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Content Marketing for Musicians: How to Get More Superfans

Content marketing for musicians

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

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

Today I’m going to key you in on a secret.

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

That’s where content marketing for musicians comes in.

Now I know “content marketing for musicians” sounds a little intimidating… But here’s what we’re going to do to make this really simple for you (hint: once you get this strategy down you’ll find that everything just falls together and you have even more time for music):

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

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is quite literally exactly what it sounds like.

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

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

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

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

You see the difference?

The Problem With Push Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

Reaching The RIGHT People

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Content Marketing Works SO Well

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

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

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

Most people would go for the latter.

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

Start Before You’re Ready

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

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

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

Tie in Relevant Calls to Action

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

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

Let’s run down some ideas:

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

Conclusion: Content Marketing for Musicians

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

That being said, it will be a bit of a transition. If you want some guidance, click here and take the short quiz. We’ll send you a series of free content marketing lessons.

We also have a content marketing checklist for you right here. Click to download it for free:

A Guide to Marketing Your Creative Work

How to Sell More Music with Landing Pages

How to sell more music with landing pages

Today I want to talk to you about selling more music. (Or merch… Or tickets.) More specifically, I want to key you in on one of the most effective ways to get fans to take that next step and support you. Surprisingly enough, this tool is extremely under-utilized by musicians…  

What is this powerful marketing tool? The landing page.

Granted, landing pages are only one part of your music promotion strategy. If you want to see how all your social media, email list, website, and store all work together to help you grow your fanbase and sell more music, download this free ebook and get 3 social media checklists.

What is a Landing Page?

We talked about using landing pages to grow your email list here, but there are plenty of other awesome ways to use landing pages.

In short, a landing page is a page on your website with a specific purpose – usually to prompt your fans to take some further action like buying your music, entering a contest, or signing up for your email list. If your fan chooses to follow through, it’s considered a “conversion” in marketing-speak.

These landing pages are simple, focused, and free of distractions. In fact, the best landing pages don’t even have a navigation or any links other than a big button.

Why? Well there’s a bit of psychology at play here. Think about your own browsing tendencies. If you’re on a page and you can see a social media feed with cool posts from Instagram and Facebook and a link to an interesting blog post, how likely are you to get distracted and click off to something else? (I know I would.)

Even if you have focus of steel, attention overload is a real thing. So, the more you can limit distraction, the more conversions you will get.

You can have as many landing pages as you’d like (and we’ll talk about all the different ways you can use them in just a minute). The key is to make sure each has a single, very specific purpose.

Once created, you can link to them from social media, a blog post, or an email.

How to Create a Landing Page?

You don’t need anything special to actually create your landing pages, though there are plenty of tools and services out there.

At the most basic level, you can simply create your own landing page with whatever website platform you use. (Think WordPress, Bandzoogle, Square, Wix, etc.)

Create a new page, give it a short, memorable URL like “www.myband.com/free-song,” and you’re good to go.

On that page, simply add an email optin form and some text telling fans exactly what they get for signing up. (Here are instructions to create embeddable forms with Mailchimp.)

Other services like LeadPages and Sumo are specifically designed to help you create amazing landing pages. BUT, I always suggest that you start creating landing pages and growing your email list NOW with the tools you have available rather than waiting until you can afford this or that software.

3 Types of Landing Pages

Different types of landing pages serve different purposes (and can look extremely different as well).

Always start by determining the purpose of your landing page.

  • Do you want to sell something?
  • Are you trying to sell a low-priced item or a high-priced item?
  • Do you want fans to opt into something (like an email list or a contest)?

Once you figure that out, you can start putting your page together. So now, let’s go through a few of the most common types of landing pages, how you can create them, and how to use them.

1. Email Signup Landing Page

You probably guessed it, but this type of landing page is used to grow your email list. And it’s probably the one you’ll use most often (so read through this section a few times to let it sink in if you have to).

Most of these landing pages will ask for an email address, but you can capture other information as well. Like a first name (so you can personalize the emails you send). Or a zip code (so you can send them emails about gigs in their area).

Essentially, you’re goal is to get these fans on your email list so you can contact them.

Most email signup landing pages will literally just have an image, a bit of text, an email signup form, and a submit button. The text on the page should tell your fans exactly what they’ll get for signing up.

It’s best to offer something free as an incentive for opting in. Almost like a trade.

As an example, you could offer a discount on merch for all fans who opt in to get notified when you’re touring through their area.

Some other things you can trade for an email address are:

The key of course, is to make sure that what you’re offering resonates with your fans. Every fanbase is a little different. That means what your fans consider “valuable” may be completely different from another band’s fanbase. If you’re not sure, test some things out and see what works best.

2. Microsites

A microsite is exactly what it sounds like – a miniature website that lives on your domain. These pages are much longer than an email signup page and are usually used to sell something.

As a musician, you could create a microsite landing page for your new album. Create a URL like “www.myband.com/album-name” (obviously use your band name and the album name). Use it to tell the story of the creation of the album with text, videos, and photos. Link to a place where fans can buy or pre-order the album and also link some higher end bundles with signed merch and other exclusives.

You can link fans directly to this microsite from social media and email. All the cool information on your microsite can get fans more emotionally invested in your album and more willing to buy.

3. Long Form Landing Pages

A long form landing page is usually a very long page with a lot of text explaining to your fans exactly what it is you are offering. Dispersed throughout the text should be call to actions.

This may not be the most common landing page, but it can serve a purpose – typically for things that require a bit more explanation to convince fans to convert.

As an example, a long form landing page would be a great option for a page that calls potential house concert hosts.

For many fans, hosting a house concert is completely new. That means they will be hesitant to volunteer up their personal space unless they know all the details.

To make the process easier for your fans, you could create a long form landing page that includes everything they need to know about hosting a house concert. Include details like how many guests they will need to RSVP, how big their space needs to be, if they need any kind of equipment, chairs, tables, or lights, a suggested concert schedule, and photos and testimonials from past house concerts. Include links to a form where fans can volunteer.

Landing Page or Home Page?

Can your website’s home page be a landing page? The answer is yes and no.

Yes, you can make your site’s home page into a landing page. BUT it’s probably best to keep it as a temporary thing. (Remember, landing pages typically have no navigation, so your fans won’t be able to get to any other pages on your site.)

If you’re trying to hype up your new album, you could temporarily make your album microsite into your home page. That way, anyone who visits your site will know you have an album and won’t get distracted by anything else.

If you don’t want to go all in with a landing page, you could opt for a temporary splash page instead. A splash page pops up over your homepage when a fan visits your site. It can include information and a short call to action.

Landing Page Best Practices

Okay, now that we’ve gone through what landing pages are and how you can use them, let’s run down a few more best practices.

1. Keep the Background Simple

The content of your landing page should be the star, not your background. That means no large tiled background images (unless it’s very minimal), no bright colored backgrounds, and no video backgrounds. When in doubt, go for white (or some other neutral that goes with your site’s theme and your image.

2. Bring Focus to the Call to Action

On any landing page, the call to action should be the main focus. And an easy way to draw attention is with color. Try choosing a button color different from any other element on the page. Of course, you don’t want a completely jarring color, so pick something that fits with your theme without being obnoxious.

You also want to be sure the text you choose for your call to action is relatable for your fans. Something like “Click here,” isn’t too enticing. On the other hand, something like “Get a free song,” is obvious and valuable.

3. Build Anticipation and Urgency

The best landing pages create a sense of urgency. In most cases you want your fans to hit the page and make a decision fairly quickly. And that means you need to get to the point, be as brief as you can, and hit most of the important points up front.

You could even use countdown timers or a hard-close date right at the top to show fans that this won’t be around forever.

So if you set up a landing page to encourage fans to pre-order your upcoming album. Add a date right at the top to let fans know when pre-orders are closing down.

4. Make Sure Page Loads Quickly

This goes for any page on your site really, but it’s especially important for landing pages. Most people are just too busy to wait around for a webpage to load. They’ll move on and find something more important to do.

To increase your page’s load speed, avoid oversized images, stay away from javascript in the header of your page, and try to do as much with CSS and HTML as you can.

Conclusion – How to Sell More Music with Landing Pages

Landing pages can be an extremely effective tool to promote your music, and hopefully this article has inspired you to give them a try. Remember, you don’t need to dive in the deep end and create tons of different landing pages right away. Try making just one to start – maybe an email collecting landing page to grow your list.  From there, you can expand out your landing page strategy one at a time.

If you want more promote-your-music guidance, download this free ebook. You’ll learn how social media, your website, and your email list work together to turn fans into buyers who support your music. AND you’ll get 3 free social media checklists with tons of ideas for social posts. Click to download your free copy:

How to Promote Your Music Ebook cover copy

Email Marketing for Musicians: Writing Emails Your Fans Will Love

email marketing for musicians writing emails your fans will loveEmail is one of the best ways to get in touch with your fans and promote your music these days. But make no mistake, this isn’t a 100% thing. Most people get hundreds of emails per day.

The big question is, how do you stand out? How do you make sure your fans are clicking on all (or most) of the emails you send their way?

Email marketing for musicians is plain and simple: You write quality emails filled with awesome value. Think stuff you would want to receive from your favorite musicians. That means your emails need to have valuable or entertaining information, they need to be easy to read, have great offers, and feel like something personal.

Here’s what I recommend:

I know as musicians sending out emails can feel a little pushy and overly promotional. And it definitely can be if you write your emails to be really spammy and treat it like a push marketing outlet (hint: don’t do that).

BUT, if you’re writing more personal letters to your fans and you’re giving them all kinds of great stuff for being a part of your email list – then it stops feeling pushy and starts feeling like an awesome community.

So let’s take a look at a few easy ways you can make your emails more effective than ever before.

1. Know Your Fans (And Write for Them)

Your emails are going to real people. I know, groundbreaking! But so many musicians write emails that are either completely irrelevant to their fansbase or totally generic.

But, if you keep your fans in mind as you write, they will find your emails much more interesting.

Take New Artist Model member Lee Norman for example. He’s in his 40’s and he know’s his target fanbase is around the same age. So when he writes his emails he’s going to talk about things they can relate to.

The first step obviously is getting to know your fanbase. Here are some places to start:

  • You can get some quality data from your social media analytics as a start. Look for age, gender, and interests.
  • Do some market research. Subscribe to bands and musicians who you know have a similar target fanbase to you. What do they send to their list?
  • Talk to your fans at gigs. Get to know them and talk about their interests.

Once you feel like you know your fans a little better, use that knowledge to make your emails more relevant.

2. Use Actionable Language

Actionable language just means you’re not beating around the bush. If you want your fans to watch your latest music video, tell them – seriously.

Here’s a really passive way to say it:

We have a new music video out! It was really fun to make and I hope you guys will like it too. [insert link]

Here’s a more actionable approach:

Hey guys our new music video is finally here! Click here to watch it. And leave a comment on the video letting us know if you can spot my dog trying to sneak his way into the video 😛

3. Align Your Subject Line with Your Body Copy

Your subject line should sum up what’s in the actual email. Think of it like a little preview of what they will get if they open.

That means you should never (ever) use click-baity and irrelevant subject lines just to boost your open rate. Your fans will most likely feel betrayed or see it as spammy and never open another email (or unsubscribe). Getting a high open rate on one email isn’t worth it if you tarnish the trust your fans have in you.

Some people say the subject line should be the main benefit of reading the email. Others say it should sum up what’s inside the email. Still others will pull out a small, catchy piece of the email and leave the recipient hanging so they have to open the email. I say go for a variety of all three. 

Just like with the email copy itself, it’s best to keep subject lines fairly brief. Many email readers like Apple’s Mail will cut the subject line off after a certain amount of characters, so keep it short and to the point.

4. Add That Personal Touch

Most email services will have some personalization token function. Basically this just automatically inputs personalized words or phrases that are specific to each fan on your list.

The easiest option, of course, is to add a personalized greeting using your fans’ first names.

This may seem like a trivial thing, but I want you to think about the emails that you receive… What do you prefer to see:

  • Hey Graham!
  • Hey guys!

Of course, if your name is Graham you’d probably prefer the first option. The personal greeting is just a nice sentiment.

Keep in mind that you can only use information you have collected to personalize your emails. If you only ask for an email address when your fans opt in you obviously won’t be able to address them by their first name.

5. Write in Your Own Voice

The most successful emails are written in a more casual, conversational voice. It’s important to remember that although you’re sending to hundreds of people (or thousands if you’re awesome), each email is going directly to a single person.

And that means you should write like you’re talking to that specific person – almost like you were talking to them face to face. This instantly makes any email feel less “salesy” and more like a one-on-one conversation.

A good rule of thumb is to switch between the first and second person. You should refer to your fans as “you,” not “her” or “him.”

You should also throw in some of your own thoughts and experiences in a more first person style.

If you’re not sure, try reading your email out loud to a friend. If it feels like you’re talking to them (not at them) then you’re probably good.

6. Get to the Point

As a musician you’re obviously pretty passionate about your work. And no doubt you could go on and on about it for hours. While it’s great that you’re so excited about what you do… email is not the place for that.

The very first line of your email should get straight to the point. That means if you want to share a studio vlog with your fans you shouldn’t go on a loosely-related tangent at the beginning only to get to the actual vlog at the very end of a 2000 word email.

That being said, it’s perfectly okay to send longer emails if you have something really interesting to say. But make sure you establish the email’s relevancy and connect the content to the subject line right up front.

As an example, let’s keep going with the studio vlog idea. You could use a catchy subject line like, “You’ll never guess what happened when we hit record…” The first line of your email could be a call to action to watch the vlog. You could then go on to tell a little bit of the story.

7. Be Brief

We’re all busy. And people don’t have a ton of time to read huge emails, so keep that in mind.

Now, I’m not saying to skimp on the value for the sake of brevity. There’s just a bit of a balance to be found. In short, if you can say something in less words, do it.

Here are some guidelines to help:

  • Each email should have one main purpose, idea, or goal. That means if you’re announcing pre sales for your new album, don’t try to squeeze in your latest blog post. Make sure every sentence in your email is related to that purpose or goal. You can always send another email, so don’t feel like you need to cram everything in.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Give yourself enough time when you’re writing emails to edit. A good approach is to write the email, save the draft, do something else for an hour or so, and then come back with fresh eyes. You’ll usually find a lot of stuff you can cut out that you missed the first time around.

8. Make Being on Your List Rewarding

Your email list can really be viewed as a special community of your more serious fans. These are people who have actively taken the step to opt into regular communications from you, so they represent your superfans and more dedicated fans.

That being said, it’s the perfect place to share some rewards and give back a little for their support. Now, “rewards” don’t need to be actual things (like freebies or music). Think of “rewards” as anything your fanbase will find valuable.

Here are some ideas:

  • Share a phone wallpaper download of your album artwork
  • Give out downloadable lyric sheets
  • Host private streams or Q&A sessions
  • Feature a “Fan of the month”
  • Share exclusive coupons code or discounts

If fans know they will get awesome valuable stuff if your emails, they will be much more likely to open when you do have something to sell (like a new album or merch). Plus many fans are more likely to support artists that give instead of just sell, sell, sell. It creates a much more authentic relationship.

Another quick tip is to segment your email list by interest and activities. Not all fans on your list will have the same interests, so the more you can target your messages, the better.

9. Ask for the Click

Every (or most) emails you send should have some kind of call to action (CTA).

A “call to action” is just marketing-speak for asking your fans to take some step – usually clicking a link.

After all, your career depends on your fans clicking through and supporting your crowdfunding campaign, or buying tickets for an upcoming gig, or purchasing a t shirt from your online store, or buying your new album. (I mean, the worst that can happen is the choose not to and close the email, right?)

Let’s say you’re trying to get fans to support your crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Use an email to tell them about all the cool benefits they’ll get for supporting you and then ask for a click to your campaign.

Here’s some guidelines if you’re still nervous about asking for a click:

  • Keep it short. You don’t need to beg. You don’t need to justify or explain yourself. Just ask.
  • Make it distinct. Your link should be a different color from the rest of the email text to draw attention. Format it like a standard link (with an underline and an alternate color) so fans know it’s a link or create a button.
  • Focus on the why. Instead of just using “Click here” as a CTA, try something like, “Click here to support the Kickstarter campaign and get exclusive merch

10. Present a Clear Deadline

This one really builds off the previous point. Well-crafted CTA’s will get you far, but putting a deadline on the thing you’re offering will add a sense of urgency.

Why is urgency so powerful? We all like procrastinating and putting things off, right?

We say, “Oh I’ll do it tomorrow.”

… And the next day we say, “Oh, I forgot. It’s fine, I’ll do it tomorrow.”

… And after a few days sometimes it gets lost or forgotten.

Sound familiar?

But if there’s a deadline, we’ll get our butt into gear and take action for fear of missing out.

If you share a discount for your merch store, have it expire after a few days (and actually mention that deadline in your email).

Obviously some things like crowdfunding campaigns and gigs have a deadline built in.

Email Marketing for Musicians: Conclusion

If you’re not experienced, sending emails is going to be a bit of a learning process – and that’s okay! The best advice I can give is to just try things.

Experiment. Play with subject line ideas (heck, run split tests on subject lines if you want an “A” for effort). Try shorter emails or longer-form emails. Checkout how plain text emails and formatted emails with images perform.

For everything you try, look at your data (your open rate and click rate). Use the data to decide what works best and go from there.

Of course, email is only one piece of the “promote your music” puzzle. If you want to see how email and social media work together to grow your fanbase and market your music, checkout this free ebook.

Click the ebook image to download your free copy:

How to Promote Your Music Ebook cover copy

Musicians: Here’s 10 Ways to Grow Your Email List

10 Ways to Grow Your Email List for Musicians

As an indie musician, if you don’t have an email list (or you have one and never use it), you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Compared to social media – where most of your posts can get lost in the feed never to be seen again – email open rates can be on average 25% (or higher if you have awesome content).

What does that mean? It’s your direct ticket straight to your fans, without the distracting videos on social media pulling their attention away. Which means that when you send an important email about your upcoming album, there’s a much better chance your fans will actually see it (and pre-order the album).

Obviously, it’s not as easy as just writing an email and pressing “send.” BUT if you don’t start building your email list now, you won’t be able to reap the rewards.

A lot of musicians and creatives get a little apprehensive about asking fans for an email address. It feels a little too “salesy.” But, especially these days, many music fans are on the lists of all their favorite bands. Email is no long an engine for overly-promotional spam. It’s now a place where fans get get insider access, exclusive content, first looks, and a whole lot more. Think of it like a special club of awesomeness.


Promote your music. Learn more strategies to promote your music and grow your fanbase.


Now onto the big question: How do you build an email list for you music if you are literally starting from nothing (or you have an empty list that you set up ages ago but have been too scared to promote)? Let me throw down a bunch of ideas to get you started.

What is an Email List?

Let’s start from square one. An email list is collection of email addresses you’ve gathered.

Note that these addresses are from people who have opted in somehow. Maybe they bought a t-shirt from your store or they signed up to be notified when you’re touring through their area. Essentially, these people are you more dedicated fans – the ones who have taken an action beyond just following you on social media.

You store and email your list through an email marketing service like Mailchimp. Personal email services like Gmail or Yahoo are completely different and should not be used to email your fans. Services like Mailchimp also give you the ability to segment your list (that’s just a fancy word for splitting up your list into different categories based on interest and activities).

There are plenty of email marketing platforms and services to choose from. Mailchimp is a great place to start (free up to 2K subscribers, yay!), but I suggest doing a little research to see which best fits your needs.

How to Build an Email for Your Music

Okay, now let’s dig into some approaches you can use to actually grow your email list. All of these ideas will work for someone with literally zero subscribers AND ALSO someone who’s already built up a bit of a list and is looking for some new ideas.

Of course, you don’t by any means need to use all 10 of these strategies – just pick the ones that fit best with your career and run with them. Everyone will have a slightly different approach (since we all have different fanbases, career levels, etc), so try some things, see what works, and go with that.

A few quick side notes about email (I don’t want anyone getting in trouble).

  • You need permission to email someone. That means they need to opt in to your list, buy something from you, or put their name on a signup list at a gig.
  • You need to let people opt out of your emails. Some people just won’t dig your emails for whatever reason. And that’s fine. Let’s get them off the list and focus on the people who do dig your emails.
  • Use your own email habits as a guideline. Do you like reading novel-length emails? Probably not. Do you like getting overly promotional “buy my cool stuff” emails? I’m going to guess no. Keep it valuable, keep it concise.

1. Create an Opt In Form

A good ol’ embedded opt in form on your website is something you should always have. An opt in form is just a simple form that requests information (usually just a first name and email address), with a submit button.  

Pretty much any email service will have the capability to create embeddable opt in forms that can be added to any website platform. (Here’s a link to a tutorial for Mailchimp’s embeddable opt in forms so you can see what I mean.)

So if you don’t have an email signup form on your home page, go set one up now. Seriously. Right now.

Fortunately, a lot of musicians have gotten this memo already so let’s talk about how you can make your opt in form perform even better.

  • Contrast is important. You want your opt in form to stand out on your website so your fans will notice it (and hopefully fill it out). So that means if your page is black, your form should be a contrasting color or white. If your page is white, opt for a color that fits with your theme but still stands out.
  • Keep it simple. You don’t need to know everything about your fans right now – just a name and email address will suffice. The easier it is to fill out, the more subscribers you’ll get.
  • Tell fans exactly what they get for opting in. A generic “signup for my email list” isn’t going to convince anyone and you’ll more than likely see low conversion rates. (More on what you can trade for emails coming up next 😉 )

2. Trade Something of Value for Email Addresses

Your email opt in forms will perform much better if you give your fans some kind of reward for opting in – think of it like a trade.

At the most basic level, your fan would fill out the form and your autoresponder would deliver the cool reward

Most musicians are pretty familiar with the notion of trading songs for an email address. BUT, let me share some ideas that will get your fans really excited about opting in.

Your best bet is to offer exclusive content – a.k.a. something fans can’t get anywhere else. Things like exclusive or unreleased songs, acoustic versions of songs, video lessons or tutorials, or gear sheets are all great ideas for gated content. (Get even more ideas here.)

Obviously what you offer in exchange for email addresses will vary based on the interests of your fanbase and your career. So do some testing. Try a few different things and see which drives the most signups.

3. Set Up a Landing Page

In the world on online marketing, a gated landing page is about as basic as it gets. And yet, I see very few musicians utilizing it. Without a doubt, this is the most effective way to grow your email list (which is why I’m putting it right up front 😉 )

We have a more detailed, step-by-step guide to creating landing pages here, but for now let’s go through the basics.

First step is to create a gated piece of content (which we just talked about in point number 2).

Next, you need to create a landing page that tells your fans exactly what they’ll get when they opt in. A headline like “Get unreleased acoustic versions of these three songs,” or “Signup to get a list of all the gear I used to get the guitar tone on my latest single,” would be perfect.

Include a few bullet points to explain what they will get and/or how they will benefit from it, and an opt in form. The sole purpose of a gated landing page is to get fans to sign up to get the cool thing you’re providing, so avoid adding anything that will distract fans from this purpose (that means no social feeds, no blog posts – nothing!)

4. Gather Emails in Person and at Gigs

Never overlook the value of a face-to-face interaction – ever. If you’re a performing musician, live events, gigs, and house concerts are a perfect opportunity to grow your email list.

The easy-mode approach is to just have an email signup form sitting on your merch table. Have a blurb written large across the top (big enough so it’s easy to read in a low-light venue environment) telling your fans what they will get when they signup.

If you want this approach to work even better, do a little announcement during your set telling fans that they can sign up for emails to receive some cool exclusive thing. It doesn’t have to be a big uncomfortable pitch – just let them know it’s there.

If you want to get a gold star for effort (and probably get even more signups) try turning it into a contest. Enter everyone who writes down their email into a contest to win a cool merch bundle or something like that.

5. Use Social Media to Grow Your Email List

You have a ready-made group of people who have self-identified themselves as being interested in your music on social media. So why not use it as a channel to promote your email list?

It’s very easy to share a link to your landing page (remember the one we setup earlier?) on social media. Don’t overdo it though. Social media is mostly for fun and interesting content, and a place for you to engage with your fans, so a tweet promoting your email list every day is probably a little much.

To make things less promotional, try making these posts about your fans, not you or your list. Simply shift the language from, “I have a mailing list, click here to sign up,” to “I’m going live for an email subscriber-only event. Click here and signup to get in on the fun,” or “A lot of you guys asked how I got the guitar tone on [song name]. Here’s a list of everything I used and a quick tutorial: [link to landing page]”

So it’s all about having a light touch and focusing on value. Keep that in mind and you’ll see more email signups from social. (And you’ll feel a lot less uncomfortable about waving your own flag.)

6. Host Some Kind of Online Live Event

You don’t need gigs to get that in-person, face-to-face connection with fans. And with all the online streaming and concert platforms, there are a lot of options.

Obviously you could host a live online concert. But here are some other options:

  • Host Q&A sessions with your fans on Facebook or Instagram Live
  • Stream your rehearsals
  • Have “write with me” sessions where you stream some of your songwriting process
  • Teach your fans something specific like how to play a certain riff, or how to set up a home studio. (This is best for musicians who know a lot of their fans are also musicians)

Now how do you use these live online events to collect email addresses? There are two options…

One, you could make the event public for all your fans to join. While you’re live give your fans the chance to opt into your list to get some cool thing. If you hosted a live concert, give them a free download of one of the songs you played. If you used the live session to teach your fans something, give them a free checklist or toolkit PDF.

And two, use the live event as a piece of gated content. Promote it on social media in the days or weeks prior. Let fans know that they need to be signed up for your email list to join. You can host private streams on YouTube quite easily. Just set the stream’s privacy to “unlisted” and share the direct link with your email list.

7. Start a Blog (Or Podcast)

Getting into the habit of posting regular longer-form content on your website will do wonders for your email list.

  • It gets fans visiting your site on a regular basis. (And the more they visit the more they will be exposed to your opt in forms.)
  • Every article or podcast you post is an opportunity to promote your list.

So, for every blog post or podcast you post, have a call to action encouraging fans to sign up for your email list. It only has to be one line with a link to your landing page or opt in form.

8. Make a YouTube Channel

This is in the same vein as the previous point, but it’s still worth mentioning.

The description box below your YouTube videos is a great place to put a link to your email landing page or optin form and the face-to-face connection that you get talking to your fans through the video will usually get you more conversions.

Take a second in the video to actually tell your fans that you have a link to sign up for emails in the description. Tell them what they will get for signing up and all the cool stuff you send exclusively to your email list.

Something as simple as saying, “Thanks for watching! If you want more music there’s a link in the description box to signup for my email list. I’ll send you 3 free songs and you’ll be able to join in the fun email-club-only live streams we have here every month.”

9. Set an Exit Popup

An exit intent pop up is an email opt in form that will appear if someone on your site moves their mouse to exit the page.

Your pop up should offer your site visitor something of value. So a simple pop up may have a headline saying, “Want 3 free songs? Signup for my email list to get 3 unreleased tracks.”

There are some plugins for WordPress and other website platforms that will allow you to easily set one up.

Don’t worry if this seems a little pushy. If you go to pretty much any website these days, you’ll see exit intent popups. Fans are pretty used to it at this point.

10. Make Your Emails Engaging and Valuable

Of course, all these tips won’t be worth much unless the emails you send to your list are awesome (the last thing we want is to go through all this effort to grow a list only to have everyone unsub).

Make sure you’re writing in your own voice, sharing interesting stories or opportunities, and not overwhelming your fans with too many emails (or too few). Try starting out with these email templates and do some experimenting to see what kinds of emails seem to get higher engagement.

Click to get the free email templates:

10 Attention-Getting Email Templates for Musicians

How to Promote Your Music

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 to successfully promoting your music in today’s music industry is to try new things, 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 that person-to-person interaction. After all, 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.

Let’s take the live show as an example. Sure, it’s a chance to make some money and perform your music and have fun. But it also presents some really unique marketing opportunities.

Gigs are a great place to promote your new album or song. Tell your fans that you’ll be premiering a new song (or the whole album if you want to go all out) before it’s released. Choose one local gig and turn it into an event. Maybe fans who come to that show will be able to buy the album at your merch booth before anyone else.

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. Do this a few times and eventually you’ll be able to do your own headlining show.

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

2. Use Social Media the RIGHT Way

We all use social media. If you’re not on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter these days, 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 video 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.

It’s important to remember, though, that social media isn’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to promoting your music. It can easily become a huge time suck that takes you away from your music if you don’t manage your time properly (Hint: get social media time management tips here).

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 they’re exposed to your albums, merch, and tickets.

If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have a lot of big updates other than the occasional album release and tour. Starting 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.

Another idea is to create landing pages on your website. Landing pages can be used to collect email addresses, to raise awareness, to give your fans more information, or to make a sale.

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 a new group of people and grow your fanbase exponentially. 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.

Of course, the headline trade strategy we looked at earlier in this article is a great option. But let’s talk about some things you can do online as well.

Obviously, you could also work together on a song or album. Try recording a cover song or two together and release them on your YouTube channels or Facebook pages. The key is to drive your fans to each other. If you create a song or video, link to each other’s website and social channels.

An even more easy-mode option is to just agree to give each other shout-outs on social media. Share each other’s newest track and tell your fans how much you dig it. (Obviously work with artists whose music you actually do dig.) The power of a recommendation is one of the best marketing tools out there.

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.

So what do you send to your email list? The obvious use of an email list is to let your fans know when you have an album coming out or a tour. BUT you can also use your email list to send fans to your blog when you have new content. (Remember, you want to get your fans on your website as often as possible.)

Of course, you need to get fans to actually signup for your emails before you can start using it as a music promotion tool, right? An easy option is to trade something of value for an email address. Keep in mind this doesn’t have to be a free song (in fact there are a TON of more effective ways to grow your email list)

If you’re not sure where to even start when it comes to growing your email list, here are 10 easy ways to build an email list for your music.

 

“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

How to Promote Your Music: Conclusion

Your music promotion strategy is going to be something that you refine over time, so don’t get frustrated if things take some time to come together.

The important thing to remember is that you should be taking advantage of all the different promote your music tools you have right here at your finger tips instead of relying on just one thing.

If you want more music marketing guidance, download this free ebook. You’ll get a roadmap showing exactly how different elements like social media, email, and your website come together into a music promotion machine that will help you grow your fanbase and make more money. You’ll also get 3 social media checklists with easy post ideas you can use on your own social channels.

 Click to get the free eBook:

How to Promote Your Music Ebook cover copy

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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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Promoting Your Music on Social Media – How to NOT Waste Time

how to not waste time promoting your music on social media
 

Let’s talk about promoting your music on social media.

More specifically making the task of promoting your music on social media not suck. I mean, who has time to spend hours coming up with social media posts to promote your music on Facebook and Twitter?

The secret is NOT doing more to promote your music. It’s about working SMARTER – making the most out of everything you create.

Of course, there’s a lot more to promoting your music than social media. But for today, I’m going to walk you through a quick approach to making your social media efforts more efficient and more productive (so you can save time and get your music heard).

Keep in mind that implementing a music marketing strategy on social media like the one I’m going to give you today takes TIME. There is going to be very little instant gratification here, so get yourself in that mindset.

True success on social media is like a relationship (a relationship with each of the hundreds or thousands of fans you have on the platform). And like any relationship, it will take some time to develop.

That being said, I do have a jumpstart guide for you that includes 3 social media checklists that will give you the music promotion tips that the most successful indie musicians use online. Click here to download it for free.

Think long term with these tips, be consistent, and after a few months, you’ll start seeing more activity.

Use Content You Already Have to Promote Your Music

If you think you need to create a whole new set of content for promoting your music on social media, you’re wasting a lot of time and effort (time that could be spent playing gigs, practicing, recording, writing…).

Instead, think about how you can repurpose and adapt all the great stuff you already have.

As musicians, we create A LOT of stuff. You know – riffs, songs, lyrics, covers, jams, live performances, albums, tones, beats, effects, and the list goes on and on.

BUT, a lot of musicians I see out there promoting their music online don’t actually use half of the stuff they create. And that’s a missed opportunity.

I know, there is a bit of a balance to find here. Especially if you’re working you way up to a big album launch you don’t want to give everything away before the actual release date. But giving away little pieces here and there can actually get fans more excited for the release as you build up the anticipation.

Today, take a few minutes to look at all the creative work you do every day.

  • How much of it are you actually sharing with your fans on social media?
  • How can you start weaving the content you’re creating into your music promotion strategy?

If you want our free guide on How to Promote Your Music with 3 Social Media Checklists (CLICK HERE).

Music Marketing is All About Frequency and Consistency

Okay, one quick aside before we get into how to actually create your social posts…

A lot of musicians have this mindset that their work can’t be released until it’s 100% perfect and finished. And that it needs to be released in its entirety or not at all. The result is often long periods of radio silence on social media followed by frantic promotion of the new thing.

At the most basic level, success on social media is all about balancing frequency and consistency. The more you post (as long as it’s quality, interesting posts), the more of a response you will get over time. Fans will start to expect and anticipate your posts.  

Which means that radio silence is actually hurting you when you get around to promoting your album or next big thing. (Especially on Facebook where the algorithm favors posts that get more engagement.) Less fans will see your promotions, less fans will respond to your promotions, and you’ll start feeling that social media is a waste of time.

So try to focus on getting some kind of posting rhythm down. After some time you’ll be in a much better place to promote your music (and have your fans actually notice your posts and respond).

Before you move on, look at your social accounts and figure out how often you’re posting.

  • What does your schedule look like?
  • Are there any gaps?
  • How can you be more consistent?

Splinter Your Content

Now we’ll move a little deeper and start talking about how you can actually take something like a new song, a new video, or a live performance, and turn it into multiple social media posts – posts that will get your music heard by more people.

I like to call this “splintering” your content. Think of it like taking a big thing – like a song – and breaking it down into smaller pieces that you can post on social media. Each of those smaller pieces will lead fans back to the full song.

So for a single song, here are some “splinter” post ideas:

  • Take a quote from the lyrics. Post as is or create an image with the quote. You can probably get a lot of quote posts from a single song
  • Open up and share the meaning behind the lyrics. You could create a post, a blog post, a short video, a live stream, or all of the above.
  • Create a short video (or do a live stream) walking fans through the tones (or beats, or pedal board setup…) you used in the song so they can recreate the sound
  • Share photos of the lyric sheet or lead sheet
  • Do a playthrough or tutorial of a certain riff or beat
  • Create a “making of” video series for the song
  • Post a lyric line you’re working on and ask your fans to finish it with their own words
  • If any of your fans cover the song you could share that too

See what we did there? That was just one song and we got a ton of social posts. Individually, these posts don’t give away the full picture of the song. Many of these ideas can be used in the days leading up to the song release to create hype.  

Exercise: Splinter the Content You’re Working on Right Now

Try to do this exercise for something you’re working on right now. Make a list and brainstorm everything and anything you could splinter off from that main piece of content. You don’t need to use all the ideas you come up with, but write down everything that comes to mind and proceed from there.

Use Automation

Okay, so now we have all these social media post ideas. You probably don’t want to post them all at the same time. (Remember – consistency is key). So that means you need to space things out over time.

And that’s where automation comes in.

Automation tools help you pre-schedule posts on many different social media platforms so you don’t need to be constantly remembering to post on social media. That way, you can get your promotion over with and allow yourself to focus completely on music.

Check out these tools:

  • Hootsuite – this will allow you to schedule posts for multiple different social platforms. The free version allows you to post to 3 different social channels
  • Facebook (there’s a scheduler built right in. Instead of choosing “post,” choose “schedule” and pick a date and time you’d like it to hit your page)
  • Tweetdeck – this is a great free platform for posting, scheduling, and monitoring Twitter
  • Buffer – the free version allows you to schedule and manage 1 account from each social platform (so you could have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). You can schedule up to 10 posts at a time per social account
  • SocialOomph – the free version only allows you to schedule and monitor Twitter, but the paid version covers multiple different platforms

Be Relevant and Authentic

A little word of caution. Automation can be overdone. The very purpose of social media is to be able to connect with your fans authentically and in real time. If you’re pre-scheduling all your content out weeks or months in advance, you’re totally missing that real-time connection with your fans.

So, here’s what I suggest… Create your posts by splintering up your content, schedule them out for maybe a week or two, and then make time each day to post something relevant that you’re working on right now and respond to comments and messages.

If you take the time to implement these steps over the next few weeks or months you’ll start seeing major changes. And not just in how much attention your music attracts online.  But also in how much time you’re spending promoting your music on social media.

If you want more concrete examples of social post ideas, don’t forget to download your free social media guide and checklist! Here’s the link again:

If you want our free guide on How to Promote Your Music with 3 Social Media Checklists (CLICK HERE).

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How to Book College Gigs as an Indie Musician

How to book college gigs - indie musician Mike Sullivan

How to Book College Gigs – Case Study from Indie Musician Mike Sullivan

Musician Mike Sullivan makes his living touring the college circuit.  The Los Angeles-based independent singer-songwriter knows exactly how to book college gigs, playing more than 250 over the past 10 years.

Some of the schools he has played include Hawaii Pacific University, Odessa College, Indiana University, Purdue University, Green Mountain College, Shenandoah University, Embry-Riddle University, Lipscomb University, Spokane Falls Community College and many more.

Mike Sullivan started doing college shows after a record deal fell through.  He had never played a college before and didn’t know how to book college shows. “I was so naive.  I didn’t even know that colleges paid bands,” he says, adding a Chicago Tribune newspaper article opened his eyes to the college market for music.  “When I was in school I went to lots of great concerts and figured that the bands made their money off merch.”

Contrary to what many musicians think, college shows aren’t any less “cool” than traditional gigs. Not only are they a good source of revenue from the booking fee and merch sales, they’re also yet another way to get yourself out of the crowded and competitive gigging market while still getting in front of a very large and potentially relevant audience. Plus, huge artists like John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Sting and Prince all got their start traveling the college circuit.

How to Book College Gigs Step-by-Step

So now the big question: How to book college gigs? Let’s go through a few steps to get you on the road. Of course, every good strategy starts with a good plan. Click here to download a free planning guide and start taking steps to break into the college market.

1. Use the NACA, APCA, and SGA

There are a few organizations that specifically deal with getting acts booked in schools. There’s not really a “college music booking directory” that you can crack open, send off some emails, and book some gigs. Most colleges prefer to go through trusted agencies – just for ease of use and protection of their students. You’ll have a much easier time getting started if you use these showcases, resources, and connections.

When Mike was first getting started, he got in touch with the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and the Association for Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA), two agencies that hold “showcases” around the country where college activities directors and students check out talent to book at their schools. To participate in the NACA showcase, you’ll need to be a NACA member, which costs a few hundred dollars per year. But on the plus side, that is a small fee compared to the income potential of college gigs and once you have the connections you need you can ditch the membership.

There are college booking agents that specialize in booking college gigs, and if you work with one they will more often than not cover your NACA fees and showcasing fees. Keep in mind though, you’ll have to give them a cut of every gig they book for you, so it ends up evening out in the end.

It may also be worth looking at is the Student Government Association. While the agencies showcase many different kinds of acts in addition to musicians, it’s still a good place to start to get the connections you need for schools across the country, not just your local area.

As with anything in music, if you want to get a showcase spot and book gigs, you need to have a professional EPK, active social accounts, and a professional look. After submitting a demo, Mike earned a 15 minute set at a national APCA showcase. He nailed that first appearance and got another 25 gigs right away.

2. Your Connections Are Everything

Just like in the gigging world, it’s possible to get college gigs on your own if you have the direct connections. So once you get some gigs from your NACA showcase and the APCA showcase, it’s really all about maintaining those connections.

You also want to keep in mind that students are usually in charge of booking music gigs for their college, so that means you need to make new connections every few years as they graduate. It will be a constant effort of managing your contacts.

At first, Mike Sullivan looked for a good agent to help him get more college gigs. “One college booking agent told me she had 30 or 40 colleges interested and would set up a tour but didn’t follow up,” he said.  “Fortunately, schools started calling me directly and I booked the gigs myself. It was a huge lesson.”

Because most colleges seek out the act, if you take the initiative to make the first contact it can make a big impression. “I was fearless and would pick up the phone,” Mike says.  “It opened a lot of doors that would have otherwise have remained closed.  But today people think that they don’t need to talk with email and social media.”

3. Book Gigs in a Row

When an artist works with NACA or APCA, they can take advantage of their “block booking” system when booking or “routing” their college tours.  This system allows individual schools to work together and get a discount when they book an artist around the same time — and it gives artists the chance to make good money.

“The more gigs you put together in a row, the less you charge and the more school saves.  Everybody wins,” Mike says.  “When it works it’s awesome.  Getting three or five gigs in a row is when you can really make a fantastic profit.”

4. Don’t Just Focus on the Big Schools

Just like with traditional gigs, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “bigger is better.” But, especially with colleges, that’s not always the case.

“You can make a great living playing colleges. You know every year my price has gone up,” Mike says. When he started out in 2005, he charged $1300 for a gig. Today, he gets $2500. But one of his biggest tips is to avoid overlooking the smaller schools, which is a little counter-intuitive to how we think about traditional gigs.

“Smaller schools sometimes pay more than big ones because it is harder for them to attract acts. A lot of community colleges feel neglected and they have budgets to spend,” Mike says.

5. Be Flexible

Flexibility is key when it comes to getting asked back to play at schools.  “Colleges have good and bad budget years just like any other organization, so be open to being the act the school needs. If you usually bring a band but money is tight, offer to do a solo or duo performance instead. You’ll keep your connection to the school alive and generate lots of goodwill.”

Beyond just the price, the settings of college gigs can vary dramatically. Mike books 20 to 35 college gigs a year for audiences of 50 to 200 people.  His sets run from one to two hours.  He’s played intimate coffee house settings, in theaters and even in a hallway.  “It can be all over the place — a regular concert or a huge party.  One time there was a clown blowing up balloons right beside me while I played.” It’s all about being flexible.

6. Book Traditional Gigs Around College Gigs

College gigs aren’t something you need to dedicate 100% of your gigging efforts to. In fact, you can make even more of a profit if you book traditional gigs en-route to college gigs.

If you take advantage of the block booking method, you’ll have a mini tour route setup in a certain region. Instead of spending your off days just sitting around, get proactive and contact local clubs and venues to book a few gigs. After playing a few college gigs in the area you’ll have a local audience to draw on when you come through. If you don’t quite have the following to book a headliner show, try getting in touch with local bands and getting an opening slot.  

Hopefully now you have a better idea of how to book college gigs as an indie musician. Whether you want to spend all your time gigging the college circuit or you just want to squeeze in a few college show in your tours as little revenue boosters, college gigs can be a big income driver. Of course, the key to any successful strategy is PLANNING. Click here to download a free planning guide so you can get more done faster.

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For more information on Mike Sullivan visit his website at mikesullivanmusic.com

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

 

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Is “Marketing” Killing Your Music? FREE WEBINAR: SEE how to avoid the TRAPS that waste your time.

Do you feel like you are trapped in social media HELL ? Are you spending all your time promoting your music without seeing tangible results?

FREE WEBINAR: “Is Marketing” Killing Your Music? Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST

Join CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner and I as we tear down the barriers that kill effective music marketing, and show you better ways to do it in a free Webinar Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST.

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We’ll explore the traps that many artists fall into in the social media age that they think are “marketing” but are really just a waste of time, and help you understand what actions will get you moving (and marketing) in the right direction.

  • SEE how to avoid the TRAPS that waste your time on Social Media.
  • LEARN how to craft a compelling STORY and how to tell it.
  • GET your promotion and MARKETING moving in the right direction.
  • GET the latest TRICKS for building and connecting with your AUDIENCE.
  • HOW TO make STREAMING and playlisting work for you.

CLICK HERE and signup for the FREE Live Webinar

Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST
Signup live or watch the recorded Replay anytime

Social Media: What to Post and When

There are A LOT of social media platforms out there, and each requires a unique approach to posting. Different platforms cater to different target demographics and, as a result, the most effective time to post will vary. For example, Pinterest draws primarily women, Instagram has a large teen user base, and Linked In caters to working professionals.

As a musician you shouldn’t be on every platform. Instead, pick a few that fit with the demographics of your fan base and get really good with those. If you want to be really successful on social media, don’t just blindly post. Look to see what kinds of posts get the most engagement and what times perform better and use that information to make your future posts better.

To get you started, here’s an infographic detailing what to post and when to post it on 9 popular social media channels. This infographic was originally posted here.

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Interview With The Jazz Spotlight

Jazz Spotlight Podcast

I recently had the honor of being interviewed for The Jazz Spotlight’s Podcast. The podcast is a great resource for indie musicians, so I recommend you check it out.

In the interview we discuss my new book, Hack the Music Business, New Artist Model, and some great strategies for indie musicians including:

  • Today’s music business model
  • Why you should stop thinking exclusively like a musician and start thinking like a musician-entrepreneur
  • The online music business school New Artist Model and what he can do for you
  • Mistakes that are hurting musicians
  • Why you should think in terms of DIWO (Do It With Other) rather than DIY (Do It Yourself)
  • Gigs as an opportunity to create a community, promote and drive sales
  • How having an email list can get you your next gig
  • Marketing tip for musicians

You can also check out the entire podcast series in iTunes.

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Music Business Strategies

There are a lot of musicians out there struggling to pay the rent, grow their fan base, and make a profit on tour. It’s a tough road, but if you’re dedicated you can make music your career. In today’s music business, it’s not about forcing yourself into a one-size-fits-all box, or throwing a dice and hoping for the best. It’s about building the right career for YOU and YOUR music, experimenting, learning, and adapting to change. Today, you are an entrepreneur, not a product, and great success is waiting for musicians with this mindset.

The New Artist Model is all about thinking of your music career like a business and using creative strategies to start growing now with the tools and resources you have available. In the New Artist Model FREE E-book, you’ll get a glimpse at some of the proven strategies we discuss in the full online course. Click the image to download your copy and check out the 10 key points of the New Artist Model below.

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1. Change is an open door.

Don’t view new technology or a new model as a dead end. Look at it like a new opportunity. It’s a chance to try new things, innovate, and maybe find something that really works for YOU.

2. You are an entrepreneur.

More times than not, its the small, agile entrepreneurs, not the big established companies, that innovate and move an industry forward into the future. You can be that entrepreneur.

3. Go lean!

Release small and release often. Don’t wait to record your first album until you can afford a time in a big time studio. Don’t wait to start your publishing career until you have a publisher. Start with what you have and go from there.

4. LEARN!

Take every single opportunity you can to learn. What went great at your live show? What didn’t go as planned? How can you use that knowledge to improve next time? What social media posts get your fans excited? What song do people seem to like the most? You can learn from every single thing you do.

5. DIWO instead of DIY.

You can’t be an expert in everything so find people who are. Your team doesn’t have to be seasoned pros. More times than not, passion trumps experience. For now, recruit friends, classmates, and family to help you out and give your pointers. There are a ton of really successful artists that still work with someone who started out as just a classmate.

6. Each element of your career is a separate moving part to a bigger machine.

Don’t think of recording, publishing, and touring in a vacuum. Think about how you can connect them together into one unified plan.

7. This is a relationship business.

Get out and meet people. Talk to as many people as you can in the studio and at your live shows—promoters, producers, club owners, sound and light folks, other bands and musicians. MAKE that connection that could really start your career as a successful indie artist. Remember that face-to-face conversations will always get you further than emails. And above all, treat people like people. Give and you will receive.

8. Use the process.

Recordings and songs are not just finished products. There are a ton of opportunities to engage and connect with your fans and even make money along the entire process.

9. There is no one-size-fits-all model anymore.

You need to build a career around YOUR music that works best for YOU. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will go the same way in your career.

10. MAKE your big break.

These days no one is going to hand you your big break. You need to be out there working hard, pushing yourself to new limits, trying new things, and connecting with people if you want to make this your career. With a lot of hard work, music CAN become your career.

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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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our free video training series.

 

 

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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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SXSW Website Demolition Derby

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Here’s another post with information and insights straight from SXSW. This one comes from the Cyber PR Team who participated in the Website Demolition Derby along with David DufresneEmily WhiteBrian Felsen, and Michael Schneider. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full article over on the Cyber PR Blog.

KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

It’s important to know that not all websites fit under one umbrella. While many of our clients for our respective companies look to us to attain fans for their music or their blog, attaining fans may not be the #1 priority if you are a session player looking for work. The important thing to note about websites is that you must know what resources are most relevant to your particular case. A session player’s LinkedIn profile may be a high priority, whereas a band probably won’t have one at all. One piece of advice is to reference somebody who you compare yourself to, and note what they emphasize on their site.

Speaking of Social Media Links…

 

LESS SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS IS MORE

Are you actively posting on all of these social media sites? When was the last time you posted on Google+? Has anyone interacted with your MySpace page lately? The only sites that should be included in this list are the ones that you actively maintain. Otherwise, you are driving fans to sites that are either barren, or dead. Not a good look for you!

 

DRIVE YOUR SALES TO ONE SITE

All artists are selling their music digitally through distributors like CD Baby, TuneCore, The Orchard, etc. We don’t need to see all of the stores which we can buy your music from. We already assume that it’s there. The best way to sell your music is to embed a BandCamp page on your website, or another direct-to-fan platform where you can a) retain traffic on your website, b) get an email address for your mailing list, and c) retain 100% of your sale, while skipping the 30% distribution fee.

What’s your biggest website challenge? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re ready to bring your website to the next level, check out the New Artist Model online course. We go into website design in depth. You can also sign up for 5 free lessons from the course to learn more.

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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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YouTube Strategies You can Start Right Now

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There’s been a lot of success stories on YouTube with artists like Karmin, Psy, and Baauer getting seemingly instant popularity with viral videos. Because of this, there’s a lot of misconceptions about YouTube. It’s not a platform for instant fame, and, like many other aspects of the music industry, requires a good deal of dedication and hard work.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start a YouTube strategy today! YouTube is one of those platforms that you can make something really great with a limited budget if you take the time to plan and put in the creative effort.

This article was written by Matt Sandler, musician and founder of ChromatikYou can follow him on Twitter @mattdsandler. This is just a short excerpt. You can check out the full article on Hypebot.

1. YOU NEED TO START

Failure isn’t your biggest obstacle to success, it’s not even starting. Most people talk the talk, but never actually walk the walk. You want a great YouTube presence? Start making videos…today.

I know that there’s a tune you can crush. Maybe it’s Classical Gas, maybe it’sTwinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Perhaps 15 seconds of a popular chart? It doesn’t matter. Spend 30 minutes recording and uploading it to YouTube…today.

Start viewing YouTube as a sandbox for playing, performing, and sharing. Not everything you upload to YouTube needs to be perfect or professional quality initially. We’ll get there. But as a relative unknown in the YouTube ecosystem, you’ll want to just get comfortable with the recording and upload process first.

2. BE PROLIFIC, ON A SCHEDULE

One of the YouTube myths I hear all of the time is – “I just need ONE video to strike it big.”

So what do folks do? Pour a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money into producing an incredible video. Cool. Assuming that you rocked and it miraculously went to the front page of Reddit, you now have 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers. Now what? Can you replicate that?

The unfortunate reality is that 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers doesn’t get you very far in the YouTube ecosystem. Not to mention, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, there’s a 1/1,000,000 chance of you achieving that result.

The myth is dangerous because it forces you into an assumption that “if you build, they will come.” Which, as many creatives – from musicians to tech startup founders – learn quickly, just isn’t the case.

So let’s focus on starting small and building a community. Without a miracle, the only replicable way I’ve seen to build a successful YouTube channel is by being prolific and regimented with content production. One of my favorites, Gabe Bondoc – now with 272k subscribers and 48 million views! – was phenomenal at this early on.

 

Do you have a YouTube channel? Check out the New Artist Model YouTube channel for tons of interviews with music industry greats.

 

 

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t Build a Brand

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“Branding” and “artist image” aren’t new concepts at all. Since the beginning of music artists have been defined by genre and personality attributes. Beethoven’s music and personality can be described as moody, and Liszt was the showy star of the 1800’s. What makes you unique? 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. This just confuses the audience. You end up with something like “We are a psychedelic reggae metal band. We also look to funk, bluegrass, and classic rock for influence and you can really hear it in our sound.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. Either they feel their music cannot be defined in a sentence or they are uncomfortable waving their own flag and would rather just play music.  No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.

You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. In fact, the more personal you can make your brand the better! Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. If you are passionate about something, chances are other people share in that passion. Use it as a connector!

Let’s look at a fairly well known band, Sum 41. Before they 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.

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Everyone’s brand is unique, and every musician has a unique journey to discover their brand. In the New Artist Model  online course you’ll go through this process with founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic, Dave Kusek. You’ll take a look at more examples like Sum 41, define your own brand, and learn how to really harness that image to connect with fans.

What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and discover your own unique brand! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get free sample lessons.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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

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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.

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!

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.