Category: Music Marketing

Music Promoters: Use One or Do It Yourself?

Music Promoters: Use One or Do It Yourself?

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

When it comes to the question of how to promote your gig or music, there is a pretty rigidly, almost exclusive split between those who swear by using promoters and those who prefer to DIY. Where do you fall on the issue?

What Do Promoters Do?

In short, music promoters build the hype around gigs and events. They either contract with the venues (promoting their events), or they work independently.

Using a Promoter

Odds are good that you want more people to come to your shows, and you want more money from your gigs. Good promoters can help with those goals. They use their existing and extensive industry contacts to draw crowds to your band’s appearances; bigger crowds mean bigger payouts. Music promoters can also get you on the radar of the right people. If a promoter worked with you before, they might recommend you to other club owners looking to fill their schedules. Having someone outside the band promote the gigs leaves you free to focus on the music. What could be bad about that?

Well, you do have to pay the promoter. So, that’s a bit less money for you.

DIY Music Promotions

Depending on the venue, you might have to use their promoter. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say you don’t have to and don’t want to. Whether you’re blessed with a knack for marketing and promotions or are wrapped up in the magical fairytale about the exhausted, busking musician who gets his big break on the very last leg of a very exhausting tour (isn’t that a nice thought?), you’ve decided that you can handle your own promotions. That’s fine. Really, it is.

But, if you want results, you’ll have to work hard. Make your own connections; get to know those in your local music scene on a first name (both ways) basis. Go to the bars and venues where you want to play; meet the managers, owners, and bartenders. Let them know you’re serious about your band, and leave a press kit or demo with them. Build friendships and alliances with other bands, so when they see an open slot at their gigs they call you first. When you have a gig, tell everyone. Post it on your website and your social media accounts, put up posters around town, call your friends and their friends. Be aware that the time you invest in promoting might impact your music or your personal life.

Promoter or not, at the end of the day, you need to be your biggest mouthpiece. Choosing to go without a promoter just makes it even more important.

Have you worked with promoters before? Were they chosen by the venue, or by the event, or by you? Did you also promote the gig? How did the experience go for you?

See also: 4 Cost-Free Ways to Promote Your Music




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Music and Social Media: LinkedIn

Music and Social Media: LinkedIn

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn is not aimed at helping fans find you or you communicate with the masses. Instead, its purpose is to facilitate networking within industries. On a personal account, this means adding business connections instead of friends and family. For your band, it means focusing on your peers and others in the music industry, not your fans. Here are a few tips for maximizing what LinkedIn has to offer:

Connect With The Right People  

Again, LinkedIn is not like other social sites. Focus on the quality (not quantity) of your connections; connect with those that can actually benefit you, either by example, advice, or working together. Music managers, media personnel, marketers, and other musicians are contacts that will help you advance your career. 

Be Professional  

It’s accepted (if not expected) that you have fun with your band’s Instagram or MySpace page; however, your LinkedIn profile should be polished and professional. Keep your page free of clutter and ill-conceived ramblings; focus on making the best impression possible. Make sure any links you share will send users to relevant, attractive, information-packed sites.  

Optimize Your Page For Searches  

Aside from direct connections, keywords are the best way to generate new traffic to your profile. Think of words that promoters and record labels are likely to search for; this includes your band’s genre, location, and your music’s subject matter.  

Use Your Resources  

You are not alone. Hundreds of bands and promoters use LinkedIn every day, discussing various aspects of the industry. If you have questions, use your connections as resources. Start by joining groups related to your band or interest (Independent Artists and Musicians, or Music Promoters of America). If you have something to contribute, comment on existing discussions; or, if you don’t see an existing thread with your topic, start a new discussion.  

DON’T Spam! 

We’ve said it before, but it’s even more important on LinkedIn. Spamming on other sites might cost you a few fans; on LinkedIn, spamming equals banning. Keep comments and updates professional and relevant, and save the spam for the grocery store.

Having a lot of fans is an important part of any band’s success, but it’s certainly not the only part. If you want to take your band to the next level—a professional level—then you need to treat it like the business that it is. Use LinkedIn to connect your band to right resources to make that happen.

Is your band on LinkedIn? How have you used it to help advance your music career?

See also: Music and Social Media: Promoting Your Act, Music and Social Media: Facebook, Music and Social Media: Twitter, Music and Social Media: MySpace, Music and Social Media: YouTube, Music and Social Media: Google+, Music and Social Media: Instagram.




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Can Affiliate Marketing Help Musicians Make More Money?

Can Affiliate Marketing Help Musicians Make More Money

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Musicians are creative people. To be successful, though, they need to learn how to apply that creativity to the business side of their music. Blogs, forums, and podcasts can be a wealth of information and inspiration for those not inclined to understanding royalties, copyright law, or marketing strategies.

One creative business strategy available to musicians is affiliate marketing. Below, we’ll explain how it works and whether or not it’s a good idea for you.

Where to Sell Your Music

Companies such as iTunes and Amazon are big businesses, and their business is to sell product (like music). As large companies, they have the ability to reach large audiences. These large audiences might not know who you are, might not know your products are available, might not trust your small website, and might not care to visit dozens of independent musicians’ various websites to buy music… but making your product available on the larger site could remove some of those hurdles. In fact, the large companies are counting on it.

Your business is selling your music. You could sell your music on your own website, but the large audiences of the big businesses make it awfully tempting to sell your music on their sites instead. To tempt you further, the big businesses might offer an affiliate marketing program.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

Here’s how it works: instead of selling the music directly on your own website, you can link from your site to your music for sale on the large companies’ sites. When your fans click the link and buy the product on the large companies’ websites, the companies track that incoming link and give you a percentage of the sale on top of the income you’re already making from it being your music. The more people you refer to them for sales, the more money you make on your music… or so the large companies argue.

While it sounds like a great concept, a closer look suggests otherwise. The traffic you’re sending to the large company was already on your site or profile; they could have bought from you directly. By selling through a third party, you won’t make as much off of each sale as if you sold the music yourself. If you’re able to sell your music yourself and already have the fans on your site where your profit margin is higher, wouldn’t you want to capitalize on that opportunity? We’re not saying you should ignore the third party options altogether, but we are saying you should not send your fans there. (Read this for more.)

If, for some strange reason, you aren’t able to sell music on your site and you absolutely have to use a third party store, affiliate marketing can help boost your income (albeit minimally).

Where Can I Find Out More?

Retailers like Amazon and iTunes offer affiliate programs with varying profits for the seller.

Making money as a musician is tough; but with the right tools and knowledge of how to use them to your advantage, there are a lot of things you can do to make a little bit of extra money. It may start out as pennies, but as Ben Franklin said, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” He may not have been in music marketing, but he was a smart guy, right?

Have you joined an affiliate marketing program? How did it work for you? Was it in addition to selling the music yourself, or did you only sell through the retailer?

See also: Finding Music Distributors, Make Money Selling  Your Music




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Branding Your Band: Marketing for Musicians

Branding Your Band: Marketing for Musicians

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In the business world, an essential component of successful marketing is establishing and maintaining a brand. The same holds true in the music world. Your act—whether it’s just you, a small band, or a gospel choir—needs its own consistent identity and story.

If you’re just starting out, figure out your branding ahead of the fame. If you have been around a while and need help refocusing your career, branding might be the solution for you. Either way, here are some branding elements to consider:

Image

How do you want your act to be seen, and who do you want to attract? Think of the various stereotypes of musicians or their fans: burnouts, thugs, ingenues, rockers, all out thrashers, country darlings, hipsters, and so on. Your answer to that question will determine how you market your band to the public.

Bio

Your band should have a story, and the best story to tell is the real one. If you fabricate a past, you run the risk of curious journalists or fans uncovering the truth; losing your credibility with either is never a good thing. So, stick to the truth. Bands need to decide how much weight should be placed on individual members’ bios versus the group’s bio, and all acts need to draw a line protecting their personal lives from the public eye.

Spotlight

This is a little easier for a solo artist. With bands, though, chances are some members will stand out while the rest don’t receive as much attention. Before this happens, determine as a group how you want to handle this situation. It’s okay if someone does take the lead, as long as it doesn’t foster resentment among the band members. If the band’s brand focuses on unity, though, remember to share the spotlight.

Design

Another element of branding is graphic design and artwork. Commercial brands are recognized for their logos and types of ads; surely you can identify the brand with the animated polar bears without seeing a logo or product. Bands can be recognizable, too. Any Pearl Jam fan will recognize the stick figure raising his fingers to the sky. Decide on your band’s logo; set a color scheme. What style of photography do you lean toward: journalistic snapshots from gigs, or posed in-studio shots? This doesn’t mean that the artwork for all five albums is identical, but they should all be recognizably yours. Also, put your brand where your band is: brand your website, your social media accounts, and your merchandise. Fans should know immediately that they’ve found you and your work, not another band with the same name.

It’s important for your band to establish and maintain a consistent public image. Do note the word “maintain”. As your band or act advances in its career, you will need to regularly reevaluate your brand. If you find that adjustments are needed, make them. If you’ve branded your band well, though, the adjustments along the way will be minor.

Have you done any branding work for your band? How has it helped your act? Have you had to make adjustments to it?

See also: Follow Your Muse: Music Industry Success




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Press Kits & Your Band

Press Kits and Your Band

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

As a band, music marketing and the right supplies are something you need to think about. If you meet someone at a bar, show, or around town, do you have an eye-catching, informative business card with you? If not, you just missed an opportunity. Having the right marketing materials can make or break you.

In the past, press kits have been an essential marketing material for musicians. However, in a changing music industry, you might wonder if they still necessary. The answer: absolutely!

The Role of Press Kits

Press kits were sent to record labels, music reviewers, clubs, and managers as a way of familiarizing the recipient with the band. They included a press release with current news about your band (new releases, tour, studio) as well as a band bio. A single, full album, or demo and band photo(s) are also often part of the package. Because a press kit may be your band’s first and only chance to make an impression, have a polished, professional, and interesting press kit ready to go.

Digital Press Kits

As technology has advanced, an electronic or digital press kit has emerged as a greener, more state-of-the-art alternative to the traditional physical version, containing the same or more content but in digital format. They allow the recipient to quickly click a few links, preview your music, read your bio, and make a decision. If you want to create an electronic press kit for your band, websites like SonicBids and ReverbNation can help. If creating your own, be sure to include links to your band’s music, website, and social media accounts and text with your band’s latest press release.

Physical vs. Digital

Some artist reps, media outlets, blogs, magazines, record companies, and booking agencies will only take a physical press kit, while others will only take a digital press kit. For now, your best bet as a band is to have both types ready and available.

Submitting Your Press Kit

There is a good chance that most places you would submit to have their submission guidelines available online. If you can’t find their submission policies online, give them a call or send a friendly email. The point is, be sure to follow their guidelines and send them exactly what they want in the format(s) they want. There is no faster way to earn a negative review or annoy someone you want to impress than to ignore their submission requirements.

Have you created a press kit for you band or act? Did you go with a physical press kit, an electronic press kit, or both? How do you use it the most?

See also: ReverbNation and Your Music: Streaming and More




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Music and Social Media: Instagram

Music and Social Media: Instagram

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Unlike more-generalized social media platforms, Instagram specializes in something: sharing photographs. In fact, that was all you could use the virtual photo album for until last year, when they began allowing short video clips. Regardless of its specialization, Instagram is a wonderful way to connect with your fans on a personal level.

To get the most out of Instagram for your band, here are a few tips:

Get creative

With its various photo filters and many challenge groups, Instagram was the first major social media platform to encourage users to play with their photographs. Feel free to explore their filters (or use one of hundreds of photo-editing apps) and participate in challenges; get creative with your shots, trying new angles or styles. You can even share a short video clip of your most recent gig or slideshow of images from a trip or event. Bonus: the video or slideshow should feature your band’s music.

Act Naturally 

Save your staged photos for album cover art. Instead, post photos your fans can relate to, photos of you and your bandmates doing ordinary things. Whether it’s a snapshot of a massive burrito from an all night diner while on the road or a behind-the-scenes look at band practice, your fans will love you a whole lot more if you can show them just how “normal” you really are.

Add Captions  

They say that “a picture speaks a thousand words”, but a caption can summarize it beautifully. Make sure to add captions to your photos to help your fans know what they are seeing. 

Use hashtags  

Hashtags are key to helping random users discover your account. Just add the hashtags to the caption of your photo using the number sign (#) and a searchable keyword description of the image without spaces (#houseparty, #livemusic, or #thekickstour2014, for some example). Do follow Instagram etiquette, though; make sure your hashtags are relevant to your picture.

Get help 

Unless you’ve got your own personal photographer, chances are you won’t have time to be shooting all of your photos by yourselves. Ask your fans to take pictures of your band at gigs or take pictures of themselves hanging out, listening to, or imitating your band. Have them upload their photos on their own Instagram accounts and tag you to get more traffic your way. If their pic is phenomenal, you might consider reposting it; be sure to give them credit, though. Also, be sure to tag other users (bands you’re performing with, venues you’re at, or fans you’ve met) if they’re in your pictures.

Sync your accounts

With Instagram, posting photos directly to your other social media platforms is easy. As a word of caution: be sure to check your default settings and the active account (if you have a personal account and a band account) prior to posting to keep from sending a picture to the wrong crowd.

In the end, Instagram delivers what your fans want. Sure, they like your music, but they want to feel like they know you. Why not hand them a photo album to thumb through?

Have you used Instagram? Was it a personal account or one for your band? Did it affect the size or quality of your fan base?

See also: Music and Social Media: Promoting Your Act, Music and Social Media: Facebook, Music and Social Media: Twitter, Music and Social Media: MySpace, Music and Social Media: YouTube, Music and Social Media: Google+, and Music and Social Media: LinkedIn.




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Music and Social Media: Google+

Music and Social Media: Google+

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Google+ has been designed to follow the framework of many other social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace, but it can do so much more. Like other sites, you can create your own profile page, post comments and promotions in news feed, and add contacts. However, Google+ allows you to sort those contacts into certain groups (called circles) and then control the content that each group sees.

With the right tools, you can create a Google+ band page that will get you noticed by the right people. Follow these tips to get the most out of Google+.

Use Your Circles Wisely

On Google+, you can customize your list of connections into as many groupings as you’d like; for bands, you’ll probably want to group contacts into circles like venues, fans, other bands, and music industry connections.

Hang Out With Your Audience

Google+ doesn’t limit you to simply posting thoughts or links to videos and articles. Instead, it works to break down the challenges presented by physical proximity. Using its Hangout feature, your band can perform for or interact with fans anywhere, collaborate with other bands around the world, or meet with industry professionals across the country. To fully explore this feature, visit the Hangout tab in the top right corner of your Google+ account window.

Get The Word Out

To reap the full benefits of Hangouts, don’t count on your circles being online when you happen to need them. Promote the Hangout ahead of time, both to your Google+ contacts and to fans and contacts from other social media platforms.

Offer Something Besides Self-Promotion

If you’re a musician, your fans assume that you’re creative and have something to say. Why not write some of those brilliant thoughts down and share them with fans? Providing regular, insightful glimpses into your band member’s lives, thoughts, and feelings can be a sure way to keep fans coming back. Besides, if all you ever share is shameless self-promoting content, your fans will tire of you.

Make a Guest Appearance

Use Google+ for networking and increasing your fan base. Find other bands you respect and trade guest posts on each others’ pages. This tit-for-tat is a great way to help new fans find you.

Google+ may be the new kid on the block, but it has the potential to become one of the most popular, too. If you use these ideas to promote your Google+ band page, you’ll see why.

See also: Music and Social Media: Promoting Your Act, Music and Social Media: Facebook, Music and Social Media: Twitter, Music and Social Media: MySpace, Music and Social Media: YouTube, Music and Social Media: Instagram, and Music and Social Media: LinkedIn.




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Music and Social Media: YouTube

Music and Social Media: YouTube

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Many artists count on gigs to grow their fan base; while gigging is important, it has its limits. For example, when you’re based out of Kansas with a broken-down van, it can be hard to get gigs much farther afield than your local pub. And, while playing at the same place every Friday night might have earned you a small dedicated group of fans, it’s not the best way to expand your fan base. If that’s your situation, how do you branch out?

This is where platforms like YouTube come in. YouTube allows users to create profiles, upload and share videos, establish channels, search other users’ videos, and subscribe to others’ channels. It’s an incredibly popular site, with over four billion views on YouTube each day. YouTube also happens to be one of the most popular search engines for music on the internet today, second only to Google. 

You could think of YouTube as the ultimate gig, unencumbered by time of day or geographic location or venue capacity. This means that, without fixing up your van, you aren’t limited to small-town Kansas or the local pub. It also means that you can make music on your schedule, and fans can watch it on theirs. Unlike other social platforms, your fans aren’t limited to reading about your gig or catching a few pictures online; instead, they can watch your performance, making it almost as if they were there themselves.

If you’re ready to sign up, great! Of course, like any other social media site, there are a few tricks to getting the most out of your YouTube channel. Here are some tips to get you started:  

Customize Your Channel

Like MySpace, YouTube allows you to customize your channel to match your band’s personality and brand. Name your channel after your band, then add your own banners, color schemes, and photos. You can also make a playlist of your band’s best videos to feature on your page. 

Improve Your Odds

Remember: YouTube is a search engine, not just a social network. This is important to keep in mind when creating your profile and channels and uploading your video. One way to work with this is Search Engine Optimization, a marketing tactic that encourages search engines to find you. Use this to your advantage, stressing your band name, genres, song titles, and locations. Add searchable tags to the tag box and geo-target using the “targeting” section of your account page.

Check Your Statistics

YouTube is a wealth of information for your band. Not only can you see the number of views, likes, dislikes, comments, and shares on your videos, but you can see the demographics of your audience and other things they like. This information lets you cater to them more accurately (if you wish to do so).

Share Videos

Use YouTube as a base for your videos. Link back to your videos and your band’s YouTube page from your website or on other social media platforms to help fans find and share your music.

Monetize Your Videos

As any struggling artist knows, making music and paying bills don’t always go together. But with YouTube’s Partner Program, you can earn extra cash just by letting them post ads on your video pages. Though you can’t specifically choose the advertisements that will appear on your band page, you can influence the type of ads used by using effective tagging and descriptive terms.

YouTube provides musicians an incredible opportunity to expand their reach and connect with fans, and it provides more data on those fans than most social networks. like There really is no reason not to create a band page on YouTube. Better still, tie it in with your other social media profiles to maximize its usefulness.

Do you share your music videos on YouTube? Have you found any drawbacks to using the site, or has it only helped increase your fan base? What’s your top-viewed video, and why is that particular video so popular?

See also: Music and Social Media: Promoting Your Act, Music and Social Media: Facebook, Music and Social Media: Twitter, Music and Social Media: MySpace, Music and Social Media: Instagram, Music and Social Media: Google+, and Music and Social Media: LinkedIn.




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Music & Social Media: MySpace

Music and Social Media: MySpace

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Although it might be overlooked by many, MySpace is a wonderful social media platform for creating a compelling band page and promoting your music. It’s also a vast improvement over the MySpace from the earliest 2000s. If you haven’t considered it for your band, you might want to think again.

Of course, as with other social media platforms, you have to use MySpace correctly to benefit from its full potential. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Customize Your MySpace Page

Unlike most social media sites, MySpace allows extensive creative freedom when setting up your profile. Take advantage of this. Upload professional band photos and your album artwork, share songs and videos, and select a theme that is consistent with your band’s brand and personality. If you create a compelling and personalized MySpace profile, your page will be all the more attractive and thus gain a stronger following.

Invite People to View Your Page

Because visitors to MySpace don’t have to create profiles to view content, you can direct existing fans from sites with more-limited options and showcase what you’ve got. Also, reach out to those visiting MySpace in hopes of discovering new music. Provide the content they want, and make sure it is easy to find.

Less Is More

Sure, you could post 50 videos and 5,000 photos of your band, but doing so will slow your page down significantly, and the clutter can be confusing for fans. Reduce the headache for fans and viewers by maintaining a curated selection of your favorite photos and videos, and archive the rest elsewhere. Think of it like a portfolio, not like a filing cabinet: highlight only your best and most recent work.

Post Tour Dates

MySpace allows bands to easily post a list of upcoming tour dates (instead of creating separate events for each date). This quick access to all upcoming shows allows fans to find exactly the information they need.

Don’t Forget To Network

MySpace might not be as useful for building a fan base as other social media sites, but it is popular among those in the music industry. Don’t neglect the fan base-building aspect of MySpace, but do spend time connecting with other bands, producers, labels, and venues. If you can impress them with your page, the effort of creating and maintaining a profile was well worth it.

You’ve poured your heart and soul into creating the best band you can muster, and you’ve invested hours into practices and heart-felt lyrics. Think of MySpace for bands as an extension of this dedication. Polish your page to make it a glamorous grab-bag for musical promotion and band recognition.

Have you used MySpace before? Was it long ago or more recently? Does your band have a profile on the site? How do you use it?

See also: Music and Social Media: Promoting Your Act, Music and Social Media: Facebook, Music and Social Media: Twitter, Music and Social Media: YouTube, Music and Social Media: Instagram, Music and Social Media: Google+, and Music and Social Media: LinkedIn.




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More Ways to Market Your Music

More Ways To Market Your Music

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

If an amazing band makes a timeless song in the middle of a forest and no one’s there to hear it, did it ever happen at all? To prevent your music from staying in the forest, marketing your music should be a top priority. Here are some ideas you might not have tried yet:

Local Air Time

Hearing your songs on the radio might be your dream, and it might be easier to achieve than you thought. Find stations near you that play local talent. College or public radio is a great place to start, but don’t be afraid of reaching out to the programming director of a Top 40 AOR station. Music marketing is as much about the songs being played as the venue they were discovered on. Commercial radio revenues are down; a shrewd programming director might take a chance on an earnest local act in the hopes that their station discovers the next big thing. 

Music Blogs

The blog world is a hotspot for discovering and sharing bands. Do some research to find bloggers that either review music or are specifically interested in your type of music (hint: if they like your muse, they might like you, too). Then, build a relationship with these bloggers; subscribe to their posts, read their work thoughtfully, share your opinions, and share their work with others in your sphere. So that they don’t feel misled down the road, let them know up front that you are a musician. Once a relationship is established, reach out and send them a strong sample of your own work for them to review.

Get Creative

We’re not talking Super Bowl commercials here. You can do some clever, low-cost advertising to spread your sound like wildfire. For example, try turning your lead single into a free ringtone that fans can download from your website. Every time their phone rings, people around them hear your music. Think about the number of new fans you could reach this way. Playing live gigs at charity events is another smart music marketing idea as it opens up your sound to people who share an ideology.

Getting people talking about your art may be one of the quintessential quandaries of the artistic community. For the best success, stay on top of marketing trends and stay in touch with your fans.

What are your go-to methods for marketing your music? Have you tried any of the above methods, or something outside the normal poster/flier/social media options?




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