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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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.

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. 

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.

In this overcrowded industry, the best piece of advice is to find your niche. A niche can be genre-related, but, even with relatively obscure genres, you will still face competition. A niche can also be something completely unrelated to music. You could, for example, align yourself with a certain cause or hobby. Aligning yourself to something unrelated to music may seem counter-productive, but there will be fewer musicians competing for the niches attention.

One artist that this niche marketing strategy has worked very well for is Darius Lux, “the gluten-free rockstar.” He’s been featured on many gluten free blogs and has played at many events, allowing him to reach new fans that he never would have as just a pop musician. Check out this case study from Cyper PR to learn more about Darius’s story.

When Darius came to us he had a video that we hoped would gain some viral traction. After several weeks of promotion it didn’t get the lift we wanted. This happens often in campaigns: We start off in one direction and then we find it is necessary to correct and continue.

We started with a focus group with Darius on the telephone, and on that day he sounded different, and somehow more energetic. I asked him what had changed, and he confided in us that because of a recent diagnosis, he had begun a gluten-free lifestyle. He was feeling better than he had in a long time, physically and mentally. For my team a light bulb went on. I proposed pitching him to some gluten free, health, and wellness blogs.

“I had no idea that connecting to a targeted niche would be such a great way to establish common ground with people rather than just through focusing on my music,” says Darius. “What we later realized was this laser-focused niche was wide open for me. No one else was in this lane.”

Who were intrigued by his story and wanted to interview him about what it was like to be a touring musician on the road living gluten free. They wanted recipes, stories, and the BEST part was, Darius was the only musician being featured amidst nutrition and lifestyle posts. In my book, I refer to this as being a shark in a sea of tuna. It’s an effective tactic because now, instead of just being one of hundreds of artists on a site cluttered with other albums, reviews, songs and musicians, Darius was the only artist on these blogs who were featuring and highlighting him among fabulous relevant posts that already had audiences of established passionate readers and built in communities. Darius created original content and was the subject of lengthy feature interviews. One of the blogs dubbed him the gluten-free rock star and from there many more followed suit.

To see the full case study, visit Cyper PR.

The elements of social media should be taken as they appear in the phrase itself. Social comes before media and is therefore the most important element. Social media is not a tool to simply talk or shout at your your fans, it is a complex feedback look based on communication and, most importantly, listening. You need to be talking with your fans. Without listening and communication, you will be missing out on a good 75% (or more) of the value social media provides.

Social media provides instant feedback. You will know exactly what your fans are digging and what they are not within a few hours if you know what kinds of metrics to look for. By learning from your fans’ reactions you will be able to improve your music and your message.

Unfortunately there is a large population of musicians who miss out on the social elements of social media. Here’s 4 key areas they fall short on and some tips to overcome them.

1. Me, Me, Me Marketing

You might have been raised in a world of billboards and commercials, but using social media as a one way street is killing your promo game.

It seems too many people are missing the social half of the phrase, social media.

You need to engage with fans and listeners instead of blasting them with links, videos, and nonsense about buying your album.

Sadly, most bands qualify [as what the marketing world refers to] as spammers.

Engaging is easier than you think and should come naturally (assuming you are not a recluse).

  • Share albums, videos, and news about other music you enjoy or local bands you play with.Ask others what they think.
  • Share news related to the music industry or issues that reflect the personality of your band and use them to engage in conversation.
  • Instead of posting links to the same videos and songs repeatedly, post clips of the band working in the studio or upload a demo mix and allow fans to share their opinions so you can take the art to another level. Involve fans in your process(es).
  • Network with bands in other areas to create an atmosphere for gig swapping and collaboration as well as cross promotion of content.

This list goes on but the takeaway here is engage in a way that results in feedback and interaction.

Build a community.

2. Focusing on the wrong metrics

Your follower count means nothing unless you see conversions.

Huh?!

More important than a follower, view, or like:

  • How many fans have signed up for your mailing list?
  • Do you pass around a mailing list signup sheet at your show?
  • How many people have you met at shows? (You do hang out with the audience after the show…right?)
  • How many people have bought a CD or t-shirt?

Stop putting all your energy into increasing numbers on social sites and focus on converting the followers you have into loyal fans.

Use social media to funnel music listeners to your website where you attempt to convert them into a mailing list signup, song download, or merchandise sale.

Would you rather have 1,000 likes or 100 fans spending $1,000 on music, merch, show tickets and crowd funding campaigns?

Show me the money!

To see the full article, and the other 2 social media problems, visit the Cyber PR Music blog. Are you guilty of any of these common social media problems? How have you over come these problems to better connect with your fan base?

There are tons of ways to promote your music today with various apps, websites, and services. There are also many things you can do for FREE to help raise awareness for you, your music, and your live shows. To get a better idea of some of the things you can be doing to promote your music, check out this list from Music Think Tank of 49 free promotional tools and methods:

#6 Upload your music to Soundcloud

Soundcloud is arguably one of the best sites to host your music on, especially now that they’ve announced heavy integration with many of Google’s services. If you haven’t already, upload your music on Soundcloud, tag it well, and encourage fans to leave comments on the tracks.

#13 Reward your fans & raise money using Pledge Music

Pledge Music is a great service for simultaneously raising money for your release (or tour, or video) while developing loyalty with your existing fan base, by offering them cool experiences and gifts for ‘pledging’ on your campaign.

#18 Write a guest blog post on a high profile music blog

There are a handful of artists who I only know because they blog heavily on music industry websites. Tommy Darker, Brian Hazard, and Simon Tam are all musicians who I probably wouldn’t have connected with if it weren’t for their participation on blogs like Music Think Tank. If you enjoy writing and have some constructive criticism or ideas on improving the way in which the music industry functions, why not put a post together on one of these sites?

#19 Create a list of relevant bloggers & befriend them

In most genres there is still a collection of music bloggers who influence the listening decisions of many people. This is most certainly the case in the R’n’B and hiphop World. Use sites like Hypem to create a list of potential bloggers, and then begin communicating with them (but don’t jump straight to promoting your music).

#25 Set up a mailing list on Mailchimp

If you don’t have a mailing list set up, fix that. Now.

#39 Tag your fans in photos on Facebook

The image below is of a genius marketing campaign by DJ Tiesto. He put up a banner of himself in the entrance to one of his shows, and his fans got photos taken in front of it. Afterwards, he uploaded all of these photos to Facebook for fans to tag themselves in. This is so effective, because the friends of the fans who were tagged would have then been exposed to DJ Tiesto. Another easy, free, powerful tactic.

To see more, check out the full post on Music Think Tank.

 

Getting creative with your marketing is a great way to stand out from the crowd and really engage your fans. Muse recently ran a marketing strategy titled The Bank of Muse, based off a previous Foo Fighters campaign, In Rock we Trust. The band printed their own currency, the Muso, and distributed the bills at their live shows with a confetti cannon. From these bills, fans could visit the printed link to unlock content.

Lee Martin created both marketing strategies. He explains the strategy on his blog:

I was approached by Muse in April to help develop an interactive campaign that would exist alongside their massive European summer tour both online and at the shows starting May 22nd at Ricoh Stadium. As it turned out, their team were fans of the In Rock We Trust Foo Fighters FOO bill confetti to online campaign I was recently a part of, so we decided to expand upon the concept so that it could exist over the 3-month lifespan of the entire tour while hopefully staying interesting enough for the fans to keep caring.

On the back of each Muso and printed within the tour program, was a link to the Bank of Muse. Fans visited this URL via their mobile devices at the show (or when they returned home) and were prompted to make their first deposit to the bank in order to contribute to a global financial ticker which would unlock exclusive tour content as certain targets were met. Mobile was very important here, because we actually served the behind-the-scenes instant-grat video of Dom to each new account holder, allowing fans to participate right from the show.

Our content rollout strategy was kept very loose in order to respond to fans’ reactions throughout the tour, rather than get locked into something that might fail. In the end, we released several videos, photo galleries, and downloads. We also put together a mid-tour crowd-sourced video campaign for fans attending the Paris shows. It was really convenient to have the app setup to market this before, during, and after the event.

This marketing strategy effectively connected the online and offline experience for fans. It also got fans to work together to unlock content, creating a stronger community. Instead of unlocking individual content, fans contributed Musos to a global total.

To read more about The Bank of Muse, visit Lee Martin’s blog and check out this article on Hypebot.

Create Fan Engagement on Facebook

Facebook can be an extremely valuable tool for fan engagement when used correctly. It can serve as a platform to talk to fans, and a platform for fans to talk to each other. Additionally, if you create engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares, you’re also reaching a wider audience – the friends of your fans.

Of course, creating fan engagement on Facebook can be easier said then done. But it is possible! The key is to focus on talking with your fans, not at them. Social media is all about creating an authentic connections with your audience.


If you want some ideas for what to post to Facebook and other social media platforms, download this free ebook: How to Promote Your Music: With 3 Social Media Checklists 


This article features some great tips to create fan engagement on Facebook.

Facebook: It All Starts with a Page

Before you start planning a Facebook strategy, make sure you’re using a Facebook Page, not a personal profile. This issue can be especially tricky for solo artists, who tend to promote their music from their personal profile initially, but it’s important to make the change to an actual Page. Here’s why:

No “Friend” Limit: Facebook Pages don’t have a limit on the amount of fans you can have (personal profiles have a limit of 5000 “friends”).

Keep Personal & Professional Separate: Having a page is a great way to help keep your personal and professional lives separate as well as minimize the risk of annoying friends/family with your music promotion.

Analytics/Insights: Page Insights can be a powerful tool to let you know where your fans are from, who are the most engaged, and what kind of content is working best (photos, videos, text, etc.).

Promoted Posts: With Pages, you can “promote” a post so that it reaches more people. Depending on how much you’re willing to pay, the posts can even reach beyond the fans who have liked the page. This can be a great way to increase engagement and visibility for your music/content, but it can also get expensive quickly.

Ads: Using a Page gives you access to using Facebook Ads. You can use ads to promote your page and increase likes, promote shows, a new music release, etc. You can even target specific geographic regions, demographics, and interests. But again, just like with promoted posts, ads can get expensive quickly, so set a budget and stick to it.

Tip: Reverbnation has a great tool called “Promote It” that makes Facebook Ads a lot easier, and actually tests different ads for you, then uses the best performing one automatically. Check it out here.

To learn what you should include on your Facebook page, how to make the most of your posts, and how to drive Facebook traffic to your website, read the full article on Hypebot.

My friend George Howard recently wrote a great article for Berklee’s Music Business Journal.  In it he explains how music marketers can connect more closely with the fans that matter as they try and propel their band forward.  Here is an excerpt from the article and solid advice for any marketeer.  The complete text can be found here.

The Life Cycle Curve

In order to find your audience you must consider several details. The first is to accept the fact that you cannot market to the majority; you can’t afford it, and even if you could you would fail because of issues related to frequency of contact with these gatekeepers (i.e. radio/press).

Take the Mavens and Early Adopters and focus on these two groups. The Mavens, a term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point, applies to people who actively and aggressively seek out new things. They are the ones who are not only the most connected to the information channels, but are also most predisposed to discover new things, and new channels as well.

These mavens have a personality type that generates deep satisfaction from not only the seeking out and discovery of new material, but also the sharing of this material. The first class of people with whom they will share are so-called Early Adopters.

These Early Adopters are one standard deviation closer to the majority than the Mavens, and thus there are more of them. However, while they will adopt new things more quickly, they are not typically at ground zero of discovery. If the mavens are the bloggers, the Early Adopters are the readers of these blogs, and — to a degree — the re-bloggers. Again, these Early Adopters are a more populated class, and thus their influence is potentially greater than the Mavens.

There is crossover between the two groups. The area of focus is detailed below:

In every product category there are Mavens and Early Adopters. Whether you are dealing with music or any other product or service, you must find a way to bring your product to both groups.

Pyschographic Modeling

In an era of interconnectivity, demographics and geographics, while still important, are less important than the habits, trends, personality of a customer; i.e. their psychographic profile. Finding your audience requires you to understand profoundly the psychographic profile of your customers. What do they look like, where do they shop, what type of food do they like, etc.?

Determining these factors allows you to create a “model” customer. This is the person who, if you could get your music to her, would deeply embrace it. Also, given the fact that she is a Maven/Early Adopter, she will likely share what she has discovered with her network. Significantly, defining this Model Customer allows you to determine where this customer is likely to congregate, and thus where you must bring your music.

The Straddle: Offline and Online

We do not make profound connections with products, services or people online. Profound connections occur offline — in person. The genius of Facebook, and why it has eclipsed networks such as MySpace, is that it represents a Straddle of offline and online; we upload pictures and detailed stories of our offline activity so that our friends and family can be aware of these offline experiences. In this manner, you must understand that technology is simply an accelerator of your offline activity. By locating the Mavens/Early Adopters within your psychographic landscape, and taking your music to them — in person — you greatly increase the odds of these people developing an emotional attachment to your work.

Architecture of Participation

One of our most primal urges is to share information; this is why babies make the massive cognitive leap to learn language skills. Your job, once the initial offline experience has been established, is to create an architecture of participation; a method for frictionless sharing of information so that those Mavens/Early Adopters who have discovered you offline can begin to share their discovery with their network (i.e. online).

This requires a series of steps related to value exchange. Your first task is to establish four things:

1. Your own site
2. A Facebook Fan Page
3. A Twitter Account
4. An email newsletter

Your Site

On your site you must present a value proposition that begins with exchanging some type of content for an email address. Email is your currency; the more of it you have, the more likely you will be to convert what is essentially a non-scarce resource (i.e. your music) into something of tangible value. Do not be fooled into thinking you can get away using a third-party site as “your” site. While, undeniably, service providers such as Reverb Nation and Bandcamp provide value, you do not own these sites, and fundamentally your participation does more to increase the value of these sites than increase your own value. This is not to say you cannot extract value from these third-party sites; however, this requires using them like Facebook, Twitter, and others, to drive potential customers to your own proprietary site.

Facebook

Your FB fan page, similarly, must also represent a value proposition. The value here relates to engagement. FB allows for easy engagement via its makeup. Consider contests, polls, short videos, or other ploys that will keep your fans not only engaged with you on FB, but will encourage them to direct those in their network to your FB fan page. Of course, you must use FB to direct customers to the value proposition that exists only on your site: a content-for-email exchange, and other site-specific offerings (chats with the artist, etc.).

Twitter

Twitter should be used to establish your voice and to direct people to your site. The establishment of the voice comes as much from your affiliations — who you link to, who you follow — as it does from your actual tweets. As above, use it to engage and to direct traffic to your site. Employ time-sensitive offers and offers only available to those who follow you on Twitter. The goal is to inter-connect these tools, and to leverage them to enhance the offline experience. In all mediums you must encourage and facilitate sharing. Your site must have a FB “Like” button and a share on Twitter so that whenever you post content, your constituents can share with their network.

Email Newsletters

The single best tool for conversion of fan to customer is email. While email is an increasingly ineffective tool for communication it still yields a higher return with respect to sales than any other tool.

Therefore it is imperative that you use your email newsletter wisely.

1. They must be short; highlight one and only one action. The total length should be less than 500 words.
2. They should be frequent; once a week on a regularly-scheduled basis.
3. They should have a call to action; tell the recipient what you want them to do: come to the site to get something, come to a show, etc.
4. They should be forwardable; ask your recipients to forward the email to someone they think will enjoy it.
5. They should have sharing functions embedded; allow people to Tweet, add to a FB status.
6. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe.

Don’t worry about overwhelming people with email blasts. If people are unsubscribing, they’re likely non-value adding “fans” any way. Instead, focus on presenting real, timely, share-able value to your current fans so that they have a tool to help you gain new ones.

Converting your Audience to Customers

It is an immutable law of business and nature that somewhere close to 80% of your activity (engagement, profit, etc.) will come from 20% of your constituents. This is referred to as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. This means that if you have 10,000 people on your email list something close to 2,000 of them will generate 80% of your total sales. The other 8,000 will be largely non-value adding.

The problem of course is that you won’t know which of the 10,000 are the true fans. Thus, you must continuously work to increase your overall amount of constituents. Rather than having 2,000 of 10,000 contributing, strive to have 20,000 of 100,000.  In order to sift through the layers of participation to find the most valuable customers, you must create a filter. Think in terms of a funnel. At the widest point of the funnel is the easiest level of engagement: a free song for an email address.

Summary: The Value of Psychographics

The key is to determine what you deeply care about; what your purpose is, what your values are. From there you can begin — via a psychographic analysis — to find fans that share these same values. At that point, your goal is to bring your music to them, and create the architecture for more participation. Straddle between an offline and an online engagement strategy, but use both.

Once you’ve aggregated these Mavens and Early adopters, you must begin converting them into both customers and evangelists. This is done by honoring the 80/20 rule and working to extract maximum value out of your loyal 20%. Always work to increase the overall pool of your fans.

By George Howard

George Howard was President of Rykodisc, is an original founder of Tunecore and  Assistant Professor and Executive in Residence in the College of Business Administration at Loyola University.

Get Busy Committee

Get Busy Committee

My friend Ian Rogers, CEO of Topspin has started to co-manage the band “Get Busy Committee“.  He has begun to blog about ALL the activities that an artist manager needs to drive their band to success.  It is a fascinating read and a real world education on how to take a band to market in the new music business.  This is going to be really fun to watch as Ian lays out step by step what he is doing to break this band and “get busy” in the marketplace.

To bring a band to market in today’s indie music market is a hell of a lot of work.  You need to be an entrepreneur and you need to build a team of people to help you market, package, promote, distribute, brainstorm, license, and develop a successful artist.  Ian is taking the indie artist management route described at Music Power Network.

Here are some excerpts from his blog.  Required reading for the indie artist and manager today:

The first thing we did was define success: as I mentioned earlier, the goal is to get this music to as many people as possible, connect directly with the ones who like it, build products those people want to own, and turn a profit. Sure it would be great to make enough money that Get Busy Committee could be their primary income, but we definitely aren’t starting with the “if we don’t get a song on a radio this is a failure” mentality. We are starting at zero. The goal is to grow every single week and not lose money.

We started by putting together a release plan. I opened a Google Doc and started dropping ideas and info into it, and encouraged others to do the same. We needed a team, so we started assembling the roster of people, services, and tools which would help us get this record out the door:

Building a Team

Press Relations and Marketing
Creative Direction
Web site design and development
Digital distribution
Physical Distribution
Non-traditional physical manufacturing
Performing rights organizations
Legal

While getting the album to iTunes is the main thrust for a lot of artists, it’s only part of the story (and a very small part so far) for us. We’ve been preparing for this release for months, started selling the album in six different package two weeks ago, are selling the album for $1 on MySpace all weekend, and much more.

Web Site

The object was to make the site:

Home base. The top SEO result for “Get Busy Committee” and anything else related to the band.

Vibrant. It should update with the latest information about Get Busy Committee with very little effort, from a variety of sources. Furthermore, we weren’t going to spend time or money building any of these tools from scratch. We integrated WordPress and Twitter to make sure it was easy to update with long or short-form updates (respectively) easily.

A fan acquisition tool. The site should be sticky like fly-paper. If you visit the site you should have an incentive to leave behind your email address, follow GBC on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, a friend on MySpace, friend on Flickr, subscriber on YouTube, or subscribe via RSS. We may only get one chance to make a connection with you. We don’t want you to bounce in and bounce out without granting us permission to reach out to you later with an update.

A tool for fans to create other fans. Every page of the site is instrumented with simple ways to share on Facebook and Twitter, and feedback for having done so either in the form of a counter or free music for having done so. We want it to not only be easy to spread the word but for you to be recognized for having done so.

A place to convert at whatever level of fan you happen to be. Never heard of Get Busy Committee? No problem, you can stream the record or download a few songs for free. Super fan? How about the T-Shirt/USB Flash Drive combo for $55? Somewhere in between? No worries. We have something for you.

Useful. If you’re a college radio DJ who needs a clean version to play on your show or a beatmeister who wants an acapella to remix that should be easy to find. If you’re a blogger writing about the band there should be, even if it’s not linked from the front page. Anything you email to people regularly should be on the site and easily linked to.

Read much, much more about marketing, pricing, making connections, creating awareness and all the things a smart artist manager needs to know.  Brilliant!

Thanks Ian.

As the influence of major labels erodes, licensers are seizing their chance to be talent scouts. They can be good at it, song by song, turning up little gems like Chairlift’s “Bruises,” heard in an iPod ad. For a band, getting such a break, and being played repeatedly for television viewers, is a windfall, and perhaps an alternate route to radio play or the beginning of a new audience. But how soon will it be before musicians, perhaps unconsciously, start conceiving songs as potential television spots, or energy jolts during video games, or ringtones? Which came first, Madonna’s “Hung Up” or the cellphone ad?

And as music becomes a means to an end – pushing a separate product, whether it’s a concert ticket or a clothing line, a movie scene or a Web ad – a tectonic shift is under way. Record sales channeled the taste of the broad, volatile public into a performer’s paycheck. As music sales dwindle, licensers become a far more influential target audience. Unlike nonprofessional music fans who might immerse themselves in a song or album they love, music licensers want a track that’s attractive but not too distracting – just a tease, not a revelation.

Good summary of this trend by the NYTimes Herald Tribune.

The Long Tail theory is being challenged by a pair of researchers from the UK. A new study by Will Page and Andrew Bud, of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, the not-for-profit royalty collection society, suggests that the niche market is not an untapped goldmine and that online sales success still relies on big hits.

“I think people believed in a fat, fertile long tail because they wanted it to be true,” said Mr Bud. “The statistical theories used to justify that theory were intelligent and plausible. But they turned out to be wrong. The data tells a quite different story. For the first time, we know what the true demand for digital music looks like.”

They found that, for the online singles market, 80 per cent of all revenue came from around 52,000 tracks. For albums, the figures were even more stark. Of the 1.23 million available, only 173,000 were ever bought, meaning 85 per cent did not sell a single copy all year.

Read more here.

I recently interviewed Ian Rogers of Topspin Media for a new project I am working on the – “Future of Music Toolkit”. More to come on that later…

Ian brought me up to speed on the development of the Topspin platform for music promotion. They are creating very cool marketing software and services to help artists and their partners build businesses and brands. This is clearly part of the future. Here are some comments from Ian and a link to his presentation to The Recording Academy at the GRAMMY Northwest MusicTech Summit 2008.

“The lamenting we read in the press is not the story of the new music business. Continuing to talk about the health of the music industry on these terms is as if we’d all been crying about the dying cassette business in 1995. The difference is that when we moved from cassette to CD the winners were the same (big companies who owned access to cash, distribution, and marketing) and the definition of winning was the same (more units sold for these big companies).

Music consumption isn’t declining: iPod sales up 59% Y/Y (source: Apple), P2P filesharing volume up 35% Y/Y(source: NPD), audio streaming up 25% Y/Y (source: Accustream). And despite the endless discussions about the “pirates,” there isn’t an unwillingness to pay for music, either: 1.6B decisions to buy music in 2007, up from 1.3B in 2006 (source: Neilsen Soundscan), 40% Y/Y increase in worldwide digital music sales (source: IFPI), 8% Y/Y increase in North American concert revenue — an all-time high (source: Forbes.com), 40% paid an average of $5 in Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want model, Nine Inch Nails self-release generates $1.6M in first week sales, includes sell out of $300 box set in first 48 hours (source: NIN.com).

IMHO the only perspectives that matter, that of the artist and the fan. I see news about the health of the music industry as defined by the stock price of WMG or quarterly earnings of UMG, Sony, and EMI every day. What I don’t see, apart from a few articles on Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, is an update on how the world is changing from the artist point of view. But I tell you, when I talk to managers and artists they feel it, they feel an ability to take their careers into their own hands, to redefine what success means for them, and that is the emergence of the new music business.

I say this with all respect to our friends in the existing music business. We all know smart people who are busting their asses trying to solve the Innovator’s Dilemma those companies are facing.

Again, there are only two players in the music business that matter at the end of the day: the artists and the fans. The rest of us either add value or get in the way. Don’t get me wrong, over the years labels have added a tremendous amount of value through financing, A&R, marketing, promotion, etc. I’m just saying that every player needs to either understand how it truly adds value or it needs to get out of the way, Topspin included. Our business does not operate on lock-in, ownership of copywritten work, or long-term contracts. We either add value today with a compelling service or we die. And I’m perfectly happy with that.”

See Ian Roger’s complete presentation here.

Here’s an email from Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to his fans. Here is a band that is inventing their own future and building their fan base directly. Take note, this is how it is done… Awesome. (Thanks to Mike King for this one).

Subject: Nine Inch Nails survey

Message from Trent:

Hello everyone. I’d like to thank everyone for a very successful year so far in the world of Nine Inch Nails. I’m enjoying my couple of weeks off between legs of our Lights In The Sky tour and got to thinking… “wouldn’t it be fun to send out a survey to everyone that’s shown interest in NIN?” Well, that’s not exactly how it went, but regardless – here it is. As we’ve moved from the familiar world of record labels and BS into the unknown world of doing everything yourself, we’ve realized it would benefit us and our ability to interact with you if we knew more about what you want, what you like, what you look like naked, etc. I know it’s a pain in the ass but we’d truly appreciate it if you’d take a minute and help us out. As an incentive, everyone who completes the survey will be able to download a video of live performance from this most recent tour (and I know what’s going through your little minds right now: “I’ll just grab this off a torrent site and not have to fill out the survey!!!” and guess what? You will be able to do just that and BEAT THE SYSTEM!!!! NIN=pwn3d!!!) BUT What if we were to select some of those that DO complete the survey and provide them with something really cool? I’m not saying we’ll ever get around to it, but if we did maybe something like signed stuff, flying someone to a show somewhere in the world, a magic amulet that makes you invisible, a date with Jeordie White (condoms supplied of course), you know – something cool. See, you’d miss that opportunity AND be a cheater. Do the right thing – help us out. You’ll feel better.

Thank you and I’ve had too much caffeine this morning, Trent

You wanna take the survey? Click here
.

Here is another presentation by my co-author Gerd Leonhard on “The Future”. It is a little long (63 mins) but very interesting and inspiring. Anyone seeking to understand how to make money in the face of free music should watch this very carefully, and learn.

Great coverage from Rolling Stone.

While up-and-coming bands may find most of their licensing offers in the $2,500 range, established bands can make much more: from $30,000 at the high end for TV shows to $100,000 for movies and $250,000 for commercials. To introduce last year’s Sky Blue Sky, Wilco licensed six of the album’s songs to Volkswagen for ads. And the veteran duo They Might Be Giants, who have been releasing recordings on their own for the last six years, made a deal with Dunkin’ Donuts for around $1 million to create original music for over two dozen spots, according to industry sources.

Perhaps no band has been more aggressive — or creative — with its licensing than OK Go. When the group treadmilled its way to YouTube stardom in 2006 with the no-budget video for “Here It Goes Again,” it was having the kind of careermaking hit that bands dream about, just as the commercial record industry was tanking. So OK Go manager Jamie Kitman sought licensing opportunities for the group — making deals for its music to be used in everything from TV commercials and video games to corporate seminars and cable TV “bumpers” (the music that’s used to come in or out of a program). Kitman estimates that when all the uses are tallied, OK Go will have granted more than 200 licenses and made old-fashioned hit-record money. “The accepted wisdom now is that no one is selling records,” Kitman says. “So how do you keep the wheels on the bus? There’s a person in my office who spends half her time fielding licensing queries.”

Ian Montone, whose Monotone Management handles the White Stripes, Vampire Weekend, the Shins, M.I.A. and the Raconteurs, says his bands no longer make most of their money on CD sales. “A lot of artists are looking toward touring and merchandising sales at shows, because that market is still vibrant if you grow it methodically,” he says. The Shins have licensed songs for use in commercials for McDonald’s and Zune. Still, Montone says the Shins turn down 90 percent of the licensing deals they’re offered. So why McDonald’s? “Why not?” says Montone. “They have kids and want to own houses.”

By comparison, the White Stripes have focused on touring and coming up with creative merch: The band sells limited-edition CD singles on the road, as well as unique posters created for each show. “We do that because it’s something special for the fans, but it’s also a way to make money,” Montone says. “I think you’re going to see artists doing more direct-to-consumer sales.” The Stripes have already been able to reapportion the record-company pie to their advantage: The band owns its masters and strikes distribution deals with the major record companies on an album-by-album basis.

Those kinds of partnering relationships are also being sought by the major record companies, who are offering artists better money if they sign deals that include more than just recording rights. Generally referred to as “360 deals” because they seek to cover every facet of an artist’s career, including publishing, touring, merchandising and licensing, the new deals are a way for record companies to hedge their bets in a declining record market and to recast themselves as music — rather than just recording — companies.

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One of the savviest labels is Fueled by Ramen, which boasts Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Paramore and Cute Is What We Aim For. “A lot of people hear about 360 deals and think it’s a land grab, but when you own the content, there are so many interesting things you can do,” says John Janick, who started the label in 1996 while going to college in Gainesville, Florida.

Unlike conventional labels, Fueled by Ramen, which has a partnership with Atlantic Records, does everything in-house: from building Websites that sell merchandise and recordings to producing the T-shirts it sells at chains like Hot Topic. In fact, Fueled by Ramen uses T-shirts to introduce fans to new music — both Panic at the Disco and Paramore placed tags on shirts with PIN codes that enabled buyers to download advance singles at home. “We’re creating a culture for each artist,” Janick says. “Obviously everyone is still looking for new ways to monetize recordings, but our company is growing into many other areas, and that’s great.”

Read more here.

Attention indie musicians and marketeers. Digital Music News reported on a recent industry panel at UCLA on the importance of using video, controversy and good content to build buzz and promote your band in the digital age.

“Video is key,” said David Dorn, a senior vice president at Rhino Records, speaking to a group of students, executives, and reporters at UCLA on Wednesday. “Right now, online, video is what everybody is interested in. And if you are working with a new band, you have to make sure there are enough video assets.”

Well, what is particularly new about that? After all, MTV built an empire on the backs of major label produced video content for nearly two decades. Remember Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and thousands more? Now YouTube, MySpace and other sites are doing the same thing on the back of major and indie artists and individuals. Today it is Avril Lavigne, Beyonce, Shakira, MCR.

During the session, Dorn also pointed to the importance of other types of content, including images and MP3s. Fans are simply ravenous for fresh content, including video – and that is a demand that must be satisfied. For artists and labels, that means filming the band on the road, offering live clips and interviews, and uploading studio outtakes. “Document it, because that’s what the fans want,” Dorn assured.

Most motivated artists are already saturated within a number of online and video-specific outlets. But what is the secret to winning the seemingly hopeless attention game on YouTube? “Anyone can get 5-10,000 views,” explained Larry Weintraub, chief executive of Fanscape. “But if you want to get into the hundred-thousands or millions, you’ve got to court some controversy.”

That often includes a combination of “sex, killing, drugs, and violence,” something few would argue with. Of course, the content involved must be aligned with the image of the group, though edginess and controversy are great viral lubricants. That will cause more fans to embed the videos into their profile pages, share links online, and boost rankings on YouTube.

Ok, again – nothing new here. Any good marketer knows that getting into the minds of potential customers is much easier if your product or service is controversial or surrounded in mystery. Remember “Paul is dead” for the Beatles? Madonna’s “like a virgin”, Public Enemy’s comments, and Elvis’s hips. All propelled by controversy.

The discussion happened within a class conducted by longtime industry executives Lenny Beer (Hits), Jeff Jampol (The Doors), and Jeff Sturges (Universal Music Publishing Group). The class, “The Music Business Now,” held its final class on Wednesday before adjourning for the semester. More information at myspace.com/233962706.

Read more here at Digital Music News.

The lesson to be learned is that good music marketing works. The times have changed, the methods are more varied, the channels have exploded – but many of the tactics are the same – superimposed on the new digital landscape.

For more info, check out these new Berkleemusic marketing courses here and here and programs here.

The last few weeks have heralded some great news for the music industry. Radiohead’s experiment with user-based pricing, Madonna’s new deal and the formation of ArtistNation, a “360” model for music where the artist and the company partner on numerous levels including recordings, touring, merchandise, etc., and Apple’s repricing of DRM free tracks to $.99. These are all very positive moves that continue to point toward a healthy future of music.

Madonna left Warner Music for a newly formed ArtistNation designed to optimize the revenue potential and investment strategy by combining multiple revenue streams into a package deal. “Madonna is the first step to making Live Nation into the next-generation music company,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said during an investor conference call. “We believe it should help attract additional artists.” Let’s hope so for them.

Read more about this deal here.

The Irish Independent published a great commentary on the state of the music industry this past week. “Madonna – the most successful female artist of all time – is the latest high-profile artist to turn her back on the music majors, ending a 25-year relationship with Warner Music in favour of a lucrative deal with Live Nation. The deal follows the recent excitement around Radiohead’s decision to ditch EMI and offer their new album for download with the consumer choosing what to pay – a move set to be echoed by The Charlatans.

Earlier this year, Prince gave away his new album to readers of The Mail on Sunday. Meanwhile, a slew of yesteryear’s superstars, including Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell, have signed record deals with Hear Music, which is owned by the coffee chain Starbucks.

It appears that artists of all calibres are forsaking the traditional route to fame and fortune – making a hit record with a household-name label – in favour of giving music away and making money off the back of touring and T-shirts. Arguably it reflects the way that consumer attitudes have changed toward music over the past decade, with today’s consumers happy to pay vast sums to see a band but unwilling to pay for songs they can download for free. Many of today’s music fans – and artists – hold a very dim view of the music majors, arguing that they have charged too much for CDs for too long and that the dinosaurs of the industry – namely Universal Music, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG – were too slow to harness the power of the internet and the way the industry has changed.”

This potentially is great news for established artists seeking to renegotiate their contracts or establish new deals with more forward thinking companies willing to write the big check. However, it has yet to be seen how this model will benefit emerging artists looking for marketing muscle to help them break through the noise level. Can a LiveNation afford to break acts now in order to develop the revenue streams it will need in the future? If not them, then who?

With the widespread sharing of files online moving into the end of its first decade, and the rapid disintegration of the old-school record business clearly in sight, what exactly will the future hold? Will these new models make it easier to find new music? Will the new 360 companies garner the trust of the consumer and make it possible to grow the music business again? Will it be more convenient for the music lover to get all their Madonna stuff from one source, or will the widespread choices available online keep pulling control away from the center and distributing it out to the edges of the equation, namely in the hands of the consumer. Interesting times to be sure.

Great to see a band of this stature make a bold move like this.  Radiohead has released their latest album "In Rainbows" online and for free, if you want it.  They will also accept whatever amount you wish to pay for the songs.  Brilliant!

Bertis Downs, manager of R.E.M., says "This is the sort of model that people have been talking about doing,
but this is the first time an act of this stature has stepped up and
done it. . . . They were a band that could go off the grid, and they
did it."

Just watch what happens when they launch their tour!  Tickets, t-shirts, hats, box sets, other goods – watch the cash register ring.  KA-CHING

LA Times reported the story on Sunday.