DIGITAL MARKETING FOR MUSICIANS 101
Whether you’re a band, a solo artist/MC, or a producer, chances are that you will have to rely on yourself first when it comes promoting the music you create. And that’s OK! We’re living in an age that finds social and promotional platforms at our fingertips. While that’s obviously a major plus, it’s a double-edged sword in that it creates what can feel like an oversaturated independent music market. However, there’s really no excuse to not take advantage of them if you want to build a fanbase online.
It’s important to concentrate on the digital promotion of your new releases, music videos, tour dates, or even just yourself/your band for the sake of getting the name out there. By doing so, you’ll be inviting more and more opportunities your way while simultaneously building a ‘brand’ around your music.
A lot of artists hear ‘digital marketing’ and assume it’s a lot of work that requires years of experience, but really, there’s a lot of easy ways to get started on an effective campaign. Establishing a social media presence and developing a flow of content to share, making your digital assets available in one place, building an email list, and pitching your music to digital outlets are all efforts you can begin focusing on early on in your music career.
BUILDING YOUR DIGITAL PRESENCE As you begin to get organized and prepare to promote yourself, it’s important to consider everything you’ll need to put together and where it will all live online. If the head of a record label or a booking agent suddenly wanted to know everything about you, will they be able to find it without much effort? Or will they have to sort through loose ends, empty profiles, and potentially wrong links to hear your music and establish a general understanding of what you’re up to?
ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT (EPK)Your electronic press kit provides a central location with all of your assets – like image and music files, bio, etc – for members of the media (editors, bloggers, radio program directors, venue talent buyers, etc.) to quickly access. It should include the following:
YOUR WEBSITE - With social media channels offering a variety of ways to engage with our favorite artists, for a lot of people having a website can feel antiquated. However, by building an artist website, you’re creating a hub for all the information being conveyed across these social channels to exist in one place. While an EPK can live on an artist’s website, the two are not necessarily one and the same – think of a website of being fan facing and an EPK to be business facing. Believe it or not, people who want to cover your music and people who want to engage as fans can both find websites very convenient.
But there can be more to an artist website than just a place to house links and pictures. Building a website is just the start – it’s up to you, the artist, what you want to achieve from your website. Maybe it’s to promote tour dates, maybe it’s to get more email addresses from fans – once you determine whatever that objective is, you can make it the centerpiece of your site. Thankfully, too, there’s an abundance of resources out there to make building and maintaining a website easy – so don’t go signing up for HTML courses just yet.
SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES - At this point, most music fans are at least somewhat active on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. As you continue to build your music career, you’ll find that social media is a great way to connect (and remain connected) with your fans.
While this Survival Guide is meant to be an introductory look at digital marketing, we could write an entire individual section on the importance of social media marketing for independent artists — wait a second, we did!
Head over to the TuneCore Social Media Beginner’s Guide – a step by step guide to getting, growing and interacting with followers that will help you learn about:
EMAIL LIST - Email was one of the first big revelations associated with the digital age, and as a result it can be viewed as ‘old school’ in a rapidly evolving environment. Regardless of this, email lists can be extremely impactful for artists. Sure, tweeting or sending a direct message might seem like the easiest way to communicate with fans directly, but like anyone else, music fans check their email inboxes, too. Additionally, email has the highest engagement rates per post – fans are more likely to read any one email than any one Facebook post or tweet, both of which exist in a virtual sea of content.
First things first: finding ways to build that email list. Tactics like offering incentives in exchanges for your fans’ email addresses and setting up a sign-up sheet at your merch table are two of the most common strategies here. Free downloads or access to exclusive content can be offered in exchange for a fan’s email address. Hooking new fans up with small, free items of merch at your table after a performance on the condition that they throw their email addresses down on your list is a practical approach, too.
Once you’ve begun to build your email list – and don’t worry if it’s starting out small, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? – it’s time to start thinking about what kind of content you want to share.
Email lists provide an easy, wide-reaching communication option when it comes to spreading high level information about a new release, a tour, a music video, or radio/TV appearance – but it can also be used just to check in and say hello to your fans, letting them know you’re still thinking about them. Like anything else, it’s important not to abuse these lists or make the messages you send too redundant – music fans are just like you: they don’t want to be spammed.
Think of this in a different light in terms of what you’d post on social media. People who take the time to open your emails are truly some of your most engaged fans, so give them something that’ll make them want to open your next one. Some ideas include:
Be sure to check out Cheryl B. Engelhardt’s six-part S.T.A.G.E.S. series on email marketing for artists on the TuneCore Blog.
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