If you want your music to be heard, you have no choice but to promote it.
But not all promotional plans are effective, and unless you have some experience in marketing, putting together a winning strategy can be difficult.
Fortunately, if you’re committed to the cause, you will find a way. And if you’re reading this right now, it’s a clear indicator that you’re in the process of learning and growing.
Study the following six reasons your current marketing strategies aren’t working, and you’ll be one step closer to reaching your music marketing goals.
1. Your Music Isn’t Good Enough
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. It’s not that your music has to be “perfect” to find a bigger audience, but it is possible that it just hasn’t hit that threshold of “good enough” yet.
Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason why certain artists succeed in the music industry. You can’t take it personally. All you can do is work on your craft and keep trying.
When it comes to personal growth, you can’t measure improvement in days, weeks, or even months. But it can be measured in years. So don’t be in a big hurry to become the best artist you can be. Work on it bit by bit, every single day. Keep playing, and keep recording.
2. You Aren’t Following Up (Important When Marketing Your Music)
You might even be really good at connecting with people. But are you following up? Or do you have a tendency of throwing out business cards and deleting contacts from your phone because you can’t remember who you were talking to anymore?
You need to put a little more urgency on reaching out to people you’ve met at shows and conferences. If you leave it for too long, they won’t remember who you are, and it will also feel awkward to reach out. The sooner you follow up and follow through, the better.
And if you’re requesting something specific, be persistent until you get a clear “yes” or “no”.
3. You’re Giving Up On Promotion Too Early
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding a new album release or tour announcement. But you can also burn out on a project before it gains any kind of momentum.
I used to work with a drummer who became cynical about a project within months of finishing it. That did not bode well at all for the future of that release, because you don’t promote what you don’t believe in, and of course, he didn’t!
A lot of you out there are actually doing the right things. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. You have to keep doing the right things, often for longer periods of time. How long? As long as it takes!
If you aren’t doing the right things, no amount of work is going to help the situation. It’s silly to pull 15-hour work days without knowing what’s going to get results. You’re just going to burn yourself out.
Bottom line, don’t give up. Market your music sustainably so you don’t lose enthusiasm for the work. Adjust your plan as you go. You could be on the cusp of success and not even know it.
4. You’re Too Self-Centered – The Music Business Is About Connections
What does your communication say about you? Take a moment to look at your most recent social media posts. What were they about? Have you been showering your fans and followers with call to actions like “buy our album”, “come to our show”, “vote for our song”, and so on? Or are you actually connecting with people?
A lot of musicians contact me without establishing any kind of context. Even after reading their message, I have no idea who they are or what they’re looking to achieve.
Whenever contacting industry people, I would suggest: 1) introducing yourself, 2) being upfront about what you’re looking to get from the communication, and 3) making your message relevant (i.e. compliment the recipient on their latest blog post, tell them where you met them, etc.).
You need to be confident in yourself and in what you’re doing, or you’ll never get enough courage up to do the things you need to do to move your career forward. But don’t be self-centered. Be willing to help others in their careers.
5. You’re Spreading Yourself Too Thin
Are you the type to jump on the bandwagon of every new social network that comes along?
Here’s a secret most marketers won’t tell you – even if they’re talking about a new platform every week, they themselves aren’t always using them all. Or, they have someone helping them build their presence on every site possible.
Instead, try mastering two or three platforms before extending your presence out to new sites. Make note of what works and what doesn’t. Stop using sites that aren’t helping you market your music, and pour more of your effort and energy into sites that are.
6. You’re Skipping Important Steps
Again, there is no pre-defined formula for success in the music business.
But if you’re trying to get signed to a label, and you’re not touring regularly, they’re unlikely to take you seriously.
If you’re trying to get booked in at a popular venue, and you don’t have a website and a press kit, some venues will outright reject you.
If you want to land an endorsement deal with your favorite drum manufacturer, but you don’t have any notoriety, even on a local level, there’s nothing in it for the manufacturer.
Here’s why we set goals: so we can break them down into smaller steps that can be taken every single day. Similarly, there are some steps in between where you are and where you want to be in your career. You have to identify what those steps are and start putting in the work to achieve your goals.
Accept help from others. A lot of musicians try to do this alone. If you don’t have money to hire anyone, then call in some favors. Get your fans to help you out. Establish connections with other artists and bands, and collaborate on your marketing.
People are more willing to help you than you might think they are. Don’t push the limits of what the relationship can bear, but don’t be afraid to put your family, friends, and fans to work either.