A few weeks ago, I sent out an email to my email subscriber list and asked them, “Do you guys have any questions?”
The questions fell into three main camps: songwriting, recording, and marketing.
The general question with marketing was:
“I don’t even know where to start? I know I need to promote my music. I know I need to market, but I have no clue on how to do that.”
If that’s you, first, let me say I know exactly how you feel.
In fact, I felt the same way when I was 20 and a failing singer/songwriter. I felt that same way again when I started producing records full-time.
I had no idea how to get the message out there that I was producing and that I wanted to work with a certain type of artist.
Honestly, it seemed like complete magic if someone asked me to produce their record.
And I know gaining fans can feel like that as well.
But luckily for you, I’ve found that the basics of marketing are easy to learn.
I’m going to teach you a simple eight-step marketing framework that will show you what you need to do.
I NOT going to teach you how to do each step but if you get one idea from this, it’ll be worth your reading time.
Let’s first start by defining what marketing is:
Marketing is what you do to pre-sell. It’s the thing you do to get people in front of you so that you can sell them something.
Now, I know ‘marketing’ and ‘selling’ are dirty words, especially for artists. The fact is, if you don’t know how to market, no one’s ever going to hear your music.
Think of all the great visual artists that you learned about in school. Go ahead, name all the famous artists you know…
The reason you’ve heard of them is that they were great marketers. Trust me there were tons of other great artists in history. You just never heard of them because they sucked at marketing.
So, to be recognized as an artist in the world, you’ve got to do two things:
- Have the goods. You have to be great.
- Know how to market and market better than your competitors.
Before I dive into marketing…
Seriously, if your music isn’t good yet, don’t market yourself. All that’s going to do is speed up the rate at which people find out you’re not good.
If your music isn’t good yet, you need to make it good.
Of course, I’m biased but I would highly recommend finding a producer that you trust.
Let your producer be your sounding board. Let your producer push you to become a better songwriter and a better performer. Let your producer help you make records that you’re proud of.
Until you can say, “I’ve made this. I’m really proud of it. I love it but I just don’t know how to get it out into the world,” you’re not ready to market.
Head back to your practice room or your writing shed. Make your first great batch of songs, then you can market them.
Soapbox rant over.
Now, let’s dive into marketing. Like I mentioned before, there is an 8-step framework for marketing your music. In this post, I’m going to talk about the first three steps.
Step One: Choose a single target market.
This, to most people, sounds super simple and they say, “Yeah, I pretty much know who my fans are. I’m going to move onto the next step.”
Don’t move onto the next step!
You will waste money, and you will not get the results you’re looking for. You really have to dive into this. Spend a few weeks mulling it over.
Talk to your existing fans. Talk to your friends and family who have been to your shows. Ask them who they think your ideal fans are.
Dive into your fan’s demographics:
- Are they male?
- What kind of job do they have?
- Where do they live?
- How much money do they make?
- What hobbies do they have?
- What other music do they listen to?
- What books do they read?
You need to know every single thing about your target audience that you possibly can. Unless and until you know that, you do not move onto step two!
Okay, now that you’ve spent two weeks researching and deciding your single, target market…
…you’re ready for step two.
Step Two: Get your ideal fan to show that they’re interested in your music.
What does that mean?
Generally speaking, it means trading content for email addresses.
It’s just like fishing. You’ve decided who you’re fishing for in step one. Now put out a piece of content (bait) that your ideal fan would like and trade it for their contact info.
If you’re an email hater, I hear you, social media followers are great. And I’m not going to discourage you from gaining a large following there too. But hear me: always drive them to an email list!
Remember Myspace? There were plenty of people who had huge followings on Myspace. Then Myspace died and the people who had giant followings there were back to square one unless…
…they had captured their emails.
You see, email isn’t going anywhere. It may be old school. I get it. People are communicating on other platforms now.
But think about it: do you think Facebook is going to be around in ten years? Maybe not.
If you build up a huge Instagram following, what happens if Instagram falls out of fashion? Or, what if there’s an algorithm change that means you can’t reach your followers without paying?
Moral of the story: get potential fans onto your email list. Email is virtually free and it’s not going anywhere.
Okay, onward to step three.
Step three is: get them to know, like, and trust you.
Think about last time you bought something.
You probably bought it from a person or a company that you trusted, right? You didn’t buy it from some bizarre website that you’d never heard of before.
Step three is about letting the potential fans on your list get to know you before they buy. You need to warm them up to ultimately support you and your music financially.
A great way to do that is with a weekly email newsletter or a weekly video you send out over email. It could be anything.
What matters is that you’re engaging with potential fans on a regular basis. Once, you’ve done that it’s time to sift and sort to find the “true fans.”
We’ll get into that next week.
To sum up what you’ve learned today, here are the first three steps of your marketing plan:
- Define a single target market
- Get people to say, “Yeah, I’m interested in what you do,” and capture their contact info.
- Let them get to know you.