3 Marketing Tweaks That Will Grow Your Audience Immediately
Most great indie artists have incredible art but experience challenges connecting to new fans because their marketing approach needs tweaking. There is a healthy contingent of artists who are legitimately trying to market but are naively going about it the wrong way. A keen understanding of marketing is exactly what will put the power in your hands.
Yes, you the artist, can hold all the cards if you simply make a few tweaks in your philosophy of marketing.
First, indie artists must understand, as basic as this is, the difference between distribution and marketing.
Distribution is WHERE consumers will go to purchase or consume something. Putting your song up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Bandzoogle, Bandcamp, Reverbnation, YouTube, etc. is distribution. Marketing is WHY the consumer is going there to purchase it. For instance, most of you have probably made a purchase on Amazon. They are a distributor. But you didn’t buy the product because it was on Amazon. You weren’t just randomly “shopping” by scrolling through Amazon web pages when you came across this shiny thing that made you pull out your credit card. No, you were marketed to first. You were made aware of the product and somehow your buying decision was influenced enough to want to purchase it. Think about marketing your music with that story in mind. What is going to get people excited enough to learn more about you and your music? Distributing your music does not lead to growth. It does not lead to an increased fanbase, nor does it engage your current fanbase. You need marketing. Not just to connect with current fans and make them aware of new releases, but to find new people to whom you can expose your music.
The previous statement may sound ridiculously elementary to some of you, but most artists are not using the tools you currently have in the correct manner to grow your audience. I know this because I see it every day with indie artists as well as signed artists!
1. Tweak Your YouTube Marketing Approach
One slight tweak in your approach on YouTube changes everything.
First it should be said. We've seen more and more people moving away from posting videos to YouTube because of the ease of posting videos directly to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. This is a mistake. Your fans are everywhere so you have to be everywhere. The more communication channels you put to use for you, the more successful your marketing will be. Post all your videos to YouTube and, whenever possible, share them from your YouTube channel to other networks. You will grow your subscriber base this way while also engaging with fans on both networks.
Here's something you can do to tweak your YouTube Marketing approach today... post a video of you interpreting a cover song that is popular right now. This cover song will generate a ton of traffic and a small percentage of people who are looking for the original artist’s video will stumble across your version and watch it. That equals new people watching you as an artist. And that equals growth.
Not only are they experiencing your spin on a song they are already familiar with, but because they know the song, their subconscious focus is on your interpretation. The information that is coming through as they watch is your artistry. Now, ask them to subscribe. They will.
If you’re smart, you’ll give them a free download in exchange for their email address so you own the information. More on that later. If they learn to like you, the artist, then they’ll be far more likely to listen to your original music. When they do listen, they’ll have an open mind and an open heart because your cover rendition won their heart and they’re prepared to love you. If you think about it, it’s not that different from American Idol or The Voice, is it?
It’s important to note that in a situation like TV, old popular covers will be effective because the TV show is bringing the new people to see the artist. The TV show is providing the traffic but on YouTube the new songs are what is driving the traffic.
So always ask yourself, where’s the traffic coming from? This will influence your song choices.
This is marketing on YouTube.
2. Tweak Your Social Media Marketing Approach
Most indie artists copy their idols’ social media behaviors. They have posts doing “this” or “that” on stage or behind the scenes, etc.
This method is important but you need to recognize that it only supports the fans who are already aware of you as an artist. Think about it, if they don’t know you, how are they going to see a post like this? Don’t get us wrong, this is an important piece of your social media strategy, but only for your current fans. This method does little if anything for expanding your audience. Marketing on social media means getting your content in front of new people that aren’t currently aware of you. This requires a different thought process and execution strategy.
Take off your artist hat and put on your record label executive hat just for a second… You just signed the greatest baby act in the world; YOU. But nobody knows about this new artist so how are you going to get that artist in front of a new targeted group of people who will probably like your artist’s music?
Well, let’s say this new artist you signed (you) is a Country artist. In the interest of clear communication, let’s give your new artist a name; Kelsea X.
Right off the bat, we have TONS of Country artists with faithful followers on all their social media accounts. But let’s drill down some more. What kind of Country artist is Kelsea X, exactly?
If money and connections were no object, what Country artist would you put Kelsea X on tour with because the headliner’s audience would relate to Kelsea X’s music? Don’t look now but you are in the process of defining your artist’s audience. Once you have determined exactly who they are, now you have to find where they hang out. This is called targeting.
If Kelsea X would absolutely CRUSH it on tour with Taylor Swift because her fans would love her music, then start following people that follow Taylor Swift on Twitter and Instagram.
Love them first. (See how it’s always about them?)
Be the first to reach out, shake hands, and say “Hello”.
A decent percentage of these new people will follow you back and hang if you have interesting content.
Don’t try and slam your music down their throats immediately after they follow you back because they will unfollow you. (You would hate that too, right?)
What if when they followed you back you asked a question about THEM? You already have common ground in that you both like Taylor Swift. Start there. Between current news, recently released music, lyrics, artistry, etc. you have a truck load of content to start a conversation.
If you focus on at least the first exchange being about THEM and not you, you will create a solid first impression. This will forge a relationship and lead to growth. And its these little gains, every day, that add up over time.
The bigger your social media following grows and the more you engage with your audience, the more attractive you become to potential new fans and the industry.
3. Tweak Your Contact Management System and Email Marketing
You may have followers, but you DON’T OWN your social media contacts so that’s not enough!
We're going to repeat that because it’s SO important. YOU DON’T OWN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CONTACTS! You could have 5 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter but you don’t own them, the respective platforms do and it will cost you to contact all of them.
Social Media and YouTube are amazing vehicles to target audiences and connect with them but you must take it a step further and convert them into a contact that you own. You probably already know about Facebook and how few people see your posts unless you pay. Other social networks are following suit.
The answer? Implement a “squeeze page” (or Landing Page) to get around this problem!
Basically, a squeeze page is a hyper-targeted web page specifically designed to get people to do something. In this case, you’ll be exchanging song(s) for an email address. Once you have a fans email address you’re able to implement an email marketing campaign. You can send them exclusive information, discount codes, and product offerings. Email is the most direct form of contacting your fans and the most effective if you want them to do something like buy your new album or attend your live shows.
RELATED: 5 Reasons Landing Pages Are A Must
Most musicians have some sort of song-for-email widget on the homepage of their website. The other exciting content on your website, however, can distract people from actually giving you their address. Why would they give you their email for a few free songs when they can watch a music video, listen to a song, and read a blog post right now? In contrast, people visiting a squeeze page have two options: enter an email address to get the free song(s), or leave the page. That format usually ends up with a much higher conversion rate.
Of course, homepage widgets will capture some email addresses, so it's good to keep them on your site. But if you want to run a campaign specifically to grow your list, you’ll need something more laser-focused.
You can find squeeze page templates for most website creation services, but it's also pretty inexpensive to reach out to a web designer to create a single squeeze page. Once you have one squeeze page, it's relatively easy to copy the HTML, switch out the image and the message, and create a new one. You could also check out fiverr.com and search for landing pages to find people who could build you a custom squeeze page for just $5.
Now, the key to squeeze page conversion is actively sending traffic. This page isn’t part of your main navigation, so no one will see it if you don’t send them there. Send out links to your squeeze page via social media as often as you can without being annoying. On Facebook, send out a link every few days. On Twitter, you can send it out more often. Try to make these posts fun and avoid being too pitchy. For example, you could post, "We wanted to give you three free songs to let you know how awesome you all are!" If you create YouTube videos, add a link to your squeeze page in the description box and direct people to click through by adding some text at the end of your video.
Of course, you won’t get many new signups if you’re just sending your fans to your squeeze page. You need your squeeze page to be reaching new people, we covered this in our conversation on targeting in #2 but you can actually take this one step further with collaboration. By collaborating with another musician or band with a similar musical style to yours, you're exposing each other to a group already predisposed to like that style of music. Collaborations like this have the potential to be a fanbase-growing powerhouse – if you both actively drive signups.
Are you a musician using any of these marketing methods? How have you been successful? What challenges do you face? Sound off on the PHANTOM POWER Marketing Facebook Page, Twitter or LinkedIn feeds or on Google+. And don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Marketing Advice Email Newsletter for articles and tips like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.