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Content marketing for musicians

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

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

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

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

That’s where content marketing for musicians comes in.

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

Get more engaged fans with these content marketing strategies:

What is Content Marketing for Musicians?

Content marketing is quite literally exactly what it sounds like.

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

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

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

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

You see the difference?

The Problem With Push Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

Reaching The RIGHT People

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Content Marketing Works SO Well

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

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

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

Most people would go for the latter.

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

Start Before You’re Ready

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

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

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

Tie in Relevant Calls to Action

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

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

Let’s run down some ideas:

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

Conclusion: Content Marketing for Musicians

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

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

Download this Free Content Marketing Guide
Content Marketing for Musicians

New Artist Model member Matt Powell

New Artist Model member Matt Powell

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

On His Own — And Loving It

Canadian Singer songwriter Matt Powell isn’t a big believer in conventional wisdom.  Especially the old saying that there is safety in numbers.  After spending most of his musical career as a member of two different bands, Matt recently stepped out on his own as a solo artist — and is loving it.

The Ottawa-based musician will drop his newest album “Year One” this fall — the title chosen to celebrate his first anniversary as a solo artist.  The songs on the CD represent a journey back to his musical roots inspired by the likes of John Mayer, The Strokes and The Black Keys.

Matt is using a strategy that combines a strong social media presence and lots of gigs to generate buzz for his upcoming release.  He put together his plan with help from the New Artist Model, an online business school for indie musicians.

Currently, Matt has 10,000 followers.  He communicates with them using email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and other social media channels.  His videos on Youtube have captured more than 20,000 views and 80,000 on Facebook.

“If you want to be successful online, it is important to respond to every person who contacts you,” Matt says.  “It is also good to “turn the tables” on your fans and give them star treatment.”

“What you want to do is treat everyone as if your favorite artist just responded to you on social media,” Matt says, adding that enthusiasm helps create superfans.  “When I consistently started responding to every single fan, I went from 200 followers to 1000 followers in three weeks.  My fan base grew from 300 to 5700 in 6 months.”

“If they (fans) feel you are their friend and treat them with kindness consistently, they will stick with you and be really, really loyal.  So I am going to continue to be engaging and follow them back even as the numbers go up, up, up.”

Matt communicates often with the people who follow him often.  He also reaches out to the super fans of other artists in his genre.  Matt posts weekly clips and asks his audience what they want to hear.  If enough followers urge him to cover a certain song, he will.  Once the cover is up, Matt engages with the original artist’s following.  He never asks them directly to follow him — rather he simply engages.  It is a strategy that works, he says.

Matt says his success on social media has taught him never to underestimate how significant your reach will be.  You never know you will connect with.  One thing Matt is passionate about — in addition to music — is fashion.  Recently, he had the chance to connect with Anthony Bogdan, a style blogger he’s admired for years “My jaw hit the floor when I got the request,” he says.

“I have people who are happy and eager to share my content,” Matt says.  “The networking and the decency I have been inspired to use have taken my first year as an independent artist and propelled me forward.  I wouldn’t have believed myself at this time last year if I knew where I would be today.”

When Matt is not sharing his music on the internet, he can be found playing at local clubs and bars.  In addition, he hosts a popular open mic event held once a month in the city that is broadcast on Rogers TV Network.  Matt also performs as part of this showcase.

“Doing the open mic is great for networking,” he says, adding that many of the artists he meets during the show ask him to join them at upcoming gigs.

When he plays out, Matt regularly distributes up to 2000 business cards emblazoned with personal email and social media information and asks people to send him a personal message to start a dialogue.

Matt says being an independent artist in Canada requires balancing a unique set of challenges and opportunities.  For instance, radio airplay can be hard to come by.  Most stations are owned by major labels like Warner Brothers, Sony and Universal and play only their signed artists.  

At the same time, Matt says, significant support for indie artists exists in the form of grants offered by the Canadian government.  This is particularly important to Matt who is committed to touring but will keep his home in Ottawa.

“There are lots of government grants available for musicians who stay in the country,” Matt says.  “They can range from $5000 or $10,000 to even as much as $20,000.  Artists can use this money to help record their albums.  This is something I am looking into.”

A typical day for Matt includes communicating with with fans and working on music.  He also takes time, when he can, to review the latest offerings at New Artist Model.

When he wakes up, Matt immediately checks his Twitter Instagram, Youtube and other social media feeds.  He then spends about an hour communicating with fans from around the world including the States, Europe and Brazil.

“I call it upkeep.  I poke and market.  I talk to them in the moment,” Matt says.  After working on his music and spending time with family, Matt finishes his day by checking in with fans again.  “I love interacting with people.”

Matt says that also making time on a regular basis to review material on the NAM site helps keep him inspired and effective.

“I’ve gone back and watched some of the same workshops 4 or 5 different times.  I do that especially when I’ve hit a funk or need some guidance,” Matt says, adding that he has watched some of the video from NAM’s 2015 Nashville gathering 10 times. The Indie Artist Summit was a live mini conference that attracted hundreds of attendees. Top industry pros like Benji Rogers, Patrick Clifford, Barry Coffing, Jay Frank, and more covered topics like building a community of superfans, licensing your music for film and TV, making Spotify work for indie artists, getting your music in front of publishers, and much more. The entire recorded event now lives in the Music Business Guide to Success course.

Matt’s is hoping to reach 25,000 followers soon.  His other goals include playing more big venues, creating merchandise, touring and doing house concerts.  He also wants to open for other artists he admires.

Through it all he plans to continue to stay close to the people who support him — in person and online.

“I will never stop communicating with his original true fans that have helped me from the start.  I have an appreciation and love for them that will never expire,” Matt says.  “The time invested in being personable, kind, and humble, and being appreciative. It comes back to you. ‘The love you take is equal to the love you make.’”

 

To see more about Matt Powell look here

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