Promotion seems to be what every indie artist struggles with the most, but it’s also one of the most important aspects of any artist’s career. Even if you are paying for PR or some type of promotion, there are things that you can be doing that will put a strong push behind your campaign.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN PROMOTION:
A big part of your promo campaign will be spent on PREPARATION. There are a few things that you need to do before you even begin to promote that will really help give your promo a better chance at getting results. A lot of artists don’t plan and prepare, they just jump right on in without having the tools to get the job done. Here are a few things that really help give your promotion the push it needs in order to see that return of investment:
1. MAKE SURE YOUR PRODUCT IS GREAT! You are competing with a ton of others, including the major artists; which means that your music must be mixed and mastered. Think about it – potential fans (that aren’t in the music industry), are used to hearing music on the radio, at clubs, festivals, stores etc. – which means they are used to hearing top quality records, so you must deliver! Plus it gives your records a better chance at getting played by DJs. Also, not every record that you record should be released. It’s good to be able to test out your records by playing them to associates behind the scenes and getting as much honest feedback as possible BEFORE you decide to release them.
2. Find your NICHE and narrow down your TARGET AUDIENCE – Know your brand. What makes you special? What do you want to be known for? Who could you be compared to? Who does your music appeal to most? Then cover your grounds. Where do potential fans go to find new music? Where do they hang out? Think of all of your options – indie record stores, the mall, corner stores and small businesses in your neighborhood, restaurants, etc. Think outside the box. By answering all of these questions you will have a much better idea at who you are, which allows you to understand who you should be promoting to. It’s not about getting your music in front of just any audience, you have to get your music in front of an audience that would be interested.
3. MAKE SURE YOU’RE BRANDING IS ON POINT! This means, you must look the part! You should have an official website in place and updated with professional photos, bio, current shows, social media info, mailing list, and blog. You need this for a few reasons: for one it makes you look like the professional artist that you are. There are way too many “artists” out there with no website (only a Facebook page and/or Twitter or YouTube account) and it doesn’t make their brand look very good. Those that are successful all have official websites, so should you! Plus, you’re fans need a place to filter the traffic back to. You don’t want to get in XXL mag, the Source, Thisis50, and a bunch of other sites if you don’t have an official website. Your results will be mediocre at best.
4. Make sure that you have the materials to promote: This means promo graphics that appear on all of your social networks (Facebook covers, Twitter Header, you get the point). Your brand must be recognized across all platforms and whatever you’re promoting should stand out. This is called BRAND recognition. You also should have a video for your single (or at least a professional graphic for your single if you haven’t shot the video) that you can promote with the link to the song. I’ve always noticed that artists that promote videos get a better response out of promo than an artist without a video. Also, if you have online flyers and/or promo graphics, be sure to have them handy. If you’re going to run a contest, be sure you know exactly how it will be run. You must have all of these things organized and easily accessible so that you can promote properly.
5. Create GOALS | Map Out Your BUDGET. Do you want to reach a certain amount of views or downloads in a certain amount of time? Do you want to bring 50 fans to your next gig? Do you want to sell a certain amount of merchandise? The better idea you have at what you want to accomplish the better your plan will be. Also, how much will your promo materials cost? How much do you have to spend on a publicist and other promo services? Do some research and put together a budget sheet.
6. PRESS RELEASE – Whatever you’re promoting must have a press release with all the intriguing details to make people interested. You have to make it easy for press to write about you. If you hire someone like myself, I’ll handle this for you, however you should do some research on how to write your own press releases as well. Hiring a PR team to handle things for you can be a very helpful tool, however there are things that you need to be doing yourself to help the campaign grow.
ONCE YOU HAVE THE PRODUCT:
7. NETWORKING | Street Team | Blog Outreach – Some of the best promotion happens behind the scenes. The more you get people talking, the easier it is for your music and brand to spread. Ways to promote behind the scenes: conversations with friends, colleagues, family – encourage them to share whatever it is that you’re promoting. STREET TEAM – gather a group of friends, family members and people in your network to not only help with promotion, but utilize them for feedback on almost everything you do (music releases, performances, etc.). They can wear t-shirts with your name on it, they can spread flyers at their jobs, where they live, and they can post your music on their social media. BLOG OUTREACH – are you in contact with any blogs or publications? Make note of those who have supported your music in the past as well as others you may have come across along the way and be sure to build relationships and utilize them as sources for promotion.
8. Digital Campaign | Digital Distribution – Most people go online to find new music. You need to map out what and where you will be posting in order to promote your product. Make it interesting! Content is king when trying to reel people in and location is also important. Not only do you have to map out how your music will be promoted but you need to map out where people will have access to it. It is best to filter the traffic directly to your website and have your music available for download there. Also, you can use CD Baby or Tune Core to make your music available for sale on the major digital outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. You must also do your job to help the others that are posting your music – this means re-posting all tweets, press, etc. – you must help promote those who promote you! That’s how you continue getting support.
9. MAILING LIST – A mailing list of your own is an amazing tool – And I don’t mean finding random email addresses and spamming them with your music, I mean collecting emails of those who are interested in hearing from you combined with utilizing the emails of those who you have already been in contact with. You should treat your list as VIP, send them special offers, let them be the first to preview your new releases, give them cheaper concert tickets etc. This list is GOLD!
10. PERFORMANCES – This is one of the most important factors in promotion. Your fans plus potential fans need to see you put on a memorable show. The more you impress people with your performances, the more people will want to see you again and again. Perform everywhere possible (except for them pay to play showcases, you really have to use your judgement when it comes to those). Perform at open mics, get to know promoters and event planners, perform at as many local events as you can.
The key to marketing is to be able to grab and keep people’s attention. You need more than just a listen or a view, you need people to share. The key to this is getting people to feel some sort of emotion because that’s when they take action. When you can make people FEEL something with your music and the way you present yourself, that’s when you’ll really start gaining some traction.
If you’re following all of these guidelines, the next step would be to hire a PR agency to help get your music on larger platforms that have a big reach, while you do the leg work and build your buzz 1 on 1 and in your hometown. Why should you hire a publicist or marketing agency? Because they have the relationships and access that you don’t.
blog credits: Paul Porter, RAPREHAB