A Quick-Start Guide to Creating a Musician’s Marketing Plan
Let’s be honest. Creatives are not known primarily for their marketing skills. In fact, in the marketing community, creative entrepreneurs notoriously struggle with this aspect of supporting their artistic endeavors. I have struggled with this constantly, since, of course, there’s always that little voice in the back of my head going, “sell out!” every time I try to market myself. Plus I just want to spend my time making art, not trying to get people to buy it. Still, we have to do what we have to do, especially in this day and age when artists have so much agency and responsibility for marketing themselves. Gone are the days when we just sent our tapes into the record companies and let them handle the rest. These days you’ve got to be active on social media, and if you don’t have a following, it’s hard to get the attention of anyone, whether it’s an audience or a big wig ready to sign you (not that you even need to get signed, but that’s a whole other topic). Unfortunately, these days artists have to think of themselves as brands. It gives me icky feelings, but it’s true. Though there are definitely ways to cope with the ickyness of selling yourself. My two favorites are: be yourself and give back. Some people thrive on mystery etc. and that definitely draws fans, but I tend to go for the vulnerable, open, and real approach. And I love to make sure I’m offering something of value when I’m sowing the seeds of my Instagram garden. All that is up to you, but what isn’t are these important steps:
Define your audience.
If you’re making music for everyone, then you’re making music for no-one. Some people make music for themselves and others make music for the masses, but whatever your strategy, make sure you know who’s listening to your music and where to find them. Where do they hang out online? What other bands do they listen to? What’s their general age range? What social media platforms do they use? How can you best communicate with them and inspire them to share your music with the world and engage with you online? Make sure you’re spending your time with and building trust with your audience so that when the time comes to promote your new single or your next tour you’re not shooting blindly into the abyss.
Analyze the market
The world of music is moving and growing extremely fast thanks to the trajectory of today’s technology. Make sure you’re keeping up with the times. Pay attention to what bands are trending and how they’re engaging their fans. Notice when new music technologies surface like websites for selling or collaborating or crowdfunding. Figure out the most cutting edge money-making strategies. Are most bands selling merch? Using Patreon? Selling concert tickets? Times are in flux and the future of music is constantly changing. Make sure you know what’s going on in the music marketplace. Sign up for newsletters of cutting edge online blogs and periodicals that will keep you in the know and stay active online and on social media.
Gooooooaaaaals. Ah, goals. The ever elusive and yet oh-so-necessary practical tool of the artist. It’s easy to let your marketing fall by the wayside when you’re busy jamming on your new guitar and trying to write the best song ever… but without marketing, that song is going nowhere at a snail’s pace. So… to keep yourelf on track (I see that typo, but I really like the idea of keeping your elf on track)... to keep yourself on track, set some marketing goals. Make a goal to gain 1000 new followers by the end of the month, or something even simpler, like to post a new photo every day and a new video every week. Don’t let your goals be nebulous. They need to be S.M.A.R.T.
Develop an action plan.
Once you’ve decided on your goals, figure out what you need to do to achieve them. If it’s something simple like posting a new photo every day, then set a schedule for yourself. If it’s something more ambitious (which I recommend), like gaining a certain number of followers by a deadline, then research the strategies necessary to accomplish it and break it down into bite-sized, easy, and actionable steps. Give yourself a timeline, and get going.
Each of these steps has many nuances and mindset is the most important (dream big!), but this quick-start guide will get you off the ground and give you a great headstart in your marketing journey.
Guest Post by Allie Mazon