When it comes to promoting music, 99% of artists have the exact same strategy. No one stands out from the crowd. When everyone else is zigging, what are you doing with your music marketing strategy to zag?
Woody Allen famously said that eighty percent of success is showing up. This is especially true in the music industry. The reality is that there are opportunities everywhere. In the US, there are hundreds of thousands of people employed in the music industry, most of whom gather at industry conferences, such as CMJ, New Music Seminar, SF Music Tech Summit, TAXI Road Rally, and SXSW. Show up to those conferences and make a point of meeting people and building friends.
What is stopping you from creating a music business Meetup in your city? When you start creating events – be it dinners, conferences, or meetups, people begin to gravitate to you as the ‘hub’. You become incredibly well connected, respected, and an important go-to person for others. Be that person for your music scene, it’s easier than you think.
Your existing friends, family, and fans are the most valuable people you have when it comes to marketing – do not underestimate what they can do. If you asked every fan, friend, or family member if they know one person who might enjoy your music – or be able to help you find a gig, your calendar or fan base would grow/fill up very quickly. Try it.
When you support a cause, your fans are more likely to spread the word about your music. This is because fans see that it’s helping a greater cause.
It also forces you into a mind-set where your focus is on “how can I do the most good with my music” opposed to “how can sell the most songs”. The motivation and drive you get from the latter is much greater.
When you create a project on FanDistro, fans are given the option to donate 20% of any music sales that they refer to a charity. It’s because of this that FanDistro campaigns tend to be shared virally – more people share your music because they see the greater good that it does.
It may seem counter-intuitive to spend your limited time helping other artists promote their music rather than your own, but being selfless and genuinely helpful is one of the best marketing strategies around.
There are a number of reasons for this – first of all, people often reciprocate favors. Secondly, other bands are gatekeepers to the contacts you need to meet (promoters, labels, journalists etc.). Finally, you will learn a lot by promoting others, which you can then apply to your situation.
When you speak to a potential sponsor, promoter, journalist, or whoever you should be considering ‘what’s in it for them’? If nothing, then you’re relying on pure altruism to get what you want, which isn’t as effective as we’d hope.
Instead, try to understand what motivates them and what would make a no-brainer offer. If you’re looking to get a sponsorship deal with a local beer brand, how can you offer them 10x the value you’re asking for? In other words, if they offer you $300 worth of free beer, how can you ensure that you’ll offer them a $3,000 increase in their beer sales? When trying to get something from someone, make it a no-brainer.
Most artists don’t go the extra mile like Amanda Palmer does. While you don’t need to go as far as crashing at your fans’ houses, there’s a lot you can learn from her approach in terms of building genuine relationships with fans. Do something for you fans that 99% of artists aren’t doing for theirs – whether that’s spending the day with a handful of die-hard fans, or using a tool like Pledge Music to offer your fans unique experiences.
8. Ask for help
Finally, remember to ask for help. It sounds like common sense, but many artists are afraid to ask for help when it comes to promotion. There are a lot of people out there who would be willing to do you a favor – ask them for it.
What are your unconventional tips for promoting music? Leave them in the comments below!