I just finished doing a video interview with some nice gents from Australia. One of the topics they asked me about was Music Marketing for Indie Musicians. I realized while I was answering the questions that so many of the music marketing techniques I was recommending are common sense things we often overlook unless reminded.
Your instinct – or should I say reflex – is often to market music in a way that feels like it would appeal to you. But you aren’t the potential buyer, and may not be objective when judging the effectiveness. So the first step is to identify exactly who your most likely buyer is.
How old is he? Is he actually a she? What is his life like? What does he like to do in his spare time? Where does he do it? Who does he hang out with? What kind of radio station does he listen to? Does he go to clubs to hear live music? How does he buy music? How old or young is he or she?
Music Marketing Segmentation
That’s really just a fancy way of saying that you need to identify the types of people who will buy your music. It would be extremely rare to find any music (other than the Beatles) that has across the board appeal. Demographics and psychographics matter for all forms of marketing – even music marketing! Your audience represents a marketing segment, which you need to identify and concentrate on with a relentless passion.
Once you’ve done some serious thinking and identified your target market segment, you need to answer one central question that all consumers ask when confronted with any sort of pitch. “What’s in it for me?”
Very little else matters if you can’t answer that question, and you better answer it well!
What is in it for the potential buyer? Are you in a genre that he or she likes? How is your music a cut above? What makes your music accessible, yet unique? Are you able to describe your music in a way that quickly makes it easy for your potential customer to imagine what he or she will hear?
Yes, you need an “elevator pitch,” and a really good one at that! To simply say, “My music is awesome and you’ll love it,” isn’t enough. If you told a potential buyer, “My music is similar to Taylor Swift but with male vocals,” the buyer would instantly know what it is and decide if he or she is interested in learning more or hearing it.
Marketing Your Music is Really Just a Conversation
Once you get the right people to listen to your music, you need to keep them engaged. Invite them into your life. Help them get to know you. Post session videos on YouTube. Post videos of your shows, your road trips in the van, and whatever else you can think of that makes your listeners become fans. The more they know you, the more they will feel like they discovered you, and want to share their new discovery.
Write a blog. Keep it relevant. Talk about your songs. Tell your readers what inspired you to write each one. Ask your readers to interact with you. Which of your songs do they think are the best? The answer might surprise you and that could be valuable information that helps you sell more music
Follow up with the people who buy your music. If you capture an email address for your purchasers, send them a short thank you email. Give them a chance to opt in to your email list. Ask them politely, and let them know that you’ll respect their privacy by not sharing their info.
Don’t hammer them over the head trying to sell them more music right away. Let them get to know you a bit, then politely ask them to buy more. Asking for the sale is something many creative people have a hard time doing. People are afraid to sell because they worry that the potential buyer won’t like them any more.
Selling Your Music
If you’re selling something they’ll love, then you’re actually doing them a favor by making them aware that they can buy it! Think about it – don’t you only get disgusted by people trying to sell you what you don’t want? If somebody tries to sell you a handy 8-track recording studio for your iPhone would you hate him or her? Not likely, because it’s something that might benefit you.
Marketing Your Music with Search Engines
Search Engine Optimization or SEO has become critically important. How many times a day do you use Google? So does everybody else! It’s your job to make sure that any and all the web pages that have your music on them are visible to all the search engines. It’s also important to do everything you can to get on the first page when the search result comes back.
I don’t have enough room here to teach you everything you need to know about SEO, but it’s not as hard as you think and you really need to know who to do the basics. Taking just one weekend to read SEO Made Simple by Michael Fleischner.
But remember, all the SEO in the world won’t help you much unless you are effective in figuring out how to categorize your music in simple, common terms that consumers would naturally use in conversation and when using a search engine. “Indie Country Pop” is a pretty good example. Click the link and see where you’d be if you titled your sound, web page and your genre as Indie Country Pop.
Let’s try something more specific this time. Search Google for “Acoustic love songs for weddings.” How would you like to have your song appear on the first page for that term? Think you’d sell any music? You bet!
More Music Marketing Advice
There are plenty of people offering advice on how to market your music. Some is good, some not so good. Most songwriters and artists don’t do any music marketing other than building a MySpace page and putting their music on CDBaby and other online music retailers. If you use any of the techniques I’ve described above, you should be head and shoulders above your competition. Effective music marketing is an ongoing pursuit. If you tend your garden regularly, it will flourish.