Promoting Your Music Online
Michael Laskow’s Music Promotion Panel Notes from 1/16/10
I was asked to join Bob Baker, Ariel Hyatt, Brian Mazzaferi and Tony VanVeen, the CEO of Discmakers and CDBaby, for a panel at this year’s NAMM show. All but Brian are good friends of mine, so it was an honor and a pleasure to join them. Brian turned out to be a great guy, and I’m sure our paths will cross again soon.
As I began to clean up my computer’s desktop moments ago, I found the panel questions and my notes/answers and thought you might benefit from reading them.
Here you go:
Question: Top 3 ways to build your fan database with real fans / prospects?
1) Write remarkable songs that people will remember, want to hear over and over again and tell their friends about. Too many people think it’s all about marketing. Don’t bother to spend your time marketing if you’re not making great music.
2) Give group discounts so one excited and committed fan can bring her friends.
3) Create demo focus group of fans who are emailed acoustic demos of songs to rate. It creates a bond, makes them feel VERY involved and gives you great feedback as to which of your songs are worth fully producing.
Which are the essential music social media sites, where an artist needs to have a presence today, and why?
Facebook for connecting with fans, Twitter for keeping them in the loop while on the road and giving them a sense that they’re right there with you. And CDBaby for selling downloads.
What are the top 3 things a starting artist should do to establish him/herself online (when getting started)? Give us one or two examples/secrets to build a buzz online that you’ve seen artists use successfully. (creative tips/examples, please)
1) Write remarkable songs that people will remember, want to hear over and over again and tell their friends about.
2) Stick to recording your songs that are in ONE genre and know what that genre IS!
3) Gear all of your marketing efforts at being just one thing. Don’t try to be all things to all people because you end up being nothing at all.
What are the top 3 things an artist can do to sell triple the product……online and at gigs?
Online: see answer above
Gigs: Make sure you have somebody who is NOT in the band manning the merch table
Make sure you collect email addys, and giving away a free download or something else is a great incentive.
In his excellent book, “Influence,” Dr. Robert Cialdini proves that people are much more likely to buy from you if you give them something first. They feel obligated! So give them something they’ll perceive as being valuable, then ask for the sale.
People/customers are MUCH more likely to buy when you ASK for the sale.
Offer a deal if they buy two CDs – people usually come to clubs with another person, probably a like-minded person. If you give them a great price on buying two, then they’ll be less likely to buy one and copy it. Offer CD and t-shirt bundled prices.
What are the top 3 things artists do wrong on their own website?
Most artists try to make their website look creative and artistic, but forget basic marketing principals like focusing on one or two things on the homepage and making them very prevalent. It’s all about easy navigation and asking and directing your visitors to do what you want them to do.
Many people who build or own websites focus on what they think is important, not what the consumer might think is important – ie; tell me in a short phrase what I can expect this artist to sound like… what genre, reference. another artist to make it easy for them.
Show testimonials from happy fans and customers!!!!!!!!!!
What are the top 3 things artists do wrong when marketing themselves in general?
They don’t take the time to learn anything about marketing PERIOD – read a book or five.
They often think the Internet is the answer to everything, but if they applied good foundational marketing techniques TO the Internet, they’d get a much better result.
Learn how to communicate effectively by learning how to write great marketing copy, especially headlines!
How would you recommend that artists use video online?
Capture emotion whenever possible. Emotion sells music. Fill the frame as often as you can with close ups as most people will see the video on a small, youtube or mobile size screen.
Make sure to market your CD or downloads by ending the video with a nice big URL!
3 tips to create a decent quality video on the cheap for online usage?
Go to the nearest college with a film department. Give your best song to every student you can find and include a card with it that says; “Needed, one brilliant film student to direct and shoot my music video. Please send resume, credits and a short paragraph telling me why you would do a better job than everybody else.” Put THEIR egos to work for you.
Take advantage of the bad economy and use unemployed people as extras – they’ll be happy to get some work.
If all else fails, buy a Flip HD video camera for cheap at a pawnshop and get creative. Study up on what makes a great music video before you begin production. Don’t think that you’re such a genius that you shouldn’t take advice from seasoned pros and have a plan before you begin.
What are your top 3 tips on how to use Twitter – how often and what to tweet?
1) Know your audience and give them what they want, not what you think they want.
ie. Tell them how many takes you needed to nail the vocal on a song or other insider trivia, not where you ate lunch today.
2) 2 or 3 tweets a day, unless it’s a show day… then more frequently to build excitement.
3) Ariel did a great job at the TAXI Road Rally this year of tweeting when her panel was, with some more frequent reminders about its location as it got closer.
Give us 3 tips on how to get social media followers/friends to…
…give you their contact info. –
give them something they VALUE in return.
…buy your music online. –
Write great songs and deliver amazing performances so people will WANT to buy your music PERIOD!
Make sure your potential buyers know what other people think of you. Our purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by like-minded people whose taste we respect.
Find a way to deliver a unique selling proposition so buyers know what you’re offering. “Steely Dan does hip-hop”… you know what to expect and can decide if you’re interested.
…come to your gigs.
Do something at your gigs that nobody else does that will get people talking, eg. randomly invite audience members to join you on the road for a week. Invite them to the studio to mix a song. Let them sing backgrounds or do handclaps… get your audience involved… create a bond.
What are the top 3 things you should do in your email communications to fans?
Learn which fonts and font sizes work best because they are easiest to read, which colors work best, which layout works best, and create a user interface that delivers one central message and makes it easy for the reader to take the action you want them to.
What are the top 3 things you should NOT do in those email communications?
The opposite of what I just stated above.
What are the best/most effective ways to engage with/communicate with fans in 2010? (please list them in order)
Make memorable, easy to digest music that people actually want to hear.
Be in all the right places, maintain those locations daily, and do something remarkable that gets people talking about you. But if you don’t have remarkable music to begin with, they won’t talk about you for long, if at ALL.
Are there tricks to “getting discovered” online? If so, what are they?
I don’t think they are tricks so much as a well thought out plan. The problem is that most musicians don’t research plans that have worked for others, they don’t use a plan even if they find one, and they rarely follow through past the point of initial excitement.
The people who are successful DO research, DO make plans, and DO follow through on the execution. If you’ve ever wondered why some artists build a following and others don’t, there’s your answer.
PS…. I DO many musicians who do covers and post them on video sites like YouTube. When people search the real song by the REAL artists, they discover the cover artist as well. some people have built huge subscription bases by doing that. THAT one is a “trick,” not necessarily a treat 😉