Things to Consider When Marketing your Music (2019 edition)

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Things to Consider When Marketing your Music




Introduction


If you’re a musician or singer songwriter and are interested in getting your music out there then getting involved in some promotion and marketing is going to be required. At the very least, you’re going to have to get your works on the Internet where people can hear them. but the sky is the limit if you want to go further and what I’m going to discuss here is just a small, but important, part of promotion and marketing.

Every few years I promote some of my music and each time I do I discover new developments that have come about, so, it’s important to qualify that I’m writing this in 2019 so things may well have changed if you’re reading this a year or so in to the future.

A lot of what I’ll be writing about in this comes from my experience of promoting my latest album, Dangerous Things, and how that experience developed over the months during that campaign.

You’ll often hear the word “free” in relation to help with marketing so right from the start I’ll be open. All of the information I’m offering you here is done so for free, however, if at any stage you’d like to make a donation to me, even if it’s just $1, then I would be very grateful. Outside of that I won’t be asking for any payments.

If this post has been useful for you, and you wish to pay me for my time and effort please use the paypal Donate button below to make a payment. Thank you.




Where are we Heading?

Over the last 30 years marketing music has changed significantly and in the last few years it seems to have changed dramatically. 30 years ago, if you didn’t have a record deal your options were very much limited, but then the Internet became a big part of many of our lives.

The internet offered ways to distribute music, have a 2-way involvement with fans, get media attention, and more direct ways to sell downloads and merchandise. BUT not so long ago people stopped buying CDs or downloads in the numbers required for musicians to garner a living by, and in place of CD sales came streaming services with the promise to musicians of big bucks if they could get millions of people to listen to their music.

So, this is where we find ourselves now. Musicians are now vying to get streams (plays of their songs on streaming services), and to gain some level of celebrity status which they can then monetarise via merchandise sales, membership groups, live gigs, media appearances, or advertising revenues via their platforms.

Marketing requires just as much artistry and technical know-how as producing music in the first place, so not surprisingly, many musicians try to do a bit, but then give up feeling somewhat of a failure when not much happens.

What I aim to show through this article is not so much a route to success, but a way of setting things up so you’re open to success and less likely to cause the failure yourself. Now, it will require quite a bit of work initially but once set up you’ll be able to follow a workflow that will integrate with your music making, and that to me, is a good way to work.

First Things First

You must have a product that is of a certain quality (This is a very relative value, but I think what I mean is that it must be good enough to be of interest to a big enough audience). What you may think is good enough might not be, and if that is the case, no matter how much you market your product it’s not going to get anywhere. Asking your friends and family to assess your work is not going to provide you with accurate feedback. Unfortunately, this subject area is a big one and not in the remit of this article, but just keep in mind that your songs / music must be recorded, mixed and mastered appropriately to your prospective audience, the graphics and writing that makes up its “packaging” online must work in terms of promotion too. So, take your time and get it right otherwise you’re wasting your time and money promoting it. And on the subject of money, it’s worth keeping in mind that big businesses allocate a lot of their budget to advertising, and that’s even for established quality products, so if you’ve got a budget it’s worth thinking about using a lot of it for promotion too. It’s an easy mistake to spend thousands on getting your product right only to find you can only afford a few hundred on marketing.

If you really don’t have any money to spend on marketing then there’s still a lot you can do but do keep in mind that your possibilities are somewhat limited. Even so, as we progress I’ll look at things that can be done from both perspectives, because of course, just throwing money at something won’t guarantee success either. There are a lot of contributing factors behind success and failure.



Keeping Playlists in Perspective

You’re going to hear a lot about getting your songs on playlists. Whilst it is important to try to get your music on playlists it’s worthwhile keeping in mind several things. The good side of being on a popular playlist is your song will be played more often and therefore you may receive some income from that. The downside is that those people who play your song are not likely to link up with you in any long terms meaningful way, as they might do if they connected with you on a social network or signed up to your email list. After all, they may listen to your song and like it, but whether they spend any time finding out who you are is unlikely as most people play a playlist whilst doing other things. The other issue is this, if your song is taken off a popular playlist then your income stream from it will end too, so it’s a precarious thing to rely on. So while it’s good to get on playlists don’t focus all your energies on doing so, instead try to slowly build up a following who are actually engaged with you and your music through multiple platforms.



Email Lists

I know email lists are important but personally I find them a bit difficult. Firstly, I feel like I’m being a bit pushy when I send out emails and secondly if one starts to get a big list then it will incur some ongoing costs. So, maybe sign up to Mailchimp.com and develop an email list but if you get a large following then assess whether it’s worth the monthly fee to keep it going. It’s an important platform that’s worth pursuing, but keep the return on investment in mind.



Aspirations

When it comes to thinking about what you’re aiming to get there are several ways to think about this. Obviously, there’s the fantasy version: Millions of sales, mass media coverage, a world-wide hit, and so on. In a way it’s good to get that out the way, but I would recommend also thinking about short and long term aims too. One might be involved with a genre of music where long term isn’t the appropriate approach, but for most artists having a long-term strategy is worth keeping in mind, in fact as we go on you’ll see that in many ways the current zeitgeist really does push artists towards a long term slow burn development rather than an instant success model. In the short term though it’s also worth thinking about what might be good for the long term plan  too. So, for instance, getting coverage on the radio, TV, in the print media, online magazines and on blogs and so on is both good for both the long and short term development of your profile. The more coverage you get then the more attractive you are for further coverage in the future (unless the gap between is so long no one remembers you).

So, maybe exercise number one should be that you write out your fantasy aims, then your realistic short and long term plans.

Here’s what I wrote out for mine:


Fantasy aspirations

Loads of blogs share my music, I get millions of streams, I earn a few hundred thousand pounds, pay off my mortgage and pay for the next album which everyone eagerly streams again, this time I earn millions of pounds, get on TV and radio, get a great record deal, and from then on I write songs whilst other people produce them for me. I then live happily ever after.


Realistic Short Term Aspirations

Sell 1,000 downloads and 300 CDs,

Get on radio

Get on TV

Get in magazines / blogs / print media

Add 1,000 fans to FB page

Get a few thousand shares of songs and videos

Get a few million advertisement impressions (appear on a million people’s social media via adverts)


Realistic Long Term (5 years) Objectives


Raise my profile further by appearing on TV / Radio and in articles, then later in the year release my autobiography followed shortly afterwards by another album (which is almost ready now). Then publish some other books which I’ve already prepared, followed by more music.

Once you have written out your aims you’re going to need to consider your tactics, in other words how you are going to try to achieve your aims. This is the bread and butter work that promotional agents can do in their sleep but for most people it’s a mystery. Although, many traditional promoters will do things differently, what we’ll be focusing on is what you can do via the Internet especially via social media. Traditional agents will probably focus on the mainstream media, street advertising, getting articles in national magazines and papers, getting their artists on TV and radio shows too, but for many people those routes are full of barriers because those systems really are part of a commercial machine. Not surprisingly many media and record companies are connected. You can’t blame a record company for buying up a TV station and then using it to promote their artists. It’s the way of the world and it’s not worth getting upset about. At least there are other avenues available now, although one could argue that even in the streaming media world, major companies weald a fair amount of power via ownership.

If you’re not too disheartened (and don’t be) then it’s time to start looking at the smaller pictures. But before I do, I think it’s worth looking a little at the why, before we look at the how.


Why?

Have you ever heard a song, seen a picture, watched a film, read a book, indeed been touched by any art that changed your life or if not your life, your mood or the way you think? If so, then that is the gift of art. You might think that you have a gift but to me your gift is for others just as much as yourself. So, it’s kind of your responsibility to get your work out there in to the world so it can interact with people and do its thing. If you don’t share it then you’re wasting an opportunity to affect others (maybe for good or bad). Therefore, if you want your work to be imbued by this kind of meaning then you need to help get it out there. That to me is the why.


Strategies

Once I decided on my short term aims I had to work out the main strategies. Here’s what I wrote:


Main Strategy:


Get some reviews.

Create content / especially videos and try to get followers to share free content

What can I focus on to get attention, to make me more interesting from the other artists vying for attention? Focus on the idea that what I am doing is the beginning of automation in music. Through that try to get invited on to current affairs programs or technology programs such as BBC click.

You probably noticed, there wasn’t much detail in that bit. When it comes to strategies there tends not to be. It’s the tactics that have all the details in.

So, before I set out on my marketing campaign I wrote out a checklist of tactics. This would not be all of them but it was a starting point. Here’s what I came up with.



The Funnel

You may have heard of the funnel strategy, if not it’s basically a system that aims to draw your followers towards certain points that will lead to an objective. That might be buying your album, joining your membership scheme, or it might not be buying anything at all but instead developing the relationship between you and your followers. Normally this is quite an art and will require some effort and time not just learning but putting in to practice. It’s definitely worth considering especially if you want to get in to marketing to a greater degree. There are quite a few courses in this field, I can’t really recommend any but via a quick search I found this site that is worth checking out as they offer a lot of free content as well as a paid for course (costing just under $200) that seems to go through the process step by step in a lot of detail. https://www.musicmarketingmanifesto.com/

It’s worth doing your homework, maybe find courses on music marketing and then check for reviews of the courses before signing up to them. I did one in 2011 and it helped me a lot, and whilst I’m still not a millionaire I did manage to increase my fanbase to over 120,000 followers partly because of what I learnt from it.


Main tactics:

Initial main tactics:

  • Create a release date 3 months ahead of any promotional campaigns as many media outlets take ages to do anything with your release.
  • Put songs on Soundcloud for private viewing only.
  • Create CD package.
  • Create videos for some of the songs on the album.
  • Create some articles and video content.
  • Get promo shots done.
  • Research bloggers and playlists, link with them, engage.
  • Contact writers and blogs to get some coverage.
  • Contact higher level media outlets.
  • Read articles on current marketing trends.
  • Find, Newspaper, magazines and websites that might be interested.
  • After Release, post a free song per week on social media and ask people to buy the album.
  • Sign up to Apple and Spotify for Artists.
  • Study Branding if you don’t know much about it.
  • Make sure you have a presence on all the major social networks: Facebook, Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Because those points are so vague they could probably be seen more as strategies than tactics, there’s a bit of a blurry area between them sometimes.

So, it’s at this point that we shall delve in to the tactics in more depth, however, we will have to revisit the strategies later. In fact, there were strategies I was going to become aware of which hadn’t even crossed my mind at the start of the campaign. I’ll tell you more later.

If you’ve created your music album (we’ll talk about singles later), you can post it privately on Soundcloud so that reviewers can hear it before release. You’ll be tempted to release it as soon as possible, but don’t. Give it its best chance by holding back whilst you get your campaign up and running. Also, put together supporting media such as promo shots and maybe write up an article that you’d like to have written and use that in your press pack as lots of media outlets will want to just cut and paste what you show them to save them the work of writing something up. There are article writing services available as well as some reviewers who will take a small fee to come up with copy that you can use in your press pack.

If you have a website or a blog you can create an Electronic Press Pack (EPK) which you can change during your campaign as you get more coverage, I would seriously avoid creating any paper based press releases nowadays. If you get someone who only accepts printed press packs then print one up for them, but I can’t remember when I last had to produce a printed one. If they demand one, tell them you’ll tell Extinction Rebellion about them if they don’t go electronic.


The EPK

Your electronic press kit (EPK) is going to be very important. If you have a website, you can add content to it as more becomes available (e.g. Reviews and media coverage). An EPK should include:

  • Title including that it’s the EPK for ……
  • Create a very interesting introduction, one that will intrigue the reader and make them want to read more. On my one I asked if they could tell the difference between music made by virtual musicians and real ones.
  • Release Date
  • Album cover Photo
  • Short Press Release
  • Further information links
  • Label type
  • Genre
  • Sounds Like list
  • Influences list
  • Links to music or a music player
  • Videos
  • Short and / or Long Biography
  • 3rd party articles and / or reviews
  • Links to media coverage
  • Photo gallery with links to high resolution images
  • Online links to social media and streaming services
  • Contact details

You can see my one here: http://www.simonmarksmith.com/dangerous-things-epk/

Once the EPK is in place you might think you can start contacting the media, but before you do that you need to get a few other things set up first. Remember also to keep updating the press pack and press release throughout the campaign.

So, what else do you need to do?

Make sure you are set to distribute digitally on a certain date and if you can’t be sure your music won’t be released on that date, then hold off clicking the finalise button until you get close to you chosen date.

If you already have music on Spotify and Apple Music then you need to sign up to their Artist’s program so you can have further control of your artist’s page on their platform. For instance, you can write an about section on Spotify, add images, notify fans of upcoming events, available merchandise, add playlists of your own music and music you like (with your own tracks included) and get useful statistical information about your listeners. Because these systems tend to change it might be better to do a search for Spotify for Artists, and Apple Artists to work out how to sign up and link your personal accounts on those platforms with your artist’s ones. Here are the current links though.

https://artists.spotify.com/

https://artists.apple.com/



Branding

It’s also very important to have some understanding about branding, and by this I don’t mean just your logo, but really your fans, your own values, and the overlap between their core values and your own, as well as other information about the type of people who like your music. This is a must as it will help you choose who to contact with regards promoting your work. Just do a search online about branding to find out more.

If you are going to be selling anything, be it CDs, or other merchandise then get the sales pages set up before you contact media as they may well want to check what you are selling is legitimate, plus you don’t want to have a rush of interested fans who can’t actually buy anything.

Social Networks

Even if you’re not keen on using social networks it’s important to create accounts on all the major ones with at the very least a link to where people can buy or stream your music and some contact details but preferably with some content on too. Make it easy for people to hear your best songs, make them want to connect with you and find out more.

I tend to focus on using Facebook which has some drawbacks, mainly it’s not the best platform to share your content on as such a low percentage of your followers will see any of your posts without you having to pay something towards advertising. But it’s a good platform to develop deeper relationships with your followers. Twitter is more fleeting but you might get more people seeing something you post, Instagram is similar to Twitter except it’s more about images, YouTube is good for long term (AKA Long Tail) slow burn exposure, unless you “get lucky” with a viral video then you might get millions of views. While I remember, if your digital distributor offers an option to monetise your videos on YouTube, switch it off as it will stop people sharing your videos as much, and given the amount you’ll get for monetisation of your music is normally tiny on YouTube, it’s not normally worth it, unless you start to get millions of views, in which case switch it on during the viral period.

If you’re not using social networks then you should seriously think about doing so. It’s not so much that they will suddenly gain you lots of followers or sales, but they will allow you to share your music with others whilst at the same time bring you in to a sphere where you can interact with people who appreciate your music, which adds another meaningful dimension to your creativity. Pink Floyd had written the album The Wall partly because they felt there was a barrier between themselves and their audience which further exaggerated their own sense of isolation, now with social networks you can gain a feeling of connection with others.

If you’re worried about it taking over time wise, then try to weave it between things rather than making chunks of time available when you deal with it as a chore. Also, if you’re not sure where to start look for tutorials on YouTube or if you can afford to pay to learn then research online courses.

Lastly, some social networks appeal more to certain age groups than others, so, bear that in mind when choosing to focus on one in particular. If you’re music is very current then you might find Instagram more appropriate, whereas if it’s a bit more “retro” (in other words doesn’t sound like any artists who’ve had a hit in the last 5 years) then maybe focus more on Facebook and Twitter.

Uh Oh… I’ve got something important to tell you

This was one of the developments I came across.

Up until recently many music artists have been following a marketing model that has its roots in the past, but now there’s a different way to think about it, I mean, about it all.

So, in the past most artists wrote a load of songs, recorded, mixed and mastered them, created an album and released a few tracks as singles, then released the album to a fanfare, promoted the album, did a tour, had a break then started all over again. Well forget that, especially if you’re not signed and not part of the big commercial mainstream machine. Of course, if that’s working for you then forget the bit where I said “forget that”…. just carry on, but…

This is the new model.

Write a song, mix, master and digitally distribute it so that it goes out to Spotify, Apple, et al. Then create a bit of a stir on social media, try to get it on playlists, reviewed and then the next month or so (when your next song is ready), repeat as above. If you want, after releasing 3 or 4 songs, when you get to the next one release them together as an EP and once again go through the same promotional process. This way you are continually keeping yourself in the minds of your fans. Once you’ve got 10 to 12 songs ready, master them and release them as an album (maybe with 2 or 3 new tracks that you haven’t released previously). A good reason to release an album is mainstream media companies prefer to interview you or feature your work when there is a new substantial release, so an album will give you a good excuse to get some extra attention, even if it is not being released as a CD.

Part of the reason for using this multiple release process is Spotify will only look at putting one song per release on its new release type playlists, so this maximises the chances of getting on one, which may get you some extra followers, listeners and exposure.

What I’ve been thinking is that maybe it’d be worth using one of the digital distribution services that charge an annual fee for the singles (such as Distrokid) and a one-off fee service such as CDbaby for the albums, but I’m not sure if that might cause some complications. The problem with the annual fee services is (I think) that once you stop paying the fee your music will get pulled from the digital distribution companies, so after you’ve left your mortal coil and can’t pay the fees anymore your legacy will disappear too. I’m not sure of the longevity of the one-off fee companies either, but it’s something to bear in mind if leaving a legacy is important to you.

For me, this whole change in approach seems better. Up until recently I’ve spent a couple of years on each album, but from now on I’ll be working on the regular release model. It’s definitely worth thinking about.

Digital Distribution companies to check out:

Please do a search for digital distributors as I can’t guarantee these are the best:

http://www.CDbaby.com One off payment for each release

https://distrokid.com/ yearly subscription for unlimited releases

https://amuse.io/ Amuse (never used them but they offer free distribution. Check them out properly before signing up though)

Take care to check out if the companies require exclusivity, especially if that might be an issue for you.

Here’s an article about some of the companies.

https://financesonline.com/best-music-distribution-services-companies/

Who you gonna call?

I used to spend a lot of money buying music directories and wading through them to find the appropriate media people to contact when trying to get interviews and reviews. There are still directories available and they may be useful but even without them you can find people to contact.

The first obvious route is to do searches for blogs, magazines, newspaper reviewers, radio and TV programs that feature your genre of music, then once you find them go through the programs to find who plays similar music and might be sympathetic to your work. Once you find them you could send an email with a message that shows you’ve listened, read or seen their program, and think that your work might be of interest to them. You may get a reply but I think it might be at a ratio of 100:1, so don’t get your hopes up.

What might be more worthwhile doing is working out which ones have a medium sized audience, if it’s just 30 listeners is it worth all the effort? But if they have 100,000 will they even notice you? But let’s say they have a few thousand in their audience then that’s probably worth it and they may well be interested in interviewing you too. BUT even then, sending them a direct email is still unlikely to get you anywhere. Instead why not find them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and try to link up with them on there. Again, don’t send them a direct message, but interact with their posts every now and again, never be pushy or post links to your stuff on their posts, instead, just slowly build up a repertoire with them. If you can, then be as genuine as possible. If you don’t click with each other then maybe just move on but keep connected with them, you never know what the future might bring.

If you’re releasing a song every month or two they’ll probably have a listen at some point and slowly you’ll become part of their world. Once you’ve done that, you might find that a direct message after a few years of being connected might get a response. You might even find they comment on one of your songs and that could be a let in to ask them if they’d like to do an interview, they might even ask you first.

As you can see this is a long game, but there are some quick-fire roots worth looking at too.

Submithub

Submit hub is a website that will allow you to make contact directly with blog writers, playlist curators and record labels directly, albeit for a small fee (a dollar or two) each time. When I first came across them I was not only sceptical but I felt resentful. It felt like a con. But on further reflection I saw it a bit differently. First of all, it acts as a music directory for free. So, you can put in what type of music you’re creating and a list of blogs, labels and curators will come up, who you can then check out in more detail to see if your music really is a match for them. You can then upload one of your tracks to the site and submit it those parties you think might be interested in it. You’ll have options to request feedback, but I’d say set it to feedback not being very important, that way they tend to listen longer (it tells you how long they played a track for) and by doing so they will often leave feedback anyway.

Once again this is a way to build up relationships with these bloggers and curators, because in time they will get to know you, especially if you submit songs to them occasionally. Because I used to send out discs to people I feel that $1 or $2 to actually get a song listened to is not bad. But do make sure you check out anyone you send your songs to in depth otherwise you might be just wasting your money. A lot of them have very low acceptance rates, but at least you know they had a listen.

On my rounds of finding short cuts to get on playlists I kept on coming across websites where they asked for permissions regarding one’s Spotify account. I wouldn’t ever consider doing such a thing and certainly recommend you do not either.

Whilst they state “Connecting to Spotify is used for verification only. By clicking this button you agree to provide your email and name for Indiemono to use for marketing purposes. You can opt-out at any time.” I wouldn’t take the risk.

Useful videos about Submithub, and contacting playlist curators



Chartmetric

Chartmetric is a website that offers certain free tools that can be very useful when you’re trying to find Spotify curators who have playlists with similar music in to yours. I can’t easily go through the process of how to do this myself here, but I’ll post some links to videos that can do just that at the end of this section.

I tend to use this technique every now and again and it’s definitely worth getting it under your belt as a useful resource. By the way unless you’ve got money to burn don’t  bother even looking at the Chartmetric paid for service, it’ll probably make your eyes bleed.

As you start to find your way around Spotify and its playlists you’ll begin to get an idea how it might be useful for you. Every song you write may well have the potential to appeal to different audiences so just looking at genres might be a bit too limiting. For instance, you may create a song that is great to exercise to, whilst another you create might be good for a marriage ceremony, so thinking outside the box is a good way to approach this area.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Do some searches with keywords that fit your genre and musical style.  
  • And then, start compiling some of the best fits into a spreadsheet.

Include the playlist name, a link, the follower count, the owner, and any contact info you can find. It isn’t too difficult to get in touch with Spotify playlist curators since most link up their accounts to Facebook.

I’ll post a link to a spreadsheet I use in the resources section



Pitching Your Songs to Independent Spotify Playlist Owners

Of course once you find a playlist that you think might be a good match for your song then you’ve got to try to contact the curator and persuade them to add it.

It’s not always easy to contact curators directly from Spotify, but you can use information in Spotify to do a bit of detective work.

So go to Spotify

Write something in the search field e.g. Driving Music

Then find the “See all” link near the word “Playlist” – A list of playlists should appear.

Scroll down and click on one of the playlists (check the follower amounts as some might be too small and some too big)

One you click on the playlist you’ll see who it’s created by

Click on their name and you’ll go to a page with more details about them

You can try a few things from that point, such as copying their name then searching for them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Google etc…

Be careful NOT to Direct message them at this point but instead see if you can link up with them and then give it sometime, maybe even months to see if any engagement occurs organically.

Sometimes though a curator may have some kind of invitation to submit songs to them, often with a link to Submithub. In that case, you can fast track your application if you wish.

If you do end up getting in to a dialogue with them, then compliment their playlist, and maybe suggest a song or two (not your own) that you think would fit. Pitch your music only after you get an authentic dialog going. Remember, they are people too with their own agendas, so treat them with respect. Also, keep in mind that someone with a playlist with a few thousand listeners will be much more open to you than someone who has hundreds of thousands of followers. Once you get a successful track record you can start moving up. It’s worth bearing in mind too that playlist owners are always looking out for new tracks to include. So it’s likely that if you get some placements on other playlists, you may very well get included on others.

Spotify is not the only music streaming service but it’s probably worth focusing on it at first while you find your feet then start looking at the other services such as Apple Music, Amazon, Topsify, Digster, Filtr, Reverbnation, Deezer… as time goes on it’s worth trying to find as many other companies as you think you can handle.

There’s nothing stopping you from creating your own playlists too, if you strike the right chord you might end up with millions of followers too. It goes without saying that you could create playlists of your own music but you should also include creating playlists based around a theme in which you include a few of your own tracks within a selection of other peoples’. If you do that it’s worth modifying it at least once a month and trying not to have too many tracks by one artist. I was told that Spotify are more likely to list playlists that follow those rules but that might just be BS.

Whilst we have been focusing on Spotify in the pre-release section of this article it’s probably more realistic to think of Spotify as a continual promotional tool, so for pre-release and afterwards, it should be part of your weekly routine.

Whichever streaming service you focus on it’s a good idea to create banners for your social networks which have a call to action to follow you on Spotify or whichever one streaming service you prefer. You can see mine at

https://www.facebook.com/Simonmarksmith.

By having a banner with a call to action on you are continually reminding your followers to check you out or follow you on that streaming platform. Likewise creating links to your artist’s streaming page on every blog you write, or under any video you put on line, on your website, your Facebook page, on Instagram and so on, over time people will start to follow you if you ask them to. After three, four, or a hundred times, they’ll get the message… oh, if you have an email list…. You know… include the call to action on your emails too.

Refresh and update

If you have a website start to incorporate pages about your upcoming album, including preparing sales pages and information about the album or singles. I also paid £20 for a year of having a smart link via Hearnow, it’s a convenient and nice looking page that acts as a central hub for your album. https://hearnow.com/ . If you already have social networks set-up then start incorporating or posting information about your upcoming release. Especially ones like YouTube, make sure your videos relating to the album are positioned on your channel in an appropriate way.

Backing tracks, instrumental and karaoke

Before releasing your work it’s worth considering making mixes of your songs without the main vocals on and versions with no vocals or backing either as the non-vocal ones may be useful as backing tracks, not just for live performances but maybe some media situations, and the completely instrumental ones can be useful for use on films and TV. If you think your music might suit that then approaching music libraries might be worth considering. You might also want to create some karaoke versions of some of your songs on YouTube or Smule (more about Smule later)


The Next Level

During your 2 or 3 months of marketing before the album’s release you will hopefully have managed to get some coverage on your local radio, papers, and possibly TV, you may also have got one or two tracks reviewed by some music bloggers, and hopefully got on a few playlists. It might not seem that big to have only got that far, but by doing this you’ve laid the ground work for going for higher level platforms, and other media. Especially if you’re thinking of releasing another album in a year or so.

Even if you haven’t got any coverage it’s worth thinking about the next level, especially if you have something that’s of interest within your branding. (WARNING: Linking up with a charity gets used a lot so maybe avoid that unless you really do have a fascinating link with it)

If you look at what other artists do to get attention you can start to see how it works. If you’re going to try to get on national TV, radio or in the papers then you need to come up with a great idea. Maybe note down any ideas you get, or ones you like when you see others’ ideas in action. History is full of publicity stunts, so keep an eye out for variations you can use.


Release Day

Hopefully you’ve created a bit of a buzz. It’s now time to release the album.

On the day of release it’s worth having a bit of a fanfare (literally), maybe hold a party in which you perform a couple of songs, invite loads of people, spend a bit of money on food and drink, make it entertaining, (maybe invite other acts and their supporters too). The main aim is to create a bit of a buzz and a positive association to you. If you can’t hold a party how about doing something live on Facebook or YouTube, or release your latest video.  Try to do something to mark the occasion.

Other things to help create a buzz.

Whilst approaching the release date it’s worth filling the void with useful pursuits such as creating videos and populating social media with tantalising content. This is something to pursue after the release date too.


Videos

Videos are often the best form of introduction for someone who’s never heard of you before and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. It just has to be interesting, not just to your fans, making it interesting to people generally will bring new fans to you too. Sometimes content designed just for fans is good too, but keep both types as options. Often or not, smartphone videos often out-perform slick ones on Facebook.

Also, consider uploading your videos directly to Facebook, rather than posting a link to a video you put on YouTube as it will deliver significantly more reach, so unless you’re specifically building a Youtube channel, upload your videos to both YouTube and Facebook.

There are so many ways in which you can utilise videos, so keep note of what other people do and any ideas that spring to mind.  An exciting, interesting and original music video has the potential to go viral online, even if the track isn’t a hit.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to creating a video for your latest release. Traditionally, though, you could play a live session on Facebook; take requests or test new tracks. Engaging with your fans directly about your music will create a sense of personal investment between you and those involved. You can also give people a behind-the-scenes look at your recording process, rehearsals, anything your band is up to that might be interesting to anyone who has liked for your page. You could even do monthly live online concerts taking cover requests from fans and sneaking in a few of the new songs. The fans who get their requests sung will probably be more inclined to share the video too.

When you do create video content always remember to put a link to any songs featured in it, and just as with an image, watermark the video in a corner maybe, so that people can find you if they view it. Likewise, always put links to videos with any songs or images from videos posted anywhere. For instance, putting interesting stills from the video (or screenshots) on to Instagram tends to draw people to the video it came from. This process of putting links from content to social media pages or websites is known as cross linking, and is worth the extra few minutes it takes when posting something. Keep in mind that everything you post, every page you make, every link you post should do a job for you…. In other words, there should always be a purpose that gently leads those engaging with it towards an end goal, such as connecting to you on a social media platform or maybe just buying something. Without cross linking that will be much harder to achieve. So everything you post should always have a link to your platform with it.

Once you’ve posted your videos it’s often worth paying to advertise them. The reason why I say this is not so much about getting people to watch the videos but just to get the name of your act in to people’s minds, especially on a few hundred thousand people’s Facebook pages who might not click on the link but subconsciously see your name on their page in the advert so in that way you become more established.

If you have an email list maybe send out an email about the video, adding an interesting side story might make people watch it and share it.

Videos often make getting your music reviewed or added to other people’s blogs a whole lot more likely, so it’s worth making videos if you can. If you make a good video then often you can share it in related forums, for instance I had included bits of art created with a certain piece of software in one video, so I had a good excuse to share it in a forum for users of that app. Every little helps! Here’s a link to that video in case you’re curious


Videos also lend weight to your credibility so when approaching media outlets, a good video may well help develop a sense of trust in terms of your professionality, unless your video is rubbish of course.

Whilst YouTube is the main video social media platform there are others worth posting to too such as Vimeo, Taz, and loads of others, but maybe just focus on one or two to keep your workload down.

I posted a few videos on Smule. Smule is a karaoke site where people including celebrities post videos of themselves singing along to backing tracks. People can then come along and sing duets or solos on those tracks. If you think your fans might want to come and sing a duet with you then that might be a good way to create a bit more engagement. Or, they might just want to see you making a fool of yourself, as I did in the one below.

Here’s one I did with James Blunt… excuse the out of tune signing.


If you perform live, then you can also make a promotional video for each show or tour you do. That way fans can relive the gig they attended or just enjoy what they missed. Don’t forget to always post your event dates and music available online in as many places as possible. Some artists sell recordings of each concert on a branded usb memory stick, that might be a way to make a bit of money if you have large enough audiences.



MAKE STORIES WITH YOUR MUSIC

Both Facebook and Instagram have made “Stories” available. This allows you to post content that will only be available for 24 hours. I’m not sure how the limited time aspect will help much accept to make something more precious because of its short life span, but if you think it might be of use then you can find out more here:


REPURPOSE YOUR COVER ART

Your album or promotional artwork can be used within your web design; social posts; merchandise items like t-shirts, mugs, and posters; and much more. Thus, becoming a part of your branding or “house style” Try to think out of the box in order to put you artwork to extra use. Maybe a cheeky line from one of your songs might look good on some underwear.

Create a Twitter campaign

If you have a largish Twitter Following it might be worth devising a campaign in which you aim to get a lot of engagement and maybe even asking your followers to help promote you, for which they will get some kind of reward (free downloads won’t probably cut the mustard). Here’s something I did. I asked my followers to send a video in which they sang along to one of my songs, which I then included in the music video.

How about offering to include fans videos in your next music video  if they send in a video of them doing really cool dance moves to your song in a fantastic location. There’ll be instant promotional potential because all those included will be sharing the video.



Create an Inner Circle Group on Facebook

Whilst pages are very useful on Facebook it’s also worth having a secret group which you only add dedicated followers to. You can have much more interaction them and this will bring about a deeper real connection between you all. You can also test new songs, album graphics and other ideas and get genuine feedback.

Consider Making a Series of Graphics with your Lyrics on

Do you have some powerful lines in your songs, if so why not put the words next to a graphic and see if people share it? Don’t forget to put a link and name with it so people can find you. All the major social networks will be good platforms to share these on, especially Instagram and Pinterest.



Advertising

I have over 120,000 followers on Facebook but if I post something maybe only 200 people will see it and 20 will react in some way. However, if I advertise, even just for a few $ then I will not only get a much higher reaction ratio but the adverts will appear on many thousands of people’s pages thus getting me some very cheap exposure.

The other thing to consider when advertising is, do you want to just get people to “like” your post, or do you want them to click on something and interact with it in a different way? The whole advertising thing is a complicated area and is worth your while reading up on, however one thing I would say is set your costs low and see if that gives you a good enough response. If Facebook suggests $10 for 3 days, I’d probably do $2 in total over two days. Most musicians aren’t selling a particular product, they are the product! And that requires the cultivation of building oneself up as a brand so that people will then come to you because of your celebrity. It’s the same with paintings, the same image is worth a lot more if it was made by a famous artist.

It’s very easy to just click on the Boost button on Facebook when you post something, and that’s all very well if you want to get a few more likes or views of what you’ve posted but getting to understand the ad manager in Facebook may well get you far better results. This is a big subject but worth getting some tuition about on YouTube or via a search. For musicians, it’s a bit more difficult because our main product (our music) is no longer what sells, in fact we pretty much have to give that away in order to connect to our audience, and then either sell it again as a physical collector’s piece later, sell merchandise, sell tickets to performances or get money because of our “celebrity”, possibly via paid for media appearances or advertising. If you’re a cool brand you could advertise cool clothing, or if you’re seen as knowledgeable and trustworthy then your approval of a product may be worth paying for to a manufacturer.  Think of those famous people you see advertising “Masterclasses” online, that’s exactly the kind of thing I mean.

There are many ways you can advertise and on many different platforms, so always keep it in mind as an option if you need to push something a little, even if it’s just your own profile for the long game.

INSTALL YOUR FACEBOOK PIXEL

I am not that knowledgeable when it comes to Facebook Pixel so I can’t advise you much on that, however, if you can use it then do so. I’m not sure why but all those in the know say to do so, so it must be good!



AFTER DISTRIBUTION

There might be a lot of waiting around during both the run up to the release and afterwards, unless of course stardom has come to you in sudden big jolt. But for most of us the period of promotion is a bit laborious. I personally would much rather be writing and recording songs, but marketing is a must, so one must plod on.

There is also a limit to how much you can push a new album, after a while it will get tiresome to keep hammering the world about it, so maybe push it hard for a week then let it gradually go down a few gears over the ensuing weeks.

This is probably why the new model of marketing has become more popular, instead of telling everyone about your album for a few weeks every few years, now you can tell them about your new song every month or so. Also, the strain of promoting an album can be dispersed to a weekly routine.

Luxury

Have you noticed how the words luxury and deluxe are now used a lot when it comes to selling things? Luxury care home, luxury apartments, deluxe sofas. You may also have noticed Deluxe edition albums, or Limited edition CD packs and so on. Well if you can’t beat them, join them. Why not create a luxury bundle of your CDs including a limited edition numbered and certified CD of your latest album, maybe include something special like the original artwork framed and offer it for sale for $500. I included some art work with a few limited-edition CD packs and they sold for over $100 each. (http://www.simonmarksmith.com/dangerous-things-signed-cd/)



During the Quiet Times

There are plenty of things you can do during the quiet times such as add some of your songs to other music platforms like Myspace, create karaoke versions for YouTube, research radio stations online and have a good listen to some of the shows to see if you can find a way in.

As you contact bloggers, radio stations, curators and so on it’s worth keeping a record of who you’ve contacted and what happened. I will link a spreadsheet you can use and modify for your own needs at the end of this.

Just as you accept you have to mix your music maybe start getting in to a routine when you finish a song (well at least you think it’s ready for release), why not look to get it reviewed, think about which curators might like it and submit it to a few on Submithub, maybe contact your local radio station and see if they have a new music slot, maybe they’ll give you an interview or let you play the song live. Also, keep in mind that college radio, web radio stations may well be interested in premiering a song for you, especially if you can show a link to them. For instance, maybe it’s about an experience you had in their town.



Agents and Record Labels

If you start to make money then it might be worth contacting an agent who deals with similar type artists to you or who want to, because it’s their job to help make you more popular and get you paying gigs. And if you’re looking to get signed, agents are a huge asset because they have connections within the industry. If you’re looking to get signed then it’s an agent’s job to negotiate for you, especially as most of the larger labels don’t accept unsolicited demos, whereas an agent can get your foot in the door. Also, if they specialise in getting gigs then an agent might be worth the cost. Of course, a lot of people aren’t focused on getting a record deal but a record label can help take care of promoting your music and selling records, which will take some of the pressure off you. But this is a complicated area full of pitfalls so I won’t spend much time on it, only to say that if things are getting too big for you to handle, then maybe reach out for help via an agent or maybe a record deal.

There are some digital record labels and net-labels such as 8Bitpeoples and Monstercat and there are some digital distributors who also offer record deals to acts they like, so it might be worth looking them up too.



Conclusion

As you can see there is a lot you can do to help yourself get media attention and market your work, of course it doesn’t mean you’ll get much success but at least you can give it your best shot. You can also see that marketing requires a lot of commitment so if you aren’t able to do it all maybe focus on what you can do, and if possible try to get some help, either from professionals or from supporters who are able to do things correctly.

Creating a routine will help keep things bobbing along so try to keep things in perspective and dedicate a few hours every week to promotion, I often find that breaking out of the music making schedule helps give me a fresh approach to the music when I come back to it, so one doesn’t have to see it as the enemy. It’s a bit like having a break whilst you backup your data, you do back up your data don’t you 😉

Don’t forget if this has helped you and you’re willing to send me some money for my time and efforts here then please use the donate button below. I was just thinking that one could argue that if what I’ve proposed above was so good then I wouldn’t be asking for money. The idea that success is only measured in acquiring great wealth and fame, is somewhat skewed. The downside of this idea is that most people will not get to be that successful but that doesn’t mean that they are all unsuccessful. It’s a very rigid way of seeing things that judges people so harshly. For most artists, the drive that keeps them creating is the creative process itself, so to feel degraded because they are not the best, or commercially extremely successful does a lot of harm to many people’s self-esteem. You could say the same for people in many other realms too. So, to me, I see promotion not just about commercial success but also about giving our works a springboard in to the world where who knows what effect they’ll have. Our talent creates gifts for others. Gifts that may be received in ways we may never be aware of, just as those artists whose works moved us were unaware of their effect on us too.




Please find below a list of things covered above plus other resources. I hope this has been of help.

Thank you

Simon Mark Smith

Please like my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Simonmarksmith



List of things to consider doing

  1. Set a budget, or at least think about how much you are willing to spend on promotion
  2. Make a list of your fantasy aspirations and rwalistic aspiration both for the short and long term
  3. Create a list of mission objectives
  4. Work out your main strategy
  5. Work out main tactics
  6. Create a release date 3 months ahead of any promotional campaigns as many media outlets take ages to do anything with you release.
  7. Create some articles and video content.
  8. Get promo shots done.
  9. Create an EPK
  10. Sign up to Spotify for Artists and Apple Artists
  11. Put songs on Soundcloud for private viewing only.
  12. Create a call to action in your social network banners
  13. Start creating a list of contacts – use the attached spreadsheet or create your own
  14. Create an account with Submithub
  15. Sign up to the free version of Chartmetric
  16. Start contacting playlist curators
  17. Incorporate your new album in to your website
  18. Consider using Hearnow.com as a centralised smart looking webpage as well as your own one.
  19. Organise your YouTube Channel
  20. Make mp3 versions of your album songs
  21. Make backing track and instrumental versions of your new album’s songs
  22. Consider creating karaoke videos of some of your songs
  23. Consider contacting music libraries
  24. Study Branding if you don’t know much about it.
  25. Read articles on current marketing trends.
  26. Make sure you have a presence on all the major social networks: Facebook, Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter
  27. Contact local papers, radio and TV stations
  28. Start to research and contact for national radio programs that might play your music
  29. Create videos for some of your new album’s songs
  30. Post videos to multiple platforms
  31. Create merchandise, use album art work, don’t buy too much!
  32. Create memes with your lyrics and graphics
  33. Create social media campaigns and do some advertising
  34. Create and utilise a secret group for your favourite fans
  35. Learn about advertising
  36. Learn about Facebook Pixel
  37. Create deluxe edition CD packs
  38. Create karaoke video versions of your songs and put them on YouTube
  39. Research bloggers and playlists, link with them, engage.
  40. Contact writers and blogs to get some coverage.
  41. Contact higher level media outlets.
  42. Find, Newspaper, magazines and websites that might be interested.
  43. After Release, post a free song per week on social media and ask people to buy the album.
  44. Do you need an agent or a record deal?
  45. Start to get in to a regular routine whenever a song is ready for release



List of ongoing things to consider doing

  1. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of what you’ve been up to
  2. Every new single should be submitted for review and playlist consideration
  3. Use Chartmetric and Submithub to find curators who may like your music
  4. Build up relationships via social media with media personnel including radio DJ’s, playlist curators, music bloggers, music libraries, Music TV presenters, journalists.
  5. Study social network marketing and keep your eye out for developments in practice. Also study branding.
  6. Use your secret group for direct fan feedback
  7. Advertise a little but often when a new song is released
  8. Create video content – keep it short, make it very entertaining
  9. Never push hard, be genuine and  keep doing your thing
  10. Don’t forget, this is about sharing your gift before worrying about money and fame.  



Further Reading

Good article about Spotify

https://newartistmodel.com/tag/independent-spotify-playlist-curators/

Check out info here

https://cdbaby.com/musician-guides.aspx

Music Blogs That Want Your Music

Good video for contacting curators

5 Important Rules When You Submit To Music Blogs

https://fortheloveofbands.com/

https://www.musicmarketingmanifesto.com/

http://www.ram.org/music/making/tips/marketing.html

https://www.dittomusic.com/blog/how-to-get-your-music-on-discover-weekly-and-release-radar

https://www.dittomusic.com/blog/10-top-instagram-tips-for-musicians

https://www.dittomusic.com/blog/10-essential-social-media-tips-for-musicians-and-bands

https://bandzoogle.com/blog/how-to-promote-an-album-12-essential-strategies

https://www.dittomusic.com/blog/how-to-get-a-google-knowledge-graph-for-musicians

https://www.reddit.com/r/ChristianMusic/wiki/playlists



How to Commission a Music Video Director

How to Get Your Music Video on Vevo


Music Library List

Here’s a list of music libraries in case you want to check any of them out. Some of them might be dodgy so check what others say about them before getting involved:

AudioJungle

SongTradr

ProductionTrax

Pond5

Marmoset

PremiumBeat

Pond5

AudioSparx

Audio Jungle

TuneFruit

Audiomicro

Productiontrax

LuckStock

theMusicase

Music Supervisor

YookaMusic

Muziko

Pump Audio

Shockwave Sound

Atrium Music Group

MusicLoops

Magnatune

Indigi Music

Soundscape Media

Freeplay Music

Premium Beat

Beat Suite

Beat Pick

iStockphoto/audio

Crucial Music

Audiosocket

Music Dealers

Audio Network Production Music Library

Score Keepers

Jingle Punks

Melody Loops

Million Ducks Music

Liberty Music Licensing

Musync

Tune Society

Royalty Free Heaven

FlikTrax

Warner/Chappell Production Music

Soundimage

Partners in Rhyme

Deep East Music

MIBE Music

Audio Blocks

Audiosparx.com

Jinglepunks.com

Premiumbeat.com

Railroadtrax.com


Spreadsheet links

Download a spreadsheet to record your promotional contacts on

Excel 2019 Version
CDS Version
CSV Version
PDF Version

If this post has been useful for you, and you wish to pay me for my time and effort please use the paypal Donate button below to make a payment. Thank you.





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