You make great music, and you want people to hear it.
What’s more, you know that there’s an audience out there that would love the kind of music you’re creating.
So how do you find them? How do they find you? And what are the most effective and strategic modes of music marketing in the current climate?
If you’re a musician with talent who lacks the fanbase you deserve, these questions might keep you up at night.
Fortunately, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a post of the most important methods and strategies you should be utilizing right now for your music marketing.
And what’s great is that when you work smart (and hard!) it will leave you with more time to create and play more music. And that’s why you’re doing it in the first place, right?
Sound interesting? Keep reading to find out more.
Nice to E-Meet You
There are a ton of bands out there, so many places to discover them, and so many of them clamoring to be heard.
And while there’s no limit to how many bands a person can discover and listen to, there is a limited amount of time and bandwidth that each person has for music. So you need to be a skilled communicator first and foremost.
It will come as no surprise that the Internet is now the lifeblood of any band or musician.
But there are smart ways to use it, and more scattershot ways. You want to be in the first camp.
And if the Internet is the blood, then your email list is, say, the white blood cells! It’s what keeps your internet presence vital and healthy.
Start by deciding on the right email marketing provider. There are a bunch of great options, so mostly it will be about deciding which features and pricing plan works for you.
As long as you choose a service that has the basic features and is easy to interface with, you should be good to go.
How To Build Your List
So, the bigger question is in how to get people to actually sign up for your list.
One great tip is not to ask for too much information when people sign up. Resist the temptation to ask for favorite band, or mailing address, or t-shirt size. Just get the basics: their email address and zip code.
An optional field should be their phone number for text marketing. But many people will be hesitant to add their phone number to a list, so that field might end up blank pretty often.
Calls To Action
The most effective ways to get people to sign up for your mailing list is to ask! The term ‘call to action’ (CTA) is very common in marketing speak. And it’s no different in music marketing.
You need to give the opportunity (and clearly ask people to) sign up for your mailing list at every major interaction point with a fan or potential fan.
This means it should be front and center on your website. Use apps like SumoMe or Hello Bar to add that functionality to your site. Both apps create prominent CTA’s for people to sign up.
There should also be an option to sign up in the checkout page on your site. So if people buy merch or music, they’ll have the chance to stay in touch.
Your social media presence is no different. Make sure you have a CTA on your band’s Facebook page. It’s a matter of a few clicks. Hit “Create Call-to-Action” on the cover photo, and then choose a “Sign Up” button to add it to your page.
The Merch Table
The merch table is the classic location for music marketing. But just because we live in a digital world doesn’t mean the merch table is any less important.
People love the interaction that the merch table gives them. It makes them feel one step closer to the band. Plus if you are actually at the merch table after the show, they’ll feel even closer!
And there’s no better opportunity to do a little music marketing than when you have someone looking to interact and even buy from you.
Even if they decide not to part with their money that night, you can utilize the interaction to get them on your mailing list.
Have a sign-up sheet clearly visible. And don’t be afraid to ask them to sign up, even as they are browsing or chatting with the band.
Creative Gig Strategies
It’s easy to get caught up entirely in the online music marketing world, and forget that at its core, music is an interactive art form. People love seeing live music, and hopefully, you love playing it for them too.
It should go without saying, but always make sure you do your prep work before starting to gig, or getting back on the road after time off.
This means everything from rehearsing until you can play the songs in your sleep, to making sure the band is all on the same page about what type to shows you want to play.
And make sure you are good to go for all your equipment needs.
It can be tempting to want to get out there and only pay shows for money. But there’s value in playing shows for free, and it’s part of the process for many bands and musicians.
You just need to make sure you are getting other things out of the experience. If you might be playing in front of a bunch of new people, or there’s a brand you can potentially impress, it might be worth not getting paid on a given night.
If there are other bands on the show that you can build a relationship with, and even cross promote with, that can be very valuable down the road.
And there’s always inherent value in getting better from playing in front of people. While it’s nice to get paid while you do it, it can be freeing to gels as a band and as performers without the added pressure of a paid gig.
Speaking of other bands, it’s important to be aware of the established artists in your area. Do your research and find out which bands in town are doing well and sync up well with you, musically.
Facebook has a great recommendation feature where you can target one local band that’s doing well, and then when you like their page, it will suggest a bunch of other band pages.
You can click through to each of them and reach out with a message. And remember you can always unlike a band’s page and re-like it. Facebook will return a bunch of new recommendations!
Be Careful of Overexposure
As any new band will tell you, part of getting going is convincing friends, family, coworkers, etc to come to gigs. But keep in mind that it’s often a big deal for people to take a night out to come see you play.
So if you are asking people to come see you every other weekend, it can get old very quickly. Even for legit fans, there’s an upper limit to how often they’ll want to come see a band play.
Space out your gigs, and you’ll have a better chance to get more people each time! And that will, in turn, impress bookers at the clubs you want to keep playing.
Giveaways and Contests
Involvement promotes excitement. So get your fans involved by creating giveaways and contests for them to participate in.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of promoting goodwill by handing out something free at a show. Or have a giveaway of some merch or show tickets to one or two special fans online.
That could mean something as silly as having people suggests funny captions for the photos on your band’s photo page.
Remember how we talked about how playing too many gigs closer together makes each one less special? Well, this takes that idea in the opposite direction.
Try throwing a special concert, just for fans. Maybe it’s at a weird time. Maybe it’s at a weird location. Maybe you switch instruments for each song. Maybe you play it completely in the dark.
Use your imagination. If you can create an experience that people will remember for a long time, it’s worth more than many other music marketing strategies!
You can also take the ‘special’ factor to the next level by playing a game (online or in person) with your fans.
Have a local scavenger hunt where people have to use clues to find merch of yours, and the first to collect all of them gets a bigger prize.
Or something less involved but still fun, like having fans create silly parody lyrics of your songs. And you can pick your favorite and sing it at the next show.
Connecting with fans should be a priority, both at shows and in between them. It’s the personal connection that really helps build a fanbase these days.
Even getting their opinions online for which shirt looks better for tonight’s show, or which poster design is cooler, can be a great way to engage.
It might sound crazy to create something in an entirely different medium and focus it around anything but your band, but that’s exactly what you should do.
Podcasts are, in many ways, the new radio. Or at least a new alternative to them. So why not get in on the craze?
They allow you to get into fans’ ears on a weekly basis, creating a sense of intimacy that’s hard to match.
But here’s the catch: Unless you are a world-famous band, people don’t really want to hear a regular podcast on your music or the inner workings of your band.
So you need to get creative on what your podcast will be. Find something to center it around that you’re passionate about, but isn’t directly connected your band.
If it’s going to be music-centric, make it about the bands you love. Or the process of writing songs. Or crazy stories from the road. And invite other musicians on to tell their crazy stories.
Or you can steer clear of music, and pick a topic and hook that’s just interesting. And over the course of the podcast, you can use your music as the intro, outro and bumper music. And at the end, you can mention tour dates, etc.
Promoting on Social Media
It can be very tempting to utilize all the avenues of social media to constantly promote your band. But that can quickly start to get old for your fans and potential fans. Your Instagram shouldn’t be wall to wall band photos!
There are different strategies on the proper amount of self-promotion you should be doing.
One says that a third of your posts should be promotional. This includes mentioning upcoming gigs, releases, and news. The other two thirds should be focused on creating value for your fans and engaging them.
Usually, this means asking questions about them and their lives. Or telling them about a totally different band you just discovered. Or asking their advice on your setlist.
Another theory actually says you should make as little as 10% of your social media posts as self-promotions. The more you can point the spotlight onto others, the more respected you become as an arbiter of taste.
And when people come to you more and more for things they should look out for online, it helps build trust, as well as your brand.
Music Marketing Is Constantly Changing
Above all, remember that you have to be flexible with all your approaches. The music industry has changed drastically in the last 10 years and will continue to do so.
So be open to change in your music marketing strategies. Work hard, and work smart. Be kind to fans, to bookers, and to other bands.
If you have any questions or want more information, contact us today!