Music Marketing and the Illusion Of Optimal
Music marketing is often misunderstood. This article presents a fresh perspective on music marketing in order to aid the efforts of independent musicians. There are many differing opinions when it comes to timing an album release. When it comes to independent musicians planning an album release or any kind of music marketing efforts for that matter, artists often ask me about what the optimal situation or timing would be. It’s typically a major worry and the thought behind it is “If we coordinate our album release with a music marketing/PR campaign, a radio promotion campaign, tour dates, licensing efforts, and a fresh music video, that will be optimal.”
Is that true? Yes and no.
Sure, if you can line up everything with people you trust all at the same time, that’s wonderful and it will certainly feed itself in a positive way. The other side of this way of thinking, though, doesn’t often get talked about.
To tell you the truth, most artists who I speak to who decide to wait until things are “optimal”…disappear. Their motivation fizzles out while waiting for a hypothetical situation to emerge, whether it’s finding the right venues or tour booking company, waiting for a crowd funding campaign to reach it’s goal (or else the album won’t happen), securing a credible director for a music video, or a common culprit…saving up for any of these things.
Life Is Never Optimal
What’s the antidote for this way of thinking? Throw optimal out the window. Life is never optimal (expect in glorious moments of course, and this is never predictable or planned), and neither should the process of bringing your music to the world. If you work on your music marketing all the time and consistently put your vitality and effort in, that’s your optimal and it’s perfect.
Of course, there are cases where waiting is a good idea, but you’ll intuitively know in these scenarios. Most of the time you should not put the brakes on and keep moving forward. We tend to think that most successful artists broke out in a very short time, when actually it was an extremely slow burn. Look at how long Imagine Dragons (6 years together and now gracing Rolling Stone‘s pages), No Doubt (11 years – something to seriously keep in mind), or Pretty Lights (6 years) were around before they became household names. This is reason enough to remove the “make it with this album” idea and think of it more as steps in a long staircase towards your destination.
People who stay in the same spot, frozen, often like to have a lot of analytics. Why? Because it’s easy to stay where you are, reading a bunch of data, and then excusing yourself for not doing anything because the data doesn’t guarantee you success (which it never will). I see this all the time in business.
People ask me how to gain a following online, start a business, a blog, or anything related. In my case, I chose something I was vitally interested in and I didn’t go for optimal thinking. I just wrote what I was passionate about. I was fairly consistent with blogging. I invested consistently in advertising that most would never have engaged in because of lack of guarantees. I built my contact list often by Googling any new blogs or publications that may feature my artists. I learned more about promotion and SEO “as I went” (key words here), and I reached out to more and more musicians as my skills grew. The result of all these things was that after about two years, Independent Music Promotions had become one of the more sought after music marketing/PR companies around because word was spreading. It takes time, but it shouldn’t take pulling your hair out. That will only happen if you stay still and over-strategize.
Every example of people who were over-concerned with having a guarantee, wanting certain analytics before they took action in business or as a musician; none of them have progressed.
Every email you send to a club owner or music blog is a step forward in the now. Every music marketing book you read and share with your bandmates is a step forward. Every photo shoot, every festival or licensing opportunity, every targeted advertising campaign, and every free single offered to your fanbase…all steps forward. The more things you can do now as opposed to putting off to some hypothetical future point, the more power you gain, and the more trust in your own unique process.
The worst possible thing you can do is engage in mountain thinking and create an immediate leap that needs to happen for you to achieve success, because it’s always an impossible climb. Every musician who ever succeeded did so with a series of small achievements, so don’t forgo those for the imaginary major ones.