How are you marketing your music?
There are many experts teaching people how to get the most from their promotion efforts. Unfortunately, I believe the inordinate focus on social media is grossly misplaced.
I am aware of the success stories, but they tend to be the exception and not the rule. We just keep talking about it because it’s sexy.
It’s time to get a little un-sexy, because we’re going to be looking at music marketing strategies you should quit this year. Most items on this list you should have quit long ago, but if you’re still doing them, it’s time to take a serious look at your strategy.
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1. Overextending Your Social Media Marketing Efforts
“Being everywhere” is a strategy and philosophy many known entrepreneurs and marketers have propagated over the years.
There are practical ways to do this, but most methods you’ll find not only aren’t realistic, they aren’t effective either! Plus, many musician have unrealistic expectations with social media. They think social media marketing is how things go viral. That’s incorrect – word-of-mouth is how things go viral! If you really want something to take off, create content people can’t help but talk about and share with their friends.
I can’t speak for you, but I’ve conducted many experiments with different platforms over the years (and I continue to), and the only two networks that have done anything for me are Facebook and Twitter. The results from all other social networks (besides maybe StumbleUpon) have been laughable at best.
2017 is the time to focus, friends. Master the platforms that are benefiting you in a tangible way (whether it’s Snapchat, Instagram, or SoundCloud), and cut off the rest. You’ll thank me for it, because you'll gain a ton of time and creativity back.
2. Sending Press Releases To People Who Never Requested Them
Could we please stop sending unsolicited material to industry experts, influencers, reviewers, and site owners? This is my plea to you, because I still receive many press releases and announcements from musicians I never asked for, and aren’t even addressed to me personally.
If you first contact me letting me know what you’re looking for from me, I’m more likely to respond and oblige. I love adding value to people in a way that means something to them.
But when you just shotgun your news announcements, only a percentage of people will ever reply or do anything with them. When you’re more targeted with your approach, the person responding can also be more targeted in how they respond to you – it’s a win-win.
Build relationships. Talk to people, not at them. I know, it may appear to be the longer path, but trust me when I say building lasting connections is the shortcut to success.
3. Relying Entirely On Free Marketing Strategies
Many musicians are unwilling to part with even small amounts of money. And don’t get me wrong, I understand why – there are a lot of people promising the world and delivering little. But if you’re looking for ways to cut through the noise, you can’t rely entirely on free strategies to promote your music anymore.
Money is a tool. It can be used to move your career forward. You could also waste it on electronic gadgets and toys you don’t even need and will never hug you back.
“But I’ve been burned before, David.”
I understand. I have too. But that should tell you something, that there are good service providers and bad service providers. Ever been to a bad restaurant? Me too. I didn’t go back. But did I give up on food? No way, I love food! Plus, you need to eat to live.
It’s the same thing here. With advertising (Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc.) being the way it is, you don’t have to fork out your life savings to experiment. I’ve been helping a lot of musicians initiate ad campaigns, and I have yet to run into anyone that was unhappy with the results.
It’s time to pay to play. That’s the new status quo.
4. Talking About Your Music As If It’s Something Completely New & Unique
With every genre now saturated, this isn’t even remotely true anymore. If you sing notes, strum chords, or play to a beat, your music has that in common with everyone else’s. Not only is it impossible to be 100% unique, promoting your music in this way is counterproductive.
Think of a music reviewer. If your job was to publish music reviews to a blog, and you got paid per article, would you want to spend hours researching the artists and bands, or would you rather look at their one-sheet and know exactly who their influences are, who they sound like, what genre of music they play, and what their latest release is?
Look, you make it hard on people who could help you when you say your music is unlike anything that’s ever been heard before, which we know is untrue. It’s unrealistic to think that the average fan, venue owner, or event bookers even have a point of reference for what you represent and who you sound like. They just want to hear music they love, or put butts in seats. So, make it easy for people to book and endorse you.
5. Building On Rented Land
It seems like musicians and companies are learning every day that they can’t keep building their following on rented land.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t use Facebook, Twitter, Medium, SoundCloud, and other tools as platforms, but I am saying it’s dangerous to rely on them and to think they have our best interests at heart.
Just think of Vine. Vine didn’t exactly “shut down”, but it was swallowed up by Twitter and became Vine Camera at the end of 2016. Avid Vine users weren’t exactly thrilled by this sudden turn of events.
History has shown that this can happen at any time without warning. Facebook keeps changing their design and experience. Myspace became a dead space in 2008/2009 (though it still exists). Yahoo keeps trying their hand at social media and can’t seem to find a winner. The same could be said for Google, though we still have Google+.
Utilize whatever tool you want to grow your following, but don’t forget to build your home on the web – your website. Also, capture as many people as you can on your email list, which is something you own. Take ownership!
If what you’re doing is working, keep doing it – don’t let me tell you otherwise.
But if you’ve entered 2017 thinking you might need to change your strategy, or you still haven’t reached goals you’ve been trying to meet for a long time, it might be time to course-correct and try a different approach.