James Moore of Independent Music Promotions Reveals What Artists Need to Know to Create Success in the Music Industry

James Moore of Independent Music Promotions Reveals What Artists Need to Know to Create Success in the Music IndustryI had the opportunity to develop a friendship with James Moore of Independent Music Promotions while I was blogging with TuneCity in 2012/2013.

He wrote a guest post for us, and I wrote a guest post for his blog. Subsequently, I’ve also sought advice from him about my long-overdue eBook (which will maybe be out by the time this post goes live!).

James is always insightful and has a great perspective on where the music industry stands today.

I recently had the chance to ask him a few questions, and he was gracious enough to take some time out of his day to answer them. Read on.

James Moore's Independent Music Promotions

1. What is Independent Music Promotions? Who is it for, and what can we learn by visiting and reading your blog?

Independent Music Promotions is, first and foremost, a music PR company serving “music with depth” worldwide. Our job is to generate high amounts of press for every one of our artists. This press comes in the form of CD reviews, interviews, feature articles and blog posts in prominent music blogs and magazines.

We also run a popular blog at www.independentmusicpromotions.com that serves two purposes. It introduces artists to our company, and it also serves as an artist resource. We post tons of educational articles aimed to help artists learn to promote themselves effectively.

2. What would you say is the biggest challenge in the music industry right now?

Obscurity. That’s nothing new though. Artists shouldn’t see it as a bad thing. Obscurity is actually the biggest challenge in EVERY industry, so be fearless and advertise. If you complain about it, you’re a sinking stone.

3. What do you think musicians need the most help with?

Perspective is without a doubt the thing artists need the most help with. Artists who constantly learn, are humble, have a love for the art first, and keep a positive attitude tend to find more and more success. Artists who get stuck in some false idea of “how things were” or how they should be tend to stay stuck. Once artists learn that there’s no one to turn to but themselves, they get a new energy and more opportunities open up. You can’t advertise if you’re against advertising, for example. You can’t reach the public if you feel entitled, or that you deserve to “be found”. Work hard and love your art, first and foremost. Then you’ll never experience disappointment.

Perspective is without a doubt the thing artists need the most help with. Artists who constantly learn, are humble, have a love for the art first, and keep a positive attitude tend to find more and more success.

4. Have you observed any up-and-coming trends in the music industry? If so, what are they?

The way people are consuming their music is constantly shifting, but the underlying need for music remains the same. Artists should remember that music listeners can tend to be very limited in the way they listen. For example, some people only check out new music through their chosen streaming network, so if you opted out of all those networks because you don’t like the royalties, you’ve disconnected yourself from a ton of new potential listeners.

I tend to think that artists should place themselves everywhere where music listeners are. It’s an ecosystem and it’s not all about revenue right now. Revenue can come later, but popularity is a far more potent currency.

I tend to think that artists should place themselves everywhere where music listeners are. It’s an ecosystem and it’s not all about revenue right now. Revenue can come later, but popularity is a far more potent currency.

5. What is something every independent musician needs to know, especially if they are just getting started?

Start off with music you’re extremely proud of, and then show it the proper respect by not skimping on production, artwork, and promo photos. Once you have all those elements complete, show all that effort the proper respect by investing in yourselves. No one else is going to take the leap for you. Don’t over-analyze or you’ll stay in one place. Use hyper-targeted advertising through venues like Facebook and Twitter in order to build an organic following. Popularity is MUCH more important than money in the beginning stages because no one is going to pay you until you have some popularity behind you. You’ll need to work hard and invest to build this popularity.

If you can get your mind around these things without any cynicism creeping in, you’re already miles ahead of most. Probably most importantly, don’t listen to any devil’s advocates! People love to chime in about things they know nothing about. Don’t allow them to taint your natural drive and love for what you do.

Final Thoughts

Wow! I think James is spot-on with his thoughts on what artists need to know and the mindset they need to adopt in order to be successful in today’s music industry.

In some ways, it’s exactly what I’ve been saying all along, but I think he put it so much more eloquently than I ever could.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to say “thank you” to James on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to mention that I (@Dawmusic) sent you.

What do you think? Is there anything artists are missing? What is your biggest challenge in music right now?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Def Leppard at the Scotiabank Saddledome on April 22, 2015 Concert Review

Def Leppard at the Scotiabank Saddledome on April 22, 2015 Concert Review

It seems this blog has finally come full circle.

Back in 2007, I had the chance to see Styx & Def Leppard in concert.

Last night, on April 22, 2015, I saw Def Leppard for the second time at the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, and here I am writing another review.

This time, they were not accompanied by Styx, though it appears they will be joining DL on the US leg of their tour (incidentally, they’re touring UK and Ireland with Whitesnake).

With a new album coming out this fall, it may not be long before they return to Calgary again.

Real Life Imitating Real Life

Before I get into this review in earnest, I should let you know that I presently play bass guitar in a Def Leppard cover band.

I used to be a part of the same band a couple of years back, but at the time I was playing guitar instead of bass.

As such, it’s pretty incredible how familiar every beat and every change in most DL tunes has become for me.

I certainly wouldn’t say that we’re on the same level as Def Leppard as a band, but I feel like I know the songs pretty intimately at this point.

For example, during the concert, just by force of habit, I was singing along with all of the gang vocal and harmony parts instead of the lead parts sung by Joe Elliott.

This is also due to the fact that Def Leppard’s set list last night was not that different from ours as a cover band.

There were only three songs throughout the entire night, “Paper Sun”, “Two Steps Behind”, and DL’s version of “Rock On” (originally by David Essex), that we don’t play in our set.

All the other tracks, from “Hysteria” to “Animal” are part of our regular repertoire, and are deeply embedded in my mind.

I was also pretty familiar with the three songs we don’t play, but I’ll explain why in a second.

Prior to the Show

I can’t fully explain why, but I’ve come to appreciate DL’s music a lot more as of late.

I’ve been listening to Slang, Euphoria, X, as well as Yeah! quite a lot lately.

I’ve also had 2013’s Viva! Hysteria DVD playing in the background while working quite often these days.

It’s almost as if I knew I would be going to last night’s DL concert, and I was studying up in advance. Of course, I didn’t know for sure that I would make it, and that I might end up sending my sister in my place.

It worked out such that both my sister and I could go, so we took advantage of that time to let loose and have fun.

I could sit here and talk about the finer details of the concert and critique the little things (and believe me, I will get into more detail in a second), but man, if you’re not going to enjoy yourself at a concert, why go at all?

The Concert

So, in short, I was primed for this concert.

The band was probably the most relaxed that I’ve ever seen. They still rocked out without a doubt, but they didn’t really seem to have anything to prove.

Of course, we are talking about a band with a rich discography, several multi-platinum albums, and an incredible number of mainstream hits.

I think that’s the part that people often forget about DL, and when you begin to understand exactly how many recognizable hits they have, you can’t help but acknowledge their versatility, talent, and charisma; whether you like them or not.

There weren’t too many surprises throughout the show; at least not for me. Again, I think this has to do with how familiar I’ve become with the Viva Hysteria! DVD as well as their discography. Oh yeah, and I also play in a Def Leppard cover band.

There are a few moments that did stand out though.

Joe Elliot came out to sing “Two Steps Behind” all on his own, accompanied only by a lone acoustic guitar.

Rick Savage had the stage to himself for a moment while he played an interesting prelude to “Rock On”. Overall, “Rock On” works better as a live song than it does as a recording!

Rick Allen had his moment in the spotlight with a drum solo after the obligatory “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak/Switch 625” medley.

Vivian Campbell had a neat guitar solo on “Promises”, where no guitar solo exists on the original recording.

“Paper Sun” was an unexpected song choice to add to the set list, but I greatly appreciated it, as it really is a great song.

These were some of the more memorable moments that I took away from the show.

If you’re Def Leppard, despite your extensive discography, you can’t venture too far out of the mould. The crowd is expecting to hear a dozen or more of the well-known hits from High ‘n’ Dry, Pyromania, Hysteria, and to some extent Adrenalize. This is exactly what they delivered.

That’s where songs like “Paper Sun” and “Rock On” really had a chance to stand out.

Final Thoughts

With “Pour Some Sugar On Me” finished, the band left the stage shortly after 10. They returned for two encores, “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph”.

With a band like DL, you can really take your pick for encore songs. As long as they play one of their many hits, the fans are good to go.

As for me, I just focused on having fun. I’m no stranger to DL’s catalogue at this point, and there’s only so much I was going to gain from paying attention to every detail.

But I will say that the production, the light show and video presentation was fantastic. The sound still left a little to be desired, but overall it was pretty good.

The vocals were quite audible, and the drums were front and center. The bass guitar tended to blend too closely with the kick drum at points, creating a dull woofing sound, but was better at other times.

The guitars could have been louder. They could obviously be heard whenever they were boosted for solos or lead parts, but again had a tendency to blend into the background at certain points.

However, overall, I felt it was an improvement over last time, and that’s what really counts.

What You Ought to Know About Setting Your Music Marketing Goals

What You Ought to Know About Setting Your Music Marketing Goals

Whatever it is you’re pursuing in life, I think it’s important to have clearly defined goals.

You need something to pull you along and move you towards your end destination.

Not to sound too woo-woo, but when you’re fully taking advantage of the reticular activation system built within your very mind, you begin to see things you never saw before.

You begin to key in to opportunities you weren’t previously aware of. The resources, the people and the circumstances start lining up in incredible ways.

However, if you don’t set goals, you’re not giving God and the universe a chance to bring you what you need.

Not that it will magically land in your lap or anything, but you can make your focus and intentions clear, and when you are clear on those things, you become a force to reckon with.

So, let’s take a look at setting music marketing goals.

Step 1 – Identify Your Goals

This is probably the toughest part.

Before you do anything else, you need to become clear on your goals. You have to be as specific as possible.

Here’s an example of a bad goal: “I want to be rich and famous!”

When you really think about it, that’s not really a goal at all. It’s just a general comment. At worst, it’s a wish.

Wishes do not translate into goals that motivate.

If your desires are strong enough, if your dream is big enough, you will be prompted to take massive action towards the fulfillment of your vision every single day.

Furthermore, you should be able to image it vividly in your mind!

I’ve talked a little bit about goal-setting before, and though I don’t believe in being formulaic, I think it’s a good idea to make your goals SMART.

That means Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound.

Here’s an example of a good goal: “I want to sell 500 copies of my new album at $10 a piece by March 3, 2016 for a gross profit of $5,000.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. The question now is really whether or not that seems achievable and realistic to you.

You have to know the variables and adjust them to your particular situation.

Step 2 – Write Down Your Goals

This is a basic step, but a very important one nonetheless.

Most personal growth experts will tell you that your goals are pretty worthless unless you write them down.

Okay, they don’t usually say worthless, but if they were being blunt, that’s probably what they would say.

Don’t take my word for it. Go ahead, do your own research.

Again, it may sound a little mystical, but the act of writing down your goals will significantly increase your chances of actually achieving them.

I might even go so far as to say if you do nothing else, do this.

There are many stories of people who wrote their goals down only to come back to them much later, and discovered that they had accomplished a huge number of them!

Step 3 – Plan & Strategize

With your goals written down, your next step should be to plan and strategize how you’re going to accomplish them.

This is where being realistic really pays off.

If you’re busy with your day job, and you have no energy, and all you have is 30 minutes a day to build towards your goals, you’re going to have to be pretty focused!

If you’re about to initiate a massive undertaking, and you hope to get it done by next week, you’re probably not being terribly realistic.

You might want to loosen up your timeframe a bit.

Everything takes time and energy. If you’re in pursuit of a worthy goal – most of the time – it will take longer and be harder than you ever imagined possible.

So think of this in terms of what you can do every single day consistently, especially if you’re in your adult years.

Even if you only took five swings at a tree with your axe every single day, though it wouldn’t fall today, it would eventually fall down, right?

The tree is your goal. The swings are the actions you take to move closer to it. If you keep at it, you’ll reach it.

Whenever you’re working towards a goal, think about the actions you can take on a consistent basis. Consistency builds momentum.

Step 4 – Take Action

You’ve identified what your goal are, and you’ve written them down.

You’ve taken the time to plan and strategize. You’ve thought about the actions you need to take to get to where you want to go.

Congratulations! You’re now further along than most people will ever get.

But don’t stop now. You’ve come this far, so you might as well put your plan into motion.

It’s nice to visualize the realization of your goals, and I do think there is tremendous benefit to doing that, but ultimately you have to do something about them.

Reach out. Ask for help. Don’t try to do it all alone.

Most if not all of us need the support of trusted friends, colleagues and mentors to bring the best out of us and our dreams to fruition.

But most of all… go, go, go! Don’t think about it too much. Start doing the work.

You’ll make some mistakes, and you’ll have some failures along the way. You might even experience some frustration and embarrassment.

If you risk nothing you gain nothing, so this is just part of the process.

If you’re always in “go” mode while you’re driving towards your goals, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Step 5 – Reflect, Analyze & Tweak

Once it’s all done, you need to take some time to think over how things went.

Many times, goals are not accomplished in their given timeframe, but if you stayed true to the cause, you probably came much closer to achievement than if you hadn’t made any plans.

Now don’t get me wrong here; if you’re a little behind, but you’re still gunning it towards your goals, don’t stop!

But rest assured there are going to be a lot of valuable takeaways from your journey, and unless you take some time to reflect on them, you may miss out on some key lessons.

These are the kind of lessons that will supercharge your progress in the future.

This is also a good time to think about how you would do things differently next time around.

Some things probably worked well, while others didn’t. In most cases, 20% of your work delivered 80% of your results.

Really think about what that 20% was, and then become more dedicated to that 20% next time around.

Bonus: Music Marketing Goals

You probably came here expecting to hear about the what you should be doing to reach your music marketing goals.

In other words, you may be looking for specific tactics and techniques that have to do with music marketing.

So why in the world would I be teaching you the how and the why?

Well, here’s what I’ve discovered:

  • Most people already have great ideas; especially if they read articles or listen to podcasts and educational audios regularly.
  • Mindset issues tend to be a bigger deal than the exact steps involved in social media marketing, crowdfunding, advertising, etc.
  • Your motivation matters more than the steps you take.
  • The fulfillment of your goals is less platform-specific (i.e. Facebook, blogging, etc.) than it is objective-specific.
  • Your exact plan will differ from anyone else’s, because it’s contingent upon your goals. Moreover, plans usually end up being tweaked, because the plan you start with isn’t the one that will get you to where you want to go.

With that in mind, here is a hypothetical example of a music marketing goal.

By default, I often end up using the example of an album release, so this time I will use live performance as an illustration.

We’ll say that you’ve decided to book the local community hall for a live performance.

The venue’s capacity is 300, and it’s going to cost you $600 for the night to rent it.

Assuming you can pack out the room, you can set the ticket price to $2 and break even on the venue costs.

However, you really want to make this a great night, offer some refreshments, and share the stage with another great band, so you’re going to charge $15 per head.

Moreover, you’re not sure that you’re going to be able to bring out 300 people, so you’re going to assume that the ticket price is going to more than make up for the difference.

You set a date for three months away, because you want adequate time to prepare for the upcoming performance.

Now you have all of the basic facts in front of you. You can certainly set goals without accounting for all of the variables, but you can see how it’s going to make it a little easier.

Since you’re not sure about drawing a crowd of 300, you’ve settled on 200 as your objective. It will stretch you a bit, but you think it’s doable.

So, your goal might look something like this:

We will perform for a crowd of 200 at the local community hall on September 1, 2015, and charge $15 a head for the show.

If that was your goal, then you wouldn’t take it any further than that.

But hold on a second. There’s more to this, isn’t there?

If you have a long-term mindset, then the purpose of the show isn’t the show itself, right? The purpose of the show is to make money, make fans, sell merch, get email signups and so on.

So maybe the show at the community hall is really just a stepping stone onto a bigger goal, like:

We will earn $30,000 in live performance earnings by December 31, 2015.

The lesson here is that, first, there’s the goal. Then there’s the activity that leads to the goal. And then, there’s the aftermath.

When you’re building a music career – in a sense – the aftermath is really every bit as important as the goal, because you’re hoping to use every opportunity as a bridge onto the next thing.

That’s why a big picture goal is important, but it still needs to be specific.

If you’ve done your homework at the strategizing stage, hopefully you’ve mapped out the various things that you’re going to have to do to get to where you want to go.

A show is never really the goal unless it’s your goal to play one show.

That show is supposed to be a building block to something more, yes?

Final Thoughts

I think the challenging part in discussing music marketing goals is that a music career doesn’t really have a beginning or an end.

Or, at least in the abstract mind of the artist, it’s hard to process that information.

Many musicians feel that they’ll just keep on playing until they can’t play anymore, whether that’s based in any permutation of reality or not.

I’ve had my fair share of difficulty with goal-setting too, because I find it hard to settle on any one thing.

I have goals, and I’ve written many of them down, but it can be hard to figure out where to start.

So I’m definitely not saying that goals are easily made, but the effort is worth it if you can gain clarity in your thinking.

It’s hard to maintain focus when your mind is running in dozens of different directions.

However, like most things in life, there isn’t necessarily an exact trajectory to follow. You will find that just about everybody’s story is a little different, and their journey was often a winding, squiggly path that led them to where they are today.

Let your path unfold before you. Don’t try to control the journey. Simply identify your destination on the map, and chart a course to get there.

7 Things You Must Know About Music Marketing Online

7 Things You Must Know About Music Marketing OnlineIs there really any other way to market your music?

I’m somewhat facetious in saying that, but when you begin to look at the opportunities, it becomes pretty clear that there’s a lot you can do online to get your music out there.

Would I say that offline marketing is pointless? No, not at all. If there are fewer people doing things out in the real world, it means less competition too, right?

Zig when others are zagging. Zag when others are zigging. That’s what I’m talking about.

So let’s take a look at what you should be aware of when you’re music marketing online.

1. Your Website is Your Central Hub

Website

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again; you should start your music marketing efforts by building your website.

Now, am I saying that you should put all of your eggs in one basket? No.

More than likely, there are more suitable places to be building your online presence, especially when you’re just getting your start.

Go where the people are, and don’t wait for them to come to you.

Maybe you could guest blog. Maybe you could contribute your thoughts to other blogs out there. You could give social media and forums a try, too.

In essence, use whatever gets people finding you and linking to you.

But that’s the point here, isn’t it? If you don’t have a website, you have nothing for people to find or link to!

Problematic? I think so.

Not to say that search is everything – because backlinks boost your SEO – but it all goes back to the fact that the more you have people linking to you, the more discoverable you ultimately will be.

I won’t touch on professionalism again, because I’ve talked about it ad nauseum, but it’s also a good reason to have a website.

2. Your Music Should be Distributed Far and Wide

Bandcamp

Bandcamp – one of many places you can sell your music online.

This seems pretty counterintuitive if you’ve pledged your allegiance to one music store over another.

For example, I know musicians that swear by Bandcamp and won’t use anything else. They’ve effectively demonized the “big guys” like Apple or Amazon.

Bandcamp is great, and it is a good place to be, but you’re going to limit your opportunities if that’s the only place people can get your music.

Furthermore, the notion that Bandcamp doesn’t take a cut is false. Every distributor takes a cut; they’re a business!

If you don’t want other people putting their fingers in the pie, then you might want to start looking for alternatives to a music career.

From a local perspective, maybe it makes sense to limit outlets. But if you want to create a worldwide audience (wouldn’t that be cool?), you have to think about extending your reach.

The reason is simple: people in different countries don’t have access to certain sites or apps.

If you don’t want your music in streaming sites, that’s your choice. If you don’t want your music up on iTunes, that’s your choice.

Just remember that you’re going to limit your potential audience, and therefore miss out on some sales too.

3. Keep an Eye on Vinyl Records

Vinyl Records

Records are coming back with a vengeance.

Digital sales haven’t been terribly strong in recent years, and they’ve actually been seeing a bit of a decline lately.

Meanwhile, vinyl records continue to increase in popularity. Sales have been growing year after year from about 2008/2009 onward.

Will this trend continue? I have no idea.

But if your music is high quality, fits the format, and has dynamics, it might be worth considering creating records for your next release.

I think it’s safe to say that CDs aren’t going to make a return, and if digital sales are on the decline, I have no reason to believe that they’re suddenly going to go up again.

There could be another format that comes along and changes the game, but for now it seems like record albums (and other high quality formats) are taking the cake. Mmm… cake.

The good news is that people are paying for music again (you can’t copy a record without sacrificing quality), and if we can make it worthwhile for the fans, you can rest assured they will keep on buying.

So, if you’re trying to figure out what format to sell your music in, don’t leave vinyl out of your plan. At the very least, see if it makes sense for you to get your music on records.

4. Mailing Lists are Power

Lance Wallnau

Lance Wallnau – one of the most insightful spiritual teachers there is. You’ll see why this is relevant in a moment.

I like social media, and it is fun and all, but if that’s all we focus on, we’ll surely miss the boat.

Email is like an evolved form of social media (despite the fact that it came much earlier), and it tends to reach more people too.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take advantage of the social networks that are out there, but it is a good reason to start building your email list if you haven’t already.

A website visitor is a website visitor. If you can’t get them to take another action, then you’ve lost an opportunity to connect.

You have to give your visitors something to do, and make it clear what you want them to do too.

Anyone that chooses to get on your email list is clearly a little more interested in what you’re doing compared to people that just take one look at your website.

What’s the point of getting people to your website? Well, Lance Wallnau would say that it’s to get people on your email list so you can continue the conversation you already started.

Are you having a conversation with your audience on your website? If not, who in the world are you talking to?

You have to make sure that the text (aka copy) on your website is working on your behalf.

Whether you’re music marketing online or offline, don’t forget that you are human, and so is your audience!

5. Music Marketing isn’t Easy

There are a lot of talented artists out there, and there’s a lot of great music out there too. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that anyone will get discovered and/or sell lots of music.

My friend Corey Koehler – who is a musician and marketing consultant – mentioned the fact that music is generally that much harder to market compared to other products.

That would certainly confirm my thoughts as well. I don’t think that I’ve ever sold a CD through my website (granted, CDs were on their way out), just as an example.

I think there are some breakthroughs on the horizon, and some positive changes on the way, but for now we still have to be aware that music marketing is challenging.

There are plenty of ideas out there. There are a lot of startups, businesses and apps coming out from the woodwork.

You can learn a lot by digging into great articles, podcasts and videos, and I think it’s a good idea to take advantage of those resources.

But even meticulously planned campaigns aren’t always going to connect.

Are you prepared to stick it out? Do you have determination? Will you keep going in the face of adversity?

You’ve probably heard it before, but in the music industry they say that every overnight success was 10 years in the making.

I don’t know why, but there is something magical about that number, and I’ve seen it firsthand!

Will you still be going after your dream in 10 years?

6. Monetization Models are on the Mend

MonetizationAn artist has to make money for their career to be sustainable. The tough part is that making money in the music industry isn’t very easy right now.

Again, I foresee some changes coming down the pike, but selling digital downloads is far from being lucrative, and likewise live performance presents some serious challenges too.

You need to look like a consummate professional if you want to get the best gigs, and sadly most musicians don’t have that kind of capital when they’re first getting started.

Make no mistake about it; there are plenty of income streams available to musicians!

But it might not be exactly what you had in mind when you decided you wanted to embark upon a music career.

You might have to teach, take on audio tech work, blog, write songs for other artists, or explore other opportunities to supplement your income.

This does not mean that these things won’t lead to opportunities you desire; it just means that you can’t be naive when it comes to securing financial resources for yourself.

The reason this is relevant to the bigger picture of music marketing online is because it often takes money to be able to promote.

There are definitely free ways to market yourself and your music (and word-of-mouth is powerful), but there are still a lot of expenses associated with music careers (i.e. replicating CDs, membership dues, vehicle repairs & maintenance, etc.).

So be aware that money can be a little tricky. You have to be smart with it.

7. You Have to Understand the Purpose of Social Networking

Social NetworksDifferent sites serve different purposes.

Let’s consider ReverbNation for a moment. It’s a great site, and it’s a good place for musicians to connect.

But here’s the thing; ReverbNation is for musicians, by musicians. In other words, you’re not going to make a lot of new fans by promoting yourself on ReverbNation.

Let’s think about Facebook for a second. What is it for? Right, it’s a place for you to connect with people and see what they’re up to.

In other words, Facebook is not a sales engine.

In much the same way, each social media site fills a unique niche.

And you thought social media was a place to spam your wares, right? Hopefully not.

I’m not saying that you can’t use social media to promote your music, but you have to know what you’re getting into.

If you join in on conversations, engage, have fun, and make an effort to be a part of the community, I think you’ll do well on social.

It’s when you try to push yourself onto people that they’ll ignore you or stop following you.

Sure, a band like All Time Low (a band name that sounds like a song title) may be able to send out a tweet that says, “Check this out guys” and get hundreds if not thousands of views on it, but for the average artist, that’s just bad marketing.

Keep in mind that there is already a conversation in progress with a band of that size.

You can’t start a conversation with “check this out” or “buy our album”. You’ll be posting into an empty void.

Know what social media is for, and get the conversations flowing.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you’re starting to get a sense of what it means to market your music online.

I think it’s important to separate yourself. You have to be unique, and to give people a reason to take interest in you and what you’re doing.

Like it or not, people have a lot of options these days. They do enjoy music, but if you’re not serving up what they want, there are always others to check out.

So what is your value proposition? How are you different from the other artists or bands out there? What do you offer your fans?

Make sure to get clear on your key differentiating factors.

What do you think? Is there anything else musicians should be aware of when marketing their music online?

Let us know in the comments below.

10 Music Marketing Basics You Must be Aware of

What are the basics of music marketing?

There is so much more for musicians to know today than in the past, in large part due to the growth of the internet and mobile devices.

And while the online proponent of music marketing isn’t the only part, it certainly can’t be ignored.

Therefore, I will be looking at various aspects of digital marketing. What you learn here could just as easily apply to your offline efforts though.

So, let’s get into it. Here are 10 music marketing basics you should be aware of.

1. You Need a Website

It’s something I’ve been teaching musicians for a long time, and even in this post-social media world, it’s hard to dispute the importance of building your website.

John Oszajca's Website

John Oszajca has an excellent looking website.

First, while it’s fine to build a following on a local level, ultimately, you must figure out how to build your global audience too. A website will help you do that.

Second, social media is too ephemeral to be dependable. Platforms come and go (Myspace, Vine, etc.), and you never know when the terms and conditions or algorithms could change either.

Third, if you have your own domain name, you can set up a unique email address associated with that domain name (e.g. mark@yourbandname.com). A custom email address appears more professional than a generic one (e.g. mark @ gmail . com).

Fourth, you can customize your website’s layout, monetize it how you choose to and hand select the content you want users to see.

Finally, the press, the media, reviewers and other industry people will take you more seriously when you have a website.

2. Social Media is Not a Sales Engine

Social MediaIt’s true that you can take advantage of social media to market your content, your music, and other assets.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s a great place to sell stuff and market your wares.

Social media is primarily for conversation and community. You can use it to build new connections, meet people and share interesting things with them.

This is more of a mindset shift than anything else. If you go to social networks hoping to get a lot of money, you will probably be disappointed. If you go there to have a conversation with friends, your expectations will be met and even exceeded.

I’m not saying that you can’t promote product, and I’m certainly not saying that you can’t send people to your website from social platforms (you should!).

But just keep your motives in check. If your purpose is to engage and connect, you’ll have a hard time not meeting your goals. If you use it to try to meet a sales quota, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

3. Music is Not a Consumable but a Commodity

There is no arguing that music is a product. It can be bought and sold.

But unlike toothpaste or shampoo it doesn’t deplete over time – it can’t be purchased, used up and replaced. It’s not a consumable.

So, repeat business is usually a matter of coming out with more product, because once someone has your album, they have your album.

This is the tricky part about selling music – the value that you’re selling, in most people’s eyes, is just entertainment.

We both know music is beautiful. It unites people, it encourages and lifts up, it makes people dance and all that wonderful stuff.

But to the average person, music is just music. If you don’t make new music for years, no big deal – they can find their fix elsewhere (and they will!).

So the value proposition is the hard part. If you can figure that out, you can sell more music.

Just keep in mind that if music is all you make, you’re not going to have repeat buyers. You must create more.

4. You Must Build Your Email List

EmailBuilding an email list is getting harder than it used to be, but you’ve still got to do it.

Until we (the collective we) figure out a way to get more eyeballs on things (social media isn’t the answer), email still has the best return on investment.

Yes, it’s even better than social media – by a huge margin!

Though you might get casual fans following you on your blog or social networks, you’re going to get more serious people opting in for your email list.

Getting right to the point, what does that mean for you? More sales!

I know, I know, we’re good people and we don’t use dirty words like sales, right?

But isn’t that the whole reason you’re here? Isn’t that what music marketing is all about?

5. Live Performance is Still the Best Way to Make Fans

 

Live PerformanceThe best way for you to get people excited about what you’re doing is live performance.

Even skeptical, cynical people sometimes get pumped up after seeing and hearing you play!

So you must these opportunities wisely – it isn’t just about playing tons of shows.

When you’re just getting started, sure, you want to get out as much as you can, because playing live is just going to make you so much better as an artist (really).

But there comes a time when it’s stupid to repeat that process, because you’ll tire out your local fans, and you’ll probably catch yourself playing in less-than-ideal venues.

And even though you can showcase bits and pieces of your live performance through video (YouTube or even LiveStream), it’s still best to get in front of people when you can.

Touring is necessary. Creating a lasting fan base is about getting people to experience your music.

So, if you’re looking to make more fans, get out there.

6. You Must Create Your Own Opportunities

The days of waiting around for someone to “discover” you are over and have been over for a while.

I’m not saying that you won’t get a few people reaching out to you here and there, but ultimately it’s unwise to sit around waiting for the call.

You must meet people, book shows, record albums, and execute unique marketing campaigns (don’t be boring!).

If no one’s going to discover you, what do you do? You discover yourself!

You affirm your own value. You begin to see your work as being worthy of attention (if it’s any good, it is!).

When reaching out to others, you must create win-win opportunities. And, you must give others the raw materials to work with. Don’t expect reviewers or festival organizers to do all your work for you!

Follow-up and follow-through are crucial to your success.

7. A Long List of Credentials Doesn’t Make a Bio

You must have a bio. It’s a non-negotiable.

But most musicians miss the point of the bio altogether.

Your bio shouldn’t start with you, it should start with them. And, by them, I mean your fans (or anyone else reading the bio).

Your focus is the reader, who in many cases doesn’t know anything about you.

You’re short-changing yourself if all you do is list your credentials, because it doesn’t say anything about you; it just shows that you’ve done stuff.

So, what you need to do instead is:

  • Tell a story. People love stories and they connect with them.
  • Explain who you are, where you’re from, what you’re doing and where you’re going as an artist or a band.
  • Make sure your bio has been spell-checked.

I’m also a believer in including photos of the band members, along with their names and their roles within the band.

After the bio, it’s wise to include your contact information so your fans, the press and venue owners can get in touch with you easily.

8. You Must Provide Options

OptionsYou’re almost certainly going to lose sales unless you provide your potential buyers with options.

What does that mean?

It means that your music must  be available in a variety of places (online and off) in different formats.

I know that this is a sticking point for some musicians, because they resist the thought of making their music findable through major distributors like iTunes, Amazon, and so forth.

They want to use sites like Bandcamp, which allegedly offer more control.

But I don’t see this as a battle between good and evil (Amazon isn’t all evil and Bandcamp isn’t all benevolent).

I see proper music distribution as a necessity. If you want to sell music worldwide, you must make it accessible in as many places as possible.

Why? Because not all streaming platforms and stores can be accessed across the globe.

If you just want to make fans in North America, then don’t worry about it, but if you want to create fans across the world, you need to go a step beyond.

Creating options can also extend into things like album bundles, promotional packages or VIP fan packs. This is up to you, and should probably be informed by conversations (or surveys) with your fans.

What do they want? How do they want to consume your music? Get to the bottom of this and provide the right options.

9. Distributed Music Needs to be Promoted

For better or for worse – in most cases – the music you distribute won’t sell all by itself.

Unfortunately, musicians tend to miss this when they release their music for the first time.

They distribute their music, and it doesn’t sell, so they assume there’s something wrong with the distribution system.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the distribution channels that are out there. If you don’t believe me, check out this Google search I did for my first solo album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments.

As you can see, you can get the album on iTunes, CD Baby, Google Play, Amazon, CD Universe and many others.

Does this mean that I sell hundreds and thousands of copies every single day? I wish! I do see a trickle of sales here and there, which is nice.

You must make people aware of your release – that’s called marketing!

Ideally, you should have a clearly defined marketing plan, and you should be ready to act on it before you ever put any music out into the world.

Pre-release is the best time to tease the release – that opportunity won’t come around again, so take advantage!

10. Marketing & Sales is Your Top Priority

MarketingMusic is a commodity, not a consumable.

There are plenty of ways to market your music, but none of them guarantee success.

Does this mean that you should give up on marketing altogether? Quite to the contrary!

Whether you do it yourself or get someone else to do it for you, you need to make it your first priority.

After all, you can’t get people to your show without marketing. You can’t get people to buy your music without marketing.

Most things you want in your music career lie on the other side of marketing.

You must study and remain open-minded to the possibilities.

Again, if you aren’t strong in marketing, or you just can’t see yourself getting into it, you must find someone that can help you.

Either way, remember that it’s something that must happen.

You can’t have a profitable music career without marketing.

The good news is that there are more marketing channels available to you than ever before.

Conclusion

These are just some of the things all musicians – especially beginning musicians – should be aware of.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t other topics you should know about, but if you understand everything on this list, you’ll be miles ahead of most.

Is there anything else musicians should be aware of?

What important lessons have you learned from your music career?

Let us know in the comments section below!