Adam Gonzalez is the Co-Founder and COO of Social IQ. Gonzalez specializes in developing music artist’s social media audiences.
Irrespective of whether you are a solo artist or part of a band, there will come a time when you need to invest in growing your fan base. Thanks to the internet and social media, self-promotion has never been easier, but this has resulted in a rather saturated independent music scene. To differentiate yourself from others, you must be able to market your music effectively.
Marketing does not come naturally to many music artists, but it is nonetheless crucial to your success. Indeed, music and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Both require discipline, commitment, passion and creativity. Both also require that content be monetized by placing it in front of the right audience. There is, of course, nothing wrong with passion for passion’s sake, but most aspiring musicians need to make a living to survive. To do this, they must market themselves through efficient and targeted branding and networking.
The most successful musicians have learned to market themselves well, but how can you do the same?
Here are five marketing tips that every aspiring musician can use to channel their inner entrepreneur:
1. Establish a brand.
The most successful musicians understand that their large fan base is not simply a result of their well-crafted songs. Branding — or your visual identity and the story behind that identity — is also important. Ideally, your music should have a brand that informs others of who you are and what you stand for. It also helps you connect with fans who resonate with your story, therefore building a loyal following in the process.
The Sex Pistols, for example, used contempt for the monarchy and love of controversial public relations stunts to grow their fan base. Although divisive, their brand was reinforced by unashamedly loud and crude punk music, which represented core values the band never strayed from.
Whatever your message, branding must be consistent across video content, merchandise, social media and even album art. It must represent your core values and be reflected in your music.
2. Incorporate video content.
By the year 2022, it is estimated that video content will account for 82% of all web traffic.
Video is a versatile means of promoting your work and growing that fan base. YouTube has become somewhat of a de facto music video website.
But instead of simply uploading your tracks to a video with a static background, try:
• Filming your performances or creating official music videos.
• Covering your favorite artists to reach their respective fan bases.
• Answering questions from your fan base so they can relate to you on a personal level.
• Vlogging to provide updates on new music, shows or behind-the-scenes content during recording.
3. Use text marketing.
According to a survey by Shift Communications, which received responses from 1,030 people, 82% of people read every text message they receive. Text marketing is a relatively cheap yet highly effective form of marketing that taps into the enormous popularity of smartphones. Unlike social media and organic search, there is also no reliance on algorithms to get your content seen.
There are many ways to take advantage of text marketing. I observed one rock band that, after dropping a cell number in one of their music videos, used a texting platform to interact with their fans directly while still maintaining privacy. You can also use text marketing for announcements relating to gigs and to provide links to exclusive content.
Ultimately, text marketing can be effective because it bridges the communication gap between the artist and the fan. To grow your fan base, consider using text marketing to reply to each fan individually. This puts you at a distinct advantage over other artists who aren’t able to offer the same level of interaction.
4. Collaborate with other musicians.
Collaborating with musicians occupying the same genre or with a similar target demographic is also a beneficial strategy. Ideally, it should build on information gleaned from creating a brand and identifying a target audience.
While opening for another artist is not possible right now, there are other ways collaboration can occur. You could record a song together or appear on each other’s albums. Alternatively, you might decide to share some of their work on your social channels in the form of a shoutout. Recommendations are an effective way of increasing exposure and growing your fan base. In other words, they are a powerful form of word-of-mouth advertising that 92% of consumers trust over other types of recommendations.
5. Get playlisted on streaming services.
Music artists who ignore the popularity of streaming services do so at their own peril. According to Counterpoint Research, there were 358 million streaming service subscriptions worldwide in 2019. Spotify occupies 35% of total paid subscriptions, so I recommend trying to get your music in front of potential Spotify fans.
In my experience, the best way to achieve this is to pitch your music to curators, whether to Spotify directly or to independent playlist curators. Spotify Ad Studio also allows you to take advantage of targeted algorithms to advertise music to those most receptive to hearing it.
While big players Spotify and Apple Music occupy more than 50% of the market, don’t neglect the smaller services. This includes Bandcamp and SoundCloud, which offer the ability to embed your newest music seamlessly onto your website.
Given the current pandemic, it is hard to see live events making a comeback any time soon. Take the time to market yourself online by first establishing a consistent and authentic brand. Only then should you think creatively about video content, text marketing, digital collaborations and streaming services. This is how you hit the ground running and ensure that your loyal fans will be lining up to see you live once it’s safe to do so.