This week we take a look at marketing ideas for bands and artists. Once you have decided that you’re getting serious about your music career, you know that you have to start putting in serious effort to come up with effective band marketing and artist PR ideas for you, right!
But if you haven’t gotten much farther than “making a fan page,” don’t worry — we’ve got some essential marketing strategies and tips for you.
Promoting a band or artist in this day and age is a very tricky business these days. Tools and tricks that worked wonders a few years ago don’t work nearly as well today.
In case you haven’t noticed, the music industry has undergone a complete transformation in the span of just a couple of years.
Where listeners used to rely on full-length albums for their music, they’re now running to playlists. This means that to get the most out of promoting your band and artist, you’ll have to approach things a lot differently.
1. Know your brand
Before you can market and artist or band, you need to have your brand in place.
What’s unique about your act?
Which aspects of your story are the most compelling that really set you apart from every other band out there?
How will you present yourself consistently — from your onstage look to your social media to your logo and merch and photos?
Once you’ve honed your brand, the specifics of your band marketing strategies and fan communication will flow from that point.
2. Add a physical element to your promotion
An easy way to promote your band that often gets overlooked is by bringing your marketing efforts into the physical world.
Despite what you may have heard, posters and flyers aren’t irrelevant now that most of us spend the majority of our waking lives on the internet.
Physical promotion is a proven way to carve out an identity for any artist and band, to promote new music, and a chance to stand out in a screen-addicted world called the INTERNET — human interaction is the best form of selling yourself!
3. Tour, tour and then tour again. Of course SUBJECT TO — (COVID)
In today’s complicated and ever-changing music industry, touring/festivals and concerts are more important than ever.
The tried and true method of bands hitting the road to promote their music and find new audiences is one thing that hasn’t changed all that much in today’s music industry and probably never will.
There’s also the added bonus of getting the chance to make an impression by reaching out to local press, radio and blogs when you play in new cities and countries.
4. Get reviews and maximising publicity
Getting publicity for your band is all about relationships, but you shouldn’t wait until you can finally afford a music publicist to start working on your strategy.
Keep a running list of any local or independent music blogs that have covered bands similar to yours and make a note of their contact info and any pitch requirements listed on the website, its good DD (due diligence).
Even if you only hear back from a couple of small blogs at first, you can use those initial reviews to build momentum and buzz, and eventually work your way up to getting covered by bigger publications with a wider reach.
Plus, you never know where those small bloggers will end up in a couple of years, so make sure you maintain those relationships all the way forward, it's really important.
5. Use your email newsletter
Your email list is an incredibly valuable direct line to your most dedicated fans.
You have no control over Facebook’s ever-changing News Feed algorithm, but you can always use your newsletter to reach the people who want to hear from you most of all.
Plus, email is by far the most effective way to sell your music, tickets, and merch — its personal!
6. Keep an up-to-date website
Social media hasn’t replaced personal websites, and if you exclusively rely on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the word out about your shows and new music, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity.
The big social media companies have made it harder and harder to promote anything for free through their platforms over the past couple of years.
Having a website gives your band the chance to speak directly to your audience and shape your identity at the same time through creative visuals and color full design.
With your own website, you’re not inhibited by character limits, content restrictions or any other rules.
Say what you want, exactly how you want to say it with a website a great tool and any business.
7. Focus your efforts on playlists
In 2018, playlist inclusion is an essential part of promoting a band and artist. Not exactly breaking news, but how exactly does it work?
Well, if you’re signed to a major of a bigger indie label, they’ll probably pay the money to feature your music on heavily followed playlists curated by major streaming profiles.
But for artists who aren’t signed, their work is cut out for them.
There’s now a huge number of playlists and playlist curators out there. Narrow it down to a manageable list of ones that you think your music would fit on and get in touch with the folks who curate them.
Start small and work your way from there. Yes, this all takes lots of time, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to find new listeners, so put the effort in and reap the rewards down the line.
8. Focus on streaming
While we still have a long way to go before the average artist can realistically earn a living from streaming revenue, (and that’s a fact) there’s no arguing that services like Spotify and Apple Music have become the new go-to for music fans to discover bands.
These days, having your song included in a curated Spotify playlist can be just as effective (if not more) than traditional press coverage, something to really think about.
If you don’t already have your music on all of the major streaming platforms, sign up with a digital distribution company, and get your releases up there.
The setup process is easy, and there’s really no downside!
9. Post your music on as many free platforms as possible
Making your music available on free platforms like Bandcamp, SoundCloud and YouTube will give potential fans the best chance at discovering your music.
Promoting your band through these platforms is free, but it does take a little work and effort on ALL the band and artist front!
Building and maintaining your various profiles is important but engaging with audiences and other artists are your best chance at making an impression and connecting with new listeners.
10. Use social media
Managing several different social media pages can quickly get overwhelming, so the key is to focus on where your fans (and potential new fans) are most active.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great places to start, but you should also explore platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and even Pinterest, and see if it makes sense to put the effort into building a following there.
11. Create band merchandise
Let your diehard fans do the marketing for you by donning a T-shirt with your band logo on it!
Besides the usual suspects like clothing, stickers, and posters, there are tons of creative merch items you can offer your fans — think phone cases, flasks, or even handwritten lyric sheets.
Just make sure that whatever merch you create is aligned with your brand, and something that your fans would actually be excited to purchase.
12. Don’t forget the radio
Radio might not be your first thought when you’re brainstorming band marketing strategies, but targeting independent, community and college radio stations can be a very effective way to promote your music.
If you manage to grab a program director’s attention, you’ll be able to tap into a new audience that trusts and enjoys their music curation.
Research and pitch to radio stations — again DD time!
Radio is still a major force in music, even with playlists. In particular, the emergence of small internet stations gives bands a chance to find new audiences.
Like playlist pitching, a lot of research is involved here, but if you take the time to find stations play your kind of music, the rewards are big.
And remember, the benefits of promotion are cumulative.
A few small radio stations and playlists picking up your music could eventually translate into meaningful momentum for your band.
13. Look into sponsorships and partnerships
We’re not talking about some huge, unattainable contract with a major international brand — you can partner with local businesses and work out a deal that’s simple, authentic, and mutually beneficial.
Do some research on companies that are already working with bands similar to where you are in your music career.
Take note of what both parties put into and get out of the arrangement and think through what sorts of things you could offer and would benefit from.
As an example, you could strike up a collaboration with a local graphic design firm.
They create a unique, limited-edition merch item for your band to sell at your next show, and in return, you give them a cut of the profits and help promote them on your website and social media pages.
14. Engage your fans
As you’ve read through these strategies, you’ve probably gathered by this point that it all really boils down to this: build genuine relationships that turn your casual fans into devoted superfans, and they’ll supplement all of your efforts with the most powerful marketing of all — word of mouth.
It obviously requires consistent hard work to engage and nurture your fans, but those superfans are the key to building a legitimate, long-lasting music career.
By Peter Moore