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How to Book Gigs on Your Own as an Indie Musician

how to book gigs as an indie musician

Gigs – before a booking agent will work with you every musician has to start out booking their own gigs and concerts. But, as you’ve probably realized, this is a lot easier said than done.

Especially since there are SO many musicians and bands competing for very limited performance spots. It can feel like a hopeless game of cold calling promoters and venue owners only to get turned down (or ignored).

Venues want to book bands with experience. After all, for them it’s a game of risk management – they want to book bands they know will fill the room. And that means getting the spot as a new or unestablished band can be very tricky.

But NOT IMPOSSIBLE. In fact, today I’m going to go through a bunch of ways you can get on the radar of local venues, get on the stage, and book gigs as an independent musician.

But first…

What is a Promoter?

A promoter or venue owner is someone who buys talent. Depending on the size of the venue, they work independently or with booking agents to book bands and musicians to perform.

So, how do they make money? The venue will usually get a percentage of ticket sales and also make money from food and drink sales.

As you can see, the business of venues is really all about numbers – if they don’t fill the room, they don’t make money. This is where you come in. If you want to get the gig, you need to be able to prove that you can bring an audience and make the night profitable for them as well as yourself.

Having some kind of track record or EPK (electronic press kit that details your gigging accomplishments and experience) will really help you pitch your case.

If you can show them that you can fill similarly sized local venues, that you have an email list of 500 locals that you can use to promote the show, and give them a live video to show how great your performance is, you’ll make a much more convincing pitch.

If you don’t have much experience gigging and performing yet, keep reading. We’ll cover a few strategies for breaking into the gigging scene in just a minute.

1. Finding the RIGHT Venues to Book Gigs

The first step of the booking process is always research. Most venues prefer to work with professional artists, and the best way to prove your professionalism is to show that you care enough to take the time to do some basic research.

Especially with venues, there are SO many variables. Some venues may cater to a certain genre, others tend to serve a target demographic like college students or working professionals, and many have age restrictions you need to consider.

You need to make sure your music and audience matches up with the venues you choose to contact. If your fans are mostly teens, don’t book clubs with age restrictions. In the same way, if you play upbeat country, contacting a venue that tends to book rock and roll gigs is a really good way to make a bad impression.

An easy way to get this information would be to check out the venue’s website. If they have live music, they’ll probably have a page listing some upcoming or past acts. Do you fit in?

With that in mind, the BEST way to get a feel for the venue is to actually go there. Go to some gigs. Get a feel for the vibe and the demographics. Get to know some of the staff. If you’re not involved in your local music scene as a fan, you’re going to have a hard time getting involved as a musician.

2. Make a Spreadsheet

Now, don’t get let your eyes glaze over at the mention of spreadsheets.

It will take a little extra effort up front, but in the long run you’ll be saving yourself time. You’ll be able to come back to this in the future when you’re looking to book gigs and have everything you need right in front of you.

Create a spreadsheet for yourself with information on local venues. Here are some things that would be useful to include:

  • Venue name
  • Website
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • The name of the booker
  • Venue size, address
  • A short description on the type of music and audience they cater to
  • Have you played there before

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

3. Make a Connection

Personal connections are everything in the music business. And I’m not just talking about your connections with booking agents and venues.

Your connections with other local bands could be your biggest asset when it comes to booking gigs or breaking into new music scenes or larger venues.

Think about all the musicians and bands you know in your area. Where do they play? If you’re interested in playing any of those venues, get in touch and suggest a collaboration. Pitch your band as the opening act or do a collaborative 50/50 set split.

When dealing with more local-level venues, the bands often have more liberty to organize their own opening act, so they can be your ticket to getting your foot in the door. Play there a few times as an opener. Make sure your live show makes a good impression on the bookers and venue staff. Get to know the decision makers. Use these gigs as a chance to grow your fanbase. And eventually you’ll be able to leverage all that to book yourself as the headliner.

Open mic nights can also be a great way to make yourself known. There may not be a huge audience and you may only get to perform a few songs, but they give you the chance to make an impression on the venue booker.

4. Contacting Venues

If you’ve had the chance to play at the venue, the best way to connect with venue owners or promoters is in person. However, if you’re writing an email you want to be short and to the point. Here are some best-practices:

  • Make the subject line clear. If you’re inquiring about a certain date, include that as well as the lineup. As an example, your subject line could read “Nov 7 booking- My Band + Opening Band.”
  • Use actionable language. Seriously. If you’re vague and don’t ask for the gig, you’re not going to get it. Tell them what you want.
  • Address the booker by name.
  • Be brief and stay relevant. They don’t need a novel on your life to book a gig at a local 250 person venue. Only include information that will directly help your cause. Link to a gigging EPK with information like other local venues you’ve played, how many tickets you can sell, the size of your mailing list / social following, and a live recording or video so they can hear your live sound.

5. Make a Promotion Plan

Especially if you’re playing smaller, local venues, you’re going to be doing most of the promotion yourself, so tell them how you will promote the show.

At the most basic level, you can set up a Facebook event, put up some fliers, and share some social posts and emails promoting the gig.

But we can do better than that, right?

  • Come up with some incentive to get fans to buy tickets early (as opposed to at the door). Maybe you can give away a merch bundle to anyone who buys early. Or maybe they will get a coupon that they can use to buy cool stuff at your merch booth at a big discount.
  • Give the show a cool theme. Maybe all the bands in the set will cover one of each other’s songs. Maybe you’ll all cover a song from a particular band that inspires you. Get creative and see what you can come up with. Try to make the show seem special.
  • Let your fans vote on the set list/order. When fans feel involved in something they are much more likely to financially support it.

6. Follow Up and Be Professional

The process doesn’t end after you get the gig. If you want to really connect with the local audience, you need to play the venues regularly. So introduce yourself to the venue’s booker and staff and keep in touch.

On top of that, the best way to build a good relationship with local venues is to be professional. Always be on time for shows – in fact, be early! Make sure all your gear is working properly. Treat any sound or light technicians with respect and follow any venue rules. Above all, be prepared for your set and play well-rehearsed songs.

Sometimes the gigging grind can get tiring, but you need to remember that for the promoter and the fans, this one show is everything.

7. Think Outside the Box

As an end note, keep in mind that you don’t need to only book gigs at traditional venues. Live music is something so embedded in our culture. And that means there are A LOT of opportunities.

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

House concerts are also a great option if you want to skip the gatekeepers all together and take your performances straight to your fans.

Another option is college gigs. There’s a whole industry dedicated to booking college performers, and it can actually be an extremely lucrative venture.

While there are a lot of opportunities outside traditional venues, always keep your goals in mind. Doing corporate parties or college gigs ins’t going to be for everyone.

Always ask yourself, will this gig take me closer to my goals? Or is it just a paycheck? Of course, sometimes you have to take those just-a-paycheck gigs, you know, the ones where your heart’s not really in it. But doing too many will get you discouraged and running out of drive.

Conclusion: How to Book Gigs on Your Own as an Indie Musician

Hopefully you’ll be able to use these tips to book bigger and better gigs for yourself both in your local music scene and beyond.

Remember, the most important element to booking great gigs is planning. Click below to get a free ebook on how to achieve your goals and book more gigs today!

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).

How to Make Free Music Make Money

how to make free music make money

Technology. It’s provided a lot of really cool opportunities for musicians. I mean, now you can create incredible quality music with your laptop, you can release that music to the world with the click of a button, and you can connect with a global fanbase from your home.

But – and this is the big but – for a lot of musicians all that opportunity hasn’t necessarily made their lives any more secure revenue-wise.

I’m sure you know the story… Free music is everywhere so it feels like no one is willing to actually pay any more. Even music instruction is available for free online on sites like YouTube now so even side income from lessons seems to be dwindling.

As a result, the average musician – whether it’s your career or passion project alongside your day job – seems to always run into the same brick wall: “How do I compete with FREE?”

What if I told you that you don’t have to compete with free music? That you should embrace “free” into your approach for promoting your music?

No, I’m not saying renounce money and go live in a cave with an acoustic guitar. I’m saying USE free as a stepping stone – a point of entry for new and potential fans to come into your camp and get turned on to your music and a small piece of your overall approach. Let’s take a look.  

Free Music is One Part of the Bigger Picture

A lot of musicians will look at the idea of giving away free music and think they are just throwing away potential income. But it can actually have the opposite effect. It can help you create fans who will buy more music, merch, and tickets – if you use it correctly.

Think about how you discover new music. Let’s say your friend recommends a really cool new band. Are you going to go out and buy their album right away? Probably not. You’re going to get on YouTube or SoundCloud and listen to a few songs and make your decision from there.

So once someone has heard a song on your YouTube, what’s the next no-brainer step they can take? They can download it for free by trading their email address. It’s a little bit more of an investment on their part because they’re giving you access to their inbox, but it’s still a relatively painless step.

And now you’re getting permission to contact them again – and that’s key. That contact will open up the door for you to send them more cool stuff they can buy. So we’re opening up the potential for them to be repeat buyers.


Not sure what to send your fans when they join your email list? Download these 10 free email templates: 10 Attention-Getting Email Templates for Musicians


One Size Does Not Fit All Fans

And now to dispel the common myth: Fans DO want to spend money. They want to support you – it’s up to you to one, give them the opportunity to, and two, figure out what they want to buy.

Giving stuff away for free can also help you piece together the puzzle to figure out what fans really want to buy.

Here’s the thing. As musicians, we tend to group everyone into one category – fans. And that category includes everyone from people who literally just found your music to hardcore fans who have been following you and supporting you for years.

But all of those fans have different interests and want to buy different things. Some fans might like collecting merch, other fans may be musicians themselves and would be totally into lessons and instructional videos, and some may want signed stuff and exclusives. So if you just give them a chance to buy a $10 album, you’re missing out.

Get to Know Fans’ Interests

Here’s where free stuff comes in. Seeing which fans opt into which free offer can give you hints at what they’re interested in.

So someone who wanted one free song may be interested in buying the full album. A person who entered a contest for a chance to win a big merch bundle may be interested in buying a new merch design you come out with. A fan who opts in to get a gear list for your pedal board may want to buy a bonus version of your album with the Pro Tools files for remixing OR PDFs of the tabs and sheet music. And a fan who comes to your live Q&A streams on YouTube may be into meet and greet packages at upcoming gigs.

In most email programs like Mailchimp, you can mark these interests automatically by segmenting your list into “groups” and adding hidden form fields on your opt-in forms.

So try to go beyond just offering free music. Think about the things you can sell and figure out what you could offer for free to sort your fanbase by interest. This is where free stuff gets to be really powerful in your overall approach.

Build a Ladder

Once you get some free offers in place you can start building a ladder – something that will work your fans up towards bigger purchases and move them into the realm of superfans. Start piecing together your free offers so you’re constantly giving your fans free stuff and simultaneously figuring out more and more about them and what they want.

This approach is taken out of the New Artist Model Essential Music Business Course. As you can see, the strategy is designed especially for indie musicians to work in today’s modern music environment – not the industry of 10 years ago. If you want more up-to-date and practical indie musician success strategies, check out the full online course. Or sign up to get 4 lessons for free

How and When to Post on Social Media

Let’s talk social media. It’s something we all do as artists, but a lot of musicians aren’t using it to it’s full potential. Maybe you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter everyday but feel like your efforts are wasted because you’re not seeing any growth. Or maybe you don’t post as often as you should because you don’t know where to start. These are problems every musician will face their entire career.

The problem, I think, lies in the fact that we often will dump all social media channels into one big category. The term “social media” includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snap Chat, Pinterest, Linked In, Google Plus, and whatever else is out there. But all of those platforms couldn’t be more different!

Let me explain. Instagram is all about images. As an artist, you would post visually interesting photos relating to your music, use the description and comments to engage with your followers, and use relevant hashtags to try to reach new fans. If you tried to use that same approach on Facebook people would think you’re crazy. That’s because the way these two platforms work is completely different.

I’m sure you’ve run into “that guy” who just pushes out the same message to all his social channels. More likely than not, the message comes out formatted incorrectly on a few platforms because they didn’t take the specific requirements of those platforms into consideration when they posted. You end up with links in Instagram photo descriptions (even though they’re not clickable), messages that span across 3 tweets, and Facebook posts that go on and on in one big long paragraph.

The best solution is to get to know the social platforms you use. And I mean really get to know them. Pick one or two to focus your efforts on and learn everything you can about what to post, when to post, how to format your posts and photos, and how to attract new followers on the platform.

To help you get started, I wanted to share this infographic from Start a Blog 123. It breaks down the best times and days to post on each platform as well as a guide that breaks down the best image sizes so you don’t get your awesome photos cut off!

Best-Times-to-Post-on-Social-Media

Feature.fm: The Value of Music Promotion

music promotion

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

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

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

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

The Value of Music Promotion

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

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

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

The Power of a Play

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

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

The Changing Listening Environment

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

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

The New Music Economy

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

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

Why we Built feature.fm

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

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

Learn more about feature.fm

Music Strategies: Following Through

indie-musician-promote-your-music

Image via Paul Katcher on Flickr

There are a ton of music strategies out there that will help you grow your fanbase, get more gigs, sell more music, sell more merch, and grow your social media following. I’ve even shared a lot of them on this blog. However, I know a lot of people get frustrated when these music strategies don’t result in the amount of growth and progress as they expect.

The truth is, most of these music strategies just cover the first few steps. Using great hashtags, posting regularly, releasing great content, and following relevant people on Twitter and Instagram will definitely grow your following. But if you’re not converting those followers to email subscribers or driving them to your website you may have a hard time making more money.

Adding a clickable cover photo to your Facebook page that links to your email collection page will certainly grow your email list. But it’s only the first step. An email list is just a number unless you follow through, send relevant emails, and drive those subscribers to take action and purchase your music, merch, or tickets.

In the same way, collaborating with other musicians and bands to get gigs in new venues and cities will certainly get you in front of a new audience, but if you don’t find some way to connect with those people online via email or social media, they may never hear from you again.

Releasing awesome YouTube covers and drawing in a huge audience from organic search is great. But even if your video goes viral and gets millions and millions of views, it’s not worth much unless you use the video to funnel those viewers to connect with you on social media, via email, or buy your music. After all, they could just click off and never find you or your music again.

As you can see, it’s all connected. Your live performances, your social media growth, your email list, your music sales – it all funnels into and loops back to one another.

I want you to start thinking of all the different aspects in your music career as a seamless flow rather than a bunch of unconnected music strategies.

Avoid thinking, “If I get more followers on social media I’ll be successful,” or “If I work on writing better emails I’ll be successful.”

If you want to be successful, you need to think about the flow between all these different strategies. “How can I get more gigs,” funnels into “how can I grow my following on social media,” which funnels into “how can I drive more traffic to my website,” which funnels into “how can I grow my email list,” which funnels into “what can I send my email list to drive sales,” which funnels into “what products can I offer my fans.”

It’s not a strategy, it’s a process. I recently created a social media guide that covers this same concept, but focuses on promoting your music in the online world. In the guide, we go through the flow from fanbase growth to making sales. If you’re interested, I’m giving this How to Promote Your Music guide away for free. You can download it here.

PromoteGuideSocial

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.

Infographic: YouTube and Music

YouTube and music work very well together. You can easily hype up a new release, create awareness for your music, and engage with your fans by giving them exclusive or more in-depth content.

Check out this infographic from The Music Bed to learn more about the tools YouTube has to offer.

Infographic YouTube

49 Ways to Get Free Music Promotion

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

#6 Upload your music to Soundcloud

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

#13 Reward your fans & raise money using Pledge Music

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

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

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

#19 Create a list of relevant bloggers & befriend them

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

#25 Set up a mailing list on Mailchimp

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

#39 Tag your fans in photos on Facebook

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

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