What Kind of A Musician Are You?
Do you write music? Do you do studio work? Can you produce your tracks? Or you only do the recording part? What about the genres you mainly see yourself working within? Before you jump headfirst into marketing ask make sure you have answers to all of these questions.
First you need to really think about what it is that you are really good at. This is not something you enjoy the most (though it could be), but a part of your work that you are good at even if its not that fun. Producing can be a lot of fun for professionals but it’s also a kind of a headache. So it the editing and lyric writing process. You need to point out your strengths and weaknesses to be as realistic about your marketing plan as possible.
Maybe you love being on stage and want to do that all the time. Great! But unless you have a financial backup support system, that’s not where you can allow to focus your efforts, especially at first. If you are good at teaching, music tutors can always find work with a little bit of networking. Maybe that’s a good way to supplement your income while you build your performing side of the business. having your strong and weak points outlined beforehand will definitely help you in choosing the right initial direction.
Every Aspiring Musician Needs Their Own Platform
There really are no exceptions to this rule. If you are going to market yourself, your website is the base of operations. While social marketing for aspiring musicians includes a Facebook group or a word of mouth component, the first thing people are going to do when they hear about you is A: they Google you. B: they search your name on big music platforms like Spotify or Tidal. C: they search your name on YouTube for any video content. And finally, they look you up on popular social media. If you don’t have a website, that is, you are not on more than one of the above mentioned platforms, there’s a chance they will give up on checking out more of your work.
Let’s say you have put a track on YouTube, but it’s not on Spotify, Apple Music or similar streaming platforms. What that means is that most of the listeners cannot download your track onto they playlists and stream it on as well as offline. Not many people use YouTube as their primary streaming platform for music. And even less have YouTube Music or premium which would allow them to listen to your track without ads or listen to it offline. Of course you can choose to not play ads, but in that case you will be making next to nothing. Especially if you’re not an hyped artist that gets millions of views right away.
A website is your opportunity to make the good professional first impression. And that’s one of the great things about moving digital. Unlike in real life, where your first impression cannot be fixed, you have ultimate control over how people see you on an online platform.
Furthermore, you can set up a separate website. Getting a website is very easy. You can even make it yourself following the steps at a host service provider. Or watch some tutorials online. They will let you pick a domain name (yourname.com is the best option, unless someone has already taken it) and walk you through the steps of setting it up. Websites are convenient because you can put on your merch and tour or album announcements there alongside your discography, videography and archives.
Most of the time it will cost you a sum to set up a separate site. So if you are a new artist it’s better to stick to streaming platforms and social media first. Social media like Instagram and Twitter can substitute a website when it comes to announcements. In fact, this way you may get more engagement.
Every Musician Needs An Active Work Email Address
Pop quiz: If you have a choice between hiring two equally talented aspiring musicians for the same gig, and one of them has an email address that reads: firstname.lastname@example.org and the other one is email@example.com, which one sounds like a professional musician? And which one would you pick? Answer is: It’s the second guy. Email is how collaborators, sponsors, producers and other professionals within the industry will reach out to you.
An active professional email address is a must. Unlike your personal one it has to sound and look professional so choose your own name if it’s still available. If it’s not, try to buy it from the owner. Your website and social media platforms should have tabs for the work you’ve done, work you’re available to do, tour dates (if you have them), your blog, merch, announcements and contact information for how to reach you. Your email should be written everywhere.
Utilize Visuals Through Photo and Video Content
If there are videos of you performing, definitely put them on your website. Do you compose your own music? Have a friend help you make a video of the process and put it on YouTube (you never know what will make you an internet sensation). If you have a gallery of photos, that’s great too. But if you don’t have any of those things, you need to have at least one professional photo of yourself.
“Why? It’s about the music, not what I look like!” Yeah, we hear you. But people still want to see what you look like. And it doesn’t have to be your face. It’s the visuals. Lyric videos or vibe videos are a thing for a reason. All big names in the industry release some sort of a teaser image before an album or a new track. It could be anything as long as it’s visual that matches the theme you are going on for. And fans love to have visual content from their favorite artist saved on their phone. So don’t just put out an audio and move on.
Notice what the last two examples had in common?
They were both focused on the customer: the people hiring the tutor, and the collaborators hiring a backup trumpet player. That’s the second step. After figuring out what you’re selling, find out who is buying and focus your digital presence towards appealing to them. And we are not going to say anything about the importance of utilizing YouTube in your work as a musician. Even if you don’t make anything for a year or so, it helps. YouTube will help you getting your name out there.
To be completely honest, how many times have you ‘listened’ to a track because you liked the visuals of the video? Sometimes, people won’t stream a song on Spotify because musically it’s not something they are into, but the visuals might be so attractive that they can put the video of that same song on repeat.
Blogging is the Way to Find Your Audience Among Aspiring Musicians
Once you have your website set up, you need to start blogging. There are a lot of resources such as “blogging for SEO” and “blogging for business” on the internet, so we won’t go into there this time. Look them up yourself, as they will definitely help with getting engagements and ranking high on search engines. This is especially important if your line of work is in the academics.
Blogging 2-3 times per week is essential to the success of your small business. It’s the way that Google starts to learn that when someone types “studio trumpet player Lancaster, PA” they’re looking for you! Next, you need to create a Facebook page (not your personal page, your business page!), your Google+ page and if you have performance video and the ability to create video on a regular basis, your YouTube page.
As an artist though, you don’t have to literally ‘blog’. Blogging in this case means being active on your social media accounts. Share as much as appropriate to your existing and future audiences. Backstage sneak peaks, new release teases, covers of popular artists are some of the ways in which you can gain attention.
How Long Is This Going to Take?
It’s a process. This is not something you finish on a weekend and have a bunch of customers by Wednesday. While it is possible to set all of this up in a weekend, using social media to get customers and a fan base is a long-term strategy for aspiring musicians. And the results you’re looking for are going to take months to years. It’s important to not lose the motivation and be patient.
If You Don’t Have Time to Manage Your Social Media Accounts, Don’t Do It Half-Heartedly
If you’re working 40 hours a week as a file clerk and your band has gigs on the weekends out of town AND on top of that you practice three evenings a week, you probably don’t have much free time. Social media management done properly is definitely going to need some free time. Each account takes a different level of commitment. Twitter needs to be updated multiple times a day, Facebook needs 2-3 updates every other day (and they have to be strategic updates, not just “I tried that new banana yogurt flavored PopTart #yuck”). Each platform has its own specificities that you need to attend to, unlike with streaming platforms.
That said, even if you decide that managing a Twitter account for your business is too much for you to handle right now, you should still go and create the page anyway. Maybe you will decide you want to amp up your social media strategy one day – what if your name has been taken by then? Or maybe you have more free time to work on social media marketing.
Why should you hire someone else to do social media marketing management for you?
While taking care of everything yourself seemingly saves you a lot of money, it can have it’s downsides as well. It takes the time and energy you can put into creating, performing or coming up with new ideas for your future work. Or simply relaxing. It’s like you can never catch a break. You don’t want to reach the godawful block where artists get stuck and can’t come up with anything new. It can happen because of a burn out.
So when you get bigger, meaning you have more spare income, hire a professional to do all that for you. Once you get even bigger, look into hiring a team of social media managers. Every big name has them for a reason. Of course they still have to report to you about the right vision and direction. It’s not like you will be completely out of touch of the process. In fact, you are going to have more control working with professionals.
Don’t give trolls a chance to go and grab your name on a social media site before you do.
Go out there and grab your name on all the social media sites right now. Even if you don’t ever use them – it still means no one can ever pretend that they’re you and post things on your behalf that don’t reflect well on you. Especially relevant now with the cancel culture and the unimaginable harm it can do to a public persona.
If You Do These Listeners Will Come To You
Starting to see your career as a business, and acting that way is the beginning to having the great success you’ve been dreaming of. But it also means daily focus and attention with the healthy dose of social marketing. Especially important for aspiring musicians. Doesn’t matter the field. Whether you want to become a performing artist, stay backstage or go into academia, marketing is everything today.
Aspiring musicians are told that the path ahead is rough and there’s only a little chance of success. While that can be true, it is possible to make a successful career within the music industry. It just takes lots of time, resources and efforts dedicated to get your name out there. But so does everything else really. And it certainly can be achieved. Good luck, aspiring musicians!