How To Market Music Online… And What Happens If You Don’t

how to market music onlineEver wondered why some super talented musicians don’t get the fanbase and recognition you feel they deserve, while other not as talented musicians get a lot more exposure and seem to be “everywhere”? While there could be a number of different reasons for this, one of the most common is that successful musician’s ability to handle the business side of the music industry. More specifically, they probably know how to market themselves well.

Music marketing is that key piece to the puzzle many musicians simply never fit into place.

This is why so many talented Independent musicians don’t “make it” and why they struggle to make sales, get gigs, and generally move their music career forward to the next level.

The good news, however, is if you’re willing to put in the work, it’s possible to learn how to market your music. There are plenty of guides which show you how to do that on this site.  You can also tune into my Podcast to hear some great information on music business and marketing from me and my guests, successful female indie musicians and Industry experts.

Before you learn specific tactics for how to mark music online, it’s important you get a good idea of what music marketing is and isn’t. There are a lot of common misconceptions about this among musicians. I hope these 7 truths get you on the right path to the successful promotion of your music.

1. Marketing Your Music Is Necessary, But Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

As someone who speaks to musicians on a daily basis, I know that many have the feeling that marketing their music is difficult, overwhelming, and out of their comfort zone. This is an understandable fear. Most artists get into the music industry for the love of the music, and don’t think they’ll ever have to learn how to market in order to get their music heard.

That said, if you do want to get your music heard, marketing is a necessary part of your business model. The good news though, is promoting your music doesn’t have to be hard. Pretty much all of it can be learned, and it doesn’t require a degree or highly specialized skills to put into place a solid promotion plan for your music career. As long as you’re willing to learn and put the work into it on a consistent basis, after a while marketing your music should become second nature to you. Who knows, you may even start finding it fun. :)

2. Music Marketing Is All About Raising Awareness

In the early stages of their careers, many musicians feel that if they make their music good enough, they will get noticed. They assume that all they have to do is record a good album, make it available to people in stores (or somewhere online) and their music will start making sales and getting downloads.

While I can see why people would think this, it’s far from the truth! Anyone who’s tried this tactic before will know that this isn’t the case. All that happens is you make zero or very few sales.

Being talented and letting people know about your talent are two very different things. On top of making music that people actually want to listen to, you need to get them to give you a listen in the first place. After all, how will people know you’re talented if they don’t give you that initial chance?

New acts are coming out all the time fighting for people’s attention, to the extreme that even if you tell people online you make music and give them a free copy of your new album, most people won’t even download it. It’s because of this that you need to convince people your music is worth trying out. This is what music marketing is!

By marketing your music you’re doing two things:

  1. You’re showing people that your music exists, and
  2. You’re convincing people to give it a try.

If these two things don’t happen, don’t expect your next release to garner many sales.  It may be depressing, but unfortunately it is true in our world of music “overwhelm”.

3. Marketing Is Often Most Effective When It’s A Two-Way Process

While some of the things you do to market your music will only involve one way interaction (you relaying a message to fans and potential fans), things will really start taking off for you when you make this interaction with fans two-way. By this, I mean you don’t always want to be relaying messages to them, like using a megaphone, and not responding to them when they react. When you update your social sites for example, as you get more followers, chances are people will often reply to something you’ve said. They want to continue the conversation you started.

What I often see however, are fans commenting on musician’s social media walls with no response from the musicians. Even if they’re asked a reasonable question or given positive feedback. While the affect of this won’t be as big if you’re always gaining new fans and have a very big fanbase, when you’re still in the growing stage, replying to the majority of your fans will help you grow a lot quicker and encourage them to “share” your music with friends because they will feel like they “know” you.

By getting them involved in your music career, you’re creating more loyal fans who will stick around for a lot longer. When you speak to them, you make them feel like they’re part of your journey. Because of this, they’re more likely to support and share what you do.

If you didn’t reply to them however, it will be more likely that they will become frustrated trying to talk to you, and you continually ignoring them. If then another musicians was giving them more attention, it’s very likely they’ll continue following and supporting that artist instead.  It’s kind of like “courtship”.

While marketing doesn’t always have to be two-way, if you don’t implement a two-way dialog somewhere in your music career, you’re going to find it a lot more difficult to build up a fanbase than those musicians who do.

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4. The Marketing Of Your Music Is An On Going Requirement

This is a big one. As well as being aware that it’s important to market your music, it’s also important to realize the amount of time and effort that goes into this process. Most people initially think that the marketing process should start when you’re about to release your next album or single, and should end before you start working on your next project. This isn’t strictly true.

The marketing of your music should begin as soon as you start performing, recording or writing music. Start priming the pump early. Take new fans on your journey while you evolve. While the degree of marketing you undertake at the beginning will depend on what exactly you have to promote and what else you have on your plate, marketing should be an ongoing process for as long as you’re trying to become a more successful musician.

How much you should market your music also depends on what your short-term and long-term goals are in your music career (among many other things).

5. Getting Others Involved Will Make Your Marketing Efforts A Lot Easier (And More Fun)

While music marketing isn’t that difficult, once you know how to do it, it still requires a lot of time and energy to do it to the extent needed to make consistent money from your music. Often, doing all the marketing needed alone can lead to much slower progress, frustration, and possibly burnout.

The solution? Getting others involved with the promotion process. Learn to delegate!

This can be in the form of getting your fans to help you out (creating a “street team”), hiring a marketing team or knowledgeable individual, or eventually letting a record label or manager handle that side of things for you (although it’s still important you learn how to promote your music too so you know if the PR firm, label or agent is taking things in the right direction for you).

Like mom always said, more hands make for lighter work.  It’s not a good idea to do everything by yourself once you know you have something people can get excited about.  This will free you up to do more of what you became a musical artist to do, create music. So get others involved once your career is on the rise and you know what direction you should be heading in.

That said…

6. Initially, No One Will Help You!

That’s right. When you’re a new independent musician, you won’t get much outside help. Ok, so you might get some help from a friend who likes your music, but other than that, don’t rely on record labels or fans to help you promote your music. Why’s that? Simply because record labels don’t generally work with unproven musicians, and you won’t yet have a fan base at this stage.

And don’t wait around for a record label to ride in on a steed and rescue from your marketing challenges.  Don’t expect that you’ll get discovered and then you won’t have to do any of the work it takes to build an online presence. That will NOT happen. I’ve seen too many artists fall into this trap. Even if you do land a record deal, they will not be invested in your online presence like you will. After all, it’s your reputation on the line. Make sureyou take care of thsi yourself or watch over others’ shoulders to make sure it’s done right.

In order to move things forward for yourself, you’ll need to learn to market your music, engage fans, and advance your career all by yourself. Once you’ve done this and have something to show for your efforts (gigs under your belt, online and terrestrial radio airplay, magazine articles, reviews, awards, etc), then it’ll become a lot easier to get people to help you push your music further. It really is a snowball effect.

7. If You Only Promote Your Music Online You’re Losing Out

Lastly, don’t only promote your music online! I know the internet has made it easy to sit and promote your music from the comfort of your own home. But if you don’t get outside and “pound the pavement”, you’re missing out on a host of other worthwhile opportunities!

Gigging is one of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t stick solely to online music marketing methods. By gigging, you get to connect face to face with your audience, make instant money by selling merchandise and physical CDs (a lot of concert attendees still buy them), and make money from royalties.  Read my blog post about the 5 income streams you can access while gigging.

Another thing you’ll want to do offline is book gigs. Email is often not the best way to book gigs. When dealing with companies and venues, often a phone call or going to see them in person can speed things up considerably and build rapport which will increase your chances of securing the booking.

From Mindset To Action

These 7 truths about how to market music online and offline should be the guide for your marketing mindset. Now you need to do your homework and learn specific music marketing strategies.

If you want to learn more about music marketing and how to effectively start getting your music to the ears of potential fans, I suggest you subscribe to my Podcast.