You spend your days and nights in the studio perfecting your music. You pour your heart out writing captivating lyrics and laying vocals for that new song. In your mind, you are convinced that fans will surely appreciate your talent and work ethic. You share your project on social media only to get two likes, one from your mom and the other from your cousin. Your career feels like running on a treadmill – putting in a lot of work without actually going anywhere. You are not alone, this feeling is common among a lot of aspiring and independent musicians. In most cases, it is a result of either failure to market their music properly or not marketing at all. One common cause of improper marketing among many musicians and other DIY non-marketers is confusing marketing with promotion. To clear that misconception, promotion is merely a part of marketing. It is preceded by people, product, pricing, and placement. In other words:
One has to know the people he/she wants to target and create a product that those particular people want at a price they are willing to pay and place the product where those people are before he/she can promote.
Hence promotion cannot exist without marketing and successful marketing is always deliberate and strategic. That is the scope of this series, so if you’ve been struggling to get results from your music marketing or promotion efforts, this is a must-read.
In the startup world, there is a concept called The 50% Rule. It is a recommendation that a startup should spend half of their time and resources on product development and the other half on marketing. Since independent artists are the startups of the music industry, you can apply the same concept too. As you probably already know, musical talent is only half the battle. The other half is building a fanbase. Record labels understand this hence their budgets reflect an equal commitment to music development and marketing + sales. For many independent artists, their marketing strategy for a new release is all about posting links on social media, Soundcloud, and YouTube. Those artists that are a bit savvy may even send out a press release. However, this is barely enough to constitute a marketing plan especially without a real strategy behind it. As a result, many artists fail not because they couldn’t make good music. Rather they fail because they couldn’t get the right people to listen to it.
— The Music Dev Agency (@TheMusicDA) September 23, 2019
When it comes to marketing, consumer brands especially startups have been refining marketing strategies since the onset of digital commerce and using the results to accelerate their growth with incredible success. As music consumption shifted to digital platforms, record labels had to adapt their approach to marketing their music. Naturally, they looked to consumer brands for solutions. As an independent artist, you can also take inspiration for your marketing strategies from startups to propel your music career to new heights. To do that, you have to think of yourself as a personable brand selling products like music, merchandise, concerts et cetera.
So what exactly is the strategy record labels use to market their artists and music?
Much like consumer brands, at the core of record labels’ music marketing strategies is a marketing and sales funnel. This is the blueprint upon which all their marketing efforts are organized.
A marketing and sales funnel is a consumer-focused model which illustrates the theoretical customer journey towards the purchase of a good or service. And marketing is what drives people through the journey with each stage requiring an approach different from the other.
Here is an illustration of a marketing funnel and how it works.
In a perfect world, all the people you market to end up buying your product. The result would be a marketing and sales journey that resembles a cylinder. Unfortunately, people fall off at each stage as they go through the journey from the top to the bottom. Hence the term funnel.
In Part 3 of my previous series, I left off with a promise to discuss how artists can use different content to convert followers and fans. That process happens through a marketing and sales funnel.
How can you as an independent artist develop and use a marketing and sales funnel to monetize your music?
We will go over this in detail over the course of this series. First, let us point out some prerequisites that you should have in place before you can run a successful marketing funnel campaign.
Preparation You Will Need To Do Before Implementing A Marketing and Sales Funnel.
— The Music Dev Agency (@TheMusicDA) November 9, 2019
- Music: Before you can create a marketing strategy, you have to have a great product: the music. To build a music career that lasts a long time, your music career must be built on a strong foundation of quality music that truly connect with fans.
- Branding: Your brand must be well-defined and clearly show who you are and the type of music you make. It must be captivating and appealing to your tribe – the people you are targeting. For more details, see How To Build Your Brand Strategy As A Musician
- Website: A well-designed user-friendly website is the most important of all your digital marketing assets. Your website will the primary destination for all your marketing efforts. Landing pages and microsites will complement your website and are targeted at specific funnel. Here is a detailed comparison of some website builders for musicians. However, you might want to consider a marketing-integrated solution as it generally is more effective for your marketing goals.
- Social Media: You must have social media profiles on all 4 major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. You are missing a great deal if you are not active on any one of them. Each of those social media platforms is better than the other two in performing a specific purpose in your funnel stages. For example, Twitter has a unique and crucial role to play that no other social platform can in your growth strategy. On the other hand, Facebook is still king for acquiring cost-effective referral traffic to your website. Instagram is better for spreading awareness of your brand and music. YouTube and Soundcloud are great for showcasing new music. You may apply this guide to get all your social media profiles ready for the marketing funnel campaign. With all that said, always remember that social media profiles are just “weigh-in” stations for driving traffic to your owned asset, your website.
- Analytics and Tracking Tools:
- Website Traffic Analytics. You will need a few data tracking and analytics tools for this. Start by signing up for Google Analytics , a must-have tool for any digital marketer. This will enable you to track traffic to your website including your audience, their behavior, acquisition among other useful metrics.
- Music Distribution Analytics. The dashboard from your distributor provides a summarized overview across streaming platforms and digital storefronts throughout your digital distribution network. You may also track platform-specific analytics dashboards such as Spotify For Artists and Apple Music For Artists.
- Music Brand Engagement Analytics.
In addition, you should also signup for an all-in-one analytics tool that integrates data from various other sources such as radio, social media, and streaming. Bandcamp for Artists, Next Big Sound, Chartmetrics, and Awario are a few examples that immediately come to mind. Soundcharts also is a very comprehensive analytics tool as it integrates data from a wide range of music and audience sources.
- Lead Generation & Conversion Analytics. Landing pages and email marketing play a key role in especially the middle and bottom part of the marketing funnel. Of service providers in these spaces, choose two that are compatible with each other.
- Social Media Analytics. In addition to tools native to each social media platform, there are also numerous third-party tools to choose from. The most effective tools have functionality that includes content research, curation, scheduling, collaboration, brand monitoring, analytics, and some level of automation. Hootsuite, Social Sprout, and Buffer are some of the most popular social automation and analytics tools among marketers. There are some services that offer excellent custom solutions to musicians and other professionals in the music industry. BuzzSumo is also a very useful content research tool to support your social media strategy.
Before we go into the juicy part of this series, let me close off this prelude by reiterating that as a career musician, you should think of yourself as a startup with an equal obligation to developing both quality music and strategic marketing plan. Your strategies must always be targeted at every stage of your marketing funnel to ensure efficient conversion of leads to loyal cash-spending fans. And when it comes to marketing, let data drive your strategy. For that reason, make sure that you set up all the necessary tools to collect, track, and analyze data. That will go a long way to help you better understand your audience, where you can find them, and how they interact with your marketing efforts; all in order to continuously optimize your strategies for increasingly more successful music marketing campaigns.