The ABC of Music Marketing

Music Marketing is as easy as ABC.

Awareness is created by making yourself visible to your audience.

Bonding with your audience: communicating, connecting and growing your fanbase

Cash flow from your audience for your music, merchandise and content.

To be a successful independent artist you need to focus on all 3 in the right order.

If you miss a step it won’t work.

Example: You record your album, do some live shows to build awareness, then run paid ads asking your fans to Buy it now!

You have created awareness and cash flow but have missed out the all important bonding part.

You’re just shouting at people to buy your stuff with no attempts at real connection first.

It’s like asking someone to sleep with you after you’ve just been introduced.

It rarely works and comes off as desperate.

Unfortunately, this is the most common mistake I see artists making today.

If you want to have a good shot at having a long lasting, satisfying career then you have to switch your thinking from short-term adrenaline highs, to long-term progressive growth.

Let’s start with some ideas for each step to get you thinking.

Step 1. Awareness:

This is the first and most important step for obvious reasons; If you don’t make your self visible then no one will be aware of you and the following steps are then redundant.

These are some effective and simple ways you can start getting more exposure to make people aware of you:

* Play live as much as possible. This might be your own shows you put on, open mics, busking, support slots for bigger bands or online gigs.

* Create social media accounts. The main platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, focus on 1 or 2 to start with is best.

* Contact local news papers and radio. Send them press releases for your latest recording or tour. (If you craft an interesting story they will often give you valuable column inches!)

* Record cover versions of popular songs. Do them in your own unique style and post the links in the comments section of the original song, after you have interacted with the community.

* Make really exciting/controversial looking posters promoting your live shows or new release. Put them up around the town you are playing.

* Find out where your ideal fans hang out and become part of their community. This can work both on and offline. This is probably one of the best strategies to grow and nurture.

* Send your music to Radio stations both online and offline. Radio still matters, although not as much as it used to. Done right this can really boost your awareness.

* Enter in to songwriting competitions or battle of the bands. They can be great for free promotion if you win!

* Approach podcasters to be on their show. This is great for your own content and for building your network. Getting good at doing entertaining interviews is a skill that will only enhance your career and increase awareness of you.

Now you have started to build awareness, gain exposure and ideally created a bit of a buzz about you.

What do you do now you have a bit of a following?

Step 2. Bonding

The next stage is to focus on bonding with your new found fans.

You do this by creating and nurturing an emotional connection with them.

The more intimate, warm and friendly you are with them the more committed and supportive your fans will be.

Taylor Swift is a master at this. Study the way she engages with her ‘Swifties’ for more inspiration.

Here are some ways you can create a really tight bond with your fans:

* Ask open questions or run polls on social media to encourage interaction, don’t just make statements. Promptly respond in a meaningful way to every comment you receive.

* Set up a simple website where people can sign up to your email list. Offer a free EP or NFT in exchange for their email address.

* Send your email list regular updates, every 2-4 weeks. This is one of the most important things to do as social media platforms can change their systems or even close down. Your email list is an asset that you own and will grow with you, if you nurture it.

* Make it a habit to talk to your audience before and after your shows, make friends with them. If they are in bands, go and support them.

* Start your own podcast and communicate with your fans online. Justin Hawkins from The Darkness does this very well. His personality and musical knowledge and skill shines through and he regularly responds very eloquently and humorously to his fans comments.

* Encourage people to sign up to your email list at shows. You can also encourage people to take pictures and videos during your performance (they will anyway!) and offer a prize to the best picture or video posted after the show.

* Remember fans birthdays and send them a video message of you singing them happy birthday, or even better, actually call them on the phone!

* Invite selected fans to private shows or ask them for their input on your artwork, song selection for a new album or merchandise designs.

* Be friendly and polite to all of the staff at the venues you play at. Remembering their names is a great way to make a good impression on them and they will support you to get more shows.

We have looked at the first two stages. You created awareness through being visible.

You have attracted fans who you started bonding with by nurturing and developing a strong relationship with.

What next?

Step 3. Cash Flow

Now is the time to start generate cash flow.

Invite your fans to purchase your music, merchandise and live shows.

A lot of musicians, me included can feel insecure about asking for money from your fans as we live in a world where music is mainly free and is seen to have little monetary value.

However, you will find that your true fans will have no problem with paying you for your music as its valuable to them, they are emotionally connected to both you and the way your music makes them feel.

Remember: You are an artist who is making a positive difference to your fans lives and so you deserve to be paid for your skills and talents.

If you don’t make money, you can’t continue to create your art in any meaningful way.

Here are some ways you can start to generate cash flow.

* During your live shows, tell your audience about your music and merch that they can buy at the end, mention this a couple of times and make it fun, no hard selling.

* Make memorable merchandise. Take one of your best lyrics and print it on T- shirts, caps, Tea Towels etc. Emphasise that lyric during your shows.

* Create scarcity by doing limited and special edition versions of your records or merchandise. This also means you can increase the price. Scarcity and a higher price tag creates desirability.

* Bundle your music and merch together. Create special offers like the first 25 tickets sold will get a free T-shirt. Each show can have a different offer or even a seasonal theme i.e. a Hoodie in winter.

* Make sure you have a merchandise display at your shows that is well stocked and attractively laid out. Accept cash and card payments. Ask an attractive friend to help you sell your merch!

* Host your music on your own website for purchase as well as all the major online outlets. Make it as easy as possible for someone to buy your music.

* Every third or fourth social media post should be pointing to a music or merchandise sale. This isn’t cringey or desperate, it’s how you thrive and grow as an artist.

* Create several different versions of the same design for your merchandise. This could be different colours or variations on a design. Think Bored Ape NFT’s

* Don’t limit your price range to only what you feel comfortable charging. Offer low, mid and high ticket options. You’d be surprised what people will pay for things they really value.

I hope you can see now how the three steps work together.

Creating Awareness and Cash flow without bonding cheapens your efforts and frustrates your fans.

These principles work, if you work them each equally and don’t try to cut corners or get impatient.

Remember this is a marathon not a sprint!

In musical terms, it’s more of a Bruce Springsteen concert than a 2 minute talent show appearance.

Whatever tools and strategies you use to market your music, as long as you follow the ABC then you will have a much better chance of lasting success.

Now, go out and take action, make great music, bond with your fans and make lots of money!

Have fun and enjoy the ride!

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