Marketing your music yourself has become easier than ever before but it can be time consuming. The most important thing to consider when getting your music out there is this:
Who are my audience? And where do they hang out?
This means online and offline. There is no point joining a lot of country groups on Facebook if you write heavy rock! You are likely to know where the people who like your style of music are to be found because you love that music, too.
It’s becoming essential for artists and writers to have a social media presence, especially on Facebook and Soundcloud. Platforms which offer benefit to musicians include:
- Facebook: Most people who use the Internet have an account on Facebook. It has an advertising system which allows you to engage specific groups quite cheaply. Remember to open a musician/band page rather than using a personal profile.
- Twitter: a good place to engage with fans using hashtags which makes it easier for people to find you in searches, for example #NIMusic, #celticmusic. Twitter is great as a search engine. Try searching ‘record labels Northern Ireland’. Just remember, if you want to engage with music professionals you find on Twitter go to the websites listed in their bios and email them. Don’t post tweets asking people to listen to your demos… it doesn’t look good on your profile to professionals or fans!
- Soundcloud: the musicians’ hang out online. Post tracks for comment by the soundcloud community or use it as a hosting service. Collaborate with other musicians. Find work. Build a fanbase.
- YouTube: most people looking for music online go to YouTube. You can download stock footage from YouTube and make videos for your tracks, such as this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k557MpLGaf0
- Tumblr: if you are dedicated enough to blog every week.
Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media
- Have a specified musician’s profile separate from private accounts.
- Create content which drives people to the music and don’t post tracks every day, e.g. blogs, interviews, pictures
- Use media: large blocks of text are off putting
- Reply to comments
- Ignore trolls
- Join groups, such as Northern Ireland Musicians and Songwriters on Facebook but don’t just use the groups to post your tracks and run. Network with people!
- Link to your website and update it regularly.
- Have consistent branding across all platforms: your sound and images should give the same messages.
- Post only high quality profile pics
- Insult individuals or whole groups, .e.g. people of specific ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations etc.
- Ignore interactions. Fans will be pleased if you thank them for commenting. Also, interaction creates more interaction and on Facebook it means more people will see your posts.
- Post material too frequently or too infrequently.
- Add people to groups without permission.
- Go into streams of consciousness and start sharing your life in inappropriate detail.
- Post only songs and nothing else whatsoever. People want to connect with a human, not a marketing machine!
- Post in public what should be emailed. A twitter feed which reads ‘please listen to my tracks’ over and over again aimed at every presenter on Radio 1 is not going to cast you in the best light.
- Use low quality profile pics, e.g. you falling out of the pub with your mates, selfies.
According to CDBaby, email remains the most effective way of reaching people online (http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2014/06/12-ways-build-email-list/ ) The most popular html email service online is mailchimp (www.mailchimp.com) It enables you to send emails full of tracks and images, to keep lists and monitor who is opening your emails and who is clicking on the links they contain along with a whole host of other useful stats. Importantly, it gives subscribers an unsubscribe option in every email which keeps you in line with data protection legislation.
You can choose music related templates for CD launches, tour and calendar dates etc. You can post sign up forms on your website and social media or ask fans to sign up at gigs. It’s nice to offer an incentive, such as a free track or an exclusive video.
Try not to email too frequently or you may be reported for spam, but not so infrequently as people forget about your music. Once a month is a good aim, or when you have really big news you want to share.
It is pretty much essential to have your own website where you can gather your bio, calendar dates, tracks, videos and news in one place. Social media does not really let you do this. In your own website, you are in control of the visitor’s experience. All the images you use, the choice of font etc. should be in keeping with your style of music. Use consistent images from your website across your social media platforms so music industry professionals who have linked to or searched for your website experience consistent branding and know they are in the right place.
Your Artist Bio
The biggest mistake musicians make on their website is too have long, rambling bios. Keep it to about 10 lines and hit the high notes! Also, don’t write things like ‘their music has been described as awe inspiring’. By whom? If you don’t tell me who said it, it sounds like you’re saying it about yourself and that doesn’t come over well. If you can, use press quotes to pepper your bio. If you don’t have any yet, ask gig goers or people who have bought your tracks for a few kind words. As the actual Bible says, although it should also be in the music marketing Bible, ‘let someone else praise you and not your own lips’. Apart from quotes by other people, keep it factual. What gigs have you played? Have you had any radio/TV play? Do you have qualifications in music? Have you worked with anybody cool? (ask them first!) What is your unique selling point (USP)? In other words, what makes you different from the other artists out there in your genre?
What to Include
Your website is your place to do what you want, but it should include the following:
- A simple menu with only about 4 options. You can use submenus!
- Your bio
- Calendar of gigs, interviews etc.
- Some tracks (but not whole albums!) and YouTube videos of live performances. Record labels will want to know what you sound like on recordings and live.
- A sign up form for your email list
- Links to your social media
Emailing Music Industry Professionals
Whether you are contacting music journalists, A&R reps, bloggers, radio presenters etc. there are certain rules to writing a professional email. You may have met the person you are emailing at a conference or other event, but most likely you have found them through Google and they have no idea who you are. Here are a few tips to help encourage them to listen to your music. Most industry professionals are very busy – I get some 30 emails a week asking me to listen to tracks. You need to make a case why the person should listen to you with umpteen similar emails in their inbox and limited time.
- NEVER send generic emails. Address the person as Dear Eve etc., rather than beginning ‘Hi. I’m a songwriter from…’
- Use what you are offering in the subject line. If I have a brief to find a dance track and I have 100 emails with ‘submission’ in the subject line but one saying ‘electronic tracks available to license’, I am going to open the one that sounds like it just might be what I am looking for.
- Research the company and make sure they work in the right genre. No point sending a country track to a metal label!
- Read the submission policy on the company’s website. I get emails all the time saying ’how do I submit a track?’ when this is clearly explained on the website. It gets me off side as it shows the person has not bothered to read the website and find out about the company before submitting!
- Find out what a standard contract contains. I offered a contract to a songwriter who did not get a lawyer and read the contract herself. She asked could I offer her something ‘less exploitative’ when in fact the contract was industry standard. I found this not only rude, but showed that she had not bothered to become informed about the field in which she was aiming to work. Another good point from this story: remember that the person reading your emails may not know you well, and people don’t come over in writing as they are in person sometimes. Don’t use phrases which may be construed as rude.
- Never rant regarding a response/non response. Rejection is a big part of the musician’s world. Plus, the person you are ranting at may not want to work with you now but they might in the future.
- Keep it short: I don’t have time to read 10 page biographical emails. Give me your top achievements, and any quotes about your work you may have from a recognised industry professional.
We Have touched a bit on the subject of branding, i.e. keeping your images, sound and written communications consistent. Look at your favourite artist’s social media and website. Do the pictures let you know what their sound is like? What messages are being communicated?
List three words which describe you as an artist, for example I might pick elegant, spiritual and contemporary. Choose an image which conveys this and also decide what is not in keeping… if I want to be elegant, I am going to avoid cute kittens which give another impression. I might instead choose to use Celtic images but not images which suggest traditional music by being touristy or old fashioned. I would choose traditional fonts such as Times New Roman and avoid comic sans or anything comical or childish. You don’t have to draw your image unless you want to!
Remember as you carry out this exercise to bear in mind Who is my audience? Where do they hang out?
http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/7-music-marketing-truths-all-musicians-should-know.html (Music Think Tank are one of the best business resources on the web. Great guide to branding and content marketing)
http://members.cdbaby.com/websites-for-bands.aspx (CD Baby’s music website provider. Cost around £13 per month or $20 USD but very user friendly and high quality product with good support service)
http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2011/02/7-tips-for-building-a-more-user-friendly-music-website/ (CD Baby website design tips)
http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2013/03/social-media-for-musicians/ (CD Baby guide to social media marketing)
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008561920638 (provisional contact for The Space NI, who are compiling a database of music contacts which is free to use)
www.generatorni.com (provide great courses on digital marketing and many other aspects of the music industry. I strongly advice signing up to their email list!)
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