Marketing Tactics for Independent Musicians Part 3 of 3
May 15, 2014
Marketing Tactics for Independent Musicians Part 3 of 3:
Content Is King
Here’s the final post in my 3 part series discussing some basic marketing plan elements for independent musicians. So far we’ve gotten everything in order with New Album Preparation (Website is up-and-running, eNewsletter plan is in place and Touring and Merchandise steps have been taken) and we’ve also had a successful Album Launch.
To build off of all this progress that has been made, you will now have to keep supplying content to strengthen your relationship and stay relevant with your current fans while at the same time this content will also help increase your fanbase.
Additional merchandise is one idea: you can make vinyl for the last album or announce new T-shirt designs. You can also create more videos for songs off the last album or videos of you performing covers…..yes the latter of which is copyright infringement. Here’s a tip: Set up a second YouTube channel for all your cover videos to protect your official artist YouTube channel from being shut down (but this hardly ever happens).
Below I’ve gone into detail for three important content streams:
Music, Social Media, and Live Shows.
Gone are the days of releasing an album once every couple of years and leaving it at that. Today’s artists need to be constantly feeding their fanbase new music. Here are some great ways this can be accomplished:
Alternate versions of your album tracks
Have a DJ remix one of your songs. And I’m not saying this has to be a famous DJ, just someone who knows the technology and is creative. If you’re interested in holding a remix contest, you should contact the folks over at Indaba Music. They put together some great remix campaigns for artists. For louder more rockin’ acts, take a page from Nirvana and release an album of stripped down acoustic versions of your studio tracks. Last idea here is to release a live album, preferably from the CD release show, but any show will work as long as the audio is of top quality.
We all know the benefits of covering songs by popular artists and how they can help independent artists gain a wider audience. Instead of simply covering a song from some famous band though, put out a collection of cover songs and come up with a unique theme that ties all the songs together, such as artist tribute albums. Here’s an idea, cover all the songs that you have loved and that have influenced you over the years, from being a kid until the present day.
NOTE: Anyone can legally cover a song (if just audio, not video). The only clearance you need is to obtain and pay for a mechanical license for the song(s). Harry Fox Agency is the foremost mechanical licensing agency in the US. Or work with Limelight who will get the license for you at a cost of $15 per song on top of the mechanical license fee.
Great tools for new music releases in between album cycles to keep you fresh in people’s minds. I prefer releasing EPs over singles if possible. It’s more of a press story when you release a few songs verses just one and more for the fans too.
Continue to tour, hitting the same markets that you played while supporting the new album to build on the momentum that has been made. There’s financial limitations though on how often you can tour and you more than likely won’t be able to tour to every market where you have some fans. Live streaming is a great solution to these limitations. Using a company like Ustream or Livestream, broadcast a weekly or monthly show from your home or rehearsal space. Make a Facebook invite with all the details and send to your fans, post on twitter, and let everyone on your mailing list know.
And now, with apps like Meerkat and Periscope on the market, streaming live video to your fan base in real time by remote will increase the importance of video in your overall content mix... this is the nature of Marketing. The landscape quickly evolves and "if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Now you’ll want to keep the shows fresh and different to aid in increasing viewership from week to week; here are some ways to do that. How about playing a game at the end of the performance or midway through using the chat feature? It would be a fun way to interact with the viewers each week/month. Trivia would be a very easy game to pull off, where people could win merch or any other prizes that you can get your hands on. Play new cover songs each week; better yet, ask people what covers you should play for the next week. Post the question to Facebook and the song suggestion that get the most likes will be the one(s) you cover. Also, have guest performers join you: a great way to add a new element to the live stream while cross promoting to each other's fans at the same time.
Real simple here: keep doing it. Just because you may not have a big ticket item like a new album, that doesn’t mean you should stop communicating with your fans on a regular basis. eNewsletters should still be going out once a month, with blog posts being posted several times a month and twitter/facebook you should be updating daily.
In addition to all the content I’ve gone over in this blog post thus far that you can share, post about things happening in your personal life, such as a vacation you just went on or a great movie you recently saw. Repost interesting articles you’ve just read or a post song from a band you recently discovered that you love. And don't forget video! Video posts receive the highest engagement rate of all types of social media posts.
Now that you have continued to connect with fans, you’ll have a stronger and larger audience when you’re ready to release the next album. When you do start gearing up for the next album, serialize your posts, so people can follow along and feel like they are in the studio with you and in on the album making process. Include all your followers on the process as much as you can, such as asking their opinion on album title ideas.