Posts

Content marketing for musicians

Marketing and promoting your music is a task every musician has to face throughout their career. But it’s also the one thing many musicians wish they never had to do again. With all the noise out there it can really feel like no one’s even listening to you. 

So how do you stand out and get heard? How do you break through the noise and get your music the attention it deserves?

Today I’m going to key you in on a secret – the power of Content Marketing.

The BEST thing you can do is shift your approach – instead of PUSHING your music out in front of people, you need to PULL fans in with enticing and interesting content. Make them want to hear from you. 

That’s where content marketing for musicians comes in.

Now I know “content marketing for musicians” sounds a little intimidating… But as you’ll see, you can easily turn the content you’re already creating every day into plenty of interesting and engaging social media posts, but for now let’s talk about what content marketing for musicians actually is, why it’s such an important tool to have in your music promotion arsenal, and how you can use this approach to authentically promote your music and grow a powerful fanbase.

Get more engaged fans with these content marketing strategies:

What is Content Marketing for Musicians?

Content marketing is quite literally exactly what it sounds like.

You use valuable and interesting content to draw your audience in. It’s a form of “pull marketing” where you get your fans interested and emotionally invested in what you do. Think about it like you’re pulling fans in rather than pushing your music in their face.

So that means instead of posting “check out my new song,” you release a short video telling your fans about what the lyrics mean and include a link to purchase or pre-order.

Instead of relentlessly posting announcements about your new album (you know, the “buy my new album” spam), create a blog series or a vlog series on YouTube documenting the album creation process with easy links to pre-order.

Instead of just asking fans to join your email list, offer valuable video lessons or exclusive events to make them want to join your email list.

You see the difference?

The Problem With Push Marketing

In the past, marketing was all about pushing out messages with big money to get it in front of as many people as possible and hoping some would bite. Artists with big record label backing could thrive because they had the big bucks to promote.

But in today’s social media-dominated world, this shout-louder-than-everyone-else tactic just doesn’t work (even the big labels are having trouble despite their big budgets). You just can’t shout loud enough to be heard over the crowd anymore. Especially as an indie with a minimal marketing budget.  

Now, don’t get me wrong – announcements and push marketing style promotions will always have a place in your marketing mix.

But the problem arises when you literally base your entire strategy on shouting at your fans.

Instead, turn it into a conversation, draw them in, and they will be much more interested.

Reaching The RIGHT People

I also want you to understand that you don’t need to reach everyone when you’re promoting your music. 

I know, I know… This is hard to remember in a social media world where big follower counts are glamorized. But try to keep it in perspective – the number of followers you have on Facebook or Twitter is just that – a number. And having people on your email list or following you on social media who don’t really like your music that much won’t do anything to further your career.

50,000 followers who don’t buy your album won’t help you fund your next project or go on tour. 50,000 subscribers who don’t come out to gigs won’t help you step it up to play bigger venues.

Instead, focus on finding the fans who will actually buy your music, come out to shows, and support you.

1,000 true fans is infinitely better than 50,000 followers who don’t really care. In short, it’s not about reaching more people. It’s about reaching the right people and nurturing those relationships.

This is going to influence the kind of content you release in your content marketing strategy. Always keep your ideal fan in mind when you’re creating new social posts, blog posts, videos, or events. What will they want to see? (Hint: if you’re not sure, ask them!)

Why Content Marketing Works SO Well

Let’s do a little thought experiment to illustrate just how powerful content marketing for musicians can be…

Would you be more likely to purchase an album from an artist you follow if you just saw one or two announcements about it’s release?

OR if you had been following a weekly vlog series documenting the album creation process for a month?

Most people would go for the latter.

You see? Present it like entertainment. Who wouldn’t be interested to see what goes on in the studio? And after spending all that time watching that series, the fan is invested in your project – both from a time perspective as well as emotionally.

Start Before You’re Ready

The key to effective content marketing is to start before you’re ready. Don’t wait until you have something to promote (like a new album, tour, gig, or song) to start building an audience. Fans don’t form around nothing.

Start NOW. Begin creating a fanbase around what you’re already doing everyday (even if you don’t have anything to sell yet).

Remember, the process can be just as valuable to you from a promotion standpoint as the finished product. Then, by the time you’re ready to release something, you have a captivated audience just waiting to see what you have in store for them next.

Tie in Relevant Calls to Action

Now I know it can seem counter-intuitive to use content to promote. BUT, the key to successful content marketing is adding relevant calls to action. Try to make the content you release have a purpose.

In marketing-speak, a call to action is just asking your fans to take some further action. Maybe you want your fans to vote on a merch design, pre-order your album, pre-order a ticket to a show, support you on Pledge Music, or sign up for your email list.

Let’s run down some ideas:

  • Post a picture to Facebook of you and a fan who won a merch bundle for pre-ordering a ticket to your recent show. Let your fans know that they could be entered to win free merch too if they pre-order instead of buying tickets at the door.
  • Share a short video montage on Facebook of your last email-subscriber-only live stream. Give your fans a link to subscribe to get in on the next one.
  • Make a YouTube video teaching your fans how to play your new song on guitar. Include a link where they can buy the song. (Bonus points: ALSO give fans the chance to download the tab or sheet music in exchange for an email address.)

Conclusion: Content Marketing for Musicians

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas to promote your music. Keep in mind that content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Don’t think of content marketing for musicians as a completely new approach. It’s just OPTIMIZING and sharing content you’re already making.

Now that you have the basics, it’s time to move on and master the email list! Your list will play a HUGE part in your content marketing strategy for promoting your music (and don’t worry, this is going to be painless).

Download this Free Content Marketing Guide
Content Marketing for Musicians

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model: Turn your passion for music into a rewarding career.

Cali Conscious is all about good vibrations. The reggae band that got its start playing under the pier in Huntington Beach, California combines a talent for creating great music with a commitment to organizing beach cleanups and helping the homeless.

The group recently launched a new social media campaign to attract fans to its message of peace, love and environmental preservation. And so far, it’s working.

“We’ve gotten over 1200 email subscribers and more than 10,000 Instagram followers in the past 12 months,“ according to Justin Ratowsky, the band’s guitarist.  “We are implementing the strategy of giving away our music in exchange for email addresses that we learned in Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model to successfully create our own fan base.”

“Our goals are to support our families by doing what we love while performing and touring on a national and global level.  We also want to continue to grow our subscriber base to over 100,000 and get our music licensed for TV and film,” he says.

Cali Conscious plays 25 shows a month in the summer and 15 in the off season.  The group is currently hard at work on its second album which will be released in 2016 and supported by a tour.  In addition to Justin, the group includes Anthony Haas on bass, Jason Sandoval on trumpet, Chad Stanner on keyboards, Chuy Vidales on drums, Dig Gbye on percussion, and Stephen Wood on sax.

Cali Conscious puts almost as much work into activism as it does into music.  The band has organized monthly community beach clean ups in Huntington Beach and funded construction of a clean water well in Ethiopia by donating live performance tips to charity:water.org.  Cali Conscious doesn’t sell plastic CDs at its shows and created a plantable paper download card embedded with carrot, lettuce, and tomato seeds to celebrate the release of its first album “High Times.”

The group is making the website Noise Trade a centerpiece of its current social media campaign, Justin says.  The music distribution platform lets the group trade their music to anyone who shares their email and zipcode on the Cali Conscious website.  http://caliconscious.com/  Currently, the group gives followers a download of “High Times” as well as an EP featuring acoustic versions of four songs from the new album.  

“You should use your social media platforms and the real estate on your website, to give away songs and build that relationship with your fans to gain trust and turn them into superfans,” says Justin, adding that “superfans” to him, are people who share news about the band with their followers.

Justin believes that developing 1000 superfans will enable Cali Conscious to have a sustainable music career — one that includes adequate support for crowdfunding, merchandise sales, touring and live shows.

“With Noise Trade, we get email and zip codes and fans get to download and share on Twitter and Facebook.  It lets you encourage your fan base to become part of your marketing team,” he says, adding that the service also allows fans to “tip” musicians.  “Noise Trade charges 20 percent of the money that comes in but we are still getting revenue from that every month.”

Raising awareness about the group and its music will help the band complete its newest album.  The offering will be paid for, at least in part, with a crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

“This next album will put us out there as an Orange County band starting to break through.  We believe in our producer and the message,” Justin says.  “We already have 30-40,000 listens on Pandora or Spotify.  I think when our next album comes out and we step up our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and get more organized and put up our video, I’m hoping we can reach 100,000 subscribers. “

Gigging is the main source of revenue for Cali Conscious. On May 21, the group will play the Concert for the Coast in Santa Barbara where they will feature “One Love For You,” a song about homelessness written by percussionist  Dig Gbye and the first single from the new album. The band will make a music video for the song that includes an informal “jam session” with local homeless men and women.  

During their visit to the city, the band will also provide blankets, clothing, food, water and socks to people in need with the help of online sock retailer Bombas http://www.bombas.com

“Water,” the second single from the new album, will also get its own video. All proceeds will benefit Gravity Water, a nonprofit dedicated to providing filtration and storage systems to poor communities around the globe.  http://www.gravitywater.org/  Both of the videos for the singles will be included in a pre-purchase crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

While using social media can be exciting and productive, it is essential for musicians to stay up to date on each service’s policies and guidelines, Justin says.  Early in his career, he gave away music from his own CD “Enjoy the Sunshine” to users on Facebook and got blocked by the company for a time. “They thought it was spam,” he says.  

“Be aware of limits on how many people you can contact each day and how different social media systems work. Their policies are always evolving,” Justin says.  “At this point, the main reason we are using social media, besides putting out photos, is to try to get people to go to our website. I want to get as much exposure for our website as possible. This is also something we learned from the New Artist Model.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media tools can really help musicians advance their careers — but players should never forgot about the importance of personal connection. Justin knows from firsthand experience that it is impossible to predict when opportunities will appear.

A local entertainment lawyer introduced the band to renowned recording engineer and producer Sjoerd Koppert who has worked with Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Doobie Brothers and other bands. Out of nowhere, this chance meeting from a mutual connection turned into an incredible opportunity to record in a top studio.   

“I went from busking to a million dollar studio,” Justin says. The result?  His first EP “Enjoy the Sunshine.”

That recording is at the heart of another story about the power of networking. Music from “Enjoy the Sunshine” can be heard in the new documentary film “Return to Cape St. Francis” created by Robert August. August starred in the iconic surf documentary “The Endless Summer” which was released in 1966. Justin performed at the Newport Film Festival this April when the documentary premiered.

Justin has played the Huntington Beach High School Surf Team’s annual banquet for the the past six years, and the coach of that club just happened to be the director or “Return to Cape Francis.” That connection ended up getting his music in the hands of Robert August.

Justin and his bandmates are excited about what lies ahead for Cali Conscious. A bigger fanbase, new album and tour all point to great things for the band. While Justin is looking to the future, he emphasizes the importance of never losing sight of the values that define the group.

“The most important part of our music is the message we have in our lyrics, that’s how we want to connect with our fans. We strongly feel we have this musical ability and we are purposefully using a positive message to help bring the world together through our lyrics,” Justin says. “We want to be a catalyst for our fans to inspire change. If we can create an easy avenue for them to be able to support our music but also support causes we believe in — like getting water to the world and making sure that people on the streets have warm feet — that’s where we want to be.”

Embracing these values have encouraged the group to do benefit shows for The Walk for Arthritis which drew an audience of 4000 to Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, Surf’s Up for Down Syndrome and Walk On Water, a nonprofit that offers sports therapy for children with disabilities including autism, among others.

“It is important to use our gifts as musicians to make the world a better place and encourage others,” Justin says.  “I am glad to use my talent as a vessel to do good in the world.”

To learn more about Cali Conscious visit http://caliconscious.com/

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com