Marketing for Musicians

In the current digital age, a musician often takes on many roles. Although writing and producing music is at the top of the task list, creating a marketing strategy is an important step to get your songs out there. With the sheer volume of new music being released regularly, determining whether your music will connect with an audience or not may depend on how it’s marketed. Your challenge as a musician is to put your often deeply personal and emotional songs out there for the world to consume in a measured, strategic way. If you’re marketing your current music independently, or you’re planning to release a new album soon, these strategies will help you get started.

1. Determine your fanbase

To create a marketing strategy that will reach the widest audience possible, you’ll first want to find out who your fans are. To do this, look for details such as where your audience is based, how old they are, and where they spend time online. Knowing who your audience is can help you build a marketing strategy that more accurately reaches them. Plus, if you’re targeting people who are interested in your music, your marketing efforts will go further than if you’re missing the mark and promoting to people who are tuned out. To figure out who these fans are, make use of the analytics available to you. This could be reports built into your musician website which monitor your site visits. If you’re active on streaming platforms, you have data waiting for you there, as well as on through your social media channels. Get to know your fans demographics, search terms, and interests to help understand your audience.

2. Keep both potential and current fans in mind

When you start marketing your music, you’ll want to first focus on your current fans. But you’ll also want to dream up ways that you can grow your reach. Simply distributing music online and hoping listeners find it probably won’t get you the results you’d like. Effective music marketing happens when you work in a way that maintains your identity as an artist. This means engaging with your current fans through email campaigns, your music website, playlists, or blogs. These are the fans who will not only support you, but will also share your music and help you reach more listeners. From there, work on building your fanbase by creating new fans with exciting, engaging content as well. Drive listeners to your website and offer them a freebie to join your mailing list. Then use that list to keep the connection going.

3. Develop a social media marketing strategy

Whether you’re trying to get the word out about a new release, or getting people to show up to your performances, social media is a tool you can use to narrow down who might like your music. From there you can reach out to those people directly. Use social media as a tool to drive fans back to your website, where they can explore your content and music in more depth - increasing the chances of converting them into true fans who will continue to engage with your music. When you create a plan to market your music, identify the platforms you’re comfortable with and use regularly. Then craft some meaningful social media content. This could include behind the scenes videos, themed posts, and non-music content to help develop your story. Once you’ve got your ideas nailed down, stagger your updates and encourage sharing. Play to your strengths: if you’re great at sharing impromptu content, keep that in mind. Another option to consider is working some paid social media ads into your strategy to better target and reach potential listeners.

4. Cultivate a community around your music

To ensure that you’ve got a fanbase that will remain interested in your music, take your fan engagement further. It’s easier than ever to reach fans directly, but first, decide which music marketing tools are the best fit for you. Then practice consistency, authenticity, and sustainability when it comes to fan engagement. This is essential for keeping your existing fans looped in and interested in what you’re doing. Be hands-on, and build relationships with your fans. Start with your mailing list. Engage on social media. Try selling merch online, or at work the table after your show to be sure you chat with the audience. Another level of engagement might include selling fan subscriptions as a way to continually create engaging content and keep in touch with your fans. Put some emphasis on a sense of community with your fans, and this will help you create a narrative where everyone is interested and engaged. In turn this community will rally around your upcoming shows, listen and share your music, and support you in your projects.

5. Send your music to blogs, playlists, and press outlets

If you’re promoting an album, getting your music out there in advance will help build momentum and reach as many listeners as possible. Part of your music marketing efforts can include pitching your music to press to get some coverage. Any mention of your music from outside sources can be helpful for your marketing efforts -  in addition to reaching more listeners, it can help with your band website’s SEO. Whether you’re looking to secure a place for a premiere, or release a single, create an electronic press kit that mirrors your intention. Then, research music blogs and Spotify playlists, create a spreadsheet, and reach out personally to those that are a good fit with an email that includes a link to your EPK. You might send dozens of emails before getting a positive reply, but keep at it. Momentum can start with even a couple of people becoming loyal advocates for your music before growing into something more substantial.

6. Create and monetize your own artist website

Band websites are an essential part of building a musical identity and reaching out to new fans. Social media can help with this, but it can also limit your reach as an artist. Make a music website that matches your brand as an artist, then drive fans from all of your social and streaming platforms there. Your website will not only be a more permanent, professional space to build that fan community, but you can generate revenue online for your music and merch through your website.

7. Pay for a PR/radio campaign

If you’re an artist who has a music marketing budget to invest, consider hiring a radio tracker or publicist to help you get your music heard. The amount of money you’ll spend will depend on the scale and scope of your intended campaign. Keep in mind that meaningful results may not happen until thousands of dollars are spent, and there’s no guarantee that your music will be reviewed or picked up by radio stations - so plan accordingly and spend wisely.  If you’re not able to pay for a radio campaign, you can put some extra time and effort into reaching out to stations to get your song on the radio. You can also invest some more energy into promoting your music online using a DIY approach.

Final Thoughts

The idea of independently marketing your music may sound exhausting, but it is an important way to not only build momentum, but to also help you narrow in on your true fans and build support. With each release, this will grow, helping you carve out a career that’s both sustainable and enjoyable. So go ahead and dip your toes into the world of music marketing by trying out some or all of these strategies! You have nothing to lose (and much to gain) by trying.

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