Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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

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.
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posted by Bob Baker @ 3:21 PM   2 comments


At Feb 9, 2012, 3:03:00 AM, Anonymous Dacey said...

Really nice methods for music promotion and thanks for the idea and i am sure that these thing effects the music promotion and make your music famous among your audience

At Mar 5, 2012, 5:15:00 PM, Anonymous Alice said...

I really like that you are giving us some numbers here. 1000 people on my mailing list would definitely be awesome (working on it).


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