ✅
Word of mouth promotion is the best kind of marketing. The music you create, the topline vocals and lyrics, the way you express yourself should foremost satisfy your artistic vision and back up what you stand for as an artist. The primary focus should be creating great songs. However, in a marketing sense, what you create should deliver on the listener’s expectations. Create some sort of emotional reaction and make people want to talk about it or share it. Finally, if you constantly create something profound over and over again, and it adds meaning to your fans lives, it will spread like a virus.
Think Like a Brand ✅
Branding is the best friend of marketing so let’s get to know branding. In terms of your brand, it is your name and the mental picture fans have when they think of you. It’s not something you have total control over, but through best practices you can brand yourself better than other artists. You put your brand out there in the open to be shaped and influenced by culture, opinions, social media, journalists, art, etc. Branding can involve your logo or a symbol, the ultimate accomplishment for a brand (think Starbucks, Bring Me The Horizon, The Rolling Stones). For branding to work you need consistency, frequency, and a hook. Therefore, the emotional relationship between you and your fans is a bond that gives people a reason “why” they should love you or your brand. Exercise:
Get out the old pen and paper because writing crystallizes thoughts. Think about the presentation of your music, live show, art, photos, social media, etc, and answer some questions. If you’ve already established your sound, what is the overall perception your fans have of your brand? Besides the music, what are some perceptions? In general, why do people perceive music to be great? Think of examples from the music you like. It’s not just a sound. There is more to it than that, right? What are you about? What feeling(s) do you want to put out into the world, and are you doing that consistently through your promo?
Dominate Your Scene ✅
If you're still working out your sound, keep this in mind. Dominate your scene. It’s tempting to write an album of songs that are all different and show the diverse influences and wide variety of music you can play. And part of marketing is dominating your space and being first in the mind of fans when it comes to whatever it is you’re the best at. It’s always better to have a distinct sound, and be the best at one style. You can be the sum of your influences. In some ways all musicians are that. But when creating a body of work for an album or a series of singles, stick to one style and do that style really well.
You’ve created some amazing songs ✅
Here's an actionable sequence that you can keep in your memory bank as you go:
5 Tips for Music Marketing
1. Focus on your band’s brand, and why it’s special.
2. Come up with cool and effective ways to get your message out there.
3. Really dial in what your band stands for and how you want it to be perceived.
4. Stay on message when promoting/marketing your brand to establish fan loyalty.
5. Rinse, Repeat, Repeat.
You Can’t Have Marketing Without Markets ✅
Whether you already have your target market figured out, or you are just beginning, you should understand why target markets or your target audience is important. As you develop your brand identity, keep this target audience in mind. Imagine that you’re constantly in a dialogue with these individuals. This will help keep your message consistent. Don’t worry about pigeon-holing yourself or alienating potential fans. In this early stage, you need a foothold, and a focus. You can’t fully control who will like your music, and even if you try to pinpoint a narrow segment, you’ll naturally reach well beyond it.
Finding Your Target Audience ✅
The easiest way to research your target audience is come up with a list of your top three artists that you respect, look up to, or want to emulate. If you go beyond three, your list and market will be too broad, so keep it to three. After you create your list, simply look at their social media followers profiles. Also read YouTube comments, iTunes and Amazon reviews, and message board comments. You’ll quickly get a feel for who your target audience is. Drill down into the things they like, their style and taste, what brands they like, how old they are, what gender, etc. You’ll begin to see trends. We study our audience so we know how to better target them.
Creating Original Unique Ideas ✅
Copying is NOT cool. Emulating is great. It means to equal or to excel. You should aim to exceed these artist’s accomplishments. Look at what these artists have done in your scene, and what they’re doing with marketing and best practices, but take those to another level. If you copy or follow what others do you’re just competing, and may be outdone. Nobody will be able to compete with you on original ideas. Come up with your own unique creative ideas constantly.
Market To Communities ✅
Your target audience and fans all hang out in various communities, so you need to identify them and become omnipresent within these communities. Think about what communities your brand fits into and make a list. I suggest using a Google Doc or Spreadsheet (They’re Free!). Examples of communities are blogs, magazines, clothing brands and retailers, charities, Reddit and Facebook groups, etc. Annual festivals and tours can be communities. Any place large groups of people in your target audience gather, is a community. Make your brand a force within these communities, and your fanbase will multiply.
Being omnipresent is something global brands like Coca Cola, McDonalds, and Nike strive for and there is no reason you can’t achieve this within your scene. It’s important to keep your marketing going 365 days a year. Change it up from time to time and constantly improve it. Leave it to the label, and you’ll lose sight of what’s best for your brand. This is not to say you should be confrontational with the label about your marketing. Be on the same page and show the label you have a strong brand identity. They’ll love that. They’ll know how to stay focused and add to it, but it’s your brand, and you are responsible for looking after it at all times. Use communities, PR, social media, live performances and partnerships to keep busy in the down part of each album cycle.
Get To Know Your Fans By Testing Them ✅
You can use your target audience to test things out and learn what music and activity has the best response. Polls get great engagement, and social media algorithms love them. The more you test things, the more you’ll learn how to put your best stuff out there.
In the beginning I want you to focus on targeting the group that makes up more than 40% of your followers. It will probably be a very specific group. For example: 16 to 19 year olds, male, skateboarding, video games, Vans shoes, etc. We want to test the majority of our audience because we are trying to get that foothold. If you cast too wide a net, the results will be cluttered. It’s never too late to research, target, and test your target audience. If you’re music is already out there, try to be more aware of the reactions to it, comments, or lack of reactions. Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
How To Deal With Negative Feedback ✅
When posting online, you will get negative comments. It’s human nature to focus on the one negative comment, even though you got 60 thumbs up. Don’t get upset and just be thankful for it. Or if the person is just being a troll, ignore it. But don’t ignore the off-handed remarks or specific reasons people don’t like it. You can learn a lot from these and apply the lessons going forward. Use negative feedback as fuel to drive you toward your goals, let it drive you to improve and show the haters who's king around here.
Are Family And Friends Good Sources of Feedback? ✅
Of course testing can be as simple as playing some home recordings for your friends, classmates, family and friends. It’s always good to see what different audiences outside of your target audience think about your music. But only do this for awareness, and as a control group representing the mainstream. Focus your brand on your target audience. Without getting too deep into the subject of fan psychology, just know that this is something to be aware of, and it’s as simple as always thinking like a fan. I’m sure you do this naturally, but always review your posts and emails before sending them, and take the fans point of view into mind.
Quick Tip: After you’ve started selling your music or merchandise try this. Chat your best customers and ask them what they want or like, what they don’t like. Don’t forget that new fan acquisition is a higher priority than this though. You want to use this information to obtain more of these top tier superfans.
Yes, Being An Artist Is A Team Sport… ✅
So be a good teammate and realize that a team means resources. Resources can give you the upper hand over other artists. Your team may include the friend that helps you load and sell merch or the people that criticize you and help you improve. Like a parent who gives you positive advice. It can also be a manager, agent, lawyer, street team, record label, publisher, or publicist. Even the fans are a part of your team. You probably already have some team members you don’t even know of.
Finally, think about what resources you already have ✅
Have a friend in the music industry, or in the media? You friends with a celebrity or social influencer? Maybe you work at a rental company like U-haul or Budget where you can get discounts on tour van rentals? You have a graphic designer in your family, or work at a print shop so you can get deals on printing? A friend works at an ad agency and can get you really cheap advertising rates? Ask yourself and all of the people on your team what resources do we have? There are a lot of things involved in marketing and promotion, so designate roles on the team and divide and concur.
Time To Take Action! ✅
Here a few bonus actionable steps that you can take right now:
1. Put the answers to these questions on a Google Doc and keep adding to them and take action.
◦ What is your current footprint (or how many fans do you have)?
◦ What has your band accomplished so far?
◦ Where are you target markets?
◦ What are your target media outlets?
◦ What are your target communities? You need to be everywhere, start engaging key communities.
2. Start acquiring more fans with your specific unique mission and branding in mind.
3. Work harder than the rest. More calls, emails, newsletters, social media, shows, blogs, interviews
Final Words ✅
There are no doubts necessary, there are no limits needed, there is mostly just work, lots and lots of work... and hopefully a bunch of fun too! Fun cannot be forgotten, it's why we're here, so enjoy! All the best with everything, I know you're gonna rock it!
Sincerely, Parker Thomas -- vokaal.com