Musicians are an exercise in contradictions: thick skinned and soft hearted.
For most bands, creative thinking flows as naturally as the biological imperative to breathe. But developing a sound business strategy to promote their music leaves many feeling creatively hamstrung.
This is because the intense competition for an audience’s attention makes it difficult for musicians to stand out from the digital crowd and get their music heard.
To effectively promote your music, therefore, you need to galvanize your creative vision with a defined business strategy.
The Digital Sprint
To effectively promote your record you need to have physical distribution, digital distribution – or both.
How to Get Ahead
A crippling error committed by musicians looking to release an independent album is to funnel all their money into producing the record.
This leaves no budget for promoting it.
To take the running with your release it is important to carefully plan out your strategy early and to stick with it.
1. Set a budget
One of the worst mistakes made by independent musicians is to get their record on iTunes through online distribution services, but be left with insufficient energy and resources to promote it.
This handicaps your ability to effectively reach potential listeners as well as existing fans.
If you spend $5,000 on your EP make sure you have $5,000 to promote it.
2. Assemble the right team
Surrounding yourself with the right players is essential to the success of your independent release and your ability to reach your musical goals.
Look at the track record of each prospective team member.
Then make an objective assessment of whether they fit with your genre and what your music stands for.
The team you assemble should have proven their ability to go the distance in your world.
3. Have a game plan
Plan out your strategy early and stick with it.
Ensure everyone who is a part of that plan is talking to one another.
Most importantly, make sure that there is someone overseeing the running of the show.
From the starting blocks
The release of your album won’t automatically trigger a sudden streak in record sales, 100,000 new fans or high rotation on commercial radio.
Some practical exercises you can use to jump-start your digital promotion:
- Kick off an internet radio campaign
Non-traditional online independent radio services such Pandora and Indie Music Bus make winning regular rotation a lot easier. This is because many of these services are geared towards sourcing new and independent music.
Do some research and learn which stations play your style of music.
Locating niche stations increases your chances of developing meaningful and long-lasting relationships with station managers and DJs, receiving higher rotation and reaching fans that will enjoy your music.
From here it’s just a matter of following their rules and submission guidelines.
- Join online communities
Submit your music to free music social networking sites.
Last.fm’s Artist Royalty Program accrues an amount to you each time one of your tracks is played on Last.fm radio:
> 10% of the share of Last.fm’s Net Revenue is paid to you for the free radio service.
> Approximately 20% of the Share of Last.fm’s Net Revenue from the subscription radio service for each complete playback of your music.
Other upcoming music social networking sites such as mDNA promise to be one of the quickest, easiest and most exciting direct-to-fan platforms.
mDNA provides the ability for fans to find and interact with you and other users listening to your tracks in real time ensuring that your music connects directly with, and is heard by, the right listeners.
The home stretch
Don’t impair your music’s ability to reach real fans by channeling all your creative energy into only one side of the digital relay.
Instead, ensure your vision is realised by developing a well-structured plan that provides your music with the best opportunity to reach and connect with fans.
If you can pull this off you can guarantee your music will be heard above the rest.
Have any other handy hints to get your music out there? Why not email or catch us in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!
About the author: Sarah Lynch is content manager and all round creative spark at Jaden Social, a Digital music marketing agency based in Sydney. To hear more social media and marketing musings from Sarah, you can catch her for weekly instalments on the Jaden Social blog or follow her on Twitter.