Living Example of a Music Entrepreneur: Steve Taylor

Perhaps as you’ve followed along with the blog and podcast here at The Music Entrepreneur, you’ve wondered to yourself if there truly is such a thing as a music entrepreneur.

I don’t think you need to be too hard in your thinking when you hear the term, but I can certainly appreciate the fact that you might have some doubt.

I recently watched an interview with Steve Taylor, a man who some consider to be the most important figure in Christian music (the video is below).

Steve was on the podcast a couple of years back, and at the time he was involved in making the movie, Blue Like Jazz, which is referenced often in this interview.

Steve has gone from being a solo artist to a producer to a filmmaker, though going from music to filmmaking – as you’re about to find out – was always a part of his plan.

More recently, he’s been making music again. Go ahead, watch the Kickstarter video. It’s hilarious.

I’m not sure whether or not you have 42 minutes to spare right now. If so, check out this interview. It’s totally worth it.

Otherwise, I’ve pulled out some of the key points below so you can keep on reading.

The early part of the video points to how powerful crowdfunding can be. Steve was initially having trouble getting funding for Blue Like Jazz, but was ultimately able to make it a reality because of a crowdfunding campaign.

Here are a few other things I took away from the interview.

Marketing

At one point, Harry says:

In terms of marketing – you know – you don’t just go out there and just pull a date out of the air. There’s a lot of thought that has to go in.

Steve goes on to explain the thought process behind the marketing for Blue Like Jazz.

Though subtle, I think this comment helped me to understand marketing on a different level. My desire to become a better marketer has been rather substantial as of late, so I’ve been hungry for new insights.

Steve says they put together a 60 page plan for the movie! Incredible. I don’t have more than four pages worth for my eBook marketing plan.

They thought about location, music, timing and how all of those things would tie in together. Because of this interview, I’ve come to understand that good marketing is awareness.

You have to take a lot of factors into consideration to make something work.

Entrepreneurship

At 30:20, Harry says:

Being an executive – because you kind of stepped down in another role as being an entrepreneur – because that’s really what you did.

As you learn about Steve’s career in this interview, you realize that he had to adapt to new roles.

First, he pursued a solo career. Then, he produced different artists, which required empathy as well as maturity. Then, he started making movies, and Steve explains exactly how draining that can be.

In summary, you can see that he has a lot of business sense in addition to creativity.

Changes in the Music Industry

From about 33:33 to 37:58 Steve explains how corrupt the music industry was becoming before Napster, and the positive changes that have ocurred because of this shift.

Here’s an incredible quote:

It’s so screwed up. The way business is done, the way contracts are put together; it’s just a bad business. The way major labels operate… I’m happy that something big has happened. I have no empathy for the major labels. I’m not really sorry that any of this is happening… The major labels are getting what they have coming to them. In many was, it’s just sweet justice; it’s how it should have been a long time ago.

That’s an insider’s perspective for you.

I can’t say whether or not Steve is right, but it is fair to say that he was a first-hand witness to the corruption in the music industry.

Final Thoughts on Steve Taylor

Again, I would encourage you to watch the entire video, because there are so many other great lessons in it.

When Steve talked about being focused on his projects, I had a little bit of a flashback to the project capsule idea I’ve talked about before. I am progressively getting more focused on my projects as I write this.

In conclusion, the point here is not that Steve was (and is) able to do a lot of things. The point is that he was able to leverage everything he did and use his experience to benefit himself and others in every endeavor.

Did you watch the video? If so, what did you take away from it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Interested in Learning More About this Topic?

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What Every Musician Ought to Know About Search Engine Optimization

What Every Musician Ought to Know About Search Engine Optimization

The subject of overwhelm has appeared here on the blog a number of times.

Many musicians already feel bogged down with their pursuit of a music career without having to add one more thing to their loaded-down schedule.

And yet, they are faced with the somewhat cruel reality that online marketing, social media, and even distribution are evolving and changing all the time.

Enter search engine optimization.

It’s a confusing enough topic to learn about for the average marketer, let alone the average musician.

And yet, the subject continues to rear its head in various places, forcing people to pay attention to it.

Does search engine optimization really matter if you’re a musician, or a music entrepreneur for that matter?

Let’s give this some thought.

Even SEO Experts Can’t Keep Up

First of all, we have to face the reality that even people who work specifically in the SEO field feel that they can’t keep up with all of the constant changes.

And looking back on the colorful past of SEO, it’s not hard to see why.

You may have been able to get away with some “black hat” tactics in the past, but SEO is mostly “white hat” today, because if you try to game the system, Google will find you out and penalize you for it.

Sadly, gaming is exactly what SEO used to be all about. Marketers utilized questionable tactics like keyword stuffing, private blog networks and link building to boost their rankings in search.

As Google updated their algorithm, a lot of those tactics stopped working, and a lot of sites got de-ranked.

Some of the aforementioned tactics still work, but you have to have specialized knowledge to know exactly how to set them up.

Today, about the only thing that really matters is back-links. In other words, the more that people link to your site, the higher you can expect your rank to rise.

Google has made it so that links are pretty hard to exploit. If you get linked from too many sketchy, disreputable sources, it won’t actually help you.

For the amount of benefit that you’re likely to see from SEO, I can’t advocate investing all of your time and energy into constantly studying and applying it.

I think it’s something you should be aware of, but that’s basically where it stops; awareness.

SEO is a Long-Term Strategy

Many improvements and changes to your site over time can indeed boost your rank in search.

You can create more content, get more back-links, optimize for mobile devices, ensure that your site is running at optimal speed, and so on.

Aside from back-links, many of the SEO strategies that are out there take time to implement. In addition to that, many of them will have no immediate effect on your search rankings.

And let’s not forget, either, that you have to know what you’re doing in order to make improvements. If you don’t, you could actually end up harming your site’s ranking.

There’s no question that implementing responsive design (so that your website works across all devices) and making your site run fast is a good idea.

But if you’re expecting to see a huge spike in traffic tomorrow from what you’ve accomplished today, you’re in trouble.

The results that you get from SEO tend to be pretty granular.

In short, this probably isn’t something you should be focusing on. Perhaps you can hire someone or bring on a team member in the future, but if you’re not there yet, why bother?

SEO can be a huge time-sink, and it’s quite technical in nature besides. Then, it can also take a while for it to have any effect on your website.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do it because it takes a long time, but because of the patience and technical knowledge required, you’re better off leveraging the knowledge of a qualified expert.

Regular & Quality Content is Still Your Best Bet

It has long been held that content is king, and while that sentiment still holds true, these days it’s more like content is the kingdom, and the king is whoever you’re trying to please.

So, if you’re focused on search engine optimization, then clearly Google, Yahoo! and Bing are your kings.

And, if it’s your goal to satisfy search engines, then there’s nothing better than content, particularly textual content. This is why blogs are so important.

You don’t necessarily want to sink all of your time into blogging either, but it’s fair to say that anyone can type out a few quick sentences on a regular basis, share a picture, a Vine, or something that doesn’t require all of your time.

It isn’t easy to get your content to rank in search, but the more you have, the better chance you have of something sticking.

Search engines will begin to rank your site higher if you add content regularly, even if none of the content makes a splash.

Furthermore, blogging is an excellent fan engagement strategy. If you post frequently, you’ll be able to drive more traffic to your website.

You want an effective SEO strategy? Here’s one: start making stuff that people care about!

Adopt the Set-and-Forget Mentality

I’ve already established that you don’t want all of your time to be going towards SEO, but I totally understand if you want to cover the basics.

If you’re using WordPress, I suggest getting the free WordPress SEO Plugin.

Using it will teach you the basics of on-page SEO and the importance of keywords.

Moreover, once your page is optimized, there is no further work to be done, thus set-and-forget.

Once you get really good, you’ll be able to write posts that are immediately optimized with little to no tweaking. If you’re going to use the previously mentioned plugin, that should be your goal.

So, you could say that on-page SEO is a learnable skill, and it really doesn’t take that long to learn, either.

However, I have been averaging about four to six daily visits from search for a long time now, and I have dozens – if not hundreds – of optimized pages.

I’m not saying that you won’t do better, but let’s be realistic about our expectations here.

If you have a long-term perspective, then optimizing makes sense. You never know when something could blow up.

But clearly there’s only so much you can do in the short term.

Final Thoughts

Should musicians be focused on SEO?

No, musicians are creative people, and they should be concentrating on their craft.

However, should music entrepreneurs be focused on SEO?

As a natural extension of being a businessperson, you should at least understand what it is and why it’s important.

There’s a reason why businesses out there are talking about it, and why they are using SEO strategies to grow their web presence.

So, not caring about SEO as a businessperson is kind of like an accountant not caring about spreadsheets.

Sure, they can probably do their job without spreadsheets, and there might be better tools out there, but it is one of many, and they should at least be aware of it.

What are your thoughts? Do you understand SEO? Do you use SEO tactics on your website?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Should I Use Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace to Build My Website?

Should I Use Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace to Build My Website?

I’m a big believer in a creative or musician building their own their website.

Here are just some of the reasons:

First, it makes you look more professional. People will take you more seriously when you have your own dot-com domain name, ad-free (unless you’re monetizing your site with ads).

Second, you get to have complete control over your content, monetization methods, branding, and other important visitor-facing items.

Finally, there are a lot of extras you’ll get, like storage (you can upload and download files via FTP), customized email addresses, sub-domains, and more.

There may be a time and a place for free website solutions like Wix or Weebly, especially if you just want to experiment with a new idea. But there are some definite downsides.

Here’s what you need to know:

Websites Are Not Cost-Prohibitive

There are two elements that make up a website.

The first is the domain name. This is the address at which the website can be found.

If you take advantage of a free service, your site might be hosted at someone else’s domain. That means you have less control. Your web address might end up being something like:

www.bigcompanyname.com/yourbandname

And that’s the best-case scenario.

Worst-case scenario, it will look more like this:

host.bigcompanyname.com/~userbase/890001389342*/your-band-name/3312

You have little to no control over that. So, it stands to reason that having a domain name that is simply:

www.yourbandname.com

Is preferable to the alternatives.

The second element that makes up a website is the hosting.

Sometimes, your domain registrar and web host are one and the same. Oftentimes, however, you might register your domain name with one service while using a different service to host your files.

It might sound complicated, but it really isn’t. Your domain can point to any nameserver you want it to, which means the domain can be registered anywhere and still connect to any host.

Even when you put these two costs together (domain and hosting), setting up a website is not cost-prohibitive.

If you purchase a shared hosting plan, you can expect to pay somewhere between $2.99 and $7.95 per month.

Registering a domain can be done with as little as $0.99, but keep in mind that renewal costs can range from $10 to $20, and sometimes more. But that’s still cheaper than your hosting costs.

Conservatively, that’s basically $120 annually. You could even do it with less.

By the way, my recommended host is SiteGround:

SiteGround

Free Services Often Don’t Offer A High Degree Of Customizability

This is perhaps the death knell of free services in general.

Yes, you could take advantage of sites like Blogger or WordPress.com – and don’t get me wrong, they are great – but you’re going to limit your options as far as customization goes.

What are most businesses interested in? Profit, right?

This is why you see ads on Facebook. This is why Blogger blogs have a banner at the top that can’t be removed.

You have to expect that there’s going to be some self-interest on the part of the service provider when you’re making use of anything that’s free.

Sure, Wix offers awesome customizability. I’ve tested them out. I know. But you’ve got to pay to have the ads removed.

Anyway, if you were a business, wouldn’t you do the same? If people wanted to promote their products on your website, wouldn’t you expect some compensation in return?

Furthermore – and this is probably the greatest deterrent to free services – most musicians aren’t technical enough to back up their site and move it to a new host should that eventuality arise.

And if you can’t back up your stuff, you lose it all!

I’m not saying that you need to be a rocket scientist to figure this out, but imagine spending an entire year developing content for your site only to realize that you can’t take it with you. How would that make you feel?

You Have No Control Over what isn’t Yours

Invariably, some company owns the free service you’re thinking about taking advantage of.

Is there a history of companies being sold and traded? Have big businesses been shut down in the past? Are there businesses that have changed their business model completely over time? Absolutely.

How about Squidoo being sold to Hubpages? A little too dated of an example perhaps? Then what about MySpace? Google+? Vine?

Maybe the worst case scenarios will never come to fruition (they did if all your audience was on Vine), but if they do, what does it mean for you?

If you’ve built up a big archive of content, it could mean losing it all.

If you’ve grown your list of subscribers and followers, it could mean losing all of their contact information.

If you try claiming ownership over the content you’ve created, it could result in a lawsuit dispute (many social media sites “own” the content you publish to their sites).

I’m not saying that any of those things will happen, and if you have a way of backing up your content and followers, more power to you. It’s just not a risk that I would take.

If you’re insanely lazy, then the one thing I want you to take away from all this is just this:

Build your damn email list. Start NOW.

Final Thoughts

Is there a downside to setting up your own website? Of course.

First, there’s the technical aspect of it, which can be frustrating. If you’ve never installed or worked with WordPress before, that might be just one of many learning curves you’ll have to work through.

Second, there’s the cost. Again, it’s not significant, and you won’t even miss it once your budget is adjusted, but every business has some overhead.

Third, you are responsible for everything. For example, if someone doesn’t like you using their image on your website, you have to deal with it. You take all the risks.

Despite these downsides, I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.

What are your thoughts? Do you use a free website solution right now? If so, what has your experience been like?

How to Create Your Own Music Marketing Blueprint

In order to create a music marketing blueprint, first, we need to take a look at the bigger picture.

What’s the bigger picture? It basically comes down to three things: Planning, Creating, and Marketing.

It could be argued that a musician is always in one of these three phases. There are many subheadings that could go under each of them, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let’s examine each of the three phases.

The 3 Phases

Phase 1 – Planning

This is the preparation stage. Songwriting, fundraising, demoing and pre-production would all go under this category.

For example, if you’re about to record an album, then planning activities might include songwriting, fundraising, demoing and so on.

If you’re about to launch a crowdfunding campaign, you would be storyboarding a video, planning out what perks you’re going to offer pledgers, what financial goals you hope to reach, and so on.

If you’re creating an ad, then you would be thinking about what colors to use, what copy to employ, what message you want to convey, and so forth.

Inactive or otherwise dormant musicians could also said to be in this phase. Maybe they’re planning a new release, or maybe they’re going to go on tour again, but for the moment you’re not hearing anything from them or about them.

If you’re planning anything, then you’re in this phase.

Phase 2 – Creating

Creating is where your product is made.

If you’re recording an album, then this is the time and energy spent in a studio.

If you’re putting together a live DVD, then it’s the actual performance itself.

If you’re making merchandise, then the process involves design and branding.

Creating takes many different forms for the modern musician, but it all comes back to the necessity for a product.

Without a product or a service, you don’t have a business. Your products would be things like CDs and DVDs, and your services would be things like live performance.

Phase 3 – Marketing

This is the phase in which all of the promotion happens.

If you’re getting the word out to your fans about an album or a show via social media or email, you’re marketing.

If you’re uploading videos to YouTube, you’re marketing.

If you’re blogging to keep your fans engaged, you’re marketing.

Marketing is of little merit without a product, service or some form of content to share.

It is possible to gain some traction for your content, product or service without marketing, but this is very rare, and it explains why marketing is so crucial to the entire operation.

The Progression of the 3 Phases

The 3 Phases Interweave

Sometimes, musicians do follow a linear progression, from Planning to Creating to Marketing, and then back to Planning. However, this isn’t always the case.

Once your career is underway, the three phases tend to interweave, and you might even find yourself in the midst of all of them at the same time.

This is where overwhelm sometimes settle in, and you get that feeling of “How in the world can I do all of this?”

Regardless, this interweaving is crucial to understand if you want an effective music marketing blueprint. Here’s why.

The 3 Phases Interweaving

Why You Need to Understand the 3 Phases

Why do you need to be aware of each of the three phases? Because you need to be looking at each of them as a cohesive whole, not just as separate, individual parts.

Marketing is the sum of each of the parts, not merely the activity that follows a release.

Musicians often fail to recognize the connection between all three phases, and that is one of the main reasons why their marketing fails to be effective.

You often hear musicians say things like, “I want to tour, but I need a product to get behind. I have to support the release.”

I would not argue that it’s a good idea to have product to sell while you are touring.

However, if you hear someone say something like that, it should immediately tell you that they’re not seeing the bigger picture.

If planning hasn’t started (they don’t have a tour booked), and the creative process hasn’t begun (they haven’t started recording their album), then it’s almost certain that the marketing piece hasn’t started either.

Marketing is not something to start and stop, and only initiate when you have something you think is worth marketing.

Once you start marketing, you should keep marketing.

Does that sound overwhelming?

Well, the basic idea is to make marketing part of your daily routine, so that you’re not overrun.

A little bit every day is the secret to achievement in adulthood, right?

Practically speaking, that might look like sharing your plans with your fans at the Planning phase, or taking an Instagram photo at the Creating phase (i.e. when you’re recording in the studio). It’s not terribly complicated.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of Planning, Creating and Marketing, we’re ready to start developing your marketing blueprint.

The Different Parts of Marketing

Like we talked about earlier, there are many subheadings that exist under the three phases.

When it comes to marketing, it’s not hard to identify the different pieces, but once you have the subheadings laid out in front of you, you can probably start to think of items that exist under each of those.

In other words, you can keep getting more and more granular. I wouldn’t say that you can keep drilling down forever, but it’s kind of like a Matryoshka doll; there are a lot of smaller dolls within the bigger doll.

Matryoshka Doll

Matryoshka dolls.

So let’s identify some of the most common marketing tactics.

  • Advertising: advertising almost always costs something, but it can also yield huge returns. Print ads, newspaper ads, newsletter ads, TV ads, and even online ads would fall under this category.
  • Social media: social media is hugely popular, and is only being enhanced by mobile technology. It provides an opportunity for you to get your message out there and engage with your audience.
  • Video/YouTube: more and more musicians are turning to video to get their music out there, producing music videos, lyric videos, making-of videos, acoustic cover videos, and so on.
  • Email: email subscribers are almost always more engaged than social media followers. It’s an old tool to be sure, but it’s a proven one.
  • Blogging: blogging offers you the opportunity to engage with your audience on a regular basis, and can be good for driving search traffic to your site too.
  • Podcasting: you can use podcasting to broadcast your music and message on a regular basis, and even establish yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Press releases: press releases are short articles that discuss newsworthy topics. They can be distributed through a variety of different services and catch the attention of press and media people.
  • Contests and giveaways: contests and giveaways can be leveraged to build your fan base. They serve to keep your fans engaged, and can draw the attention of new people too.
  • Crowdfunding: a crowdfunding campaign involves all three phases that were mentioned earlier, but a healthy byproduct of initiating a campaign might include attention from new people.
  • Live performance: every gig is an opportunity to share your music with a new audience. Few things compare to the effectiveness of performance in making new fans.
  • Radio: radio is still a great way to get your music heard on a bigger scale. It isn’t necessarily easy to get on the radio, but the effort is often worth it.

Again, there are many other ways to market your music, and if we’re talking about a broader topic like guerrilla marketing, there really is no end to how deep it can go.

Your music marketing blueprint will be built off of these different components.

You don’t have to utilize all of them. Or, you might think of others you’d like to try or implement.

But now that you’ve taken a look at the three phases and the different parts of marketing, you’re ready to construct your very own marketing blueprint.

Step 1 – Create A Mind Map

Now it’s time to connect the pieces.

The purpose of creating a mind map is so that you have a visual representation of what your music marketing blueprint looks like.

However, at this stage, you should avoid discounting anything from your mind map.

Don’t pick and choose things you like and don’t like; instead, simply list out everything you can think of, and add more as more ideas come to you.

While going through this process, don’t doubt yourself. There are no right or wrong answers, and there is always the possibility that you’ll land on some things you haven’t even thought of before.

Here’s an example of a mind map if you’re not sure what it’s supposed to look like:

Mind Map

Start with a central topic (i.e. Marketing), and define the many subtopics that exist under it.

Hopefully you’ve taken the time to go through this exercise yourself, so that you can really take hold of your own ideas.

Every mind map will probably look different, and that’s totally okay. The important part is that you’ve taken ownership over it.

Of course, I’d like to share my sample mind map with you too. Here it is (you can click on it if you’d like to expand it):

Music Marketing Mind Map

This mind map was created with XMind. It’s not comprehensive, but it is a good starting point.

Even if you do nothing else, your mind map should aid you in creating your marketing plan.

However, I’ve laid out some additional steps you can follow to figure out what your ongoing marketing activities might look like.

Step 2 – Make Your Written Plan

If you’ve taken the time to draw out your mind map, congratulations! You’ve already made it further than most musicians ever will in constructing a marketing blueprint.

Now let’s take a look at how you can turn it into an action plan.

What you need is a written plan, because there is something really powerful about writing things down.

Even if you end up transferring it to a digital calendar or a notebook in Evernote later, it’s worth putting your pen to paper first.

I encouraged you to brainstorm and think as broadly as possible at the mind mapping stage, but this is where you can start to get a little more focused.

First, write down all of the marketing activities that you’re currently doing. Go ahead, this article will still be here when you come back to it.

Marketing Plan

Here’s an example of a marketing plan. Still fairly loose, but it identifies all of the major activities and everything that comes along with them.

With that out of the way, begin to think about whether or not you would like to add anything else to your list.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to add anything just because. It’s good to stay focused, and to put the most effort towards things that work.

Do you have your completed list now?

Hopefully you’ve already identified the various subheadings that exist under the broader headings.

If not, then think about everything that’s involved in each tactic or activity and write them all down.

Finally, determine what’s required of you with all of your marketing activities.

How much time does each item take? Could you eliminate, automate or delegate any of them? Could you make a checklist (or multiple checklists) for yourself to make things more streamlined? On a scale of one to 10, how important is each activity?

Do a deep dive. Don’t shortchange yourself with this process.

Take some time to work backwards. See the end vision in mind, and think about what needs to happen on a daily basis to achieve your goals.

Now we’re ready to move on to the final step.

Step 3 – Bring Your Plan in Alignment with Your Goals

If you don’t know what your career goals are, then you don’t need a music marketing blueprint yet. What you need is a vision, a purpose, a Big Why.

Think about all of the times you’ve abandoned your goals and resolutions in the past.

I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I’m just trying to show you that you were missing something when you went after those goals.

I’ve already said what that something is, and it’s your Big Why. It’s the umbrella, the defining purpose, the overarching reason for your commitment to building a music career.

Whether you’re trying to manage your time better or be more productive, you’re just not going to do it without having some kind of leverage on yourself.

With that out of the way, you’re really going to be banging on all cylinders for this final step if you’ve been faithful to this whole process so far.

I already talked a little bit about seeing your end vision and laying out what you need to do with your marketing to reach your goals.

That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish at this stage.

Plans & Goals

Again, this is a pretty rudimentary example, but the format is worth observing. Notice how it’s stated as a commitment and clearly identifies Big Whys.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what that is, because your mind map, your marketing plan, and your goals are all going to differ from mine.

But I will say that you want to check your goals against your marketing plan to see if they are in complete alignment or not.

A dissonance between the two will not do you any favors.

When you’re working on a project into the wee hours of the night, when you’ve got a flat on the road, when you’ve got a massive to-do list and haven’t had any sleep, only your Big Why is going to drive you to take the extra mile.

A congruent marketing plan will compliment your goals. It will guide you in the direction you need to go.

I’ve talked about the fact that plans don’t need to be perfect before, so don’t worry about that.

You want to make your marketing sustainable, and that’s not going to happen without some forethought.

The great thing about putting in the effort upfront is that you can pass on all of your plans and processes to your marketing person once you’re ready to work with one.

Think big, and don’t try to do it all alone. Plan for the future, and the resources will begin to fall into place.

Bonus: Your Music Marketing Blueprint

I’ve taken you through the process of creating a personalized music marketing blueprint.

However, I know that you were probably looking for a prefabricated plan.

For reasons I’ve already mentioned, a prefab blueprint isn’t going to be the most effective. However, I do think a sample could help you discover new ideas and give you inspiration for creating your own.

So, to finish things off, here’s a completed music marketing blueprint.

You can use it as a starting place. You can use it as-is. You can let it inspire your blueprint. It’s up to you.

Music Marketing Blueprint

Again, this is anything but perfect, but I think you can see where it’s going.

10 Music Marketing Ideas for You to Try

10 Music Marketing Ideas for You to Try

You might have heard me talk about James Altucher’s practice of coming up with 10 ideas every single day, and how I’ve adopted it into my own daily routine.

I believe it is a hugely beneficial habit to create, because it forces you to apply your mind to different areas of life. All too often, our beliefs go unexamined, and that’s why we tend to run with the same ideas over and over again without getting different results.

If you have to come up with 10 new ideas every single day, it will force you to think outside the box. Not that every idea you generate will be great, but at least you’ll begin to exercise your mental muscle on a daily basis.

In any case, you are here because you are looking for music marketing ideas.

So let’s get into it. Think of this like a buffet; you can take what you want, and leave what you don’t want. These are not proven methods, so you can tweak, change, experiment, or take a different approach to each of them.

Here are 10 music marketing ideas for you to try.

1. Brand Your Cases

What are some things you carry with you everywhere? If you’re regularly playing gigs, then it’s quite likely you carry your gear (like you guitar) in cases.

If you had an eye-catching logo on your cases, they could potentially double as marketing devices. If they look cool, you could also use them as props onstage.

You can use a custom banner for the same purpose, but you probably don’t carry your banner with you. On the other hand, if you’re a guitarist, and you love your instrument, you probably carry it with you everywhere you go.

Moreover, you probably frequent certain places more than others, which would mean that your brand would catch the attention of the same people on a regular basis. That’s exactly what you want to happen, because it often takes repeated views for a logo or a brand to stick in people’s minds.

This works great on a local level, but it could work pretty well as you go on tour or travel too. If you want people to remember you, you have to stick out in some way. This is just one way you could make that happen.

2. Carry a Mobile Device with Your Music on it

How many times do people ask you what kind of music you play when you tell them that you’re a musician? Probably more often that you realize.

It’s great to have a compelling 30 second elevator pitch, but you know what would be even better? To be able to play a few seconds of your music for your new friend on the spot.

Maybe give them a quick description, like the kind Derek Sivers used to recommend (“We’re like James Brown funk meets White Album era Beatles”), and then pull out your phone or tablet, and actually play your music for them.

If you have a good enough description, people might want to know more about your music anyway, but why not be more proactive? Why not get them to listen on the spot, and help them make a quick decision as to whether or not they want to buy your music or come to your next show?

If they seem to be enjoying it, you could even help them take another step with you on the spot. Have a signup app ready so they can enter their name and email and get on your mailing list right then and there.

You have to be proactive about removing the steps between them getting to your music. If they have to go home and get on their computer to look you up, they might not do it at all.

If you get them on your email list – even if they don’t stay on it for long – at least you’ve exposed them to your product, and you’ve given them the chance to take the relationship to the next level.

3. Create Compelling Live Performance Pamphlets

Have you ever noticed how people can be a little standoffish when considering whether or not to come to your live show?

A live performance is a great opportunity to turn bystanders into fans, so it serves to reason that you want to get more people out to your shows. The question is, “How?”

There’s no doubt that you can attract some attention with free giveaways, contests, sales, and the like. But what about a professionally designed pamphlet that demonstrates what it’s like to be at one of your shows?

You could show the band rocking out onstage, how much fun your fans are having, what people said about your latest performance, how people can contact you, and so forth.

This isn’t just a great tool for your fans; it’s a great tool for getting booked too. You can give a pamphlet to a venue that’s hemming and hawing about booking you, and if they see that you can really bring a crowd and entertain them, they’re going to be more likely to hire you.

People are visual, and while it’s good to have text for them to read, when it comes to selling your live show, nothing is going to be more powerful than something they can hold and look at.

Do pamphlets trump posters? I would be inclined to think so, because people can’t really take posters with them.

You could also do this with video of course, but hey, this is about music marketing ideas, not music marketing trends or clichés.

4. Make Your Own Music Magazine

You don’t have to go the traditional print route of course, as that could be a costly proposition. There are plenty of ways to distribute your content online.

If you have someone in your band that’s competent at graphic design and/or layout, or you know someone that is, you could enlist their help in developing a magazine that speaks directly to your market.

If I was doing this, I would have articles, interviews, and pictures from recent performances. I wouldn’t just have it for the sake of promoting myself; I would create a collective, and showcase numerous bands that I like.

It’s almost like a record label, but a little looser. A project like this could be a time-intensive investment, but if you can create a loyal readership, rest assured they’re going to want to follow your career and buy from you when you have something new.

After all, it’s a magazine. People are already expecting ads to be in there. If you make it easy for people to be able to order product from you (i.e. include order forms), who’s to say they won’t?

This is a great way to be a leader in your scene. Other bands and artists will love you for doing it, and you’ll be able to create a scene around many active artists instead of just you.

5. Host Networking Events

After booking many gigs and tours, you should be pretty competent at setting up events and marketing them. But who’s to say you have to play a show every single time?

You could have album listening parties, album signing parties, Christmas parties, and other types of events.

The key thing is to be sensitive to the timing of your event.

What are people thinking about around the New Year? Things like goal-setting, time management, resolutions, planning for another year, right?

So the New Year would be a perfect time for a networking event where people can get together, trade contact information and build some new partnerships for the year ahead.

See, in today’s market, you stand to benefit the most from events/products/services that others also stand to benefit from.

If you put on events and gain a reputation for it, you will become the go-to person for it. Suddenly, people are coming to you wondering when you’re putting on another one, because they had so much fun the first time around.

In addition to timeliness, I would also be thinking about scarcity. Not that you want to limit the number of opportunities for people to get together, but if you do it too often, you could run the risk of getting ignored.

It’s kind of like performing in your home town too often. People get tired of it. You need to spread yourself out a little more.

6. Develop Partnerships with Product Creators

You might remember the U2 iPod from a few years back.

Naturally, this only happened because of the relationship between Apple and U2, and because they were both huge brands in their own right.

U2 iPod

Remember this?

This does not mean that it couldn’t work on a smaller scale though.

The main thing to be thinking about is who it makes sense to partner up with. You don’t want to do it with just anybody, because a bad placement is a bad placement no matter how you frame it.

Think of your band’s logo and web address on toilet seats… Actually, there might be some potential there.

Anyway, the point is that there are going to be some good opportunities and bad opportunities. You need to be a little discerning.

Cross-promotion can take many forms, but physical products that people use, re-use and keep are among the best marketing tools available, because your brand identity keeps getting reinforced.

Do you know anyone on a local level that you could partner up with? Any small companies interested in working with artists and bands?

If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. If you have some leads worth pursuing, give it a try.

7. Become a Public Speaker

The advantage of getting known as a speaker is that you get to establish yourself as an expert in a particular field.

In addition to that, you can also earn money from public speaking. Wouldn’t it be nice to create another stream of income for yourself?

Really think about this for a second. You’re a musician, and you have many stories and experiences you could share with people.

You can do a bit of storytelling at a show, and it’s a good idea to do that, but people are also there to hear your music, so it’s not really the same as having a platform from which to share a message.

Public speaking is like a performance, so again, you already have some experience in this area. It’s not completely beyond the realm of comprehension that you could deliver a speech if you can play a show.

What you need to keep in mind is that you need to be focused in what you want to share, and it also has to be value-adding to others.

It can be funny, entertaining, inspirational, motivating, quirky, or maybe even all of those.

But you don’t want people going, “Great, what was the point of that?” You have to know what you’re after.

If you become a speaker, you can connect and network with more people. A lot of great opportunities could come through that, including sales, shows, partnerships, and so on.

8. Tell a Story with a Tour

One of the challenges of trying to get people interested in your tour is that oftentimes your fans will only come to see you once.

Super-fans might come to several shows just because they like you, and die-hards might even follow your entire tour, but you can rest assured they are the exception.

Of course, you want to be playing to different audiences every night. That’s the point of a tour; to make more fans.

But what if there was a way to get people invested in the entire tour. Maybe you could get them to tune in via a site like Ustream, or go to your website every day to check the latest tour date.

How would you do that? Well, you could tell a story with your tour.

You may have heard of They Might Be Giants’ Venue Songs project. Basically, every night audiences were treated to a unique song that had something to do with the specific venue the Giants were playing in.

Similarly, you could share a piece of the puzzle at every show, not revealing the big picture until the very end.

Every show, you would reveal another piece, and then another piece, until the story is complete.

Do you think this might be a great way to sell a DVD or a CD at the end of the tour? Do you think people might flock to your website to find out about the full story?

Of course, you wouldn’t reveal the story in whole on your website until the tour was over.

What you want to do is keep people engaged to the very end, and you could do this with story-specific songs, a reading of a chapter from a literal story, a physical puzzle piece given to a fan… however you want to do it.

9. Gamify Your Music

If you’re a web surfer, chances are you’ve probably heard a few things about gamification here and there.

So far, I can’t say that I’ve seen a lot of gamifying in the realm of music.

Anyway, what exactly could you do to make things interesting?

Perhaps you could have a playlist contest where the people that listen to a specific track of yours the most times during a certain time-frame have the chance to win a special giveaway.

Or maybe you could have a merch checklist, where you fans can check off the things they already have of yours, which would immediately make apparent the items they haven’t purchased from you yet.

Maybe you could have a fan club where the fan that contributes the most gets the most points, which goes towards discounts on concert tickets.

Are you starting to get the picture? There are a lot of different possibilities here.

I would be asking myself how to keep fans engaged and involved. It’s great to sell an album here and there or have a turnout at your shows, but it’s even better to keep the momentum going.

You should have things that fans can do every single day, whether it’s requesting a song on the radio or recommending you to a specific venue.

But instead of asking for their cooperation upfront, make sure they get something in return for their work. That will help you to keep fans for longer.

10. Fake Publicity Stunts

If you don’t take yourself too seriously and have a sense of humor, this one should be easy to pull off. The goal is to provoke a reaction from your fans.

For example, if you’re a metal band, you could put together a fake promo video for your next album, which is going to be a country album.

You would make sure that the dialogue gives specific reasoning as to why your band decided to take things in a new direction.

This is kind of like The Onion, or an April Fools’ joke. You make it just real enough to sound believable.

When you make people go “WHAT!?”, you inevitably leave an impression on them. They have to follow you to find out what happens next.

Then they share it with their friends, because they found it so funny and so unique.

I imagine there are some bands and projects that have actually started in this exact manner. This Is Spinal Tap definitely treads this line.

So how could you get your fans in an uproar? How could you make them question what they’re seeing? That’s what you want to do with a stunt like this.

Conclusion

So those are my marketing ideas. You can take them or leave them, and you can criticize them if you want to, but you can’t accuse me of not putting thought into this.

There is no guarantee that these ideas will work. They aren’t proven or tested. I just want to make sure we’re abundantly clear on that point.

At the very least, I hope I’ve opened up your eyes to the possibilities. I hope you’re starting to think about long-term engagement instead of just gaining one impression or one sale.

Are there any other outside-the-box ­marketing tactics you can think of? Have you tried any unusual strategies?

Let us know in the comments section below!