How Do I Promote My Music?
The Back Story
An interesting and perhaps logical approach...
This is a question that we’re starting to hear from a number of our listeners. Based on some great interviews we’ve held so far, this article looks to slightly change that question, and ask how do I promote myself? There’s a reason for this.
Today it is easy to create an online presence. Within a matter of minutes you can have a Twitter account, or a Facebook page. The challenge is that in a world where it is increasingly easy to record music, there is a lot of it out there. How on earth do you therefore stand out from the crowd?
The good news is that a lot of people dive straight in and start to try promoting their music, without having spent much time, if any, developing the content that they are actually trying to promote. So here is what we’ve learned so far and how you can try to get ahead of the game…
Have a story – In episode 005, Sari Delmar stressed just how important this is. Given she’s worked in music publishing for many years, she should know. It also makes good sense. There are thousands upon thousands of bands and solo artists producing great music, so without a story to differentiate yourself, you are simply another artist with some good tunes.
Something that will help me become a fan, is if I can easily find out about who you are, what you like, why you make music, what your songs are about, what you stand for, anything that I can relate to which might resonate a connection with my own tastes, values, preferences and likes. We are all unique individuals, however unless the audience can easily find out about those things that make you unique, you could remain a generic somebody. You don’t want that.
This all touches on many other important points…
Make it easy – If people need to go hunting for information about you, it’s going to take a very persistent person to actually keep going until they find it, particularly when there’ll be other bands and artists who make it simple. If a music journalist has five bands they’ve heard about and are thinking of writing a piece on one of them, it’s a reasonable bet that the four bands where they’d really have to hunt for information to build the article are at a disadvantage to the one that has a dedicated section of their online presence that has their back story, funny or interesting stories about them, their recent and upcoming shows, or anything that the journalist can steal to build their piece.
What they don’t want to write about is just another band. That won’t engage their audience. Why you are different needs to be jumping out at them. They may be busy, or lazy, but either way you can be at an advantage of others. We’ve used the example of journalists, but that some logic will hold true of any number of people who look you up.
This moves us on to a couple of other important points…
Have a vision – Sari commented that one of the biggest turn offs for industry people is bands / artists not having a vision. If you aren’t passionately talking about your goals and aspirations and don’t see yourself going places, why will others? Having some goals and targets in the first place can help set a direction, so long as they’re realistic and achievable.
There is a balance here between displaying confidence in yourself and stating you’re going to sell a million records next month which doesn’t materialise. A message however that shows what you’ve done to date, what you’re currently doing and then what you’re planning next, can help demonstrate progress and give the reader a real reason to believe you’ll hit those upcoming goals. This could give them a sense of wanting to get on board now.
Ideals & Values – In episode 007, Dr Mark Duffett talked about the importance of what it is that you stand for. This is a man who has done more than his fair share of research on music fandom, having written many books and being quoted in the New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine, he can speak with some authority.
An interesting part here, is that many artists lose fans due to social reasons, rather than musical reasons. So to give an example - going off in a completely new musical direction could alienate some of your longer term loyal fans, it is perhaps more likely that somebody will stop being a fan if you coming out with a homophobic comment, or say something racist, or anything that simply doesn’t ring true with the personal values that the fan holds dear.
A question to ask is whether your fans know what your values are? How easy is it for them to strongly identify with you?
Organic Media Growth – Sari also talks about getting some organic media growth. By this she means that in order for herself (and others in the industry) to take notice, she looks to see if others are taking notice. If your goal is to get on the front page of Rolling Stone magazine on day one, you’ll probably fail, but if you get mentioned on a small local writers blog post, that is the stepping stone to get onto the next bigger blog, which might lead to the local newspaper, which could lead to the next step etc etc.
This links into building your story and showing progress.
Have a resume – Make sure you shout about the successes that you have. These can be small or big, but make sure it is easy for people to see what you’ve done. Give these things context so they know why they’re important. You may have played at a particularly credible venue and sold it out, however if I’m from a different country, I may never have heard about the place and could be underwhelmed by what is a decent achievement.
Look professional – You’re a musician. You’ll be a talented individual. Chances are, one of your many talents may not be design. If it is, great, however if it isn’t, really think about your image and brand. Do you know which colours sit better against the back drop of other colours? We certainly don’t, so when we needed a logo and some branding for the podcast, we got help. If somebody has heard about you, the last thing you need is for them to visit your website and it looks awful. They may never get as far as reading about your story.
What You Promote –Sari suggested that an 80/20 rule should be adopted when you look at the split of your engagement with fans, particularly on social media. That means 20% of your posts would be ‘come to our gig’ or ‘buy our song’, with the main 80% being about you, your likes, views, interests, values etc, that all go toward building up that connection with your fans.
I can understand this. A relentless request for money isn’t going to endear a fan to you. They need to have a reason to like you. Yes your music is a major part of that reason, but a deeper relationship with fans goes way beyond that.
This is very much only the start. I feel that many artists instantly want to know the quickest tactic to get as many follows of Twitter or Facebook as possible. Now, don’t get me wrong, social media is an invaluable tool, and something that I’ll look to write a future article on, that focuses on how to best leverage these. However based on the great people we’ve spoken to so far, you may end up turn people off, if you’re not ready.
It makes perfect sense that building up your back story and a well-rounded body of content is a logical first step, before you look to gain a wider audience.
Don’t start shouting until you have something worth shouting about.
ACPG 005: Sari Delmar - Concord Music Group - talks how to promote your music, publicists, having a story and vision, and being unique. 21/11/17
ACPG 007: Mark Duffett (Part 1) - Chester University - talks tradition, consistent image, being memorable, playing your audience as an instrument and using your music. 05/12/17
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