Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros

December 30, 2011

2012 Music Marketing Trends & Predictions - Part 1

It's that time of the year to compile a list of music marketing trends and predictions for the new year. So get out your crystal ball, ouija board, or whatever you use to predict the future. Of course, educated guesses and common sense also work here :-)

This year I turned to some of my favorite people in the music world and asked them for their best advice on how independent artists should prepare for 2012. Here are the first five responses. Read Part 2 here.

Brian Felsen – President of CD Baby

The music industry is changing so rapidly that it’s difficult to predict which trends and services will prevail in the year ahead, but here are a few things we’re seeing:

- Streaming companies such as Spotify will continue to gain traction, so sharing music online will be more important than ever. Musicians will have to find new ways to encourage fans to share their music without sounding like they are begging.

- As there is no shortage of new content being created, it will continue to be challenging for an artist to cut through the noise. Although release-frequency will be higher than it was ten years ago, with EPs and singles dominating the market, there is still plenty of room for the release of an album as an event.

- Monetizing music will continue to shift to ancillary sources of revenue. Sync licensing of music for uses in traditional broadcast media, film, and on YouTube will pay the bills for many musicians. (In fact, some of our artists have sold thousands of albums in a week after getting a sync spot on a minor show – and that’s in *addition* to the actual payment for the spot itself and the publishing royalties that will come in as it’s replayed!)

The non-digital aspects of music, such as for vinyl, tapes, CDs, live shows, events, appearances, collaborations, and merch will continue to offer musicians new ways to make money. And direct-to-fan sales will coexist with “traditional” online retail outlets to offer places for consumers to find, hear, and purchase music.

Michael Brandvold

Mobile - Mobile has been hot for a couple of years, but I think in the next year you are going to see mobile becoming your primary source for creating content and engaging with your fans. You need to see your smartphone as something as important to your career as a guitar or microphone. Your smartphone is your new computer and it is how you connect with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and your website. Your smartphone is the tool that is going to capture photos and videos that your fans are waiting for you to post to your social networks and website. Get a smartphone and start getting comfortable.

Facebook Commerce - I thought that 2011 was going to be the year of Facebook commerce. It didn't completely take off, but 2011 set up Facebook commerce for 2012. Artists need to think of commerce differently on Facebook than they are used to on their own website. Commerce on Facebook has the potential to be so much more powerful than traditional commerce. With all the social aspects of Facebook, your fans will become your best sales team, and they will do it at your request. But, you have to lead them. You have to think of your products as news, as information worth sharing. You need to ask them to share your products. Lead your fans to help sell your products.

Being Overwhelmed - This is an unfortunate trend I have seen growing over the last year and it is not going to get any better in 2012. Artists need to get their career and life organized and in order if they plan to take on the DIY challenge. There are so many social networks, tools and services out there that becoming overwhelmed is very easy if you aren't in control. You don't need to use every website, every social network. Prioritize where to spend your time: Your website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Those four are the most important. If you can get them in control, then look at expanding into other services. Don't fall into the trap of signing up for everything and then not using anything.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. By this I mean that the core fundamentals of music are still the same. Playing live and building a fan base. Everything that is coming in 2012, all the new technologies, new tools, new applications, new sites … none of it will replace a fan base. And one of the best and most consistent ways to build a fan base (along with improving your music, I might add) is playing live. Get out there and do shows. Treat them all like a major gig to a sold-out audience. Work each show with a plan and a purpose. Use everything available to you online to help you build, manage and engage with your fan base.

Michael Laskow – Founder and CEO of TAXI

We've all chuckled at the Sham Wow guy's pitch in his commercials. But he says something profound in his pitch that should be noted by all marketers, whether you're selling widgets or your music: “It practically sells itself!”

Before you worry about marketing your music, make sure you've got music that “practically sells itself.” If your songs are so good that one person tell another, then marketing becomes your way to pour more fuel on the fire.

My prediction for 2012 is that more musicians will become keenly aware that they need to make a product - their music - that is SO good, they will actually have something that IS marketable. Great songs practically sell themselves!

Brian Thompson

2011 was an extremely important year in the evolution of the music business, digital media, and the opportunities available for the indie artist and entrepreneur.

One of the most notable developments in 2011 was the beginning of the mainstream acceptance of digital music subscription services. Spotify clearly led the pack but was backed by strong competition from Rdio, MOG, Slacker and Rhapsody (and Deezer in Europe).

We also saw deeper integration of mobile devices into the lives of everyday people. What was once thought of as toys for techies are now commonplace. Virtually everyone is now walking around with full-featured, Internet-enabled smartphones in our pockets, equipped with amazing cameras and instant access to the Web, digital cloud services, and all of the social media networks which our culture has become addicted to.

2012 is going to see a continued convergence of these trends into our lifestyles. A digital and connected life has become the norm, replacing almost all of the old ways we used to consume media.

Mainstream acceptance of streaming music, social media, social recommendation apps, social sharing, cloud computing, and everything-mobile has created the perfect environment for artists to get their music heard and to create a meaningful community of passionate fans.

A year from now we'll be much further along in accepting that people no longer want to buy digital album downloads. Music fans want to simply stream their music, having everything available no matter where they may be or what device they're using. By embracing this fact as the Future Of Music, artists can now focus on building their music career outside of focusing solely on iTunes or Amazon sales.

The spotlight will continue to shine brighter on the successes of direct-to-fan marketing and the selling of limited-edition physical goods (scarcity).

2012 will be a year of opportunities for any artist who isn't afraid to embrace all aspects of the digital lifestyle. The artists who win will be those who aren't afraid to take chances and be creative in the online world.

This is the year to go for it. Build your online community and crush it like no other artist around you. Embrace crowd sourcing, fan funding, and direct-to-fan marketing. Build your websites and social profiles, invest time in them and create relationships with your fans. Be creative and try new things using the endless array of digital tools that are now at your disposal.

By focusing on where the music fan is going, not where they've already been, you'll be able to carve out a niche for yourself that's all your own.

Bruce Houghton

1) As the shift from buying music to renting (subscriptions) accelerates in 2012, artists and the industry must adjust their marketing efforts to also encourage discovery and the play of both new releases and back catalog.

2) As people consume more music and information on mobile touch screens running on multiple platforms, how we deliver and market music must also change. 2012 will see an explosion of mobile friendly sites alongside artist and album apps.

3) The rapid fall of MySpace and rise of Facebook serve as powerful reminders that in 2012, an artist’s own website and email list are still the hub.

4) Direct-to-fan. Direct-to-fan. Direct-to-fan.

What do YOU think of these music trend predictions? What would you add? Please comment and add your ideas!

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posted by Bob Baker @ 10:58 AM   11 comments


At Dec 30, 2011, 2:21:00 PM, Anonymous Scott Bolen said...

2012 is the year for Multimedia + Social Media + Mobile + Intelligent SEO, if an indie artist can figure out how to combine these 4 concepts they will be a force to be reckoned with. This killer combo is a juggernaut on steroids, get ahead of the curve now and ride this wave to success in 2012!

Hope your New Year Rocks!

If you need SEO tips drop me a line

At Jan 1, 2012, 7:26:00 PM, Blogger Mark PInkus said...

Excellent all round comments. Things are shifting, and shifting fast. it is becoming more and more a DIY business. We have to be like warriors, survival of the fittest in the ever fast changing musical world. Thanks for the news. best regards, mark Pinkus

At Jan 1, 2012, 7:31:00 PM, Anonymous Mark Pinkus said...

excellent comments. the music industry has become more and more a DIY scenario. We have to be like warriors to persevere. There is so much to learn, but action is the key. And the effort never ends. Thanks for the news.

At Jan 1, 2012, 11:05:00 PM, Blogger Big Clayton said...

All the points stood out strong to me. The main thing I'm starting with is better quality of material. I also bought Bob's guerilla guide and that has already made a huge impact. Thanks again.

At Jan 1, 2012, 11:28:00 PM, Anonymous Clara said...

Happy New year! Thank you for all the info, updates, points of view! For me 2012 is the most exciting time to be a musician so far. One thing I did not read much about here is the fact that musicians can't do it on their own, and need to have a team they manage. DIY yes, but on your own is not possible. I have a lot of musicians friends. While most of them know that the music industry landscape has changed, only few have adjusted and have a team. I think it's a remnant of them waiting for someone to handle everything but the music. That's a sure way to be in "Overwhelm".

At Jan 2, 2012, 2:49:00 AM, Anonymous Marc said...

Thanks for this post, Bob. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of talk about Direct To Fan marketing. Sounds obvious. Yet, I'm still waiting for the first clear explanation of what a Fan is. Is it a girl that dreams of marrying Justin Bieber? Is it someone who has bought one song of you before? Or has a real fan bought at least two songs? Or five songs? Is it your friend who would not have bought your album if you weren't the artist? Or one who signed up on your mailing list to get a free mp3? Is a fan someone who saw you live and applauded a couple of times? Or one who would give you your money no matter what you would give in return? Is another artist who says to be your fan so you become his "fan" a fan? Maybe a fan is one who only listens to your music through Spotify? One who made the effort to hit the Like button on your Facebook page because of the captivating intro of the first track? Or one who genuinely loves your music but never signs up to mailing lists because he/she hates mailbox junk?

Maybe all these people are fans. But if that's the case, you need a zillion different marketing strategies to get some sort of result. So, please, let's first decide who's a fan before we talk about marketing at all.

At Jan 2, 2012, 9:28:00 AM, Blogger Robert said...

Trends are not really going the way of the artist in the digital era.OK,more independence,but sales being further dampened by Spotify etc,fans not willing to pay for music etc,plus competition is huge.Sync licencing is selling your soul to an extent-what is advertising?
I know this sounds cynical,but have to ask the question
Are cyberfans true fans?

At Jan 2, 2012, 10:29:00 AM, Blogger FeralReason said...

Nice informative post. (Despite having a son who works for Rdio) I'm new to this music marketing thing. I have a local jazz singer (my first music client) for a web development customer. So I'm learning tons about direct-to-fan marketing first hand, and reading everything I can find :)

At Jan 13, 2012, 6:29:00 AM, Anonymous Tamal said...

As said in this post, great music will find it's audience but to stand out when everyone is shouting at the same time, you need to incorporate social media with your strategy. Social media is your friend in 2012 that's all I have to say.

At Mar 8, 2012, 6:52:00 AM, Anonymous Small Business Websites said...

I was actually just over at SEO research labs before I read this post. Awesome stuff. You seem to make good recommendations so I’ll have to check out the ones on this list that I don’t know.

At Apr 29, 2012, 1:29:00 AM, Blogger Ronilo Apin said...

Thanks for that music blog update. Everyone, for sure, might be aware on how to sell and convince with their songs, a great competition has started and might grown up between singers. But, who would do best and be at the top on this musical world?


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