Category: Music Marketing

Youtube improve results

YouTube – How To Make It Work For You

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Three Steps To Improve Performance

This feels like old news, but it’s possible you haven’t heard. If you’re not leveraging YouTube to your advantage, you have a gap in your approach to music sales. Maybe you don’t want to make a living from your music or you love your day job. That’s fine. You can probably stop reading this now. Or maybe you already have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Millions, even. You too may stop reading this. If neither of these exceptions apply to you, then settle in. Let’s talk The YouTube. *wink*

You live in a wondrous time! Just look at the Internet. It’s an amazing resource to the independent artist and band. The thing is you’re busy – out there pounding the pavement, rocking various houses night after night. But, ask any wildly successful artist. To make that dollar, you’re going to have to spend time, both on and off the stage to develop your fan base. (Unless you’re posting your performances. Then bully to you!) And in this day in which we live it’s now easier than ever to reach untapped fans via YouTube.

But first, the bad news: You won’t make any livable wage monetizing YouTube videos until you start raking in views in the hundreds of millions. Some sources report that YouTube pays $.0003 per play. This means that in order for you to pull in minimum wage you would have to have views in the tens of millions, depending on your state’s minimum wage. So that’s the bummer. But, the good news is that you don’t have to rely solely on monetization to make YouTube work for you. There are lots of examples of bands and artists (and puppeteers and style gurus and… you get the idea) who have used streaming video to get their names out there and launch their careers onto other more lucrative platforms. Remember, if you’re trying to make a living from you music, you’re not just a musician. You’re in music business. Time to get savvy. Here are a few ways to yield desirable results from YouTube.

Invite your viewers to take it to the next level and subscribe.

Make no mistake. Gathering subscribers is important. Create your channel, make delightful viewing material and call your viewers to action by encouraging them to subscribe. (Just don’t expect to make noticeable amounts of money directly from YouTube doing this.) You have to say the words too. Here’s why: In most cases, people hear about a great video. They go watch the video. They move on with their day. The end. Don’t let this be your viewers. At the end of your video, thank them for watching and then say, “subscribe!” It’s that simple. You could add a please for good measure. Or confetti. Do you, but say the words.

Invite them to your website so they can buy your stuff.

Every subscriber you procure is now your fan. They have taken time to subscribe and this means they like you. Congratulations! Now it’s time to tell them how they can listen to your awesome music wherever they go, by driving them to your website or digital storefront to buy tracks they can’t get on YouTube. You may want to incentify people to subscribe by giving them a coupon code to save a dollar off your album (which is sold only on your website or Amazon, right?). Or maybe YouTube subscribers get access to extra video content or mp3 tracks that your average schmo can’t get. Hock your interesting and hilarious t-shirts and bumper stickers by sending these captive fans to your shop. Your subscribers will not necessarily arrive at the brilliant decision to visit your website. You must invite them to do so.

Make lots of interesting content. Lots!

Here’s the deal. There are many reasons to have a prolific amount of content. One of the reasons is this: the more you’re out there, the more you increase your chances of getting subscribers. You’ll reach people you wouldn’t normally have access to through other outlets – especially younger music fans. YouTube is the most listened to music platform. The most! Gathering more fans from the juggernaut of all music conduits can help you completely bypass a music label – like so many other successful musicians have – and allow you to do music on your own terms. Or maybe you want a music contract. Perfect! Having a huge number of subscribers can only help your cause. Having a large subscriber following also means drawing the attention of potential sponsors. YouTubers who have been successful at accumulating lots of subscribers have definitely grabbed the attention of sponsors. These sponsors can pay thousands of dollars for one video that includes a mention or placement of their product. This is not a farfetched pipe-dream, either. Sponsors are well within reach. It’s hard work, of course. Nothing worth doing will ever come easy. (Sorry.) But, the rewards include garnering a larger fan base and getting to make a living from your music and videos.

So now that you know why tons of content is a must, let’s talk about what you should post. Your video subject matter should be as diverse as you and you’re music, but you don’t have to over think everything you post. Sometimes these videos are just something fun – a day-in-the-life bit or a tutorial of some kind. I can hear some of your eyes rolling right now as you read this. This may feel beneath you or pandering, even. But, try to keep an open mind about this. It’s not selling out. You’re not giving into the man. You’re dominating various digital avenues so that they work for you. Think groceries and rent – and beyond! You’re not giving in. You’re making the Internet your bitch. So get creative. By all means, post your music and your shows and your time in the studio. But, also keep in mind that people will be endeared to you by getting to see behind the proverbial curtain a bit. Talk to your fans and let them see your fun side. Cover your favorite popular songs. Reveal to them your stupid human trick. Do skits. Get viewers to vote on which guitar strap or pair of skinny jeans you’ll wear at your next performance. Video your band’s trust exercises or day of water skiing. Whatever. You’re imaginative. Just give the fans what they want and make lots and lots of content.

There’s another perk of posting tons of videos. If you haven’t created a YouTube channel or your haven’t been posting very much, creating a lot of content will also help fast track the process of gathering subscribers and getting noticed by sponsors. And bonus, the more momentum you pick up, the more monetizing your content will pay. Again, not lucrative amounts, but it’s better than nothing.

It’s time – your time. Start using YouTube like the music business tool it is.




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Amazon-CDBaby_LogoSmallr

Amazon or CD Baby, Which is Better for CD Sales?

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 20 minutes

Review of Amazon Advantage and CD Baby for Musicians

It’s true. Amazon is one of the largest online retailers in the world, with an ambitious goal to eventually sell everything that can be bought. So what does that mean for you, the independent musician? Does it make sense for you to sell your CDs on Amazon? How does CD Baby match up? Well, let’s take a look.

First we should point out that CD Baby clients can already sell their music on Amazon since CD Baby distributes through Amazon. But, you may want to list your CD with Amazon directly without a middleman. Amazon Advantage offers you the ability to sell physical CDs directly. We will explain why this is important.

Overview of Amazon

Amazon boasted 244 million users as of January 2016, of which approximately 54 million are prime members. (Prime members get free 2 day shipping on most items). Amazon has processed up to five hundred orders per second, and sales volume is about $290 million per day. Most of the sales volume has to do with a wide variety of physical and digital products, music being one of them.

Sales growth in the last 5 years has tripled with no end in sight. In terms of your music’s availability and exposure, this could be a big opportunity for you. Amazon features various ways for musicians to sell music – and we do mean various. In this review we are going to focus on Amazon Advantage – the service that Amazon offers directly to musicians and other creative types for the sale of their physical products like CDs and DVDs. The unique part of the Amazon offer is you do not have to submit your music through a third party to get listed on Amazon. In fact Amazon has a simple user friendly application process that you can complete on-line. Check out the link at the end of this article.

Amazon also offers digital download, but the real opportunity to generate meaningful income for independent musicians is selling full albums. Digital download platforms skew very heavily towards the purchase of singles, not albums. In effect, fans might like your music well enough to purchase it but when they are offered the opportunity to purchase one song rather than an album they most often choose to purchase one song. An artist makes 8-10 times as much money on the sale of an album rather than a single, and your fans get exposure to more of your music. In other words, album sales result in better marketing and better income.

Overview of CD Baby

CD Baby is focused on musicians without all of the other non-artist related products. This allows CD Baby to concentrate all of their efforts in this one arena and the result is a variety of tools specifically designed for artists such as digital distribution of your music through iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube. If you are primarily interested in digital distribution then CD Baby is a good choice. They also do an acceptable job of selling CDs when musicians refer fans to their personal CD Baby page directly. They are one of a few companies that offer both digital and CD distribution along with competitive up front pricing and a relatively low 9% participation fee to sell your digital download products. Please be aware that the 9% fee is in addition to the fees charged by the partner reseller.

CD Baby does a good job with traffic on their site probably due to the 300,000+ albums that they have signed up. More albums means more traffic, but it is unlikely that the average music fan will visit the website searching for music by artists unless they are searching for an artist they already know. If you are uncertain about this point, ask the next 10 people you meet how they buy music. I suspect you will not hear anyone say CD Baby.

By the way, CD Baby could become a site where fans search for music, but the search and recommendation functions need to improve. Fans choosing an artist on their site do not get recommendations to view similarly styled artists offering music for sale. Instead CD Baby displays artists from the same geographic area as the artist fans are choosing. For example, if a fan is on the Shaun Murphy page they can click on a link for “More Artists from Tennessee”. Not a very effective recommendation tool for most fans.

Getting Started

Amazon Advantage is a consignment service that benefits self-published artists. In some ways it is similar to CD Baby’s retail store.

To use Amazon Advantage you must first have a physical product (i.e. CD or DVD) to sell, among other things, and your product is required to have a barcode – ISBN, UPC, or EAN. Amazon also requires that you have Internet access and an email address, which shouldn’t be a problem – unless of course you’re reading this article on a printed hard copy your great-grandson gave you and you don’t have an email address.

Amazon has an approval process for new accounts (not everyone gets approved). But if your content is good and you meet minimum guidelines you should have no trouble getting approved. Once you’ve created an Advantage account, paid your $99 annual membership fee, and established that you have the rights to sell the music on your album, Amazon will “order” from you. The $99 fee is charged once per year for an unlimited number of submissions, so you can submit as few as one song or 100 albums, either way the total fee is just $99.

This is significantly different from other services that charge you a fee based on the number of songs or albums you submit. If you intend to submit a single song or just one album the $99 charge is quite high, but if you have at least two albums for sale the expense is per album is much better. In the end it’s all about sales volume. The only way to make money on music is to sell it, without exposure and sales the upfront fees will always be too expensive, regardless of which platform you choose to distribute your music.

CD Baby also has an approval process for new accounts but virtually everyone gets approved. CD Baby makes a distinction between submission of albums and individual songs. CD Baby charges $9.95 per single or $49 per album as a one time up front charge per submission, you do not have to pay annually. This is great if you intend to submit one album or song, but multiple submissions in a year can become quite expensive. CD Baby does offer a discount structure if you are going to submit several different selections.

The difference in the way both companies charge for their service can be summed up like this:

CD Baby charges every time you submit a new CD, but you do not have to pay additional subscriptions fees on that CD every year. Each submission has a onetime charge only. (Does not apply to fees charged when a CD is sold – additional charges are imposed when CDs are sold)

Amazon Advantage charges a subscription fee of $99 every year you participate in the program, but you do not have to pay for submitting additional CDs. Whether you list 1 CD or 100 CDs, the price is still $99. (Does not apply to fees charged when a CD is sold – additional charges are imposed when CDs are sold)

Both Amazon and CD Baby will request CDs to keep in their inventory and sell/distribute them as fans order CDs. Both will reorder from you weekly, depending on sales volume, assuming fans are ordering your music and the inventory of CDs is becoming depleted.

What Happens Next

Once Amazon receives your CDs, fans can search for your music on Amazon and the CD will show up, just like the toilet paper and running shoes they search for now. When fans purchase your CD, Amazon ships the CD and records the sale on your account. Every month your sales are totaled and Amazon pays you for your portion of the sale. In other words, you can expect to get paid on a monthly basis.

CD Baby works much the same way, but they pay weekly in most cases. Your music is searchable on the CD Baby site just like Amazon.

Setting the Price for Your Music

On Amazon, you set the retail price for your CD, and Amazon charges you 55% of that amount as a fee for selling your CD, so keep this in mind when creating the list price. If your retail price is too high your CD will not sell, and Amazon does reserve the right to sell your CD at the price of their choosing, but don’t worry, your profit remains the same. For example, if the retail price for your CD is $12 and it sells for $12 your income is $5.40. If Amazon chooses to lower the retail price to $10 in an effort to stimulate sales, you still receive $5.40. Ultimately if Amazon cannot sell your CDs at a price that allows them to make a reasonable margin they will return them to you and remove them from the site.

CD Baby charges a flat fee of $4 to sell your physical CD on the CD Baby site. This approach is different than Amazon since it is a flat fee and not tied to the sales price. CD Baby will not change the retail price you set for your CD. If you were to sell your CD for $12 on CD Baby you would take home $8, which is better than Amazon at first glance.

On CD Baby, since your fans will also have to pay for shipping, your overall share of the income can be much less than it is on Amazon. And your fans will not be as happy because they have to pay for shipping. Shipping can easily cost more than the CD itself, so this is no small consideration. One way your fan can avoid the shipping fee from CD Baby is by purchasing 3 CDs on one order. But fans may become frustrated with the free shipping offer if they cannot find 3 CDs they want to buy and abandon the purchase all together.

You can also choose to have CD Baby sell your CD through Amazon or one of their other distributors, but the numbers do not look as good for you when this happens, more on that later.

Returns of Unsold Product. Nobody Wants Them

If Amazon cannot sell some of your music they will return the title that is not moving to you at your expense (shipping and handling). If you have 8 titles that are selling well and one that is not selling at all, Amazon will still keep the 8 titles in stock and continue to sell them.

CD Baby does not generally return merchandise that does not sell because you paid CD Baby an up front fee of $49 for every CD you sent to them as an incentive to list your CD for sale (and provide other digital services). If CD Baby returned your CD for lack of sales they would also have to refund the $49 you paid them to sell that specific CD, which of course would impact their profitability. It’s the difference between offering to sell an unlimited number of items for a single higher fee (Amazon) or charging a fee every time an item submitted (CD Baby). Of course CD Baby is also listing your music on partner resellers, which is part of what you paid them for, so returning your money would mean that these services would also stop. This will not happen with CD Baby.

Marketing Your Music, Who does a Better Job?

Through the Advantage program, Amazon does a good job of marketing on your behalf. That means they will recommend your music to possible listeners – i.e. “People who bought this product also like …” and “frequently bought together…” While this by itself is not unique, (other vendors also offer to help market your music), Amazon is the only provider which sells physical CDs that has the attention of 244 million customers. No one else comes close. This is a significant advantage for artists who list with Amazon.

CD Baby also helps to market your CD on their site, but differently than Amazon. For example, CD Baby will allow a fan to select other musicians that live in the same area as the artist being viewed. A fan can also choose from a selection of sub genre’s by clicking on a link, but your CD will not be suggested to a fan even if your music is similarly styled to an artist the fan has already added to their shopping cart. The best way to find your music on CD Baby is to type in your name. The biggest Pro for CD Baby is all of the additional digital services and tools they offer to musicians, which you can still take advantage of without listing your CD for sale on their site. Trying to compare their marketing reach to Amazon’s is almost unfair.

Both Amazon and CD Baby will stock your CDs in their warehouse. This is nice because order processing and distribution can take a lot of time and effort. Amazon and CD Baby also deal with things like sales taxes. Again, these services can save you the headache of keeping up with taxes and shipping, especially if you don’t have an account with major shipping company.

Shipping is FREE with Amazon

Amazon Prime members get their purchases shipped for free. This is huge because Amazon has 54 million Prime members. Check out the math. If a fan purchases a CD from your account on CD Baby, they will be charged from $3.69 to $11.00 for shipping ($3.69 for ground, $11 for 2 day shipping). All Amazon Prime members get 2 day shipping for free as part of their Prime subscription. While no portion of the shipping charges are billed to you the artist, on CD Baby your fan will have to pay for all of the shipping charges. In effect, this increases the cost to purchase your CD and may deter fans from completing the sale. CD Baby does offer fans free ground shipping (it costs $0.01) if they order 3 CDs at a time.

What’s Your Take?

The nicest thing about the Advantage program is that Amazon only charges you 55% to handle the sale, which includes credit card charges, sales taxes, and the cost to ship and package the CD. That may sound steep, but when you consider that other companies offering a similar service to musicians charge about the same or more, but offer much less, this turns out to be a good deal. CD Baby charges $4.00 plus shipping and handling. (your fans pays for the shipping and handling)

As a point of comparison, iTunes typically charges artists 40% (including distributor fees) just for a digital download, and iTunes tends to sell more singles than it does albums, so you end up with just $0.60 for each single sold. Not much money, but arguably better than streaming services like YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora which pay almost nothing.

What, You Don’t Want It?

Amazon and CD Baby both handle returns, which would never happen to you. Who would return your music? But, if some rando didn’t like what they got, Amazon will eat the cost of the returned product and the return shipping. In other words your account will not be charged for the lost sale or the shipping. Amazon will resell the CD to your next fan and of course you will not get credit for that sale since it is then coming out of the Amazon inventory, not yours.

CD Baby will charge your account for returned product and require the fan pay for shipping to return the item. CD Baby then returns the CD to your available inventory for sale.

Other Things to Consider

Every program has a weakness. For example, if you deal solely with digital files, Amazon Advantage is not for you. And, if you want to sell both hard copy CDs and digital files you have to deal with two different programs. But selling the right product through the correct distributor can make a big difference in your take home pay.

Up front fees can be a problem. What if no one buys your stuff? You’re out $99 bucks with Amazon and $49 with CD Baby (for a full CD). But who are we kidding, that’s not you. Of course your stuff will sell….

Fees for sales through retail partners can also add up. Make sure you know what the real story is when agreeing to sell your product, you might be surprised by how little you make.

The fine print. Differences in Amazon and CD Baby. Important things you should know.

Range of Artists Represented

Amazon features a large number of headliner artists. For example, if you were to look at the top 10 selling artists on Billboard, Amazon usually has all 10 on their site ready for purchase. Amazon also features independent musicians.

CD Baby is a little different. Of the top ten, CD Baby would most likely will not have any of them. Most headliner artists are looking for a bigger platform to sell their music and Amazon fits the bill. This is one of the reasons that Amazon sells more music. (little known fact – Amazon is the second largest seller of MP3 downloads next to iTunes, and Amazon is still growing in this area – iTunes is not).

The significance of this difference is simple but important, fans searching for songs they have heard on the radio do not go to places like CD Baby, but they do go to Amazon. It is hard to be ‘discovered’ by a fan that might be interested in your music if that fan never visits the site where your music is offered.

As an artist you get more exposure from a site that has more music traffic with good marketing and search features.

Fees for Sales of Physical Products

You can choose to deal with Amazon Advantage directly, or you can pay someone else to deal with Amazon on your behalf, but be wary, the costs go way up unless you go direct.

CD Baby will sign your CDs up to sell on partner distributors like Super D, Amazon, and Alliance. All of these partners have their own fee structures so when a partner sells your CD the partner takes out their fees first (in the case of Amazon the fee is 55%*) and then CD Baby also charges a fee of $4 per sale on top of the partner fees.

If you choose to go direct with Amazon Advantage the charge is 55% of the sale as a fee. No additional charges, but you must sign up with Amazon directly, not through another distributor.

Example: Lets suppose you sell a physical CD for $10.00. The first column represents the retail price of the CD and income made by the artist if sold by Amazon thru CD Baby. The second column represents the retail price of the CD and income to the artist if sold by Amazon Advantage directly. The third column represents a sale made on the CD Baby site.

Amazon CD Baby Pay

The purchase of your CD through CD Baby/Amazon costs your fan $21 and the artist gets 50 cents (not good). The sale of your CD through Amazon Advantage without CD Baby costs your fan $10 and you get $4.50. The sale of your CD through CD Baby without Amazon costs your fan $21 and you get $6.00 (assuming 2 day shipping in all cases) The chart shows that the musician makes the most money going through CD Baby if the CD will be sold on the CD Baby site, but it also shows that the fan has to pay an additional $11 in shipping so that the artist can make $1.50.

These numbers change depending on the shipping option chosen by the fan, but we chose 2 day shipping because Amazon offers it for free and fans always want your music quickly. In fact, the speed of delivery might make a big difference in whether the fan makes a purchase or not. There is a pretty remarkable difference in pricing for both the fan and the artist depending on distributor used, so pick wisely.

Amazon has two options for free shipping to customers. As we mentioned before, 54 million Amazon customers are Prime customers, so they get free 2 day shipping. CD Baby charges between $3.69 and $19.14 for shipping depending on where the CD is going and how fast the customer wants their CD. 2 day shipping on my test order was $10.99.

This is significant because CD Baby customers who purchase your CD for say $10 would also have to pay an additional 37% to 120% to have it shipped to them. Amazon customers can make the same purchase for $10 and still have it delivered in 2 days for free.

Another thing to consider is returned merchandise shipping. Amazon prime is free if the product did not meet the customer’s expectations, CD Baby, on the other hand, requires the customer to pay return shipping.

Conclusion

Exposure is everything. Amazon exposes your CD to more fans than anyone else, and if your fan is already on Amazon, you’re making it easy for them to find your music. You could combine the sales exposure of the top 10 independent digital music stores and they would not add up to the exposure you achieve on Amazon Advantage. Plus, Amazon will look at your fans previous purchase’s and recommend music to their taste. And, with Amazon credits they can get your music on the cheap without you taking the hit.

In addition, Amazon is the best experience for your fans, free shipping is hard to compete with – and why not offer it to them? Free returns can also motivate fans to “give your music a try” because returns are painless. Sell through will improve considerably for these two reasons alone.

CD Baby is a great option if you want the other services they offer like distribution through partner resellers and sales widgets for your website. You could choose CD Baby for all of these services, but still use Amazon Advantage to sell your CD. Or you might decide that digital distribution is not all it’s crackup up to be and choose another route, like selling downloads yourself on your own website.

The questions you have to answer for yourself are:

> Which site benefits your fans the most?

> Which site is better at marketing your music?

> Which site has more exposure for your music?

> How many albums will you be listing?

> How are returns handled when a fan chooses not to keep your CD?

> What fees are you charged for each sale (including partners)?

> Have we mentioned FREE shipping?

* We tried to get a definitive answer from CD Baby about the charges on a CD sold by Amazon through CD Baby. We were told that Amazon charges what they charge and CD Baby then charges an additional $4 for every CD sold. CD Baby would not confirm the actual charges by Amazon. In our example we use 55% because this is what Amazon says it charges for the sale of a CD. It would be helpful if CD Baby were a little more transparent about these details. Some numbers are rounded for simplicity.

Link to Amazon Advantage for Musicians:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-product-page.html?topic=200329710

Link to CD Baby for Musicians:

http://members.cdbaby.com/?_ga=1.70752854.771028006.1462566939




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1 Week, More Fans

3 Ways to Get More Music Fans in a Week

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

As a musician, you want to always be trying new ideas for ways to get more fans. Of course, music is subjective and at the end of the day you can begin to feel more like a salesperson and less like an artist. You want your music to be able to speak for itself. Unfortunately, we live in very fickle times, and it can be difficult for even the best musicians to gain any traction.

Here are three ways how to get more fans and boost your musical presence:

Interact with your existing fans

If you’re looking for how to get more fans, you have to engage your existing audience. This means not only setting up accounts on social media platforms, but monitoring and participating in those spheres. You do not want to set up a page and leave it. You are going to want to answer every single post or comment that is made on your social media page (or at least as many as you can) to get results. Do it honestly and quickly. Not only will this help retain existing fans, but the interactions will draw in their networks to increase your fan base.

Give It Away

It might sound totally backward if you’re looking to “sell” units, but another good tactic for how to get new more fans may be to give stuff away. This does not mean you should give away everything all the time. However, the occasional free CD, digital download, poster, or T-shirt with your name on it can help drive demand even faster. Plus, fans like a good contest to win something!

Get Personal

Having a fan page and replying to comments isn’t always enough. Let fans in behind the curtain and bring them along for the ride. Upload short videos—of rehearsal sessions, road trips, or even your performances. Post pictures—from the stage, of getting ready backstage, of fans who have come out to your shows. Create these regularly, and be sure to include them on your social media platforms. Fans will feel like they are sharing the experiences with you, building a deeper loyalty. More loyal fans are more vocal fans, right?

Getting new listeners can be tough. But if you remember these three tips you will be able to get more fans in no time.

Have you put the above tips to work? What were the results for you? What steps have you found that effectively increase your fan base?

See also: Increase Your Exposure: Streaming Music




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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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GreatBandPhotos

How to Take Great Band Photos in 5 Steps

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

It was a freezing cold day. Sometimes Texas in November is kind, and you’ll get a beautiful 65 degrees with not a cloud in the sky! But this was not one of those days. It was overcast, drizzling off and on, and was easily in the low-30s.

But this was the day that we had booked the photographer, so out into the cold I ventured to take the promotional shots for my next album.

Getting in front of a photographer is a part of being a musician that I don’t really enjoy. I’m definitely not a model. I get self conscious, start to clam up, I worry the entire time how the pictures are going to turn out, and I spend half the shoot wondering if my hair looks super weird.

This time though, I promised myself I wasn’t going to worry. I was going to be prepared, and do some concrete things to make sure the photos turned out great. And they did!

I know that many musicians also struggle with taking great photos, so I’ve put together the tips that got me through my last photo shoot so that you can also take some amazing band photos.

Step 1 – Be Prepared

The best thing you can do to get great photos is know what you want. Do some digging, and find photos you really like. These might be photos of other bands, landscapes, album covers, or portraits.

Try to find about 10 pictures that you really love. Then try and pick out one or two things about each photo that you like. Colors, the “vibe” of the picture, the location, how people are posed in the photo, and the lighting are all things that you should look for. When you’ve defined why you like your 10 photos, you’re ready to start looking for a photographer. The photos you picked out will help you find a photographer with a style that works for your music and your brand, and will also help you to communicate what you want when you hire a photographer.

Step 2 – Choose Wisely

Photographers are artists. If you wanted to listen to thrash metal live, you probably wouldn’t go to a coffeehouse open mic. If you want photos that are a particular style, you need to find a photographer that works within that style.

I’m not saying that a photographer shouldn’t be flexible and try to get the shots that you want. But you should do your research, and find a photographer in your area whose current portfolio is similar to the look you’re going for. If all of their photos look a certain way, and you want something completely different, you should probably choose a different photographer.

When you’re communicating with a potential photographer, try sending them a link to your music. Listening to your music can help them to get a feel for what kinds of photos they will need to take, and if their style will mesh well with your band.

You also need to make sure you have permission from your photographer to use the images for commercial purposes. Remember, they own the copyright to the photos they take. Most professional photographers will have a protocol already in place for granting a commercial licenses for their photos.

When choosing a photographer, style is key. But you also have to look at price. Different Photographer price things differently, so chances are you’ll be able to find something in your price range. If you absolutely love a particular photographer’s style, but they are a little too expensive, it never hurts to shoot them an email to explain your needs and your budget. They may be able to work out a reduced rate or a shorter shoot time to accommodate you. Some photographers will also give discounts for a type of photo they don’t usually shoot. If a family photographer really wants to start shooting bands and live shows, they may offer a lower rate for the experience.

If you have practically no budget for photography, a good place to look is local art schools, colleges, and universities. If they have a graphic design or photography program, chances are their students are looking for models. A lower level student might shoot you for free, and an upper level student may have rates far below an established photographer because they need to build their portfolio.

Step 3 – Be Prepared…Again

Now that you know the style you’re after, and who you’ll be working with, begin to plan the actual photo shoot. Talk to your photographer about scouting locations for your photos. They might have some locations where  they love to shoot, or you may discover the perfect location yourself. Be open to ideas from your photographer, and from your bandmates.

Once you’ve decided on a location (or two!) you need to decide what you’re going to wear, and if you need hair and makeup help. Remember, you are paying someone good money to record what you look like at a specific moment in time. Don’t waste that money by not taking a few minutes to focus on how you look. A good idea for your appearance is to take cues from what you would normally wear on stage. If you are a grunge band that only wears cut-offs and tank tops to perform in, don’t go to your photo shoot wearing a formal tuxedo (unless perhaps the name of the album you’re taking promo pictures for is “Irony”).

If you didn’t have a face to face meeting when you hired your photographer, make sure to have one before the day of the shoot. If you’re shooting with your full band, maybe invite the photographer to your next practice. That way they can meet everyone who will be in the pictures. Your pictures will come out better if everyone is comfortable around each other, and meeting face to face can help eliminate some of the initial awkwardness.

Step 4 – Create a Shot List

Musicians have very specific needs for photos, and if your photographer isn’t used to shooting bands, they may not be familiar with them. Do you feature individual bios of your band members on your website? Then you should probably take close up individual shots of everyone in your band.

You may also need several shots that are pulled very far back from the band. You can use these for posters, or online graphics that you’ll need to put text over. This way, the text is more readable, and you’re not covering up the faces of your members with the time of your next show. You may even need a few shots of only the background, especially if you’re shooting outdoors. These can be used for the inside of your album packaging, an album cover, or for promos and graphics. These are the types of shots that a photographer unaccustomed to shooting bands may not realize they need to get, but are vital for musicians.

Step 5-Relax

You look great I promise. The more relaxed you are, the better the photos will turn out. And let’s be real. Most photographers will take somewhere around 500-1000 pictures in one shoot. And you are probably only going to use 10 of those pictures. There’s no pressure to make every shot look fantastic. Be yourself, and don’t freak out.

This doesn’t mean don’t be aware. You need to make sure the shots on your must-take list are getting done, and you probably don’t want your drummer goofing off in every shot.  But being aware doesn’t mean you have to be stressed. Relax, have fun, and good pictures will follow.

What do you do to prepare for a photoshoot? Have any great tips on taking the best promo picture ever? Let us know in the comments!


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5blogsyouforgot

Submitting Your Music to Blogs: The Five Blogs You Forgot

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you’ve been on Facebook in the last six months, you’ve seen the epidemic. All your friends are sharing blog post after blog post, and your newsfeed has become so blog oriented that you literally jump for joy when you see an actual status update.

While all these blogs may be a little obnoxious, I bet you’ve clicked on one. Or three. Or 16.

No shame! Blogs are a huge part of what makes the internet great, and they are an excellent tool for musicians. Getting your music featured in a blog can put your music in front of a whole new set of fans. There are tons of music blogs out there that are specifically dedicated to helping their readers find great new music. Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, and The Wild Honey Pie are just a few examples of some well-known music blogs.

And though working to get your music featured on a music blog is definitely something you should be doing, if you are only submitting your music to blogs that are just about music you’re missing out.

There are millions of other kinds of blogs out there that you could be submitting to. And these blogs don’t get hundreds(or thousands!) of music submissions thrown at them everyday. By pursuing blog coverage at a popular non-musical blog, you have a better chance of actually getting heard, and getting featured.

Just remember, if you are submitting to a non-music blog:

  • Look for a blog about something that you already have an interest in.  It will be easier for the blogger to feature you (and interview you!) if you are excited about what they normally blog about.
  • Look for a blog that’s related to your music. Chances are that many blog “niches” are missing a theme song. So if you’ve written a very specific song or concept album, look for blogs that write about what you wrote about!
  • Look for a regional blog. If you live in a major city, there are probably blogs that are geo-specific to you. If the blogger likes your stuff, you may even be able to sit down with them face to face about being featured on their blog.

So if you’re ready to start looking for some alternative press features, here are the top five non-musical blogs you should consider submitting to!

The Food Blog

If you love food almost as much as you love music, you can probably find a blog that appeals to your taste buds.  If you love to cook, or are passionate about vegan living, a food blog might be a great place for you to seek out a feature. There are also quite a few regional food blogs, so try finding one in your city. You could even offer to write a column for a them about the best places in your city to get great food and live music!

The Fashion Blog

Chances are that you have a specific sense of style. Whether you’re a country artist who wears a different pair of boots to every show, or a rock-a-billy songstress with a penchant for pin-up clothing, there is a good chance there is some kind of fashion blog geared toward your own clothing preferences.  Submitting your music to a fashion blog could also work if you have some kind of “trademark” piece of clothing that you wear at every show that the blogger could talk about.

The Travel Blog

If you are a touring musician, a travel blog might be a great place for you to look for press. You have the travel experience, and you might even have a song or two about your life on the road they could feature. If you enjoy writing, you might even talk to the owner of the blog about having a guest post series detailing your next tour. Then your fans would get updates about your tour, and your music would get a regular appearance on a website besides your own.

The Frugal Living Blog

It’s no secret that independent musicians don’t make truckloads of money. A frugal living blog might be a great place for you to talk about how you tour (aka travel) on a small budget, or how you keep your grocery budget low so you can save up for gear. A frugal living blog might even be a great place to release that new single you were planning on giving away, since their readers will probably be excited about getting something for free!

The Extremely-Specific Blog

I know. This technically isn’t a category of blogs. But you know yourself and your music better than anyone else. Look at your hobbies outside music and see if you can find a blog about your random obsession with Hello Kitty, or micro-gardening. Chances are there are other people who love the same things you do, and would be willing to listen to your music! Here are a few more really specific blogs to get you started brainstorming:

  • Gaming
  • Craft Beer
  • Coffee
  • Sports
  • Marketing
  • Religion
  • Lifestyle
  • Sushi
  • Crafting/DIY
  • Tiny Houses

Have you had any success submitting your music to non-music related blogs? Do you have any other ideas about what kind of blogs to submit to? 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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Finding New Fans: Why You Should Be On Pinterest

Finding New Fans: Why You Should Be On Pinterest

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

I have an idea of what you might be thinking: Pinterest? For my music? Isn’t Pinterest for girls planning their weddings?

As a musician, using Pinterest for your band may sound a little strange, but just give me a minute. There is a chance you are missing out on a great opportunity to market your music.

Pinterest Basics

If you’ve never used Pinterest before, its concept is simple. Users create topical pages called “boards” and add content to their boards by “pinning” pictures, videos, or audio files. Much like bulletin boards of the past, a user’s pins are a mishmash of images from their own life, items they want to purchase, things they want to try, places they want to go, and things that inspire them, spark their creativity, or simply make them happy.

Unlike a private bulletin board, Pinterest is a very social system. You can find and follow other users by searching by name or by linking to your other social media accounts. A user’s pins show up in the home feed of everyone who follows them; likewise, the user can see the pins on boards of users they follow. When following other users, you can follow one of their boards, all of their boards, or only their boards that interest you. Most boards are curated by only their creator, but boards can be shared among multiple users, allowing for easy collaboration on projects. Users can also create private boards, accessible only to their creator. Lastly, users can comment on pins, repin a pin on their own board, and send pins directly to other users.

Pinterest History

Since its creation five years ago, Pinterest has gained millions of users. Its purely visual format is simple, the content is inherently shareable, and it allows users to collaborate easily. What’s not to like?

Pinterest has an interesting—almost niche—user base. About 75% of their users are female, and most users are between the ages of 24 and 34. The most popular topics on the social network are food-related (recipes) and DIY projects. Don’t be fooled, though, into thinking Pinterest can’t be relevant to you or your music. There is a vast array of content. Yes, you can find step-by-step instructions to frosting the perfect cupcake. It’s right there next to tips on turning wood pallets into coffee tables, makeup tutorials, and the fall line for Marc Jacobs, which in turn are mixed in with humorous memes, pretty pictures of handwritten song lyrics, celebrity snapshots, and photographs of classic cars.

Regardless of what they’re looking for, a large portion of Pinterest users choose the site as their go-to search engine. Which makes it a little less surprising that close to 90% of “Pinners” have purchased something that they pinned.

Pinterest for Musicians

For the musician, Pinterest has two main benefits:

Connection

What makes someone really truly love a song? Good melodies help. An interesting phrase can catch someone’s attention. But, chances are, someone loves a song because that song makes them feel understood. Listeners feel like they share an experience or emotion with the artist.

If used correctly, Pinterest can be as helpful in building connections with your fans as your best songs are.

Pinterest is a great way for your fans to get to know you and vice versa. Your customized, topical boards let your fans have a sneak peak into your life. Common interests and tastes may turn a casual listener into a real fan who is ready to support someone they feel close to. Chances are, if they already like the music that you make, they will have some other similar tastes that can be a jumping off point for a strong connection between you and your existing fans.

You can also see the things that your fans like. If a particular style is consistently repinned by your fans, you might think about adding a product with a similar style to your merch table. Tailoring your products to the tastes of the people who will potentially buy those products can mean more merch sold and more money in your pocket.

Pinterest is also a great way to reach new people who might enjoy your music. If you have thoughtful content on the site that interests your followers and prompts them to share it, their networks will see it. If the new viewers are interested and look into the pin (i.e., follow it back to the source), they might discover someone new to follow (you!) and something new to like (your music!).

Conversion

Pinterest is an aspirational website. Its users pin content that reflects something they hope to be, or do, or buy.

Pinterest is also inherently viral. The vast majority of content on Pinterest is “re-pinned,” meaning that people are sharing existing content rather than generating original content. Because of this, pinned content stays around for much longer than a Facebook post or a tweet, and something that you uploaded months ago still has the potential of being repinned.

Lastly, Pinterest is effective at sales conversions. Pinterest beats out other social media platforms in terms of links leading to online purchases. It also has more users click through to the source site than any other social media platform.

What does this mean for bands using Pinterest? A few things:

  • Your content should resonate with fans, genuinely hitting on something they hope to be, do, or buy.
  • Sharing existing content isn’t bad, but uploading original content is better. With original content, you can link to content on your website, driving traffic back there. You can’t really do that with someone else’s images, video, or audio. Additionally, original content is something that your followers haven’t likely seen before… which means they haven’t already pinned it and can do exactly that.
  • Your profile should link to your website. That way, anyone curious about who exactly is pinning this amazing content has a way to find out more.

Keep the above in mind with pinning, and you will likely see your website’s traffic and your sales increase.

As With All Marketing

As with all forms of marketing, the first step is to know your audience. Pinterest isn’t for everyone. If your audience is mostly 55-year-old males, Pinterest probably isn’t the best social media platform to use to market yourself. However, if your target audience is 20 or 30-somethings or largely female, it may well be worth the time it takes for you to establish and run an account.

In the end, you have to be smart about the tools that you use to market yourself and make sure that the time you spend on any marketing endeavor is worth your efforts.

Want to learn more about how to use Pinterest as an effective tool to market your music? Check back later this week for practical tips to build an engaging, effective profile.




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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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