Marketing 102 for Musicians: Real World Applications

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A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Marketing 101 for Musicians.”   It was a basic introduction into the world of marketing, mostly geared toward many of the free tools that are available to us (mainly social media outlets).  In a way it was a “call to action” to try and motivate any musician to get out there and get discovered.

We all have something to say.  We all have some accomplishment that deserves to be recognized.  Some people have an undeniable gift that the world needs to be alerted to.  No matter where you are or what you do, you have a chance; you have hope!   Believe it or not you’re on way more of a level playing field than you think you are.

Let me give you a real world example that just happened to me within this past week.  Here’s the power of social media at work for you.  A friend of mine posted about doing a show last week.  I didn’t realize his band was playing so I was glad to see the post.  He has a killer band and I was looking forward to checking them out.  In addition, his band was opening up for another band traveling through the city on tour.  I had never heard of this band.  So, my curiosity kicked in and I started searching them out.  First Facebook, then their website, then Twitter, then other blogs and reviews about the band, etc.  I was totally digging this band within just a few minutes of checking them out online!  But wait – this isn’t even the best part of the story!  I went to the show and was blown away with BOTH bands and had a great night of music!  Upon getting home I was so excited that I decided to put out a post on Facebook which simply said that I checked out this new band and you should too.  I never thought much about it until someone replied to that post. It was a friend of mine in another state.  Guess what he did?  Checked their Facebook page, checked the website…etc. You get the point.  ALSO he informed me today that he bought TWO CDs of the band and TWO t-shirts all from their website.

OK; so what’s the big deal? A band did a show and sold a couple of CDs and t-shirts.  It’s much more than that.  This is a very small example of what a good social media campaign can do for musicians.  ONE guy checked out their page, which then snowballed into ticket sales and merch sales.  Just imagine if more people did that for your band?  Now granted this isn’t going to happen every single time.  We know that.  What we would like is for maybe 25% of the people we reach to do this!

How about another example?  Do a search for a British artist named Alex Day.  Check out his sales on iTunes.  Check out his YouTube hits.  This guy is huge and I’d be willing to bet that none of you reading this has ever heard of him; I haven’t.  So what’s the catch?  Turns out Alex has been producing music and videos at his house.  He doesn’t tour, and doesn’t perform live.  What he DOES do is create cool and engaging content that his audience (millions of YouTube hits and six figure iTunes sales) relates to and wants to check out.

What does he have that we don’t?  Well you can try and argue whether or not his music is good but that’s never a good road to go down because everyone’s opinion is arbitrary and, well, is just their opinion.  It has to be something else that he has that maybe we’re lacking?  Yes, it is something else.  It’s called consistency.  It’s called engaging your fans, or building your fan base wherever you are in this journey.  He didn’t pay for some serious website and marketing services and some sort of super-secret success making machine.  He used the same exact tools that you and I have at our disposal.

OK so where does it start?

1) It starts with you.  What do you do?  What kind of content are you creating or can you create?

2) What sort of online presence do you have?  Do you have a website (it doesn’t have to be fancy – it can be a Tumblr page, WordPress, etc.) or a place other than fb/Twitter that you can call “home?”

3) Do you or your band have a Facebook fan page?  NOT your personal page but a fan page?

4) Do you have a Twitter account and are you active on Twitter?

5) Do you have a YouTube page or Vimeo or any sort of media outlet where people can view your videos?  NEWS FLASH: video is still king, especially for musicians.  I’m learning this hard lesson…as a side note be on the lookout for more videos from yours truly. haha

Always remember, not every single thing that you put online has to be Earth-shattering.  However, your content does have to be meaningful!  It has to come from you!  Your fans won’t relate to it or to you if it feels unnatural.  It’s OK to post a video of you practicing if it’s honest.  You still have to remember that even though you’re staring at a computer screen, those are still REAL people that you’re reaching out to.  Give them advice, tips, pointers, music, entertainment, enjoyment, fulfillment, laughter, excitement. Give them engaging content.  Don’t worry about making money – that will come in due time.  Just build your audience and build a BRAND.  Be a person and a place that people feel compelled to come to explore and learn.


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