There are a few key elements that really make your music promotion sing.
Without a proper understanding of these fundamentals, you might be making some major mistakes in your marketing, and that could be undermining your intention to succeed.
Here are the five key fundamentals every musician should know about successfully promoting their music.
1. A Plan
It all begins with a plan. A plan doesn’t need to be perfect. Odds are you’re going to be tweaking it and making changes to it along the way anyway.
But you need to start somewhere. You need to figure out who your audience is, where they like to hang out online, what platforms and media you’re going to be using to promote your music, how often you’re going to be performing and releasing new music, and much more.
A lot of artists don’t like to plan. They want to fly by the seat of their pants and see where things take them. That’s fine as long as you have no false notions about making it big. If you take random actions in a random way, you’ll end up somewhere random. If you take deliberate actions in a calculated way, you’ll end up somewhere you want to be.
So start making your plans, as they have a way of coming together when you are clear about what you want.
You can’t successfully promote your music without adequate time to take action on your plan. This might seem obvious or even silly, but it’s a fundamental truth that can’t be changed.
Think about all of the strategies that are out there, the articles you’ve read, the podcasts you’ve listened to, the social media sites you’ve been invited to, the emails that are bombarding your inbox, all of the music promotion tips you’ve ever experimented with.
Ask yourself honestly: how many of these strategies have you actually gone all-in on? It’s all well and good to experiment, but virtually everything takes time, and unless you’ve remained consistent and focused over the long haul, your efforts are being diluted. This only gets worse when you get distracted by the latest trend.
You need time to market your music, and you need to be very deliberate about scheduling your promotional activities in your calendar. Set up reminders for yourself if you need to.
3. Budget & Resources
Don’t get me wrong – your music can be promoted for free, and there are a lot of great ways to do that. The problem is that you can’t do it all for free. You can’t travel for free, you can’t record for free (unless you have your own equipment), and gear costs money too (unless you inherit it).
But if you’re serious about getting your music heard, you can’t be too tight with your money. Items like publicity campaigns, Facebook ads, and gig services like Sonicbids can all be incredibly effective, but they’re also going to cost you some money.
The simplest way to create a budget for yourself is by saving every penny you earn from music. If you can’t do that, then save a percentage from every gig or every merch item you sell. Then pay for things when you can afford to – don’t go into debt unnecessarily!
Take an honest and thorough inventory of the money and resources available to you. Then figure out how you’re going to allocate and leverage them to promote your music.
The right connections can make a huge difference in your music promotion efforts.
If you have a huge database of fan email addresses, you have people you can reach out to every time you book a show or put out a new release. If you know bloggers, podcasters, reviewers, or other content creators, you can partner up with them to create media. If you know journalists, media people, or publishers, you can reach out to them to get coverage.
And on it goes. There are many different ways to leverage your network. But no one is going to put the puzzle pieces together on your behalf. It’s up to you to create the connections in the first place, and then to dig for the greater possibilities that exist in working together to achieve a mutually desirable goal.
5. A Good Attitude
Bottom line – there aren’t too many artists out there that “make it” when they act like jerks. It’s just that there are several well-publicized examples of misbehaving rock stars out there.
Many artists don’t even say “hello” to the people they’re sending emails to let alone try to connect with the individual in some way. You can’t build lasting industry connections using the spray and pray approach.
Even though it might seem like the “long way around”, or the “hard way”, it’s best to create fans and connections one person at a time. In the long haul, it will balloon into a huge network of valuable relationships. But you won’t get there overnight.
Whether you’re booking shows or following up with radio program directors to see if they’re playing your tracks, you need to have a good attitude. Don’t forget – this is not easy to do, and it’s why we need to be reminded often!
In summary, to promote your music successfully, you need to:
- Make a plan. It doesn’t need to be perfect, because you will be making changes to it along the way. Executing poorly on a poor plan is better than executing perfectly on no plan any day.
- Make time. Schedule your promotional activities in your calendar and don’t get too ambitious. Focus on what you can handle!
- Create a budget. Music costs money, so start saving and make a plan for how you’re going to spend it.
- Build connections. It’s not just what you know, but also who you know.
- Have a good attitude. Challenges are coming your way, uninvited. You can’t control that. What you can control is your attitude.
Once you have a solid understanding of these key ingredients, you are well on your way to creating an effective music promotion strategy. Just remember that it all starts with the craft. If your music isn’t great, then there’s no point in trying to promote it!