Category: Marketing Strategies

christmascrunch

Marketing Your Music for the Holidays

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Did you know that 20% of all music sales for the entire year happen in the last six weeks of the year?

Kicking things into high gear around the holidays can really benefit your music career. People are in the mood to buy cool stuff, to have fun, and to listen to awesome music. And if I’m guessing right, I imagine that your music can provide an answer to all three of those holiday impulses!

But where should you get started in your Christmas crunch-time promotions? Here are 4 things you can do to reach out and engage with fans this holiday season:

1) Give Back to Your Community

This time of year people are extra focused on giving. So why not take a little of your time and talent and give back? There are lots of charities that have an increased need around Christmas.

Sure, you could donate canned goods and a coat. You probably should do those things. But I’m betting you can do more. Why not offer your talent and skill to those charities? Increased needs around Christmas means that there is an increase in charity events.

And you know what makes a great addition to those events? Live music!

This is a great time of year to give back to those organizations making a difference in your community. Why not offer to play a free acoustic set for their canned food drive?

If it’s too late to jump onto a charity event in your area, why not host your own online charity event?

Choose your favorite charity, and host a live streaming concert to benefit the charity! This comes at no cost to you (except maybe an hour of your time for the concert) and can be a great way to connect with fans, and support a good cause.

2) Cover a Christmas Song!

You might not be releasing a full blown Christmas album this year, and that’s ok! But I’m betting you have some time to sit down in front of a camera and play an old Christmas favorite or two.

By putting a unique spin on a popular Christmas or holiday song, you have an opportunity to reach out to potential fans. People who’ve never heard of you probably aren’t searching for your name. But there’s a good chance they are looking for a new spin on their favorite holiday tune. Plus, covering a popular song can help you rank a little higher in a Youtube search than you might with an original song.

Another bonus is that fans who love your Christmas cover this year, will most likely love it next year, and the year after that! It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving!

3) Sales and Merch Bundles

Make it easy for the grandma who wants to buy a t-shirt for her grandson (or for herself!). Keep your online store simple, and get ready for holiday shoppers!

Offer a Christmas coupon code. How about a 24 hour sale? Better yet, try bundling different merch items together at a discount. These simple incentives to buy can help push your merch sales through the roof this holiday season.

4) Email Your Fans

Almost everyone likes to reconnect at the holidays-except maybe your crazy cat-collecting great-uncle Ralph. Weird great-uncles aside, this time of year is when friends and family get together to chat.

Your fans are an extension of that, and I’ll bet they want to hear from you!

Send out an email or two reminding them of those awesome coupon codes and merch bundles you just set up! Ask them about their favorite holiday traditions, and tell them about yours. You could even poll your fans and ask what Christmas tune they want you to cover.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, just keep in touch! (And don’t forget to call your mom!)

Bonus Tip: Everyone Likes Getting Presents

So give your fans a present! Maybe it’s a surprise free show, or a free sticker and CD to the first 15 people who respond to your email or retweet you. It could be as simple as a free download of a single, just show your fans you care about them!

Do you have any more last minute Christmas marketing tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below!


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GettingAGreatSinglePt3

Secrets to a Great Single Part Three: Promotional Strategies

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

You’ve chosen your most single-worthy song. You’ve invested time, energy—and probably money—into getting the perfect recording.

You are super pleased with yourself, and for good reason! You worked hard!  Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and congratulate yourself on being such a fantastic musician, right?

Not quite yet.

You can celebrate as much as you want at this stage, as long as you know you still have a lot of work in front of you. You have to make sure that your single gets into the hands (and ears) of your fans.

For most artists, promotion is where the grunt work starts. Promotion is extremely important. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are four steps to effectively promote your single:

1 – Start the Hype

As soon as you know that you are going to be recording, you should start mentioning it on your social media channels, your website, and your newsletter. Singles have a shorter turn time than albums— after all, you’re only recording one song instead of 12! Starting the marketing push early could mean the difference between a successful release and one that falls flat.

Some easy ways to do this are:

  • Hype the announcement with a countdown or video.
  • Post a short video of your band previewing the single on Instagram and share it on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Create lyric graphics that show off small portions of your new song.
  • Live tweet or Periscope the recording process.

2 – Choose a Release Date

I know it’s tempting to set a release date as soon as you finish recording (or even before!). I’ve been there, I’ve walked that road, and trust me, you don’t want to. That road leads to panic. You can save yourself a lot of heartache if you wait just a little longer to set a release date.

Choose your release date after you have a finished product in your hands.

If you are only releasing digitally, then set a date after you’ve downloaded the finished masters onto your computer, and you’ve got your artwork ready to go.

If you are ordering a physical product, wait to set a release date until you sign the delivery notice, and your shiny new CDs are sitting on your kitchen table. This rule is especially true if you are ordering vinyl, since turn times can be around six months from the day you order!

When setting a release date, take these factors into consideration:

  • How long will it take to get the music to your preferred release channel? Sometimes getting a song live on iTunes takes a day; sometimes it takes 6 weeks. You need to make sure that your music has enough time to get delivered to the right channels.
  • Are you looking for an exclusive feature? If you want to debut your single on a specific blog, you need to make sure that your date works with the blog that’s premiering it. If they always do new music features on a Friday, you want to make sure your release date follows their pattern. On top of that, you will have to wait for that blog to agree to feature you. Even if you don’t have a specific blog in mind, it’s a good idea to take into consideration how long it might take for a blog to get back to you with a “yes.”
  • When can you engage the most fans? The answer to this question could be as simple as “What days are my fans most active on social media?” Or it could be as nuanced as a specific cross promotional opportunity. If your song is about dumping your girlfriend because she hates baseball, why not time your release to coincide with opening day for your favorite team? There are lots of opportunities to look for cross promotion if your single fits into a niche.

3 – The Two V’s

Promotion for a single looks different than promotion for an album, although they overlap in many ways. As you gear up for the week before your release, you should start preparing your promotional material. As you do this, remember the two V’s.

Video

One thing that is especially important for a single is video. Since you are only releasing one song, videos will help keep your audience engaged for a longer amount of time if you stagger their release. There are five different videos you should create to accompany your release:

  • A behind the scenes video of the recording process
  • A lyric video
  • A music video(if funding permits)
  • A behind the scenes of your music video( if funding permits)
  • A live performance video

 If you have five really good videos to accompany your single, you can stretch out the excitement for your single over a few weeks (or even months).

Visuals

Visuals to go along with your release are also important. Countdown graphics, lyric graphics, and a few well placed band selfies can go a long way in promoting your release!

Posts that include a photo or graphic are more likely to get genuine engagement from fans, so make sure that you are spending some time getting great visuals!

4 – Serious Promotion Time

Now that you have a release date, it’s time to really hit the ground running with specific, targeted promotion. It’s a good idea to have a social media plan for all your releases and major events, and releasing a single is no different. You can read our tips to create a simple social media plan here.

You should also reach out to local media outlets. Often the local news will feature an artist on their morning show, or you may be able to arrange an interview and performance with local radio stations.

Another great place to seek out some press coverage are colleges and universities. College radio stations are usually receptive to new, independent music, so you could get some local airplay if the DJs like your music.

It’s also worth noting that colleges, and the organizations inside them, often need live entertainment. Getting radio play on a college station could lead to a good gigging opportunity.

5 – The Follow Up

The week before your release and the two weeks after will be the most promotion heavy weeks as you get the word out about your single, but that doesn’t mean the work should stop there! Create a “call to action” button on Facebook with the link to buy your single, and include the link in your Twitter/Instagram bios. Keep sharing about your single, especially if it’s gaining traction with fans and media.

Although you may not mention your single everyday like you did during the hard-hitting promotional weeks, you should still keep interest alive by mentioning it once or twice a week.

Coming up with creative ways to post are essential in this phase. You don’t want to bore your fans by giving them the exact same updates you gave them during release week!

Re-tweeting when someone mentions you or your new song are great ways to keep the hype alive without being too pushy.

You can also ask your fans to post videos of them lip-syncing or covering the song, and remind them of all the different ways they can listen to your song (unless you released it on an exclusive platform. If that’s the case, then remind your fans that it’s an exclusive and may only be up for a limited time!)

Now is also the time to focus in on your next big project. That might be the music video for the single you just released, a brand new single or EP, or your upcoming tour. Keeping the hype up is vital at this phase! Consistently releasing new content is a proven strategy to get new fans and keep them.

What is your favorite promotional strategy for singles? Are more frequent single releases the way of the future for musicians? Let us know in the comments below!


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Creating a Strong Profile on Pinterest

Creating a Strong Profile on Pinterest

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

So you think that Pinterest might be a good tool to keep in your proverbial marketing tool belt? Great!

Let’s get into the practical ways you can effectively use Pinterest to connect with fans and increase traffic on your website.

Creating Your Profile

The first step is to sign up for a Pinterest Account. There are now two types of Pinterest accounts: personal and business. The business accounts operate exactly like personal Pinterest accounts, except you get free access to analytics. This is a valuable tool once you learn how to use it, so I recommend signing up as a business account. If you already have a personal Pinterest account, you can convert it into a business account. However, unless everyone and everything connected to your personal account fits with your brand as an artist, I recommend that you keep your personal and business accounts separate.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 10.19.21 AM

After you sign up, you will confirm your account through email.

Once your account has been confirmed, you will need to edit your general profile information. To do so:

  • Click on your user name in the top right to get to your profile.
  • Click the “edit profile” button just below your name.
  • Upload a profile picture. The picture should be in focus and not pixelated, easily identifiable, and tied to your brand as an artist. This lets followers instantly recognize a pin as yours.
  • Add a link to your website. This is important, as you are on Pinterest for marketing purposes. Without this link, people who discover you through Pinterest have no easy way of finding out more about you.
  • Choose a custom domain for your Pinterest account. Consistency is key, so try to keep your custom domain as close to your name, website, or other social media custom domains as possible. 

basic info

And that’s it! Your profile is created. Now, let’s make it a strong profile! How do you do that? You add content… the right content.

Building Your Boards

After you’ve edited your basic information, you should begin to create boards. To create a board, simply go to your profile page and click on the “Create Board” icon on the left.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 10.13.11 AM

Your boards are where you will pin your content. Topical boards are the best way to organize your content (this is helpful when people are browsing your pins to find content or learn more about you).

When creating your boards, it’s important to think ahead to the content you will pin on them. It’s also important to keep this mantra in mind: Get personal.

You’re here to genuinely connect with fans through shared interests and to give them a glimpse of who you truly are. If all you do is promote yourself, you have missed out on the most useful parts of Pinterest. Your pins, therefore, should reflect who you are as much as (if not more than) what you do.

The key is to strike the right balance.

For boards reflecting your personal interests, some good ideas (topics that consistently trend on Pinterest) are recipes, fashion, DIY projects, and art. If you’re personally interested in something, create a board around that topic.

In terms of boards for marketing your music, you can create boards for your music and videos, tour posters, promotional pictures, live shows, pictures with fans… pretty much anything that can be translated into a visual medium, you can create a board for.

You can (and should!) also have boards that tread the line between your music and personal tastes. Create a board that shows your fans the inspiration behind your music; it could include quotes, poetry, art, or photography. You can even create inspiration boards for specific release, whether a whole album, a single, or a music video.

You can also create shared boards that your fans can pin to. Want to know what your music inspires your fans to do or create? Create a board for fan art. Not sure what to wear for your next music video or photo shoot? Ask your followers! Not only will you get great ideas, but since they were engaged with planning, they will be more likely to share the finished product.

Katy Perry’s page is a good example of fan interaction. Many of her boards allow fans to pin their own content to them. This helps her fans to feel like they are involved with Katy on a personal level. However, Katy’s profile is mostly self-promotion, which is not the way we recommend independent artists use Pinterest. Personal and authentic content is the best way to add and keep followers.

Branding Your Boards

Your personal branding doesn’t have to stop at your website or your profile picture. Pinterest allows for a lot of flexibility and customization. You can create boards around any theme you want, you can name the boards whatever you want, and you can set the main image for each board. Play around with this to tie in your existing branding.

Actress/Pop Singer Vanessa Hudgens does a really good job of consistently branding her boards. Her board titles are simple, and she has uploaded a custom cover photo for each board using the same font and style.

vanessa hudgens boards

Adding Pins to Your Boards

Your content on Pinterest is the point of connection between you and your fans, so make sure that it is well thought out. Remember that people follow you because they are interested in who you are. Show them that with your content.

You can do this with a good mix of original content and repins. If you blog regularly, pin the images from your blog posts. Repin recipes of what you want to eat for dinner alongside an original pin of your new music video. Pin tips for caring for a sore throat and maintaining health; after all, you as a singer should know how to care for your voice. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, re-pin recipes you want to try alongside photos of drinks from coffee shops you visited on the road.

One benefit to pinning original content is that it gives you greater opportunity to drive traffic back to your website. (Pinterest is well-known for its click-through rate.) This works best if you pin directly from your website or point people back your website, where they can buy your music or a T-shirt or get signed up for your mailing list. You can also pin from your other social media accounts. This isn’t as ideal as sending traffic directly to your site, but it could increase your opportunities to interact with your fans. We mentioned Vanessa Hudgens for her branding earlier, but she also does a great job of directing the traffic back to her.

You should also brand your original content. If you have a logo, place that logo somewhere unobtrusive in the picture you’re sharing. That way, even if the link to your original page gets lost, people still know where the content they liked came from.

If you are repinning content that others uploaded, be conscious of what you are pinning. Respect other people’s work. Just like you don’t want someone else to get credit for your songs, a food blogger doesn’t want someone else to get credit for the chocolate cake recipe they worked hard to create. Make sure the picture or recipe links back to the site where it originated. Also be sure that the creator is open to having their content pinned (i.e., look for a “Pin This” prompt on their website or for original pins they have uploaded directly). We’ll use Vanessa Hudgens as an example again. On her Music board, almost all the content is pinned directly from the artist’s website or social media accounts. This drives the traffic back to those artist, giving them credit for their original content. When used correctly, Pinterest is  great way to cross promote, and other independent business will likely be grateful for your appreciation of their content.

Adding Quality Content

Pinterest is primarily a visual medium. Good images are key to increasing engagement. Text should be legible. Photographs shouldn’t be out of focus or pixelated, and they should be well-lit and visually interesting. What does this look like in practice? Instead of pinning a photo of your new merch shirt on a hanger or sitting in the box, ask a friend or fan to model it… but go to a pretty location with good lighting (often indirect lighting) instead of your garage or spare bedroom. Got a new album coming out? Take your favorite line or two and turn them into a gorgeous graphic. If you like it enough, it might be something you turn into an art print to sell as merch!

On a side note: make sure that when you are creating these graphics, that you are not using copyrighted material. You can gets lots of great stock photos at decent prices from sites like fotolia.com and Shutter Stock. Or, if you have a photographer or graphic designer friend, ask if they want to collaborate and make graphics that both of you can use.




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Music Marketing Strategies

Better Marketing in One Easy Step: Shooting for a Bullseye

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

You’ve just spent countless hours revamping your website, following and chatting with fans on social media, and sending a hundred—or was it two hundred—emails to add more bookings and press to your schedule. Your eyes are red and itchy, your fingers are beginning to cramp, and when you look away from your screen you can hardly see straight. It’s time to stop for the night.

And what do you have to show for all that hard work? A few new followers, some extra likes, three automated e-mail responses from people who are on vacation… but no real results.

This is a dismal story, but it’s one I hear too often. Musicians, working hard to market themselves, are not getting any real return from that work. It helps to know what marketing is.

What Exactly Is Marketing?

Marketing is a term that gets tossed around often but can be hard to grasp, especially for musicians. Merriam-Webster says that marketing is “the act or process of selling or purchasing,” and “the technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.”

To put it simply: Marketing is the work and the strategy of selling something.

All businesses use marketing in some form or another. TV commercials, junk emails, a tweet, and a flyer tucked under a windshield wiper are simple examples of what marketing looks like on the surface. But there’s more to marketing than the public message. Behind those advertisements are people measuring the effectiveness of the ads. They are tracking views, shares, and traffic and pinpointing exactly which ads and strategies are increasing sales. Then, they take that information and use it to create more sales.

So with these definitions and examples in mind, have you actually been marketing? Or just keeping yourself busy?

Marketing 101

There are many different ways to market yourself, and everyone has an opinion on what works best. But it all boils down to this:

Good marketing means tangible results.

I could stand in a forest for a thousand hours, paint myself green, and glue sticks to my arms, but it will never make me a tree. It’s the same story for musicians and all the hard work they put into marketing. If you aren’t getting results, you aren’t actually marketing.

But what exactly are results? To measure results, we have to have goals. To have relevant goals, we need to know what our customers need and want. To fulfill those needs, we need to have products.

Product

As a musician, you probably think you have an idea about what your product is: your music. The songs you create and record are your signature product. Your music is what people are going to remember you for and what they are going to purchase from you. However, the music that people consume in various forms—physical CDs, digital downloads, live performances, etc.—is merely one facet of what you are actually attempting to market.

Music isn’t your only product. It isn’t even your best product. You are your best product! As an independent musician, you aren’t just selling CDs or tickets to shows. You are selling the brand you’ve created around yourself and your music and the entertainment that brand offers to your customers.

While there are countless other products you can offer, it all comes back to you as an entertainer. If no one wants you and the brand you’ve built, they won’t want your music and events and merch.

Customers

So if you are your product/service, who is your customer?

Many musicians make the mistake of limiting their customer base to people who listen to their music. In reality, it’s much broader. Anyone who buys anything from you or pays you for a service is your customer. This means that listeners are your customers, but so are venues, record labels, publishers, licensing companies, concert-goers, and so on.

With each new type of customer, you have the opportunity to create a marketing plan that will effectively reach them. Creating a marketing strategy around a known customer tends to result in more effective marketing.

Goals

So we know what you are selling, and we know whom you are selling it to. Now you have to set goals to get those sales.

Though income may be your ultimate goal, there are also different goals you can set that, while they don’t lead to an instant payoff, can add up to income over time. This type of goal could be fan interaction, like signing a certain number of people up for a mailing list, or getting a new video shared. It could also be a networking goal (meeting someone from a certain music blog) or a creative goal (writing a set amount of new material by a deadline). Your goal could be something as simple as the number of CDs you want to sell at your next show, or it could be landing an important gig. These goals involve you actively doing something to generate more income.

Practical Strategies: Work Smarter, Not Harder

So now that you’ve discovered the three most important things to consider as you market your music, it’s time to stop. Take 5 minutes and write down 3 goals that you want to accomplish and a time line for accomplishing them. Got your timer set? Good. When you finish writing down your goals, keep reading to find out how you can make those goals reality.

Ready, set… go!

All done? Great. Let’s get marketing.

Step 1: Target

Want me to clue you into a little secret? This is the only step. Target the things that are working for you, and spend the most time on those things.

Say for example you’ve posted every day this week on Facebook. But just one of those posts—a video—had significant interaction. So the next week, you create another video, and post it to Facebook, alongside your other posts. Again, this video was shared, liked, and commented on. The next week, you decide to post another video exclusively on your website. Since your fans already know they like your videos, they are more likely to click to your website to watch. One you have them on your website, you can get more information about them, like their email or phone number, so that you can have even more interaction with them. This interaction can lead to music sales or to fans coming out to see you live, and those sales means money in your pocket.

This is a specific example, but the principle is the same no matter what your goals are. Find out what works with your customers, and do more of that.

Don’t be afraid to try experiment a little. Go all scientific method on this marketing thing. Set up a time frame, and try different ways of doing things until you find one that works. This goes for social media, for your website, even for face-to-face interaction with fans and industry contacts.

You want to make your live shows more effective? Book some small gigs and take some risks. Play music for 95% of the gig. At the next show, maybe tell a story between each song. Try different ways of talking about your latest project or the awesome new t-shirt you have for sale. Find what works for you and for the people who are listening to your music.

I’m not saying totally eliminate other things that don’t work as well. Variety is not a bad thing. Just make sure that the things that don’t work as well aren’t taking up much of your time. Don’t get so settled into a routine that you don’t try other things that could work for you, or ignore when your current success becomes a little less relevant. Having varied content helps keep fans interested long term, but your time is too valuable a resource to spend on things that aren’t going to help you meet your goals.

Marketing your music and reaching goals doesn’t have to be a mystery. Be creative, target the things that will get the results you want, and work hard.




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