Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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

February 16, 2012

3 Ways to Crush It With Your Music Marketing!

Are you serious about promoting your music? Are you ready to move beyond lip service and take concrete actions to move your music career forward?

If you truly embrace the following three ideas and make them a part of your marketing DNA, I guarantee you’ll crush it with your music marketing!

1) Do Something Every Day

For a moment, let’s talk about your physical health. Let’s say that you decide you’d be better off if you lost 20 pounds and tightened up your stomach muscles and other areas of your body. The first week, you work out three times and feel the burn. Then two weeks pass by before you exercise again. A month later, you find time to work out one more time.

Then you look at yourself in the mirror and think, “I don’t look or feel much different. Why isn’t this stuff working?”

You know the reason. You can’t lose 20 pounds and get in shape by exercising sporadically. In the same way, you can’t promote your music effectively by doing it every once in a while, when you happen to find time to squeeze it in.

Too many musicians think about self-promotion in terms of the big media blitz. They use terms like “push” and “hype” and believe that one big wave of promotion will launch a music buzz that will somehow continue without any further effort from them. Sorry, but that isn't the way a successful music career works.

From now on, stop thinking about the Big Push and start getting in tune with the idea of small self-promotion activities engaged in on a daily basis.

The thing is, with this approach, progress is tough to measure. Just like one exercise session won’t produce noticeable results, every day or week you promote your music may not appear to bear fruit. But over the course of weeks, months and years, the continuous effort generates a tremendous payoff.

Every day, do something to promote your music. Reply to an email from a fan. Send a review copy of your CD to a new media source. Call a venue or talent buyer to set up a gig. Talk to another artist about a cross-promotion idea. Post something interesting to your social media profiles.

The activity doesn’t have to be earth shaking. As long as the actions you take are focused on connecting with more fans, doing something simple every day will reap huge rewards just three to six months from now. I guarantee it.

2) Be Consistent with Your Message

Once you start reaching out to fans via highly targeted avenues, it’s important to send a rock-solid message. Your goal is to get a growing number of fans to make a mental connection between your name, your musical style, and the unique way that you approach your music. You can’t accomplish that goal by being inconsistent.

Keep in mind that people are bombarded every day with thousands of messages. Your self-promotion efforts are in competition not only with other musical acts of all types, but with all forms of media – radio, TV, Internet, print magazines, video games, smartphone apps, and more. People will need to hear your message repeatedly before it’ll even begin to sink in.

That’s why consistency is crucial. If you use one photo or motto one month and an altered, unrelated photo or motto the next month, people will become confused and indifferent to who you are as an artist. Your identity will become vague, causing fans to turn their attention to matters they can more easily get a handle on.

Make good use of a Brand Identity Statement (BIS), which is a short sentence or motto that clearly describes who you are, what you play, and why people should care. Creating a BIS forces you to define your musical image. Once you’re locked into that identity, every time you create an email, web page, album cover, poster, press release, or prepare for an interview, you should ask yourself, “Is this communicating and reinforcing my core identity?”

If your answer is no, redo the thing until it’s tightly focused on the message you need to be sending.

3) Be Bold, Exciting and Different

The best self-promoters aren’t afraid to take calculated risks. They also aren’t squeamish about pursuing marketing avenues that are fun, fresh and innovative. Too many songwriters and musicians play it safe and stick to traditional promotion tools that won’t rock the boat. I encourage you to stretch yourself and be willing to take some chances – when appropriate.

One band from Chicago delivered its new CD to radio disc jockeys and record store managers along with a fresh, hot pizza. You can believe that tactic made the band stand out from the crowd. Another artist persuaded the mayor of her small town to proclaim a special day in her honor. What exciting angle might you use to gain exposure?

Brace yourself. Trying something new and different will push your panic button through the roof. The fear of the unknown is the single greatest factor that maintains the status quo. But if you are to become an effective music promoter, you must push through your apprehension and be willing to go for it.

Warning: I’m not suggestion that you engage in crazy gimmicks for the sake of being different. Carelessly parading yourself before fans and the media without a purpose could easily backfire, and that wouldn’t help your cause one bit.

However, if an out-of-the-box promotion idea reinforces your musical identity, has the potential to connect with your ideal fans, and seems like it might have media exposure possibilities … don’t be shy about it.

Quite often, greater success lies just outside of your comfort zone. So don’t be afraid to be bold, exciting and different!

What are your thoughts on these three ways to crush it with your music career?

I welcome your comments.

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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:57 AM   3 comments

February 08, 2012

Six Steps to Making Money with Music in 2012

Enjoy this guest post by Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR.

It’s been hard to wrap my head around making money with music in 2012. I speak to so many musicians who used to make a lot more, and now it’s time to re-think your approach.

Paying attention to the advice in this article could help you make more money this year. That’s my hope.

Marketing 101 – Your List

The first step towards this is back to Marketing 101 and a topic many musicians don’t like: building your email list and using it regularly. Communicating regularly and consistently with your fan base and then asking them for money only after you have built trust and rapport (when the time is right).

Artists tend to misuse their email lists by only reaching out to their fans when they have something to sell (a show, a new release, etc). Sadly, they never reach out to their fans for other reasons: to bond, share a funny story, or invite everyone out to the local bowling alley on a Tuesday night for a hang.

Every study on sales has proven one thing: People hate to be sold to (think about the “used car salesman” stereotype). However, people love to buy, and people always buy from people they like and trust.

That’s how great sales people sell – they create relationships with their customers, they know what their customers will want, and they stay in their customers’ hearts and minds till the customer is ready to buy.

My dear friend and Cyber PR artist Amelia Gewirtz, of Parents With Angst, sells real estate. Throughout each year she sends me thoughtful gifts that I look forward to receiving. In the summer she sends me a list of fun free outdoor concerts and activities around New York. At Christmas she sends me a Zagat Guide with her name printed on the cover.

I know MANY real estate agents, but guess who I recommend when anyone calls me asking for a recommendation? That’s right … Amelia! Read more about her music here.

Now you may be freaking out here a bit. You may feel like your fans are not customers in your mind. Your fans don’t “buy” from you and you do not consider them in that light – I totally understand this. But I am asking you to take off your artist hat for a minute and put on your business hat. The truth is: Your fans are your customers. They give you money to support your creative livelihood.

You (your music and your art) are a brand, and if you want to make money you should begin to think of your music and assets as if they were a product line.

Based on looking at it in this light, here are six questions to consider:

1) Do you have a large fan base to sell to?

This means:
A) An email list
B) An active Facebook community
C) Twitter Followers
D) Blog readers (and your blog cross posted on Tumblr, Twitter,, Facebook)

I consider a real fan base a minimum (between all sites) of:
1,000 on your email list and
5,000 in your social networks

2) What is your product line?

Do you only sell CDs and MP3s?
Do you have assorted merchandise?
A fan club or monthly offerings?
Do you tell your mailing list you are available to play private events and parties or weddings or BBQs?

3) Are your monthly newsletters well designed, consistent and trackable?

Choosing a Newsletter Provider
There are many reputable newsletter platforms available. We have had very positive experiences with the ones listed below. These different descriptions will help you choose which provider will be best for you.

If you want more control over the HTML design, the contact list itself, etc., we recommend FanBridge. It’s very easy to import your existing contacts using an Excel file. They also make it possible to set up a “Fan Incentive” where fans can trade you their email addresses in exchange for music (e.g. an MP3, which is a phenomenal way to accumulate contacts). It is also possible to update all your statuses for FanBridge, Facebook, and Twitter from the FanBridge dashboard.

If you are looking for a one-stop shop for both your newsletter and your online commerce, Nimbit is the place. If you are ready to set storefronts on your homepage or on Facebook, we would recommend looking into what they have to offer. Do be aware that as of this writing, they take a 20% cut of all transactions through their storefronts (fees of this type are fairly common).

ReverbNation's FanReach
If you are already using ReverbNation, there is no reason to leave. They have a great service when it comes to newsletter management. They also have great widgets that may appeal to you. You can use it for full integration.

4) Have you asked your fans what they want to buy?

Interview them and ask! Your fans may want coffee mugs or yoga mats and, unless you ask, you will never know.

For Newsletters: Survey Monkey
Use to run a survey on your newsletter list.

For Twitter: Twtpoll
Use to send a survey via Twitter

For Facebook: Polldaddy Polls
Use this app to send a poll to your Facebook personal profile or Facebook Fan Page!

5) Do you have another talent that your fans don’t know about?

Remember the story about Amelia who sells real estate?
Do you paint?
Do you write?
Is there another way you can make money that your fans may want to know about?

6) Can you create some sort of monthly program that your fans might pay a monthly fee for?

How about a live track of the month club or a special new song you are working on? Would your fans pay $2 a month for that? (That’s $24 a year per fan, and that can add up.)

Read all about how artist Matthew Ebel achieved this here.

Money Making Steps - Recap:

1. Build your email list!! Every day think about how you can inspire more people to subscribe to your list.

2. Communicate regularly and consistently using HTML emails.

3. When your list gets to be at least 1,000 strong, ASK them what they might like from you and how much they will pay.

4. Create products and fan clubs and house concerts to satisfy your fans!

5. Count your money $$ ... Cha-Ching!

Ariel Hyatt is the founder of Ariel Publicity and Cyber PR, and the author of Music Success in Nine Weeks.
Get more tips like these when you subscribe to my free Buzz Factor ezine — the longest running music career tips email newsletter on the planet. Since 1995. Learn more about the free subscription here.

Or just sign up using this quick and easy form:

Your First Name
Your Primary Email

Your email address will not be shared. Unsubscribe at any time.

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posted by Bob Baker @ 3:21 PM   2 comments