235 – How to Find Your Path to Digital Marketing Success as an Independent Artist

by | May 6, 2021 | Podcast

How have things changed for musicians in the last 12 months? How can musicians utilize social media and digital marketing powerfully to create success in today’s world climate?

That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.

In this episode:

  • 00:32 – Gaki Music podcast interview
  • 01:41 – Digital marketing and social media overview
  • 08:51 – Forming your marketing strategy
  • 11:38 – What’s the one thing musicians should be focused on in digital marketing?
  • 17:17 – Diversifying your product range
  • 24:23 – How to overcome physical or mental obstacles
  • 32:30 – Musicians are innovators
  • 35:33 – What is the key to digital marketing and social media success?
  • 39:04 – The New Music Industry book

Get The New Music Industry book

David here.

In today’s episode, you’re going to be hearing an interview I did with Wolf at Gaki Music, which is at gakimusic.com.

We had a great conversation about social media, digital marketing, and how independent musicians can create results with their marketing efforts, even in the midst of lockdowns.

Let’s get into it.

Wolf shares about social media and digital marketing

Wolf shares about how it has become even more essential for artists to embrace social media and digital marketing during lockdowns, even if they have an adverse reaction to social media or self-promotion.

Wolf asks about how things have changed in the last 12 months and what the impact has been.

David shares broadly about digital marketing and social media

First, David explains the importance of knowing who your audience is. He shares how you can identify both the demographic and psychographic data concerning your audience.

David says it isn’t necessarily for musicians to play in dive bars for 10 years to build their audience from scratch anymore, as their audience has already been built. Musicians can act as the CEO of their own music business and find ways to collaborate and partner with others who have access to their audiences they’re trying to appeal to.

All you need to know is who you’re trying to appeal to, and you can begin communicating with that audience in different online pockets (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) today.

Second, David explains the basics of octopus marketing, why it’s important, and how it works. It’s all well and good to create relationships and a following on social media, but if you have nowhere to send your fans to (i.e., a web property you own), you’re almost certainly leaving money on the table.

Your website should be the central space where fans can access everything you’ve ever worked on – demos, bonus tracks, your back catalog, anything your fans might be interested in.

Use your website to collect email addresses and sell to your fans. Don’t be shy or tentative about your selling! That can create unnecessary awkwardness.

If possible, musicians should not measure their audiences wallets by their own and be proactive in creating offers ranging from 99 cents to $9,999 (entry-level, mid-tier, high ticket, etc.).

Third, musicians must craft their brand. Not just their visual brand (colors, logos, costumes, etc.) but also their internal brand – their purpose, the impact, the difference they want to make in the world.

One’s branding and audience should be in alignment for them to work optimally.

Musicians should also be clear on their brand positioning – what makes them different or unique, what makes them stand out in the world. They should use this brand positioning in all their marketing materials so art they can create an instant connections with their fans.

Wolf asks what’s next for artists once they have these pieces in place

David explains that once artists have the key pieces in place, they can begin creating their marketing strategy. Once you know who your audience is, you should have a good idea where they hang out online, as well as how they like to communicate.

So, now it’s a matter of approach.

Once artists have identified where their fans are online, all too often, they just post “check out my music” or “buy our stuff.” And this isn’t effective.

Artists can build curiosity, or they can even appeal to people’s ego by asking them, “what do you think of our latest track?” People love to be thought of as experts, so appealing to their ego is a good way to get a listen and a response, and you might even convert a fan in the process!

The music business is a relationship business, so focus on relationships, and you will do well.

David also cautions against being weird, as he’s had personal experience with those who approached him the wrong way. He started ignoring or blocking them as they did not demonstrate a clear understanding of who David was.

Wolf asks how artists can figure out their digital marketing approach

David explains that it mostly goes back to identifying one’s audience. The better you understand your target audience, the more you know about them – their likes and dislikes, how they like to communicate, their preferences, and so on – the sooner you can figure out your approach.

If you’ve done the work, you should also be clear on where they hang out online – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or otherwise.

But David cautions against putting too much time and resources towards tactics and strategies that can act as distractions and money pits.

The first is Spotify. Although artists have had some success exploiting the algorithm, ultimately Spotify is going to be removing such advantages over time. And even if the day comes when Spotify pays a cent per stream, how much can artists realistically expect to make? 3,000 streams would still only be equal to $30.

There are some powerful ways to use Spotify, especially if it’s where your audience likes to listen to music, and if you’ve developed your advertising chops. But otherwise, it can be an uphill battle.

The second is Instagram. The most challenging aspect of Instagram is getting people to click on the link in your profile, which is about the only profitable action you can get your fans and prospects to take. Getting likes and comments doesn’t amount to much.

There are brand building opportunities on Instagram (especially if you have a lot of visual content to share), and some artists even become influencers, but it would be best to think of these as the exception rather than the rule.

The third is sales funnels. Sales funnels require a great deal of specialized knowledge to work. You must know your way around advertising, video, copywriting, landing pages, A/B testing, and more. Generally, you must also have an advertising budget and be able to use a funnel builder like 10XPro or ClickFunnels.

By no means are sales funnels a dead end. Some artists have done quite well with them, and there are quite a few experts like John Oszajca (whom we’ve interviewed on the podcast), that give artists templates, scripts, WordPress themes, and other tools they can use to make their funnels effective with less effort.

The main thing to know is that funnels are effort intensive. And you might end up needing to spend a lot of time developing your digital marketing knowledge to be able to execute at a professional level, leading some artists and businesses to opt to hire professionals in digital marketing.  Optimization is generally the name of the game, and sometimes there are little nuances (like quotes or testimonials from high profile people) that can be hard to get but can sometimes make or break a funnel.

With all this in mind, David doesn’t want to discourage anyone from trying anything, be it Bandcamp, SoundCloud, funnels, social media, blogging, podcasting, YouTube, Patreon, or even 10XPro (which gives you the ability to build any kind of website you want and set up funnels, a membership, fan club, or otherwise).

David even notes that there are some social media tools that can broadcast your posts to 20 – 30 networks at a time.

Bottom line – experimentation is quite valuable. But once you have the key pieces in place – audience, website, and branding – you can drill down into tactics and strategies and iterate fast. This is key to finding a winning formula.

Wolf calls back to what David said earlier about having offers at different price tiers, and asks what musicians could do to create products at various price points

David begins by sharing that most artists probably already have fans that are willing to – and are interested in – spending more money with them.

He then shares some ideas on how to create products at different price points:

  • Bundles (e.g., your entire catalog of music)
  • Merch – T-shirts, hats, buttons, etc.
  • Track stems
  • Transcriptions (David references pianist David Nevue)
  • Guitar tabs
  • Performances
  • Book
  • Behind-the-scenes interviews
  • Making-of DVDs

Excited about the prospect of creating higher ticket offers? You can find additional ideas in this blog post: Should I Start with a Single, EP, or Album for My First Release?

Wolf asks how musicians can overcome physical and mental obstacles in creating these types of offers

David references GigSalad, a site where gigging professionals and event planners can connect. He points out that even mainstream artists like Beyoncé are hired to perform at the same birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings, and church functions in between albums and tours through GigSalad. These are the same events most independent artists have played.

So, if that doesn’t put you on equal footing with the artist elite – David asks – what else does?

David goes onto explain some common obstacles faced by artists. The first is not having the chops and skills to command an audience.

He says that an artist’s responsibility is to improve every time they perform. By doing so, they can begin to rise through the ranks as if an underdog.

The second obstacle is not connecting with the right audience. Two questions that need to be asked are:

  • Am I connecting with the right audience?
  • Am I sharing the right message?

Being too general is another common problem with trying to connect with an audience. Instead of trying to market yourself as a “solo guitarist like Joe Satriani,” maybe try appealing to a more niche audience like spas, relaxation centers, and meditation circles (e.g., create relaxing solo guitar music this type of audience would enjoy).

(Of course, if you’re a singer, or a band, or jazz ensemble, or whatever, you’d want to find niches in those respective disciplines.)

Lastly, self-confidence can sometimes get in the way of action. Where possible, you want to become as endorsable as possible.

David shared that he knows graphic designers who are far more talented and experienced than he, and yet he sometimes lands contracts just by virtue of showing up and being consistent. And he accomplishes this task by publishing daily.

Wolf says a lot of people don’t realize that many artists are introverted. And he affirms what David said about consistency.

David responds by saying “commitment comes first, and then the magic follows.”

Commitment comes first, and then the magic follows.

Wolf observes that a lot of the internet culture was built off the back of the music industry

David mentions what he learned in the book, Blockchain Revolution, which states that musicians have always been on the cutting-edge of technological advancement.

Musicians are constantly pushing the boundaries of tech and innovation. And though people sometimes say, “marketers ruin everything,” David suggests musicians are among those who ruin everything.

Wolf asks David if there was one thing he could relay to musicians about social media and digital marketing, what would it be?

David says it all comes down to mindset – 80% psychology and 20% execution.

Artists will certainly encounter rejection on their path. Some emails will never be responded to. Event organizers and venue owners will turn them down. Sometimes, they will end up playing shows to empty rooms.

David explains that it’s not about the outcomes, but rather about the actions, because you can take ownership over your actions.

There are only so many people out there doing the work, and if you’re one of the few, you’re going to stand out in a significant way.

Take responsibility for your dream. If you want to make your dream a possibility, you can never give up on yourself.

Closing Segment

So, where do you see yourself in this conversation?

What did you identify with most? Where are you doing well, and what are some areas for improvement? Have you figured out the next steps you need to take in your music career? What are they?

If you would like to continue this conversation, I’d like to point you to my book, The New Music industry, which lays out a comprehensive plan for artist success utilizing cutting-edge digital marketing strategies and tactics.

Reviewer Buddy Love said: “If this guy doesn’t list it, it probably doesn’t exist. Really a great tool for musicians on how to gain traction on social media.”

To pick up your copy, and to pick up where this conversation left off, go to: davidandrewwiebe.com/eBook to get your digital or paperback copy of The New Music Industry today.

This has been episode 235 of The New Music Industry Podcast. I’m David Andrew Wiebe, and I look forward to seeing you on the stages of the world.

If you want more of Gaki Music, you can find Wolf and his projects at GakiMusic.com.

Find additional courses and resources for musicians inside Content Marketing Musician.

Order your copy of David’s book, The New Music Industry.

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