How to Market and Sell Music Like the Record Labels
Learning how to sell your music and create music marketing plans and strategies is not nearly as daunting as it might seem to many musicians. In this article, I’ll not only give you a simple music marketing plan and strategy, I’m also going to give you some free marketing tips and ideas you can start using today!
Marketing music—as it’s done by record labels—is typically too expensive for Independent artists. While major labels will often try regional marketing, and if it works, deploy the same techniques nationally, Indie artists don’t have the budgets to go national, and often rely on the Internet for online music marketing to give them national and international reach.
The Best Music Marketing Tip of All!
Marketing Indie music really isn’t much more than using some common sense and a little elbow grease. It’s all about audience engagement and building relationships one fan at a time. So let me start off with what might be the greatest single music-marketing tip of them all; you’ve got to give to get!
There’s a marketing law; The Rule of Reciprocity – “I’ll give you something for free, if you give me something of equal value in return.” The potential buyer feels a moral obligation to give something in return if you offer something first, and you’re not asking for too much in return.
What do you have that your buyer will value enough to give you his or her email address in return? If you give them a free song download in return for their email address, you can build a relationship and market more of your music to her over time. And to a person who has already shown an interest in your music. Does it get any better than that?
How to Create a Music Marketing Plan and Strategy
Music Marketing Tip #1: Identify your target market and go to where they are. Who is your target market? Thirty-something females? Great! I identify where they frequent or congregate online and off. That’s where you need to be to meet them and market your music to them.
Do they come to your shows? Great! Have an assistant or volunteer walk around the room giving out a CD Single in exchange for email addresses from your. Have that same person selling full albums for $10 to $15. And what about T-shirts or other swag? You can do this! You just need to find someone with a personality and the desire to help you.
And don’t forget; once you have those email addresses, don’t forget to use them! Keep your fans in the loop, but don’t bombard them with spam. Send them short, informative emails that they will find interesting.
Music Marketing Tip #2: Learn some basic sales tracking and record keeping. Not to sound cynical, but make sure you create and routinely use a simple accounting system to make sure all inventory and money balances out at the end of the night. You’ll need to keep an accurate track of those things for tax purposes as well. Use Quickbooks. There are plenty of FAQs and helpful online forums to help you become good at it in no time flat. Suck it up… you’ll need to do some basic business tasks if you want to earn an income marketing your music.
Music Marketing Tip #3: Marketing your music online. People will not buy your music if they can’t find your music. Make it easy for them to find you by learning where your buyers go online and see if you can market your music in those places. Example: If your typical buyers, or at least a significant percentage of them are mid-thirties females who tend to read a lot of romance novels, see if there are any best-selling authors who have their own site. Cut a deal to put a graphic link on their site, and for every download sold, they get a reasonable cut. To summarize: Market your music to your most likely buyers at places where they already go!
Music Marketing Tip #4: Building a website for yourself on the cheap is easier than you think. Google the terms; WordPress Music Retail Themes. Many of them are free, and none are very expensive. WordPress is easy to learn, but if it’s out of your technological reach, there are plenty of small developers that will do it for you for a few hundred bucks. Money well spent.
Use Facebook and Twitter to market your music as well, but don’t over do it! Nobody wants to hear about your trips to the grocery store or what you’re having for dinner. Engaging your fans with information that’s about the making of your music is what they want to hear about.
Tell them about a new song you’re working on. Post video clips of you in the studio. Post lyric sheets. Tell them the story behind the song. Let them meet the other musicians who played on the track. Those musicians will show their friends, who in turn will show theirs!
Let your fans know about every show you’re doing. Comment before and after your shows. Mention the names of fans that you saw in the audience or greeted at the venue. Make it personal to them and they’ll show their appreciation and loyalty by telling their friends about you.
A Music Marketing Strategy is Important But…
If you don’t have a great product—in this case, your music—no matter how many people find you because of great marketing, they are not likely to buy what you’re selling. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In this case, if the water tastes foul, the horse will never take another sip.
And while I’m using horse metaphors, let’s talk about putting the cart before the horse! There is a common belief that record companies manufacture sales with marketing. I’m sure there may be some cases of that, but it’s my observation that the reason we sometimes believe a hit was “manufactured” is that we personally don’t like what we hear and believe that the only way it could have become a hit is through marketing or some sort of play to play.
The reality is that somebody does like the music—a lot of somebodies! Just because it doesn’t appeal to you or I doesn’t mean the song is only a hit because of great marketing. Radio stations couldn’t keep an audience if they only played bad music they were cramming down the throats of their listeners.
Back to the cart before the horse; is your music ready to be marketed? Do you know what genre it’s in? Is it a niche genre or a more commercial one? Are your songs so catchy and memorable that your listeners will want to hear them over and over again, and then tell their friends? Are your songs as good as the best on the market?
I know it’s hard to take an objective look at your own music, but it seems to be wasted time, energy and expense to market your music before it’s ready enough to capture the fans that you’re after.
What’s Your Strategy to Market Your Music?
Do you have one? Do you have a marketing plan written down? When are you going to start, and what will be your first action steps?
Before you start, make sure your music is top notch, get objective opinions, figure out what genre your music is in, who your fans are, and identify the best marketing tactics to get your music heard by those fans. Whether you’re using an online music marketing plan, or selling CDs from the trunk of your car after shows, making a plan and sticking with it will result in much better sales!