There are a ton of great marketing strategies for indie musicians. Learn how to harness these strategies in marketing your music.

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How to Promote Your Music

The internet has opened up endless possibilities to promote your music, and, while that may seem daunting, it really allows you to experiment and let your creativity run wild! The key is to learn from the promotions you run, make changes, and fine-tune them to your unique career. Let’s take a look at some basic strategies you could be using to promote your music right now.

1. Live Music Promotion

With everything moving more and more towards digital, it’s easy to forget about the value of the person-to-person interaction. These days, you can create great quality music, release it, distribute it, promote it, and even play live without ever leaving your room. But, just because you can release something entirely online doesn’t mean you should! In fact, these personal interactions are still extremely important in the music industry.

The live show is so much more than just performing. You can use gigs to promote your music, new album, or song. Tell your fans that you’ll be premiering a new song, or, if you want to go all out, tell them you’ll be playing the whole album at one show over the next month or two. The trick is not to tell anyone which is the lucky show.

If your fans really want to hear the album early, they’ll have to come to all the shows. You could also use gigs to grow a fanbase in new cities, states, or countries. Work with a local established band and propose a headline swap – you’ll open for them in their home town and they’ll open for you in your home town. Just make sure you pick a band with a similar musical style.

If you want our free guide on
How to Promote Your Music with 3 Social Media Checklists (Click Here)

2. Use Social Media to Promote Your Gigs and Appearances

We all use social media. These days, if you’re not on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s almost like you don’t exist. However, you may not be using social media to it’s full potential to promote your music. Social media is not a straight-up marketing platform. It’s really a catalyst for conversation and word-of-mouth marketing. About 80% of your posts should be funny, conversational, and interesting, leaving about 20% for promotional material.

That’s not to say that conversational posts can’t be promotional! You just need to learn how to frame the content in interesting ways. For example, if you’re in the studio recording a new album, try sprinkling little updates on social media. Tell a story about your studio experience that day, share a photo of the mix, or post a short teaser Vine of a song. If you’re out on tour, take photos at the venues or share short videos or photos of the audiences. These things aren’t obviously promotional, but they still let fans know what’s going on.

Check out New Artist Model for more info on promoting your music via social media.

3. Promote Your Music and sell it on Your Website

Your website shouldn’t be a static thing. It should be ever adapting and changing to reflect new events in your career. Basically, you want your fans stopping by your website as often as possible. The more often they’re on your site, the more chances they have to buy an album, merch, tickets, or any other product you have available.

If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have a lot of big updates other than the occasional album release and tour. Running a blog is a great solution. It’s fairly easy to set up a blog on the homepage of your website. Most website tools like Bandzoogle, and WordPress, have blog capabilities. Plan out blog posts at regular intervals like once or twice a week and share anything you think your fans would find interesting. This could be the inspirations behind certain songs, new lyrical ideas you’re working on, a funny story from the last band practice, or even a run-down of the gear you use.

4. Reach out to Music Blogs

If you want to promote your music, it isn’t just about sharing things with your fans. You also want to reach out to new audiences and convert them to fans, and music blogs are a great way to do that. Bloggers are always looking for fresh, new content, and the cool thing is, there are a ton of smaller blogs that are totally within your reach as an indie artist. Blogs also tend to have a pretty niche following. This means that if your music is run on a blog, it’s guaranteed to be seen by people who already like the genre!

Do some research, find blogs that cover your type of music, and send personal emails out to the bloggers. Are there any interesting stories about your new album, song, or tour? Having a unique story will definitely help you stand out from the thousands of other musicians releasing an album. Make it as easy as possible for them to cover your story and treat them like people. Remember, it’s all about establishing a relationship.

5. Collaborate with Other Musicians

Collaboration is an often overlooked aspect of music promotion. It’s a great way to get your music in front of another group of people and make new fans. You can collaborate on pretty much anything. Just make sure you collaborate with musicians whose fans would appreciate your music. Choose to work with bands in a similar genre or with similar fanbase demographics.

The headline trade strategy we looked at earlier in this article is a great option. You could also work together on a song or album. If you don’t want to dedicated too much time, record a cover song or two together and release them on your YouTube channels. The key is to drive your fans to each other. If you create a song or video, link to each other’s websites. If it’s a gig, try to drive your fans to each other’s merch table to pick up a CD.

6. Promote with Email

Your email list is an extremely valuable tool to promote your music. Unlike collaboration and blogs, your email list is marketing to your current fan base. If someone signed up for your email list, they want to hear from you, so take advantage of it! Remember, your emails should be driving your fans to your website, so you want to include links.

The obvious use of an email list is to let your fans know when you have an album coming out or a tour. You can also use your email list to send fans to your blog. Remember, you want to get your fans on your website as often as possible.

 

“No matter how many followers you have, you can’t eat a tweet. Get New Artist Model and learn how to turn traffic – into fans – into money.” – Dave Kusek

New Artist Model is a music business crash course designed to help you break through and get heard. Most programs will show you how to grow your following on social media, or even start building up engagement, but that’s where they stop. The truth is, if you want to be successful online, you need to know how to turn those followers and engagement into sales.

 Click to get this free eBook

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The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. See what thousands of independent musicians are excited about. Learn different ways to promote your music with free lessons from the New Artist Model online music business school when you sign up for our free video training series.

Watch the video on this page to learn more

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Live Webinars this week on Content Marketing!

Content Marketing for Creative Entrepreneurs

This week we are holding live training on content marketing and how to build and connect with an audience around your creative work.

If you want recognition for your work, or to attract industry partners or create income from your creative passions and pursuits, then this LIVE Master Class is for you.

We’re going to break down the steps and show you how to BUILD and CONNECT with an audience around your creative work.

So you can boost your CONFIDENCE and really amp up your promotions and get your music the attention it deserves.

Join us in a LIVE MASTER CLASS and build your confidence and understanding of how content marketing works.

>> Sign up here – We go LIVE Friday and Sunday

MASTER CLASS: >> Content Marketing for Creative Entrepreneurs

  • What is content marketing?
  • How to get your content marketing engine setup
  • How to build and connect with an audience around your creative work
  • How CreateBiz can help you reach your goals

>> Sign up here – We go LIVE Friday and Sunday

OR Sign up for the live event or get the recording and watch the replay, all for free.

PLUS we’ll be taking your questions and walking you step-by-step through our system of content marketing for creative entrepreneurs.

We will be giving away a free online CREATEBIZ course to one lucky person during each live event. Will it be you?

>> Sign up here

LEARN MORE ABOUT CREATEBIZ HERE: CreateBiz.com

How to Book Your Own Gigs

Gigs. Every musician has to start out booking their own gigs, but, as you’ve probably realized, this is a lot easier said than done. After all, there are so many musicians and bands competing for very limited performance spots. For promoters, it’s a game of risk management – they want to book bands they know will fill the room – so getting the spot as a new band can be very tricky. There are, however, some things you could be doing that can help you get those gigs!

What is a Promoter?

A promoter or venue owner is someone who buys talent. Depending on the size of the venue, they work independently or with booking agents to book bands and musicians to perform. For local clubs and venues, promoters and venue owners get a percentage of ticket sales and also make money from food and drink sales. As you can see, the business of promoters is really all about numbers – if they don’t fill the room, they don’t make money. This is where you come in. If you want to get the gig, you need to be able to prove that you can bring an audience, therefore lowering the risk for the promoter.

1. Finding the Right Venues

The first step of the process is always research. Especially with venues, there are so many variables. Some venues may cater to a certain genre, others tend to serve a target demographic like college students or working professionals, and many have age restrictions you need to consider.

You need to make sure your music and audience matches up with the venues you choose to contact. If your fans are mostly teens, don’t book clubs with age restrictions. In the same way, if you play upbeat country, contacting a venue that tends to book rock and roll gigs is a really good way to make a bad impression. An easy way to get this information would be to check out the venue’s website. If they have live music, they’ll probably have a page listing some upcoming or past acts. Do you fit in?

Often it can be easier to get gigs if you step out of the traditional venue scene. There are always plenty of community or charity events, store openings, and company parties that are looking for great live music. These markets tend to be much less saturated.

If you want a free action plan to help you achieve your goals in music, click here.

2. Make a Connection

Personal connections are everything in the music business and your connections with other local bands could help you book gigs in new or bigger venues. As we mentioned before, promoters are really in the business of minimizing risk, so they will book bands they know can draw a crowd and put on a good performance. But, that doesn’t mean getting a gig at a new venue can’t be done!

Think about all the musicians and bands you know in your area. Where do they play? If you’re interested in playing any of those venues, get in touch and suggest a collaboration. You could pitch your band as the opening act or do more of a collaborative 50/50 set split, especially if you can bring your audience. When dealing with more local venues like bars and clubs, the bands sometimes have more liberty to organize their own opening act, so they can be your ticket to getting your music in front of the promoter.

Open mic nights can also be a great way to make yourself known. There may not be a huge audience and you may only get to perform a few songs, but they give you the chance to make an impression on the venue owner or promoter. If people seem interested in your performances they may give you a whole set.

3. Contact

If you’ve had the chance to play at the venue, the best way to connect with venue owners or promoters is in person. However, if you’re writing an email you want to be short and to the point. Make the subject line clear. If you’re inquiring about a certain date, include that as well as the lineup. As an example, your subject line could read “Nov 7 – Opening Band + My Band.”

Your pitch goes in the email body. If you’ve met the promoter before or played at their venue, reference that meeting. If not, briefly introduce yourself and link to your website. If possible, try to have a live video or recording on your site so they can actually see your performance. Let them know if you’ve played gigs in the area, in their venue, or with other bands they tend to book. Tell them how many people you can draw to the show. To figure this out, look at some of the other gigs you’ve played in the area. What was the turn out? Look at your social media following. How many people live in a given region? It’s all about communicating your ability to minimize risk for the promoter or venue owner.

4. Make a Promotion Plan

Especially if you’re playing in local venues, you’re going to be doing most of the promotion yourself, so tell them how you will promote the show. There are many creative ways to promote a show, but your social media channels and email list are perhaps the most valuable assets. If you’d like to get more marketing ideas, you can check out these free ebooks and free music business course.

Another marketing strategy would be to work with a sponsor. The right local sponsor can help you reach a wider audience through their promotional efforts. The key is finding a sponsor whose customers have similar demographics and psychographics to your fanbase. We have webinars on sponsorships and more that you should check out if you want to learn more about finding and securing sponsorships.

5. Follow Up and Be Professional

The process doesn’t end after you get the gig. If you want to really connect with the local audience, you need to play the venues as often as possible. Introduce yourself to the venue owner or promoter and keep in touch.

On top of that, the best way to build a good relationship with local venues is to be professional. Always be on time for shows – in fact, be early! Make sure all your gear is working properly. Treat any sound or light technicians with respect and follow any venue rules. Above all, be prepared for your set and play well-rehearsed songs. Sometimes the gigging grind can get tiring, but you need to remember that for the promoter and the fans, this show is everything.

Click below to get a free ebook on how to achieve your goals and book more gigs today!

To learn more about how to book your own gigs and make more money performing live, check out the New Artist Model online music business school.

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Feature.fm: The Value of Music Promotion

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This article is written by our friends at feature.fm. feature.fm is the first ad platform built exclusively for music, giving you access to promote your music directly inside streaming services. Play your songs to your target audience at the right time. Understand how people genuinely respond to your music with real-time insights so you can make better decisions about how to further develop and promote your songs.

Think about all of the apps on the app store. App developers spend years of their lives mastering coding, using computer keyboards as their instrument. They spend countless hours developing apps they truly believe in, then they release those apps into then world for free. And usually no one downloads them. Sounds familiar, huh?

Just like apps, a ton of hard work, time, and money goes into creating an album, but that’s only half the battle. Despite spending countless hours in the studio, the biggest challenge most artists face is getting their music heard.

As a start up company ourselves, we can tell you that going to market and promoting your product is just as important as creating an amazing product itself. And as an artist, your product is music! Think about it like this: You can spend years working on your chops, writing perfect songs, and creating an amazing album, but if you just upload it online and hope someone will listen to it, you probably won’t be successful.

The Value of Music Promotion

The key to getting noticed is your music promotion – marketing, advertising, and PR. This is what gets you visibility after you’ve created a great product. And yet, most artists aren’t willing to spend half as much as they do on the recording process. Why?

Businesses spend tons of money on marketing and promotion. It would be insanity to spend time researching and developing a new phone or gadget and then put it up for sale without telling anyone. It’s the same with your music.

There are plenty of things you can do to promote your music for free using your email list and social media, but you shouldn’t be afraid to invest in your promotion and focus as much as possible on getting people to actually hear your music. It’s all about airplay and exposure. Don’t miss out on gaining real fans by worrying too much about immediately getting paid. If you truly have great music, it will pay off and people will keep listening. If you believe in your product, then it’s worth the investment.

The Power of a Play

If you look at yourself as a start up, then music is your product. But unlike say, a phone, whose use and purpose can be explained, music’s value is different to each individual. Would you become a fan of a band without ever having heard their music? Probably not. Music is emotional and needs to be experienced to understand the value.

That’s why the best way to promote a song is to play it to people. And if you want to play it to people, you need to be where they listen – inside streaming services.

The Changing Listening Environment

Sure, people listen to radio too. Radio has always been king when it comes to breaking a new artist or getting exposure. It’s a great place to reach a mass audience and is also the one time that people give up control over the music they are listening to, making it extremely powerful for music discovery. Most artists, however, will never be able to get their music played on terrestrial radio.

The power of radio hasn’t changed, but the way people listen to the radio has. Now that people are transitioning into streaming services, it opens up a powerful new platform to reach listeners – one that’s totally accessible for low-budget indie musicians.

The New Music Economy

Fans are willing to support their favorite artists and pay for music, just not in the same way they used to. There is a fundamental change in the psychology of what it means to pay for music. The days of “Here’s my music, if you want to hear it, pay,” are over. The new approach should be “Here’s my music, if you like it, support me so I can make more!”

This means getting your music heard is your acquisition cost to gain new fans. Once you build up your fan base through exposure, you can offer your fans many ways to support your music whether it’s through concerts, merch, crowdfunding, or anything else that you can sell to them.

Why we Built feature.fm

Feature.fm is an ad platform built exclusively for music, opening access for all artists to promote their music inside of streaming services and letting fans buy sponsored song plays to support their favorite artists.

Ultimately, 91% of artists are undiscovered and we want to help more artists find their fans in the most efficient way. Instead of an ad, we’ll actually play your music to streaming listeners.

Learn more about feature.fm

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Ring Your Cash Register Again and Again

As an independent artist, it’s frustrating to be stuck and broke. You find yourself wondering why others are successful and where all the money is hidden. Yeah I know, it’s really all about the music, but the reality is you need money to operate your business and invest in your future.

In my continuing Mini Series, I reveal tools and specific strategies you can implement to create multiple revenue streams and cash flow for your music. Discover two crowdfunding platforms you can use to support your art and ring your cash register again and again. 2015 can be your best year ever!

Let’s get to it.

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You will learn about Patreon and Pledge Music and how to use those platforms to increase your cash flow through fan funding.

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement. I absolutely love hearing what you’re thinking, so please be sure to leave a comment or question below today’s video. Someone will be very happy that they did.

PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from watching this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them. 

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Lessons From the Lean Startup

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The New Artist Model is all about looking at your music career in the same way an entrepreneur looks at a startup company. You are a music entrepreneur! And there’s no better entrepreneurial book out there than The Lean Startup. I would recommend everyone giving it a read, but Ed Rex, a musician a CEO of Jukedeck, has laid out a few of the main points in this article. This is just an excerpt, but you can check out the full article on Hypebot.

Create Minimum Viable Tracks

It used to be the case that software companies would spend a year or more working towards a big release, moving through various phases of development one at a time and launching into the unknown with a ‘no going back’ approach. This is known as the Waterfall method. It’s now been widely replaced by Agile, which involves building fast, releasing a Minimum Viable Product as early as possible and learning from feedback.

A composer might spend years on a piece, working in complete solitude until the last note is in place. What if, at the premiere, no one likes it? Shouldn’t that have been found out sooner?

Enter the Minimum Viable Track. When you’re recording an album, why not play the first takes to as many people as you can, before you embark on weeks of editing and post-production? If no one’s going to buy it, doing that post-production is a waste of time — time you should be spending writing new tracks. And you need to find that out as early as possible.

Iterate & Pivot

Startups are obsessed with iterating: constantly trying new things and experimenting with new features until one proves popular.

There’s no reason, as musicians, we shouldn’t do the same — that is, once we’ve got the early versions of our music in front of our audience, start responding to their feedback. If there are bits they like, concentrate on those — if there are bits they don’t, scrap them and try something else in their place. I tried this recently with a song I’m writing — instead of spending months working on it on my own, I put together a rough and ready demo on my iPad, sent it to a couple of people, and immediately found out there were a couple of lyrics they thought let the rest of it down. So out went those lines, and in came a series of new ideas, which I kept changing until they had the desired effect — the approval of these early listeners.

What if you find from your early demo that people basically don’t like what you’re doing, full stop? While this is never nice to hear, it’s better to find out early than keep going with something no one will like. In this case, in the tech world, you’dpivot — that is, change course and try something entirely new. Pivoting isn’t a sign of failure — it’s a badge of honour, a sign that you’re willing to take tough decisions to get to a product that people actually want. Indeed, some of the biggest tech companies out there performed early pivots. Twitter? Originally aplace to subscribe to podcasts. Starbucks? Started out selling espresso makers.

So if your early feedback tells you you’re writing music people don’t like, why not try something else? There’s nothing wrong with pivoting.

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TheNew Artist Modelis an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our mailing list.

 

How to Create an Online Press Kit

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You know that you need great content on your website for your fans, but there’s another crowd you need to address with your website – the bloggers, editors, and conference organizers looking to publicize your music! These people look to your website for great photos, quotes, biographies, and stories to include in their articles and write-ups. If that info isn’t on your website, they may be pulling information from a Wiki page that may not be 100% true, or, even worse, they could choose to just leave out these details, giving your music a much shorter write-up.

Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR wrote up this very detailed guide telling you exactly what you need to include in your online press kit. Here’s an excerpt, but if you want to see the full article, head over to the Cyber PR Blog.

1. YOUR BIO

Make sure your bio is easily locatable on your site and it can be easily cut-and-pasted (not in a PDF format that they can’t easily grab).

Your bio should NOT just be a “who, what, when, where, why” or a list of business accolades. Invest in having a bio written that brings out your signature story. This should be a compelling and relatable story that evokes an emotional response from the reader.

Post a long form, 250 word, 100 word and a Tweet sized bio and you have pre-delivered every possible type of bio request that may come your way (no one will ever ask you to edit your bio down again or worse, edit it for you and forget the most important parts.

TIP: Post 4 versions of your bios

  • Long Form
  • In 250 – 200 words
  • In 100 words
  • In 1 tweet

TIP:  Make sure the bio can be easily cut-and-pasted!

2.  YOUR PHOTOS – MAKE THEM EASY TO FIND AND DOWNLOAD

Thumbnails are great for quick and easy loading but are detrimental for use in print (if you are a speaker or attending a conference where there is a directory, your photo may be appearing on posters, flyers and in a printed conference guide.

You should always have a few downloadable photo options on your site in at least 300 dpi / jpg format. Also post vertical and horizontal photos so editors working on a tight format won’t have to resize anything.

TIP: Create an easy-to-see link that says “click here for a hi res / low res jpg.”  That way, busy editors can get what they need easily.  When the photos are downloaded, make sure they are properly named so that editors can find them in folders and on messy desktops!

Do you have an online press kit? What have you included in yours? Share in the comments below!

 

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Your Marketing Questions Answered

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In this tough music business it can sometimes feel overwhelming. You need to learn how to do so many things on your own and still have time for practicing, writing, recording, and performing your music. Luckily, there are a ton of really smart business people out there sharing their knowledge on the internet.

In this article Ariel Hyatt from Cyber PR answers some pretty big questions that a lot of musicians trying to make it in this industry are asking. This is just a few of the questions she answered. To see all 14, jump over to Cyber PR.

What makes for a good pitch?

Something that’s extremely descriptive and catchy; descriptive doesn’t mean you have to sound like somebody else, though that’s a very helpful context. Catchy could be anything from fun, like hillbilly-flamenco, or poly-ethnic Cajun-slam-grass, or it could be really descriptive like Joan Jett meets Jessica Rabbit. Those are three of my favourite pitches, they’re in my book because they are really good. If I was in an elevator with Devil Doll and I asked her “what kind of music do you make,” and she answered “it’s Joan Jett meets Jessica Rabbit,” that’s dead on. She’s a rocker who’s got a really sexy, curvy look. A pitch like that, a short concise piece, is crucial.

Bands are normally terrified, they don’t want to say they sound like anybody, they don’t want to pigeonhole themselves. It really is a disservice to try to invent a new genre of music to explain what you are. It may feel creative, but people don’t understand it.

In today’s music business, how do you think a band can best get through or above the noise?

That’s a tough question. There is so much noise. What I preach, and what I think is really effective is engagement. Engaging people online starts with understanding your audience. People want to feel connected. If you’re just speaking at people and you’re not speaking with people, they’ll go elsewhere for that connection.

So, to rise above the noise… first of all, of course, this is all predicated on having really good music, so don’t suck. Work on your music, don’t just put anything out there. I see that all too often – people think just because they have a home studio, they have a right. Just because it’s easy to post on social media sites, that doesn’t mean you should. Be thoughtful, that’s the first step in rising above the noise. Just because I have a digital camera doesn’t mean I should take 3000 pictures and post them on Flickr. If I take 3000 pictures and I edited them down to 5 that were really stunning, and people saw them and appreciated them, that’s a good start. So, have great music – that’s the cornerstone.

Then the next piece is make connections. How do you do that? That’s really based on understanding your audience and that’s critical. There are million articles and books about how to do that but I also think you can get out there and play live. Connect with people and never squander an opportunity. Every day is an opportunity to connect with people, and that means if you’re playing a live show, get your butt behind your merchandise table and sign. I don’t care if you sign free postcards, or give away stickers – talk with people, connect with them. The most successful artists I know today who are making money and I’m not talking about Mick Jagger, but independent artists that are making it on their own – they take the time to connect personally with their fans.

What are some good ways to get people to sign up for a newsletter?

When people are considering signing up to a newsletter, which most people are not excited to do because we all get too much email, it’s not only about just getting people to sign up, it’s about making sure that when they do sign up, you’re giving them an amazing experience. I think that piece we forget. We’re so busy worrying about “get me names! I want names,” we forget that it was really important to have great content.

First, make sure you’re building a newsletter that has great content, then second make sure it’s going out regularly, consistently, and that it’s trackable (meaning you can pull up statistics on how effective it is). Whenever anyone is thinking of joining a mailing list, they’re thinking “What’s in it for me?” So you have to make sure you’re providing good content for them, make sure that you’re giving away music, make sure you’re doing something that’s interesting. So always think when you’re asking people to sign up, “what can I give?” Be generous. Giving away one track for a newsletter signup is probably not going to get you far. But if you give away three plus a video, then there’s something in that for a potential fan or a loyal fan already.

What’s your number 1 music marketing question? Leave it in the comments below

If you want to get a better handle on your marketing and create a strategy for success, check out the New Artist Model online courses. You can sign up for the full course or just take the marketing module. The courses are enrolling now! You can also check out 5 free lessons from the courses by signing up for our mailing list.

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Create an Emotional Connection With Your Super Fans

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Article by  of CyberPR. Check out the full article here

Newsletter

Before the internet, newsletters were used as a way to connect a world-wide community of fans. However, even now with the existence of social networks, newsletters are a personal and direct interaction that can connect not just you to your fans, but your fans to each other.

One excellent examples of community newsletters are the Grateful Dead’s ‘Almanac.’ What made this newsletter work so well is that it covered more than the music; it covered the scene as a whole.

The ‘Almanac’, typically spanning 5 or 6 pages in length, spent much of the first few pages showcasing original (and exclusive!!) artwork, discussing side projects and music as a whole that the community would be interested in, as well as updating the community about the charitable foundations started by band members (more on sharing passions below). The second half would be band news, announcements of upcoming tours or album releases and finally, mail order music/ merch and tickets.

Video Tour Diary

A concert is more than just music. It is an event. An experience.

A well-delivered concert experience is THE best way to connect with your fans on an emotional level. Because of this, video tour diaries are an extremely effective way to increase that emotional connected established through the concert experience, by giving the attendee’s a deeper look into the behind the scenes happenings before, during and after the concert. Ultimately this gives attendees the chance to grab on to, and re-live the event any time they want to.

The idea of a video tour diary has become quite popular in the emerging hip-hop world, as many of these upcoming artists give their music away for free through mixtapes and focus on making money from the live show; a business model similar to that made famous by the Grateful Dead and Phish.

These videos not only act as a way to offer additional value to those who attended the event, increasing the emotional connection within, but can function as an emotional marketing tool as well. Giving your fan base the opportunity to take a sneak peek of your recent live shows is a fantastic way to drive further ticket sales…

Always remember that a concert is more than just the music. It is an event. If you can convey that your shows are a must-see experience, then you’ve already begun to establish an emotional connection with fans before they’ve even bought the ticket.

Name Your Fans

This is THE first step to creating a tribe, which is the most ultimate form of emotionally connected fan base you could have. This gives your fans away of identifying themselves as apart of a group, and ultimately this creates insiders and outsiders which helps to strengthen the loyalty of those within.

Like her or not, Lady Gaga has done an incredible job labeling her fans as her ‘Little Monsters’.

Even emerging hip-hop artists are starting to understand the power of naming the fan base, such as CT-based Chris Webby, whose ‘Ninjas’ (Webby is an avid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan) have lead to the over 13 Million youtube views. His latest mixtape  garnered over 23,000 downloads in under 24 hours.

How have you built an emotional connection with your super fans? 

If you’re ready to take your music career to the next level, check out the New Artist Model online music business classes. You can also sign up for access to free lessons.

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Lessons From Macklemore

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

It’s the success every musician dreams about – making it big on your own. But you know what? It’s no fairy tale. The career of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis has been a long, hard road – one that a lot of people would have turned away from a long time ago.

The duo brought home four Grammy’s in January and, although Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) is helping them with distribution, they’re still not signed to a major record label. So how did they get here?

Here are some key lessons to learn that helped Macklemore and Ryan Lewis find their success.

1. Say something with your music. Embrace your brand.  Be different.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love,” a song with a more than an obvious nod towards the gay community,  is not commonplace in hip hop. By pushing this issue and standing behind a controversial topic, the duo probably got a lot of haters. But you know what, they also got a lot of people behind them. They stood out.  They were different.  Know who you are, know what you believe in, and say something meaningful with your art. Of course, timing is important too.

“I wrote the song in April [2012]. Shortly after Obama came out in support of gay marriage. Then Frank Ocean came out. It seemed like time was of the essence. It was never about being the first rapper to publicly support the issue, but at the same time you don’t want the song’s power to become diluted because all of the sudden it’s a bandwagon issue. 

The fact that there [was] an election coming up in Washington [was] huge. I know that a large portion of my fan base is 18-25, many of whom have never voted. If the song can get people out to the polls to pass same-sex marriage in Washington, that is a very beautiful and exciting thing.” (Source)

In the same way, the smash hit “Thrift Shop” (500 million views and counting on YouTube) is definitely not what you’d expect from hip hop. There’s no gold teeth, big brand names, or flashy bling pointing towards an extravagant lifestyle. Macklemore isn’t trying to fit into the typical hip hop mold. The duo has stayed true to their own ideas and because of that, have stood out. So what do you have to say?

2. It will take time.

There’s no such thing as overnight success. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis met in 2006, released The VS  EP in December 2009, and didn’t get crazy success until The Heist in 2012. Before there was a duo, Ben Haggerty released Open Your Eyes in 2000, The Language of My World in 2005, and The Unplanned Mixtape in September 2009. It was a long road. Do you think you would have continued to press onward?  8 years and still rolling.

Aside from albums, Macklemore and Lewis took years to build a local audience before expanding into a nationwide movement. The first national headlining tour was in 2011. Before that, Macklemore and Lewis focused locally playing at a Colorado College house party in 2010 and Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 2010. The Agency Group’s Zach Quillen became the booking agent and began testing the duo’s reach by booking small gigs along the West Coast. The duo continued to grow, playing the Seattle Mariners opening day in 2011, and then moving on to festivals like Outside Lands, Sasquatch, and Lollapalooza later that year.

This train is still going. The duo is still operating independently with a relatively small team and being strategic about their plans. As we know so well, a huge hit doesn’t guarantee your future in the music industry.

“We are a small business that’s becoming a medium-sized business. With that, there is a learning curve and there are times when you feel like you don’t quite have the manpower to operate the business to the best of your ability. But we’re growing and we’re adapting to the best of our abilities.” (Source)

3. Keep moving forward.

Even if you feel like you’re further away from your dream than you’ve ever been, keep moving. After some local success with the 2006 EP The Language of my World Macklemore hit a low point, struggling with addiction.

“I was close to giving up. I was broke, unemployed, freshly out of rehab, and living in my parents’ basement. It was a “If this doesn’t work, I gotta get a real job” time in my life.” (Source)

You’re low point may look different. Maybe you feel like you’ll never break out of your home city or state. Maybe you just can’t seem to get to the point where you can quit your day job. The key is to keep moving. Take a small step forward, or even a few steps back. Keep yourself moving instead of lingering in that low point. Everything we perceive or appreciate in the world is based on motion. Stay in motion.

4. Find people who believe in you and build a team.

Having a team behind you is one of the best things you can do for your music. A “team” doesn’t have to be top industry veterans. More times than not, when we’re talking about indie artists, a team of top execs isn’t the best option. You want people who believe in you and your music, not someone looking to make big bucks fast.

Macklemore has shown us time and time again how valuable a team of “amateurs” can be. Ben Haggerty met Ryan Lewis, then 17 and a dedicated producer, guitarist, and photographer, in 2006. He wasn’t an industry veteran. He was another passionate creative out there with the same cause.

“Ryan is one of my best friends in this world. He’s my producer. He’s my business partner. And he’s probably one of my toughest critics, which is an imperative trait of a teammate… Ryan doesn’t make beats, he makes records. I needed that in a producer… I trust Ryan. I trust his ear and his eye. His creative aesthetic. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for him. I spend more time with Ryan than anyone else in my life. We’re a team, and I’m extremely blessed because of it.” (Source)

There weren’t any household names on The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis drew on local talent. Ray Dalton, a Seattle singer-songwriter is featured on “Can’t Hold Us,” Wanz, another Seattle singer was featured on “Thrift Shop,” and Seattle singer-songwriter Mary Lambert is featured on “Same Love.” In addition to that, Macklemore’s finance, Tricia Davis, is their tour and merch manager.

5. Create an authentic connection.

When Macklemore stepped on the stage at the Grammy’s the first thing they talked about was “Wow, we’re on this stage… And we could never have been on this stage without our fans.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis connect with their fans in a very humble and authentic way. You just have to take a quick trip over to their Twitter and Facebook pages to see just what I mean. The tone isn’t pitchy. It’s kind of funny how we almost have to relearn how to be human when it comes to social media in the music industry.

“For me, being transparent about every aspect of my life is what makes my music relatable and how I’m able to be an individual amongst the mass amounts of other artists.” (Source)

The slogan to remember is that things don’t make things happen – people do. If you want to find your own success in music you need to get people behind you – this means both fans and a team. Create a relationship – and that means two-ways. Give and receive.

Being a musician is a tough gig. You have to be incredibly gifted and ridiculously dedicated all at once.  But that dedication can pay off! It’s been proven time and time again that independent musicians can be successful their own way, and you can continue that trend. The music business was built on that ethos.

Check out the New Artist Model online music business school for more ideas and analysis like this. You can also sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

Sources:

http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/macklemore-ryan-lewis-the-heist/#_

http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2014/01/7-lessons-anyone-you-can-learn-from-macklemore-ryan-lewis/

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/474720/macklemore-reps-talk-the-heist-debut-diy-marketing-plan

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1562815/macklemore-ryan-lewis-billboard-cover-story

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10 Social Media Secrets

10 Social Media Secrets

Today, social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans and easily notify them with exciting news. With all the social media guides out there, you’d think no one remembers one of the key behavioral aspects to being human – socializing. I know, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – afterall, you still need to sell your show or record. Here’s 10 secrets to help you find that social media balance.

I’d like to know what problems your facing with social media. Let me know in the comments below.

1. Listen!

Socializing is, by nature, a two-way exchange. Try holding a conversation with someone with your ears plugged. Social media is talking with your audience! There are other tools out there for talking at an audience. Make it a habit to read comments and @messages. You’d do the same on your personal accounts, wouldn’t you? By listening to your fans you could also get valuable information like what new song they are digging the most or what they liked about your show last night.

2. Leverage online and offline.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some artists, like Alex Day have managed to build their career on one channel, most of us need to find a balance of online and offline. Maybe you leverage Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and some local shows in your area. The key is to think about how you can send fans from online to offline and visa versa. You need to create a flow.

3. Write posts yourself.

Don’t completely outsource Twitter or Facebook to a third party. Fans can tell the difference. Keep it real and learn. If you have a band, have members sign their posts with their name so fans can get to know everyone’s personality.

4. Be conversational.

On Twitter, make your tweets two-way. If you just make a statement, there’s no where for the conversation to go. Think about how you would approach starting a conversation in real life. Instead of saying “We have a gig tonight at this place,” try “We have a gig tonight at this place. What songs do you guys want us to play?”

5. Be genuine.

Talk about your life and what you believe in, as well as your music and career. Open yourself up, so that people can get to know you. It’s amazing how much interaction you can generate by posting a funny picture of your dog.

6. The 80/20 rule.

So exactly what is the balance between personal/interesting content and marketing content? I don’t like putting a formula to something as spontaneous socializing, but a general rule of thumb is that 80% of your content should be personal, funny, interesting, and entertaining, and 20% should be reserved for marketing pushes. Go beyond 20% and people start ignoring you. Keep it social. Keep it fun.

7. Drive interest.

Just like the flow between social media and the offline experience, you should also create a flow between your social media channels and your website. Your website is the hub of your career online. It’s where you make sales and have more detailed information for fans. Link creatively to your website, so that you give people fun and interesting reasons to visit.

8. Don’t over-invest yourself in every social media platform available.

A lot of musicians I’ve talked to find themselves completely consumed by social media. As a result, they don’t have much time left over for their music. You are only one person and can only do so much. Pick a few social media platforms and really focus on creating strong interaction and engagement on those platforms.

9. Pick platforms that are relevant to your image and brand.

If your target fan is a young teenage girl, Twitter and Instagram are your best bets, as these are the platforms where these girls spend the majority of their time. If you are a improvisational jazz band whose target fan is a forty-year-old working man, Facebook and email would probably be your best bet.

10. Make your channels unique. It’s also a good idea to use each social media channel slightly differently. Give your fans a reason to follow you on all platforms. While you can and should push important information out across all your channels, try to give it a different spin. If your announcing a gig try this approach: Take a picture of yourself in front of the venue and push it out to Instagram and use Facebook to drive engagement, asking fans what songs they want you to play. Get creative!

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Ready to get a better handle on your social media? We go into even more depth in the New Artist Model online course. If you’d like to learn more, sign up for the mailing list to get access to 10 free lessons.

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 2)

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. I’ve compiled 10 great strategies with 10 real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians I’ve talked to think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.

Here’s strategies 6-10.

6. Find Your Niche

The best way to get a really dedicated fan base is to start small. Start local and move up from there. Just focus on your town or city and build up a strong following. Stay after your gigs to get to know your fans. Give them something really valuable and unique. Once you’ve conquered your local scene, move on to the next city. Its a long process, but in the end you’ll have a lot of people who are very excited about your music.

In the same way, you should really focus in on a niche. This can be anything you want – a genre, a attitude, a belief. Aligning with a niche creates the opportunity for a connection – chances are there’s a lot of other people out there who are just as excited about that niche as you are!

Eileen Quinn, is a songwriter and sailing enthusiast who combines her two passions into one by writing sailing songs. She targeted a market that isn’t already saturated with music – the sailing market – and was able to really be the star. It may seem like she limited themselves in terms of audience, but in the mainstream music industry they would have been just another artist. In their specific niche, however she was able to really stand out!

7. Get Your Fans Talking

As an indie artist today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. Marketing can seem like a completely daunting task if its just you trying to get the word out, but you actually have a whole team of marketers just waiting to share your music – your fans!

With the constant presence of social media and the internet, most music fans today are bombarded with more information than they can possibly process. As a result, most music fans look to recommendations from trusted sources for new music. These trusted sources could be a good music blog but more times than not it comes from a friend.

The Wild Feathers are a rock band out of Nashville, TN. In the week leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album, The Wild Feathers made the album available early at their live shows. On top of that, the band gave their concert-goers a little surprize. Every album sold included two CDs – one to keep and one to share with a friend. (Source) By selling the album early they are specifically targeting their superfans – the ones who would travel hours just to get their hands on the album before everyone else. Because they are so passionate about the music, superfans are also most likely to tell their friends about The Wild Feathers. Giving them an extra CD to do just that really empowered their superfans to share.

8. Develop a Brand Strategy

“Branding” and “artist image” aren’t new concepts at all. Since the beginning of music artists have been defined by genre and personality attributes. Especially today, there are so many people out there trying to make it as a musician that you really need to consider why people would buy your album or go to your show instead of someone else’s.

There are two common approaches when it comes to defining a brand. Some musicians like to list every single genre they draw influence from. On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.

You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. Before  Sum 41 made it big, they had a hard time getting a record deal because many labels thought they were just another Blink 182 imitation band. The labels only heard one dimension of the band – their sound. It was their image, personality and attitude that really set them apart and got them the deal in the end. The band took camcorder footage of them goofing around and edited it into an audio-visual EPK. The resulting seven-minute hilarious video showed the labels that they were more than just punk music. They were characters and they were very good at projecting their character through media.

9. Find a Balance Between Free and Paid Content

Your music is valuable, and you can ask people to pay for your music in a variety of ways! Remember that money isn’t the only form of payment that has value. Information can be just as valuable or more than cash in many instances. Free music is one of the most effective ways to grow your fanbase. Even big-time musicians like Radiohead and Trent Reznor have used free music to their advantage. The key is to have a reason for free.

When trying to navigate the realm of paid content don’t let yourself be restricted to the typical music products like the CD and tshirt. Services like BandPage Experiences allow you to sell unique products and experiences to your fans. The sky’s the limit, and the more personal the products and experiences, the better. Rock Camp used a BandPage Experience to host a contest, allowing guitarists to purchase entries to win a spot at the Ultimate Musician’s Camp. Anberlin used a BandPage Experience to sell all access passes to their tours.

10. React to Opportunity

In music, opportunities pop up when you least expect them, and it’s your job to be ready! These opportunities could be anything from a pick up gig, to a publishing deal to a chance to collaborate with a local musician. Either way, the artists that can react quickly are the ones who succeed. While you want to take the time to weigh your options, remember that overthinking an opportunity can be just as bad as under thinking. There comes a point where you need to just decide to take the leap or not!

Amanda Palmer made $11k in two hours by jumping on an opportunity. (Source) Palmer was tweeting with her followers about how she was once again alone on her computer on a Friday night. Fans joined in the conversation and a group was quickly formed – “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda Palmer created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation. When a fan suggested a t-shirt be made for the group Palmer ran with the idea, sketched out a quick shirt design and threw up a website that night. The shirts were available for $25 and two hours later Palmer had made $11,000!


To learn more strategies that you can be applying to your music career right now, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons! 

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In Defense of 1,000 True Fans

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Despite being published back in 2008, the concepts in the article 1,000 True Fans are still true today. Musicians today can be independent and successful, but you can’t wait around and hope for some big time success to just hit you in the face. You need to take the time and really build up a strong group of people who really believe in you and your music, and that group doesn’t need to be as large as you may think. 1,000 true fans is all it takes to be able to live the life in music you deserve!

If you haven’t given 1,000 True Fans a read through yet, be sure to check it out. However, sometimes big ideas and theories can be difficult to grasp and apply to your own career, so here’s an interview with Cyber PR campaigns manager Andrew Salmon (@andrewgsalmon) and Canadian singer-songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto so you can see how the 1,000 true fans model is working for a real indie artist.

Andrew Salmon: How long have you been an active musician for? You’ve been making music and performing for a long time, but do you think there was a defining moment when you became officially “active”?

Robyn Dell’Unto: I played through high school but tried VERY hard to stop as I made my way into university [McMaster University]; I wanted to be a psychologist or something else really respectable to grown ups. But the local music scene in Hamilton, Ontario was so incredibly conducive to collaborating, getting on stage, just being around other musicians, and I cracked pretty quickly. There were so many talented people just hanging around town, and great music venues. I got hooked, started playing a bunch, recording singles here and there. I moved to Toronto after graduating, and about a year later I entered this competition with a local independent record label, and “won” a record contract. I felt sort of validated by that, because out of nowhere I suddenly had funds and support. While I’m loving running my own show these days, I’m so appreciative of that experience.

AS: What would you estimate your percentage breakdown of music-related income to be?
– Shows
– House shows / club shows
– Music sales / streaming
– Publishing / sync licensing

RDU:
– Shows (including house/corporate/public venue/college): 30%
– Music sales: 5% (ha!!)
– Publishing/licensing (including residual royalties): 40%
– Other (workshops via my songwriting program A Song Of My Own): 25%

AS: You have a strong presence on Twitter, and you clearly have a special bond with your fans in this space. How have you gone about building your tribe?

RDU: Ha! I didn’t realize I had a tribe. Could I please be called Chief? Twitter is fun and direct and I guess I just try to be myself while putting info out there as much as possible. I’ve gained a few real fantastic fans through licensing and touring, and I find people stick with you if you’re responsive, or a bit funny, or just generally not a dick. Everybody’s in love with music, and it’s incredible to think that someone could be in love with yours.

AS: How would you say you’ve been able to win your fans over? What additional value do you bring to the table in terms of your relationship to your fans beyond the music?

RDU: Hmm…I guess I’d have to ask them. I really like posting photos, and I think people like to see what’s happening behind the scenes. I like posting ridiculous photos of animals, particularly pugs, they’re just so damn ugly and everybody love-hates them. People send me links to fantastic ugly pug pictures and I’m always extremely grateful. I talk about food a bit… who doesn’t love food, right? I’ve had a few proposals, which I’ve been receptive to. Nothing wrong with that. I LOVE getting cover-performance videos of my songs, and try to always repost them. I recently saw a sign language performance of my song ‘Astronaut’ on YouTube. It made me weep. Like, honestly weep. That was awesome.

Robyn Dell’Unto’s sophmore record “Little Lines” is available now! Learn more about Robyn on her website and follow her on Twitter here.

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Do you have 1,000 True Fans?

Learn how to harness your fanbase! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons!

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t Let Your Fans Market

fans-as-marketers

As an indie artist today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. You probably don’t have a record label planning your releases or scheduling your social media for the week, and you certainly don’t have any spare cash for a big marketing campaign. Marketing can seem like a completely daunting task if its just you and maybe a manager trying to get the word out, but you actually have a whole team of marketers just waiting to share your music – your fans!

With the constant presence of social media and the internet, most music fans today are bombarded with more information than they can possibly process. On top of that, new technology has enabled just about anyone to get online and call themselves a musician. As a result, most music fans look to recommendations from trusted sources for new music. These trusted sources could be a good music blog but more times than not it comes from a friend. Think about how you found some of your favorite artists. How many of them did you discover from a friend’s recommendation? Or someone you trust?

The key here is authenticity. Making it real and transparent and interesting. More people will check out your new album after a friend recommends it than would after a flashy TV commercial. This means you don’t need to dish out thousands for a big marketing campaign. The most effective form of marketing is completely within your reach financially!

Let’s take a look at The Wild Feathers, a rock band out of Nashville, TN. In the week leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album, The Wild Feathers made the album available early at their live shows exclusively for their superfans. This strategy gave superfans an incentive to go to their live shows and get excited about the release. On top of that, the band gave their concert-goers a little surprize. Every album sold included two CDs – one to keep and one to share with a friend.

This strategy is genius for a couple of reasons. By selling the album early they are specifically targeting their superfans – the ones who would travel hours just to get their hands on the album before everyone else. Because they are so passionate about the music, superfans are also most likely to tell their friends about The Wild Feathers. Giving them an extra CD to do just that really empowered their superfans to share. They turned their superfans into marketers!  And they also brought them into the club early, which made the promoter happy.

Paramore also harnessed their fans as marketers in June 2013 for their song “Still into You.” Paramore launched a contest – “Paraoke” – asking fans to submit their best cover of the song. The winner would receive the bike featured in the video, two concert tickets, and a merch pack. As a result, YouTube was flooded with new Paramore covers. They didn’t need to spend thousands on a big marketing campaign. Their fans spread the word for them.

New-Artist-Model

Chances are your fans are already out there talking about your music, but with a great marketing plan you can really harness your fans’ marketing efforts. In the New Artist Model online course we look at all your fans and help you create a plan to grow and energize the power of your fan base.

What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and kickstart your marketing! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free sample lessons!

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t Focus on a Niche

musician-niche

We all want everyone to like us, but in the music industry especially that’s not always possible. People have such specific and opinionated tastes in music that there’s always going to be someone out there who’s just not a fan of your sound. But don’t let that discourage you! On the flip side, because music is such a personal thing, there will also be people out there who think your music is amazing. The key is to focus your efforts on these people. It’s easier to turn a fan into a superfan than it is to turn a hater into a fan.

Start local and move up from there. Don’t try to tour the country, or even the “East Coast”. Just focus on your town or city and build up a strong following there. Stay after your gigs to get to know your fans. Give them something really valuable and unique. Something extra. Draw them into your scene.

Once you’ve conquered your local scene, move on to the next city. Its a long process, but in the end you’ll have a lot of people who are very excited about your music.  Think about this a concentric circles. You start in the middle and move out over time. You have your current circle, so you work within that and then move out one ring at a time.

Take for example the band Phish. They are a notorious touring band, but they weren’t always as well known as they are now. Phish is from the northeastern US, and they stayed in that area playing gigs and building up a fan base for years after they formed. They were able to sell out some of the biggest venues in their local area before they were even signed to a record label.

The vastness of the internet’s reach has a lot of musicians today convinced that they need to rush to larger tours. The logic is that if they tour more in an increasingly large area they will get more fans and make more money. However, it takes more than one show to make a true fan. If you repeatedly play your local music scene, music fans will really get to know you and feel a connection with you and your music. This is what you should be striving for – the deep connection, not just awareness.

In the same way, you should really focus in on a niche. This can be anything you want – a genre, a attitude, a belief – what your brand is all about. Aligning with a niche creates the opportunity for a connection – chances are there’s a lot of other people out there who are just as excited about that niche as you are. And your niche can transcend music and  connect you over time with other people.

To consider an extreme example, let’s look at the “Gluten-free rock star,Darius Lux. After going through a diet change, Darius Lux began targeting gluten-free and health blogs for coverage of his music. Health and food has little to do with music, but the key here is that he was in a space with little to no competition from other musicians. Rather than having to differentiate himself from the thousands of other pop-rock musicians out there, Lux went to a different market – one where he was the star.

Another musician, Eileen Quinn, is a songwriter and sailing enthusiast who combines her two passions into one by writing sailing songs. Like Darius Lux, she targeted a market that isn’t already saturated with music – the sailing market – and was able to really be the star. It may seem like these two musicians may have severely limited themselves in terms of audience, and in the mainstream music industry they would have been just another artist. In their specific niche, however they were able to really stand out.

New-Artist-Model

Everyone has their own specific niche, be it a geographic area, a lifestyle, or a belief. It will take a little thought to discover your niche, but once you do you can create a really targeted plan to conquer that niche! In the New Artist Model online course, you’ll go through this soul-searching process and build a plan from there with the help and guidance of founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic, Dave Kusek.

What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and build your own success! Subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free sample lessons!

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Build your Fanbase with Frequent Releases

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Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1de4Yfe

In the past the standard model was to release a full length album every year or so, and while a lot of musicians today still go by that model, more and more are starting to do smaller, more frequent releases. Especially if you’re an indie artist, this strategy is great for building a fan base and staying in the front of your fans’ minds.

Here CD Baby lists out some of the key benefits to the frequent release strategy. If you want to see all 10, check out the full article.

1. Keep your existing fans “tuned in” – Our attention spans are getting shorter and our entertainment options are increasing. If you disappear for three years without any new music, you can’t expect your old fans to pick right up where you left off. You need to stay on their radar if you want them to continue supporting you with equal fervor. The more frequently you release music, the more chances you have to remind them of why they love you.

2. Generate more opportunities for press – Likewise, the more music you put out, the more chances you have to contact bloggers, music magazines, local weeklies, etc. Pinning all your PR hopes on one album release every few years really limits your chances to get the press talking about your music.

3. Pace your creative and recording workload – It’s very time-consuming (and potentially expensive) to complete a major recording project all at once. Generally to finish tracking and mixing a full album in one stretch, you’re looking at anywhere from two to twelve weeks’ worth of work. But what about one song a month? That sounds more manageable, healthy, and realistic, which probably means it’s more likely to happen!

You’ll put everything you have into one song at a time to get it right; then have a little break from recording until next month — rather than exhausting all your energy or ideas. You can release a single every month for a year (and even do a release party for each one if you want to draw some extra attention to the new music). At the end of the year, compile the best ten tracks into an album.

4. Highlight your best songs in multiple ways – Fans love bonus material: remixes, rough demos, alternate takes, b-sides, etc. You can either release these bonus tracks as singles throughout the year, or include them in a special edition of your next album (which gives diehard fans another incentive to purchase the full album even though they already bought the singles that appear on that album separately).

5. Show off your live chops – Whether you produce your own concert recording or do an in-studio for a radio show, TV program, or music blog — turn those sessions into albums or EPs. People love to hear raw, live performance versions of their favorite songs.

How often do you release music? Share in the comments!

 

To learn more about staying connected with your fans, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

 

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Grow Your Fanbase With Twitter

Twitter_music

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1amtI8U

Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool in your music career. However, it can sometimes feel like no one is listening despite there being hundreds of thousand of people on Twitter everyday. Andrew Muller (@TheRealMusicianruns Twitter campaigns for musicians and has a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. He gives some great tips for upping your Twitter game. Here’s a short excerpt from his article. To see all four tips head over to Cyber PR.

Custom background/header/profile image (with photoshop templates)

I can’t tell you how often a band is ready to run a promotional campaign on Twitter, but hasn’t even bothered to create custom graphics for their Twitter page yet. It’s a very simple task, so it always tends to blow me away when I see this.

If you don’t have any of your own ideas, here are some I’ll give you to get you started. If you do have your own ideas, feel free to let those surpass my recommendations.

For your profile photo, I would recommend choosing a picture of your band. Sometimes an album cover or a piece of art you have can be appropriate too. The photo can be up to 2mb in size.

For your header image, create a graphic that’s 1252×626 in size. It can be an album cover, a picture of your band, or maybe even just a background from your album slip. Do your best to make it a cohesive image that fits in with the rest of your band image.

For your main background, I have a special treat for you. Take a look at the Twitter account for “Every Time I Die”. Their background image is a perfect example of professional design, and you can achieve a very similar effect with minimal graphic design skills.

If you follow this link, you can download a photoshop file I’ve prepared for you.

All you need to do is fill in the blanks to get a professional background image. You do need to own a copy of photoshop, or at least know someone who does, but it should save you a lot of legwork when designing your own Twitter background.

With those 3 elements in place, you should be good to go as far as the “look and feel” of your Twitter page goes.

Tweet @ people

Twitter is meant to be a dialogue between you and your fans, so you need to consistently be talking to people.

Using the @ symbol when you reference someone is a great way to show on your public Twitter profile that you’re talking with people. When someone shows up to your Twitter page and sees that you are actively talking with people, they’re much more likely to follow you.

How do you use Twitter? Share in the comments below.

To learn more about how you can use Twitter to connect with and grow your fanbase, subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons!

Contests for Fan Engagement

This article is from Corie Kellman of Cyber PR. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full article here.

When all the numbers and the platform choices start to overwhelm you, take a step back and ask yourself – “If I was a fan, what would I want to see on my page?”

In the grand scheme of things, your pages are not about having the most views, the most likes or even the largest number of email subscribers – it’s about connecting with the ones that care enough about you to do something (Think: recommend your music to a friend… show up to a show… spend time at the merch table… buy something). When the platforms have evolved, changed their rules, or disappeared, those types of fans remain loyal and seek you out. These are the types of fans that are willing to pay for things that the fair-weather fans may not. Establishing good relationships with your fans is an essential step to monetizing your art.

One of my favorite ways artists are connecting with their fans and promoting fan engagement is contests. Contests are great for three important reasons:

1. Contests create fan engagement and bring fans together – they ask them to participate in your community and bring your fans together in friendly competition.
2. Contests give you new, fan-generated content to feed your page and share.
3. Contests give you a chance to give back – fans are a big reason why you are where you are at right now, and will continue to be a driving force in your career.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few contests to get your brain juices flowing:

Paraoke

Paramore asked their fans to submit a video of their best karaoke attempt to their recent single “Still Into You” – once all submissions were in, they picked their top six and asked their fans to vote to determine the winner. The lucky Paraoke Queen (or king) was up to grab the bicycle from the music video, two tickets to a show, and a merch pack.

This contest flooded YouTube with Paramore covers, allowing the band to promote their new release without shelling out big bucks. They used the contest to turn their fans into marketers.

We See You – You See Us

Screen-Shot-2014-01-02-at-8.32.30-AM

Third Eye Blind used instagram to run a contest, which they cross posted to their Facebook page for 20 fans to win a chance to attend a private practice at the rehearsal studio. All the fans had to do was upload their photo entries to Instagram and hashtag their entry #3EBontheroad– winners were chosen daily the entire week – encouraging fans to keep their eyes on the page all week.

Tell us about a contest one of your favorite bands ran!

Join the revolution! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get free lessons from the course.

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Data and Context: The New Drivers of Fan Engagement

The internet has given artists the opportunity to connect with their fans any time and anywhere, but how do you convert those interactions into sales? With so much information being pushed into social media, how can you be sure your posts aren’t being lost in the crowd? Founder and CEO of BandPage, J Sider, believes that data and context will be key in the coming years. Check out his article below.

As an industry, we’ve gotten pretty good at reaching our fans, engaging them and driving conversions. There is a general understanding of how to reach them on social networks, traditional online marketing and mailing lists. But now, with the rise of major streaming and entertainment platforms combined with advancements in technology, there are two things that will make it much more powerful to engage and convert fans: data and context. While social networks opened new channels for fan engagement over the past few years, we believe that going forward the biggest untapped potential for artists will be in streaming and entertainment platforms that offer context-relevant channels and data-driven targeting techniques.

Why Streaming & Entertainment Platforms?
Streaming and entertainment platforms, like Spotify, Pandora, Xbox Music and VEVO, have emerged in the last few years as places where hundreds of millions of users are deeply engaged in content. These users, a.k.a. your fans, go to streaming platforms for the main purpose of listening to your music, that’s why these channels are key to increasing fan interactions and your bottom line. These platforms know what types of fans are listening, how many times they’ve listened and the other content (concert listings, pictures, videos, etc.) they perused. This comprehensive picture leads to increased conversions, such as revenue, new fans and a better understanding of your current fans.

Think about it: when you post an update about your latest album on social networks, that status swiftly floats down a real-time stream of content posted from your friends, family and thought leaders about every subject possible. Although your fans may see it, they can easily be distracted by everything else. Page posts organically reach about 16% of their fans on average. The key to reaching fans with content is targeting & context. That same album update will be more impactful when it hits a fan who is currently listening to your music on a streaming and entertainment platform because they are only focused on you.

We already see streaming services that let users know when their favorite artists put out new songs or albums. Now let’s take that same idea and apply some more nuanced targeting to it. We’ll identify three types of fans — Passive, Active and Superfans. You wouldn’t show a Passive fan a $200-VIP offer because it would feel like spam to them, so you present them with your new song or a nearby show instead. Meanwhile, we target the $200-VIP offer to the Superfan. This fan-focused targeting can lead to higher conversion rates and, ultimately, more revenue and a larger fanbase. It’s the most effective “in-context targeting” we’ve had yet.

Why Now?
When BandPage first started, my goal then was, and it still is, to connect artists directly to their fans to increase engagement and revenue. At that point, fans were found on large social networks, and that’s why we started there. Then we looked to where we could help artists expand on other platforms and properties in effective ways. That’s when we began to power musicians’ websites and blogs. But today, the action has grown on major streaming and entertainment platforms.

Social networks are still a very influential part of the puzzle. But looking forward, I believe these new entertainment and streaming platforms will become just as important, if not more important, than traditional social media networks for generating conversions and reaching fans. The aggregated number of fans across these platforms gives artists the unprecedented opportunities to effectively reach hundreds of millions of fans they weren’t able to engage before.

What’s Next?
In the past, artists couldn’t effectively and efficiently communicate on streaming and entertainment platforms. Our bet is that these platforms will become an incredibly powerful way to engage and convert your fans. My company recently started powering musicians profiles on VEVO and Xbox Music via their BandPage profile, and you will see us expanding our platform to help musicians successfully reach their fans.. This is just the beginning of what’s possible for the music industry. And I’m very excited for that potential to become a reality.

J Sider is the Founder & CEO of BandPage

Join the revolution, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list.

Email Marketing vs Social Media

Email marketing and social media are two great tools every musician can use. Email still converts more than social media, and social media is a great way to reach a potentially huge audience. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon one or the other. Use both tools together and take advantage of their unique strengths.

How does your approach to email marketing differ from your approach to social media?

Thanks to Media Bistro for this great infographic.

email-vs-social-media-marketing

How to Promote Your Music Online

There are plenty of articles and guides out there for music marketing. Many of them stress the need for a website, a social media presence, and the live show. This article from Music Think Tank stresses one marketing effort that is often overlooked – collaboration. Collaboration can be used in all aspects of your career, from the live show to songwriting to recording.

When you’re writing, collaborate with another songwriter for a song or two. Try to pick someone around you level or just above you in terms of fan base size. That songwriter will surely tell their fans about the collaboration. Since fans tend to trust the opinions of the artists they follow, some of them will probably check your music out. You’ll probably gain some new fans in the process!

The same goes for recording and touring. When growing your fan base, you need to establish trust if you actually want people to take time out of their day for your music.

This article, by Shaun Letang, was originally posted on Music Think Tank.

1. Climb the Ladder with Your Collaboration Efforts

OK, so the first thing you can do to promote your music better isn’t actually something many musicians associate with actually being a form of promotion. Collaborating with other musicians can actually be a great way to get out there. Making songs with a well known act can actually mean you can get in front of their fans. It may also mean that you gain a higher perceived value for working with that act, and it can be a good note on your CV when looking for other music related work and opportunities.

The thing is though, it’s very unlikely you’ll get collaborations with big names in your genre (unless you already know them). You see, their time is precious, and they’re not just going to collaborate with every up and coming act out there. The solution? Using the ‘ladder’ method.

What you want to do is categorize any talented musicians in your genre into different levels based on how big they are. Usually, while the biggest acts won’t be willing to work with you at this stage, some of the lower level acts will be – with enough incentive. So what you do is approach those acts which are slightly bigger then you, and do collaborations with a few of them. Not only does this get you in front of their audiences, but it also gets you associated with being at their level.

Once this is done, start looking to the next step of musicians who are that bit more popular then the last group you approached (and are now in yourself). Do the same; collaborate with them, get in front of their audience, and become thought of as being on their level.

Rinse and repeat, each time working with bigger acts and getting a bigger reputation yourself. The good thing is, once people start seeing you’re working with lots of people in your genre, they will want to start working with you too. You’ll be the hip new people on the block that everyone wants to be associated with.

2. Climb the Ladder with Media Outlets You Try to Get On

OK, this method of promotion is pretty similar to the last one, only with platforms to get yourself out there.

If you’ve ever tried to get covered by a big website, TV channel or radio station, chances are you didn’t hear back from them, or got rejected. Again, these places aren’t looking to work with just anyone; you need to prove you’re noteworthy and worthwhile for them using one of their exposure slots. As you may have guessed, the above ladder method works here too.

Start out by getting on smaller platforms and websites, and build your way up. Get all of these previous places you’ve appeared on your music CV. Include their logos on your website. Make it clear people are talking about you.

Gradually build things up, networking with new people along the way. You will find more and bigger opportunities become available to you, as the music industry is full of people who don’t care until you say you’ve worked with ‘x’ amount of their competitors. So keep climbing that ladder.

3. Master Your Gigging Game

So I could say to you, “Gig because it’s good exposure and you can make money from it.” I want to give you more, though. The thing is, anyone can gig. That said, what are you doing to set your gigs apart from 95% of other musicians in your genre?!

Practicing your lyrics is one thing, but mastering your show is something else altogether. Remember, as a musician you are an entertainer! It’s your job to entertain. Yes, that might just be in the form of your voice in rare cases, but in the majority of cases your whole stage presence also factors into things.

When people leave your show, are they going to remember you as that person with good lyrics and a good voice? Or will they remember you as that person who stood out and outshone all the other performing acts that night? I hope you aim to achieve the second one.

So what can you do to achieve that? Well first of all, find out what works in terms of stage presence. Load up YouTube and search for the best live acts in your genre. See how they command the stage, see how they move, and see how they interact with the audience. Does it work? Is it something you can do and build on? Most of the time it will be, so be sure to build yourself as a overall great performer, rather then just someone who has good vocal ability.

To see the full article and see the other 3 music marketing tips, visit Music Think Tank.

Do you think collaboration is a good way to grow a fan base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Holiday Marketing Strategies

Image Credit: http://bit.ly/17uD4jh

Image Credit: http://bit.ly/17uD4jh

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I thought it would be fitting to talk about some unique ways to incorporate holiday cheer into your marketing strategies this season. The holidays offer great opportunities to engage with your fans (and generate sales!). For example, you could give fans two albums at your shows and ask that they gift one to a friend. Get creative and have fun with it!

The folks over at Cyber PR wrote this article about holiday marketing that includes some great ideas that any band could pull off. Here’s an excerpt from the article, but you can read the full post on the Cyber PR Blog.

Here’s wishing you all a great holiday season.

Crowdsourced Content

Nothing says ‘unity’ like creating opportunities where your fans can all contribute. Once you’ve picked a holiday theme (i.e. ‘All I Want For Christmas Is…’), there are several easy ways for you to request content from your fans that can result in a single, crowdsourced project. The result would be something that everyone, you and your fans included, can take pride and enjoyment in:

  • Ask fans to upload photos to Facebook and tag your fan page so that you can track all submissions and then create your own Holiday Photo Album.
  • Ask fans to submit text or photo submissions through Twitter using a single Hashtag so that you can track submissions. Then you can use Storify to create a single project where all of the tweets are gathered in one place.
  • Create a youtube video announcing the project and ask your fans to submit their own video responses so that you can create a Youtube playlist with all of the responses.
  • Ask fans to submit photos through Youtube or Twitter, and then you can create a slideshow music video using the fan submissions.
  • Create a collaborative Spotify playlist and ask your fans to add their favorite songs based on the chosen theme. The end result is a playlist that can be shared with your entire fan base as something unique they can listen to throughout the holiday season.

Contests

An excellent way to not only engage your fan base, but also create a strategy that showcases your products for sale (without being overtly self-promotional) is to create a contest that requires fans to engage with you.

It is important that your contest be worthwhile in order for it to work, so make sure your contest is set up with a prize that offers something exclusive, be it a signed copy of an album, or backstage passes to an upcoming show.

There are TONS of contest apps and platforms available to you at different price ranges, offering different types of contests, so do a simple google search to find one that works best for you.

Sale Bundles

A classic tactic for boosting sales at the end of the year is the bundle. And with good reason to. It works! Fans may be less likely to purchase your album because they can just as easily listen to it through Spotify or Rdio, but may be far more likely to purchase your album if you bundle it with other things. Here are a few levels of bundles that could work well:

Low-Price Level idea: Album + Merch

Low-Price Level idea: UBS Drive of full anthology of albums (possibly even including exclusive, previously unreleased content)

Mid-Price Level idea: Album + Tickets to an upcoming show

High-Level idea: Album (or USB Drive) + Tickets + Merch + Phone / Skype Call with Fan

The best way to make these bundles effective is to create multiple price points, with each one increasing in exclusivity.

Exclusive ‘Gifts’ For Mailing List Subscribers

One thing we preach here at Cyber PR® is the importance of your mailing list, in terms of engagement as well as sales.

Be it a video gift card, an exclusive invitation to a networking party/ hangout (or even a show!) or exclusive holiday music, giving a holiday gift to your newsletter subscribers is a great opportunity for you to not only give back to your already loyal fans, but to also build upon the desirability of joining your mailing list; something that will be of the utmost importance as your continue to advance your career.

This post is from the Cyber PR Blog. To read the full article, click here.

Will you be trying a holiday marketing strategy? Share your ideas in the comment section below!

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Creativity in Business

"Músic" by Joan Sorolla

“Músic” by Joan Sorolla

Musicians are creative. They can turn words and notes into sonic emotion. Everyday, musicians find new ways to express themselves creatively, be it through a new guitar tone, a visual idea for a music video, or that perfect vocal melody.

Musicians are smart. It’s often overlooked how complicated playing and creating music really is. Reading, comprehension, listening, motor, memory, and creativity all play a part in playing even the simplest songs. People don’t decide to become a musician because they’re not good at anything else. If it was that easy everyone would play music. That’s one of the reasons why we’re all so fascinated by musicians – because not everyone can be a musician. They can take an idea, turn it into a song, and touch thousands of people in a unique way.

There’s this notion in the music industry that music and business are two completely separate entities – two separate parts of a whole. One without another would not survive, but they rarely cross. It doesn’t need to be that way.

A musician’s creativity need not be limited to music. Many musicians who are going at it alone or are just starting their career are overwhelmed by the business side of the industry. They are told that they need to understand law, marketing, accounting, and more if they want to make it today. To a musician who is used to solving things creatively, looking at their career from this other perspective seems daunting.

It’s important to know some things about the music business, like general copyright law and basic accounting to keep track of your money, so you should have some business mind you can consult with. However, many aspects of the business can be approached with a creative mindset. Instead of thinking, “Well this is how everyone else releases their albums, so I guess I’ll do that too,” try using the same creativity you put into your music to try something new, something that fits with your message and image. Don’t think of it as a completely separate, logical process. Think of it as an extension of the song or album you just created. How can you extend your song or album’s message through the release process?

Today, challenge yourself to think about the business side of your career with the same creativity as your music.

Marketing Tips: Music Blogs

Whether you write your own blog or try to get featured on other music blogs, blogging is a key part of your marketing plan. Running your own blog is a great way to connect with your fans. You can show them glimpses into your life and the creation of your music. In essence, it creates a deeper connection with the fans you already have. On the other hand, having your music featured on another blog is a great way to grow your fan base. Bloggers have a strong influence over their reader base. The readers really trust the bloggers thoughts and opinions, so if they say your album is good many will go check you out.

This interview with blogger Tim Board, originally posted on the Cyber PR Blog, has some great insights that you can incorporate into your blog strategy. Tim Board runs the blog Front Range Scribbles where he writes about music in the Colorado area. He also runs Front Range Radio where he plays a lot of the music he highlights on his blog.

 

Here’s a run-down of some of the key take-aways from this interview:

1. Let your blog evolve over time.

What you start out writing about may not be what you end up writing about in a year or so. For example, you could start a musician blog on your website about your day-to-day life thinking fans want to get to know you as a person and find out that what they really want to see is the music. In the end you could be writing about your experience in the studio and the inspiration behind songs.

2. Find your niche.

If you’re writing your own musician blog, figure out what really makes you unique and incorporate that into your writing. Maybe you love working with vintage gear to get your signature sound. You could write blog posts about what to look for when buying vintage gear. When trying to get your music placed on blogs, you need to keep your niche in mind. You could be the best punk band out there and never get placed on a blog dedicated to reviewing folk music no matter how many nice emails you write.

3. Try to form a relationship with bloggers.

Think about how annoyed you would be if people kept sending you in-your-face marketing emails. Instead, try to start a conversation. Send some music and ask for their opinion. It could read something like this: “We’ve been following your blog for a while and see that you have a great ear for folk music. We’re working on a new album and would really appreciate your opinion on our single.”

 

Here’s a short round-up of the interview, but you can see the full interview on the Cyber PR Blog.

Is Front Range Scribbles your first foray into digital media? If so, what was the inspiration? If not, give us your history.

Yes it was. The blog really started out as a test for myself to see if I could just maintain it on a regular basis. The blog in the beginning had no direction it was a hodgepodge of writings, or photos. I would write basically whatever was on my mind that particular day. I then started a show on blogtalkradio featuring music and interviews with local independent artists. It was at that time I decided to change the focus of the blog to just writing about music. Writing about independent artist and their music, combining my blog with my radio show was an easy decision for me.

Front Range Scribbles has a focus on Colorado based independent artists. What are the benefits of focusing on the promotion of local artists?

The biggest benefit is being able to see the local artist perform live and talk with them one on one. A live show give me a chance to hear more from the artist then what they have published on the internet or on a CD. Sometimes the artist will perform songs they are working on that is not available anywhere. An artist from another state or country I can’t see them live or talk with face to face. A phone interview is not the same as a face to face interview.

What do you suggest to an independent artist looking for blogs to connect with for the first time?

The internet is full of bloggers writing about music. Look at websites or social media sites of other artist you perform with or know and see if any articles have been written about them and by who. Look at sites such as ‘Indie Bus” once again see who is writing articles about various artists. Once you find some bloggers, get a feel for what the blogger writes about, genre, geographical artists etc. If you do contact a blogger, try starting a relationship first, don’t just email the blogger and say hey write about me or about my single/CD. If a blogger does write an article than watch for comments and respond. The readers will enjoy seeing comments from the artist.

How do you prefer artists approach you who are interested in blog promotion or partnering with you in any way?

The easiest way is to send an email to tim [AT] frontrangeradio DOT net

Where can people find you online?

My website is www.frontrangeradio.net, my blog site is www.frontrangescribbles.com, and my weekly radio show can be heard Sunday nights 9pm Eastern on www.party934.com

 

What’s your blog strategy?

Has your music ever been featured on a blog?

Share in the comment section below!

The Challenges of Finding Your Brand

Building a brand as a musician is a very abstract concept, and many get frustrated in the process. Its important to remember that the process of finding your brand takes a long time, and everyone else is struggling with it too. Unfortunately, there is no formula to a strong brand and the brand idea you start out with may not be the same as the one you end up with. It’s really a long process of self-discovery. You will need to look in yourself and also listen to what your fans and followers are saying and how they are reacting to fine-tune your brand.

This article was originally posted on the Cyber PR blog.

The key to establishing yourself online and within your niche, is building a strong brand. Unfortunately this is far easier said than done. The process of designing, building and nurturing a new brand means you have established:

  • A unique voice
  • Consistent compelling content
  • A trustworthy reputation

The problem for most comes down to the simple fact that there is no single path to achieving any one of these things. And yet, you need to achieve them all in order for your brand to blossom.

What works for some, may not work for others.

What seems to be an obvious indicator of success for some, may be hidden for others.

A ‘brand’ is such an abstract, malleable concept and it may be difficult to know if you’re heading in the right direction. In fact, it can be down-right frustrating.

So the question becomes:

What is ‘Normal’ what it comes to building an online brand?

Here are 4 normalcies of brand building that, although may not give you the answer to the status of your brand’s growth, should give you the comfort knowing that you are not alone in your frustration and process.

Defining Your Voice Can Take A LONG Time
Whenever branding is discussed, one of the first components to be included is the idea of establishing a ‘voice’. This ‘voice’ must combine a powerful mission statement with a unique approach.

It won’t work with just one or the other.

This voice may not come to you right away. In fact, it is normal for this to take a VERY long time to fully realize.

As Malcolm Gladwell has said in his book ‘Outliers’, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft.

Once you do fully realize this voice, your focus and ability to create compelling content will be likely to become prolific.

When I created MicControl, it took me over a year’s worth of daily blogging before I found my voice.

I knew I wanted my mission to be helping musicians to advance their careers through digital marketing. But it wasn’t until I found the right approach of creating lean, skim-able, and most importantly actionable articles focused on social media marketing tactics, that my voice became truly defined.

Once this happened – the content started POURING out of me. What once took me several days of sketching, researching, drafting, re-drafting, editing and formatting, now took me only a few quick hours at MOST.

You Will Doubt Yourself… And Then You’ll Doubt Yourself Again

Doubt HAS to be the number one killer of brands. I can say from personal experience that this was the hardest obstacle to overcome. And yet, I had to work to over come my own doubt about my brand on a weekly basis (if not more often).

Because building a brand is so abstract, and can take such a long time to establish, you’ll often feel like you’re just treading water.

This is normal!

Because of this, it is important to find any successes, even if they are small, that you can not only rejoice in on a regular basis, but can use to keep you motivated:

  • A handful of Facebook ‘likes’ on a status update
  • A comment left on a blog post
  • A Re-Tweet or an inclusion in a #FF (Follow Friday) tweet

These are all successes. Use them as indicators of your growth and realize that with each small success, you’re working towards your brand-goal of creating compelling content, a unique voice and a trustworthy reputation.

What challenges have you faced building your brand? How have you overcome those challenges?

To read the full article, visit the Cyber PR blog.

Unforgettable Fan Experiences

Your fans are the reason you can live a life in music. They are the reason you wake up every morning excited to perform, record, or create. Additionally, your fans can act as a formidable marketing team if they share your music with their friends. Building great fan experiences into your marketing plan is a great way to get them talking and make them feel appreciated.

This article was originally posted on Cyber PR by Corie Kellman. She highlights some of the amazing experiences she has personally encountered as a music fan. With a little tweaking, these concepts can be easily incorporated into your marketing plan.

1. During Your Live Show, Make the Connection to Your Real Fans

If you guys follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you have no doubts that I am secure and comfortable about being a fan of Taylor Swift.

Naturally, I had to check out one of her three sold out shows last week at Bridgestone Arena. At most large arena shows it’s very difficult to make fans feel special or connect on a personal level, as there are tens of thousands of faces hidden and the performer generally can’t see past the bright spotlights on the stage more than the first few rows.

Within the first three minutes of the show, Taylor passed her hat off to a fan in the general admission pit after her first song completed. As she coasted up and down from stage to stage, she gave fans high-fives and tossed out guitar picks. It was a great attempt to make a large show feel a little more intimate.

2. Make Your Success a Success for Your Fans As Well

Last month, Country star, Jake Owen announced a free block party show via Twitter to his fans to celebrate his number one single. These number one parties are a bit of a tradition here in the Nashville country scene; driving up and down music row you will see banners celebrating singer-songwriter accolades. Different to those typically seen here in town, Owen wanted to share the success with his fans, not just his industry team. 20,000 fans gathered in front of BMI for the free show and this party went down in history as the largest number one party Nashville has ever seen.

3. Empower Your Fans to Share Online and Off

Leaving Nashville Sunday night last month, a friend and I visited the merch table a week leading up to the Wild Feathers official album release, where they had CDs available for their fans early. I prefer to purchase vinyl and stream digitally, and since the album wouldn’t be available on vinyl for another week, I left the event with just a poster. My friend, however, LOVES CDs. . . seriously LOVES THEM. As she sat in her car and opened the album to pop into her CD player, she called me stressing not to pull out yet. When she opened the CD, there were two, one “to keep” and one “to share”.

The idea was GENIUS! She came to the show on my recommendation and now she could share with a friend. It is a small offering from the band AND works out in their favor if when it lands in a potential new fan’s hand.

To see the other two experiences, check out the full article on the Cyber PR blog.

What are some of your most unforgettable fan experiences?

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Marketing your Music: the Power of the Social Web

If you are young and use the Internet, you know more about your audience than [labels] do – for sure. This is a revolution and you can be a part of it. The old guard is dying; if you have good ideas – try them. (Trent Reznor, via the 9 Inch Nails Forum) Unfortunately talent is only part of the equation these days. Succeeding as a musician in a multi-media world requires you to understand marketing. Savvy self-promotion means the difference between empty gigs and heaving ones, between your latest tune reaching the ears of a key decision maker or languishing in the echoes of your bedroom. Traditionally, musicians have kept to the ‘creative’ corner of the room, factoring marketing and PR as the realm of the business world, and hence nothing to do with ‘what I do.’ Those days are long gone. Unless you’re one of the lucky and incredibly rare ones talent spotted before you’ve had time to think, it’s up to you to learn some new skills and put yourself out there. It’s an investment in your career which may take you outside your comfort zone, but might just get you where you need to be. Twitter With its 500 million registered users, including most of the key decision makers of the music industry, Twitter is a potential gold mine for up and coming bands. After setting yourself up a stylish and well composed account, start by investigating some of the key bands in your particular niche. Are these guys using Twitter successfully?, if so see who their friends are and follow them! Then move on to the labels which sign your kind of music, the venues, promoters and so forth. Twitter’s total transparency allows you to listen in real time to the key industry figures, and learn from their success. When it comes to tweeting, less is certainly more. 140 characters on why your band is great won’t rock anyone’s world, rather concentrate on developing a persona: be witty, creative, share helpful links. And from time to time, but no more than that, a link to one of your best tunes might just build your fan base. Remember, an effective Twitter account, highly targeted to your niche, is going to be a long term investment. Once it’s working you can use it to pack out your gigs, sell albums and merchandise, and generally build yourself as a brand. But in a world of that many Twitter accounts, you’ll need to be smart and savvy to stand out from the crowd. Blogging Pete Townsend, David Byrne and Brian May are just some of the many legendary musicians who blog. Blogs can offer a highly personal online diary of what you and your band are up to which is another great way to build an audience. Although the web exists in cyberspace, its emotionally driven and, as such people look for content which engages them on a felt level. Include mp3’s of your rehearsals, links to interviews, polaroids of the diner you stopped off at on your way through Arkansas. Tell stories which communicate what you’re about, and always respond to comments. Your website itself sits at the top of a pyramid, with your social media accounts at a level below. Above all, try to generate the best content you can: quirky and hilarious always finds an audience, as does moving and thought-provoking. Blogging is about connection and, when that’s established, the commercial side of things will run itself. Instagram Still one of the fastest growing social networks, Instagram has found its niche with a young mobile audience interested in sharing images and video. The Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and Bon Iver are just of the legends using Instagram to great effect, offering quotes, setlists and insight, behind the scenes shots and humour, all to powerful effect. Images are the basic medium here, though video is allowed, so use your phone to capture moments which are going to resonate. Soup them up a little using programs like Camera + or Big Lens, which offer a host of cool filters and effects to make your footage stand out. Finally, following the example of Deftones, use competitions to maximum effect. With their 43,000 followers, Deftones use Instagram dynamically, offering rewards to fans who submit photos from some of their gigs, then showcasing the winners on the bands social media platforms. They even offered a signed guitar, as an incentive to get people involved. This kind of activity would have been unthinkable to a band in the 1960’s but is now a classic example of how a proactive and intelligent social media approach can propel a band further into the spotlight. Email If you’ve got a site, you need a sign up box on the homepage for fans who want to keep in touch with your output. This email database will end up being one of the biggest assets in your marketing arsenal, and certainly the most profitable. To understand the sheer power of email, you could do a lot worse than learning from the unlikely marketing guru of Trent Reznor from the 9 Inch Nails. Trent has written extensively about this on the Nails forum here pointing out how even the bosses of a big label won’t be nearly as concerned about the longevity of a band as the musicians themselves. He suggests embracing new media, such as email marketing, to take control of your own outreach. Trent, as well as bands like Coldplay, give away free albums on their sites in return for bands email addresses, thus bypassing major label distribution entirely. With Music City networks estimating the fiscal value of an email ID for bands as $111 annually, it’s not difficult to see that this kind of exchange ends up brilliant direct marketing, in which returns can go straight into your pocket. Remember to push your website at every gig and interview, and to then incentivise fans to sign up via prizes and rewards. Many people find http://bandcamp.com/ is a useful tool to build their lists: this site allows fans to download your music for free, as long as they give over their email ID. Definitely worth a shot. Jane McInness blogs about the music industry, as well as writing for the great Imagem Production Music blog here.

Music Marketing: The Power of the Niche

The internet allows you to reach millions of people with your music, but is that really the way to go? You cannot be everything to everyone, so its often best to focus in on a niche, at least to start. Many musicians who are known as “overnight successes” or “viral super stars” actually worked for years to grow within their small niche before they made it big.

So what is a niche? A niche is a very specialized market. “Hip hop music” is not a niche, but the LGBT community within hip hop is. A niche can be genre based or it could find its roots in a certain social causes, attitudes, or hobbies. Lady Gaga is known for conquering the niche community of pop fans who face bullying. Macklemore is known as a supporter of the LGBT  community within hip hop.

Check out this great post from Cyber PR on Conquering your Niche:

Understand That a Niche Typically Starts Very Small

The internet is and always has been about BIG ideas. By giving us a further reach than ever before, it has become second nature for us to always think on a global scale.

This is a mistake!

Remember that a niche can and usually does start very small, as in so small that it can be targeted locally. By working with your niche locally first, you can build up buzz in your area, making it easier to connect with all of the influencers in your area, opening up doors to connections with influencers outside of your area on a regional, then national and then even global level.

An example that I always like to use when discussing Niche Marketing is Phish. Everyone has heard of them and they are widely considered to be one of the greatest touring bands of all time, but it is far less understood that by the time they were signed to a label and started touring the country, they were already local heroes, selling out some of the biggest venues in the area on their own. In fact, Phish didn’t even tour outside of the northeast until years after they had formed the band, because they found it better to target the local scene and conquer it first before moving on. By the time they left the northeast, they already had fans waiting for them in other parts of the country, because as we discussed, niche fans are more loyal. Their local fans loved the music and helped make sure the word got out.

Know EXACTLY What Your Niche Is

The more detailed an understanding you have of your niche, the better of you will be. As mentioned above, as your niche becomes a more specific section of a market, the more loyal the fans will be within!

Now, your niche can really be whatever you want it to be (within reason – more on this below), so deciding which niche you fit into best is really up to you. But no matter what that niche is, you absolutely need to have a full understanding of the niche you’re targeting. Here are a few things for you to consider so that you can better define and locate your niche:

    • Demographic (age, gender location)
    • Similar / influential artists (remember to start locally, then branch out to the regional, national and global scale)
    • What are the influential promotional outlets?
    • Where do the fans exist online?
    • What blogs do they read?
    • How do they find out about new music?
    • Are they into fashion? If so, what brands?
    • What are their favorite hobbies?

Now that you have the proper understanding of your niche, you need to seek it out and see if it is truly worthy. Some niches won’t exist online or at all in the way you hope and so the demand for your music just isn’t enough to get you on the map. Some of you will be lucky to decide upon a great niche on your first attempt, but some of you may need to test the waters until you find one that really works.

To read the full article, visit Cyber PR.

There are more strategies than the ones listed above. Comment below and let us know what you’ve done to conquer your niche. 

7 Tips for Music Marketing

No doubt you got into music because you love music, not because you love marketing. While musical talent plays a huge role in success in this industry, marketing is also extremely important – but it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Today, anyone can be good at marketing. It’s all about knowing your fans and knowing yourself.

Check out these 7 tips for music marketing from Music Think Tank:

1. Marketing Your Music Is Necessary, But Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

As someone who speaks to musicians almost on a daily basis, I know that many have the feeling that marketing their music is going to be difficult. This is an understandable fear; most people get in the music industry for the love of the music, and don’t think they’ll ever have to learn how to market in order for them to get their music heard.

That said, if you do want to get your music heard, marketing is a necessary part of things. The good news though, is promoting your music doesn’t have to be hard. Pretty much all of it can be learned, and it doesn’t require a degree in science or maths to put into place a solid promotion plan for your music career. As long as you’re willing to learn and put the work in where needed, after a while marketing your music should become second nature to you. Who knows, you may even start finding it fun. 🙂

2. Music Marketing Is All About Raising Awareness

A lot of musicians when starting out feel like if they make their music good enough, they will get noticed. That all they have to do is record a good album, make it available to people in stores (or somewhere online) and their music will start making sales and getting downloads.

While I can see why people would think this, it’s far from the truth! Anyone who’s tried this tactic before will know that this isn’t the case. All that happens is you make 0 or very few sales.

Being talented and letting people know about your talent are two very different things. As well as making music that people actually want to listen to, you need to get them to give you a listen in the first place. After all, how will people know you’re talented if they don’t give you that initial chance?

New acts are coming out all the time fighting for people attention, to the stage where if you tell people online you make music and give them a free copy of your new album, most people won’t even download it. It’s because of this that you need to convince people your music is worth trying out. This is what music marketing is!

By marketing your music you’re doing two things:

  1. You’re showing people that your music exists, and
  2. You’re convincing people to give it a try.

If these two things don’t happen, don’t expect your next release to do very well.

3. Marketing Is Often Most Effective When It’s A Two Way Process

While some of things you do to market your music will only involve one way interaction (you relaying a message to fans and potential fans), things will really start taking off for you when you make this interaction with fans two way. By this I mean you don’t always want to be relaying messages to them and then shutting your ears. When you update your social sites for example, as you get more followers, chances are people will often reply to something you’ve said. They want to continue the conversation you started.

What I often see however, are fans replying on musician’s walls, but the musicians not replying in return. Even if they’re asked a reasonable question. While the affect of this won’t be as big if you’re always gaining new fans and have a very big fanbase, when you’re still in the growing stage, replying to the majority of your fans will help you grow a lot quicker.

By getting them involved in your music career, you’re creating more loyal fans who will stick around for a lot longer. When you speak to them, you make them feel like they’re part of your journey. Because of this they’re more likely to support and share what you do.

If you didn’t reply to them however, it’d be more likely they’d become frustrated trying to talk to you, and you continually ignoring them. If then another musicians was giving them more attention, it’s very likely they’d continue following and supporting them instead.

While marketing doesn’t always have to be two way, if you don’t implement a two way dialog somewhere in your music career, you’re going to find it a lot more difficult to build up a fanbase than those musicians who do.

To read the other 4 points, visit Music Think Tank.