We are all aware of the power of the internet.
It offers access to a global audience and unprecedented marketing potential. We can target our audiences like never before, and reach them with the right message at the right time.
And yet, promotion remains a bit of an enigma. Some succeed, some don’t. Some indeed do reach their target audiences and make a return on their investment of time, money and energy, while others try and fail, try and fail, try and fail…
Is there a difference between the two, or is it just pure luck? Here are some thoughts on how to successfully promote your music on the internet.
Create A Strong Online Presence
Set up your website and social media profiles. Upload content to YouTube, on a weekly basis if possible, and don’t forget to set up your email list. Center your efforts around gaining as many email subscribers as you possibly can.
Also create a strong brand for your music. Make sure your branding is unified across all channels and use high quality graphics and photos. Feel free to niche down and polarize audiences too. Use statements that make it easy for people to identify and connect with you, or run the other way screaming.
Some people will become fans of your music regardless of whether or not they actually see themselves as part of the bigger “community”, however you choose to define that.
It isn’t all about the jeans you wear, the food you eat, the way you wear your hair, or really any external thing. But those things do make it easy for people to connect and align themselves with you, so use them to your advantage. Let people in on who you are.
I know I just summed up, in a few paragraphs, what I could have spent this entire post talking about. But once you have your online presence sorted out, maintaining it is relatively easy. So you can spend as much time as you need establishing your online presence, but as soon as it’s done, you should begin promoting your music in other ways.
Make Connections & Build Relationships
Online or off, one of the most valuable things you can do for your career is meet people and connect with them. Notice how I made no mention of “networking”, because we all tend to have negative connotations associated with that word.
Even now, you’re probably imagining someone that runs up to you, says “hi”, hands their business card to you, and quickly runs off to meet the next person. This hit-and-run approach to networking won’t do you or anyone else much good.
The same can be said for connecting with people online. Don’t blanket every contact you can find with press releases. Reach out, introduce yourself, say “hello”, compliment them, let them know why you’re reaching out, and then ask them for permission to send them more details about your proposal. That’s it.
On social media, don’t just tell people to buy your stuff and come to your shows. Engage them. Post funny videos. Ask questions. Share something from your day that made you think… maybe a little too deeply.On social media, don’t just tell people to buy your stuff and come to your shows. Engage them.Click To Tweet
There is nothing more powerful than a face-to-face connection. You can’t really create that online, but you can still interact and develop great relationships. Creating quality connections should be a top priority for any career-minded musician.
Keep Making Music
And so it is with musicians. You can sink a lot of time into promoting a release, but after a certain point it’s like beating a dead horse. It gets you out of your creative routine, has you questioning the value of your music, and even your own self-worth.
Before you know it, you’re wrapped up in a world of social media campaigns, blogging, press releases, video publishing schedules, and so on and so forth…
Unfortunately, a lot of people have a “so what?” attitude, and you’re not going to change that one iota by trying to persuade them. Instead, focus on putting out more great music. Then follow that up with another release. And then another. Now people know you’re serious, because you’ve put yourself out on the line.
Consistency keeps you grounded and working on what matters. Promotion can take away from time that could be spent making better songs. Don’t get me wrong – I think promotion is really important. But it isn’t a game-changer when you have no one to market to.
Every musical project that I’ve ever been a part of had some kind of promotion activity behind it. But any successes I’ve had along the way didn’t really have anything to do with the specific promotional strategy employed. It had more to do with the unique combination of members in the band, the resonance of a particular song, or the connections we created as a group.
View promotion as a means to build awareness for yourself, not as a tool to make you an overnight sensation. There are plenty of tactics out there, but it’s not about tactics. It’s about creating something people want.
Marketing is necessary, and it can be a lot of fun. There’s no reason not to apply creativity to your marketing, because that may be the very thing that attracts people to your music and creates resonance with them.
But don’t get out of balance. If you want to take things to the next level, enlist the help of professional marketers and publicists. If you can’t afford them, keep making and selling more music until you can!
Make your marketing a part of the creative cycle. Chances are good that you’re going to be repeating the same steps every single time you put out a new release. Create a procedure or checklist that you can follow, so you can create your campaign and quickly move onto writing more great music.