A musician’s career typically starts with writing music, practicing with band members, recording in a studio, and performing live. However, suppose you want to make music for the rest of the world to hear and appreciate. In that case, your talent, artistic work, and long practice hours will not be enough to get you on the glorious path you envision for yourself, entering the world of the music business. Therefore, your music being heard by your target audience is your biggest challenge, and here all the philosophy begins.
Your music needs to be effectively marketed to that dear group of people in addition to being well-written. Yes, those good old marketing strategies! However, if you believe it is wrong to view your music as a product that needs to be marketed, widely distributed, and sold because you are an artist and not a salesman, then Houston, we have a problem! Keep reading, and you will learn why a music marketing strategy is a crucial part of a musician’s toolkit and what kind of marketing plans you need.
Why Do You Need a Good Music Marketing Plan That Works to Succeed in the Music Industry?
The music industry is extremely competitive nowadays. More and more musicians and artists are attempting to share their work with the world as social media platforms and other opportunities to gain attention grow. It can be very discouraging for musicians to discover they don’t have many listeners after digitally distributing their music to all major platforms.
A music marketing strategy can give you specific action steps you can take to advance in your career. It can also give you a high-level view of what you want to achieve as an artist. But don’t worry, you’ll find all the necessary information in the following text. Remember, don’t let the word “marketing” scare you because many of the topics we’ll be discussing are already familiar to you!
The Basics of Marketing Planning
A marketing plan takes into account a company’s value proposition as well as the advertising strategies it will employ to draw in customers. The broad promise of value that will be provided to the customer is known as the value proposition. It should outline a product’s or brand’s benefits, how it addresses the customer’s issues, and why they should purchase from this business rather than another. This value proposition forms the foundation of marketing planning.
Let’s make this personal—you are the company, your music is the product, and your customers are the music fans. To be able to reach your targeted audience, you first need to have something unique to offer them! That’s where your fantastic music steps in. However, finding one beautiful pearl in the vast ocean is tough.
You need to take several smartly chosen steps to reach the people who will enjoy, appreciate, and become compelled by your music. And guess what? Those innovative steps lead you to the making of your marketing plans. Finally, you and your audience can happily embrace each other after that. This is actually the meaning of all those fancy words you’ve read in the first paragraph. Everything is quite applicable, right?
Photo by Suvan Chowdhury
5 Questions Regarding Your (Music) Marketing Plan
There are 5 basic questions you should ask yourself before starting to make your music marketing plan. Those are:
First of all, you should determine what you are planning on marketing. As a musician, you should be able to understand and define the value of the music you are offering to the world. Then try making specific goals to help you understand why you are making a marketing plan. Regarding who, try identifying your potential audience and balancing what you offer with their needs. Afterward, you need to determine how to use specific marketing approaches and tactics and where to look for your key marketing channels.
What Should Your Music Marketing Plan Contain?
When you answer those 5 questions that were previously stated, your fundamental music marketing plan should incorporate the following:
- Making a brand
- A list of goals
- SWOT analysis
- Target audience
- A budget
- Promotion tools
- Key marketing channels
Establish Your Personal Brand First
Take a look at famous brands and try to define their most distinctive features. In other words, what is the first thing you associate with the chosen brand? Is it a message they carry or an interesting visual presentation that is so memorable? Sometimes, they have a unique quality that is difficult to describe in words. To summarize this intricate and protracted tale, branding refers to all elements that help consumers recognize and value your unique brand.
The first step in creating a music marketing plan is to take on the challenging task of comprehending and defining your brand. You must delve deep to uncover your core values. You must determine your brand’s goals and balance them with audience expectations.
Discover your purpose! Although it may sound a bit existentialist, you should ask yourself what big goal you hope to achieve and what you want to be known for. You already embody the purpose; it is something you stand for and hold dear. It will be much simpler for you to decide what to do next once you can respond to those questions.
However, why walk when you can run? Learn from your favorite artists and those who are successful in what they do. Make a list of your top musical influences. Then list the adjectives you would use to describe them, such as youthful, mature, confident, chill, fun, etc. Later on, this will assist you in determining how to describe your own band.
Dig a little deeper into the analysis. You’ll discover that their music embodies their overall philosophy, sense of self, personality, beliefs, values, and style. That is exactly what you should discover within yourself! When your brand is in harmony with your identity, maintaining it is much simpler.
Because we live in a visual world, the visual aspect of your work will help you be more recognizable no matter what you do. Establish a visual identity—create an image collection that you want people to associate with your brand and design your logo, profile picture, album art, or specific aesthetic of your music videos that will follow you whenever you present your music to others.
Try to reduce your brand into a few sentences after gathering your inspiration. Concentrate on your emotions and values. If you don’t stay true to who you are, your brand won’t possess that heartfelt quality that can’t be explained.
Identify Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Treats
You may have heard of SWOT analysis, which is commonly used by businesses to analyze the market. However, as a musician, you should use it to assess your own abilities—or lack thereof.
- Be aware of your strengths! Are you good at social media or video editing? Ask yourself what skills you can use to promote your music. These advantages will enable you to prioritize your marketing efforts.
- Similarly, figure out your weaknesses so you can find people or services to cover them.
- Use any opportunity to be seen or heard by others. Maybe you have a friend you can collaborate with that will bring you more exposure, or there is an exciting music contest. Always keep those in mind and use them at the right time.
- List down anything that could threaten to affect your music in the near and long term. Perhaps you rely too heavily on an untrustworthy freelancer for social media marketing. Or perhaps you sell your CDs via an unstable website. Find the safest solutions for anything that might impede your growth, and feel free to make any adjustments you think are necessary.
Many musicians skip this step, but I believe it is essential for creating music marketing plans. Otherwise, you risk taking on tasks you’re not particularly good at or ignoring clear threats that could endanger your music career. It might be useful to know some of the industry’s facts on how to get on a Spotify playlist and what songs selected for placement have in common.
Carefully Manage Your Goals
Approaching marketing without a clear goal in mind is one of the biggest mistakes I see musicians make. Without a target, marketing is frequently reactive and aimless. Because there are no metrics to compare against, you can never tell if your strategies are effective.
Your next step should be to identify your objectives. There are four kinds of goals:
Subjective goals define achievements or artistic accomplishments that you want to achieve. These objectives include things like “collaborating with a certain number of musicians” and so on. Once you complete them, you will be able to measure your progress.
Objective goals define specific numbers that you wish to achieve. For example, you may want to increase a certain number of your followers and streams on platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, etc., in a certain amount of time. You can set a specific number and follow its progress over time. For example, “get more plays” is not an efficient goal, but “get 10,000 plays in 2 months” is. This type of goal should be relevant, specific, and time-bound.
It’s critical to comprehend the distinction between long-term and short-term goals before developing your goals. Short-term objectives are typically considered accomplishments that can be completed in a few months or a year. Usually, it takes several years or more to accomplish long-term goals.
One action does not always result in the achievement of a professional goal. A long-term goal is typically accomplished through a number of steps. Your short-term goals can be achieved much more quickly when you focus on them. Consider where you want to be in a few years and understand what you can accomplish in a short time versus what requires many smaller steps to get you there in a year or two.
Additionally, divide your objectives into:
- What can I do by myself and when?
You can choose, for instance, how frequently and when to post on social media. The results are better when your goal is more specific.
- For what do I need the help of others?
Some goals can only be accomplished by collaborating with others. For example, this applies when you need to be interviewed, be a guest on a certain podcast, or ask your followers to share, comment, and like your YouTube or TikTok videos. Our article Make Your Song Go Viral on TikTok may help.
Learn Who Can Become Your Target Audience
Your audience has one of the biggest effects on your music marketing strategy. Your audience will determine where you market yourself, the types of marketing tools you employ, and even the tone of your brand. Your marketing strategy will be very different if you want to draw in fans of EDM between the ages of 18 and 30, as opposed to fans of country music between the ages of 40 and 50. Finding your new audiences will be simpler more specific you are.
Learn more about your audience. That’s what you want to do! You have to find their interests, favorite hangouts, demographic information, preferred online social platforms, and much more.
Before defining your audience, you must determine the following:
- There is a “built-in” audience for every musical genre and subgenre. You will be able to relate to your listeners better if you can define your genre.
- Find genre-specific writings on music. Look for blogs, journals, websites, newsletters, and even social media. Examining the topics these publications cover besides music, determine what matters to your audience.
- There’s no need to start from scratch because your audience is likely already established. Do some research to learn about the marketing strategies, messaging, and branding used by the top artists in your genre.
- Determine the demographics of your audience (age, gender, and educational level). To extract the necessary demographic and psychographic data, you can make use of a variety of free and inexpensive online tools. For example, to find your preferred music genre on Facebook, use the tool called Audience Insights. Additionally, you can set up Google Analytics tracking on your website to monitor demographic information about your visitors (such as their age, gender, and location) as well as their interests.
- Take inspiration from your audience. Examine the preferences of your target audience. What genres of music, movies, clothes, and works of art do your future fans enjoy? Are there any elements you could use in your branding?
Create a Budget That Will Cover Your Expenses
You can always do as many as possible for free, but let’s be honest here. There are many small expenses that can add up over time, such as building a professional website for your music, distributing your tracks, or buying guitar strings. You might even want to use advertising to further your objective. In that case, you should set a budget and make a detailed plan. Manage your budget according to your needs and know your top priorities.
For instance, if you plan to book and perform 10 shows, your main expenses will likely be gas, accessories (such as guitar strings, drumsticks, batteries), equipment rentals (such as a guitar amp), and advertising if you plan to promote the shows more widely. It’s always a good idea to calculate the costs beforehand. Hopefully, these costs will be covered by ticket sales, merchandise, etc., but it is always good to be prepared for any outcome.
Photo by Hendrik B
Where and How to Promote Your Music
Finding the proper marketing channels that will make your marketing strategy shine is never easy. Before determining which DIY music marketing plan to create, you need to consider everything you’ve read. In the following text, check out these 9 key marketing channels that will help you promote your music and get the exposure you need.
Build a Music Website
As a musician, your brand is fundamentally based on your website. Do not give in to the idea that you don’t need a website because of social media and streaming services. A website serves as your online resume, where you can showcase and sell your albums, list the dates of your events, interact with your audience, and simply tell your story.
When it comes to focusing the audience’s attention on just one thing—in this case, your music—a one-page website is preferable. Make sure the navigation on your website is clear and simple so that others can quickly find the information they seek.
The good news is that creating a website does not have to be costly or time-consuming. To save time and money, choose website builders with professionally designed pre-made templates. This means that creating a website can actually be quite easy and affordable.
Use Digital Platforms to Distribute Your Music
The development of digital technologies has made it simpler to connect with your target audience, and great examples are music streaming services. I am sure you’ve heard of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Deezer, SoundCloud, YouTube Music, and many more. Look into the features and capabilities of each platform, compare them, and, if you are satisfied with the service they provide, use them to share your music.
These platforms simplify sharing songs, uploading albums, and interacting with music fans. Always keep your target market in mind; hopefully, you’ve already defined it in your marketing strategy. You should know which digital streaming platform your potential fans are using. You will also have to make make the most of your Spotify artist profile.
Keep in mind that you will receive more exposure the more platforms you are active on. For electronic music and remixes, for instance, Soundcloud is fantastic. So make sure you’re on Soundcloud if you create this kind of music.
On the other hand, by locating unaffiliated or independent Spotify curators, you can get your song included on a variety of Spotify playlists. Artists setting out on their Spotify journey might consider using services like SoundCampaign, as we give them more time to ensure everything goes as expected and meets all expectations of quality playlists! SoundCampaign is a promotion company that helps musicians get their songs featured on Spotify by connecting artists with playlist curators.
Use Social Media for Music Promotion
It seems unnecessary to mention that social media is one of the most well-known music marketing strategies, given that 58.4% of the world’s population uses social networks. It can increase fan engagement, help you find new listeners for your music, and perhaps even help your upcoming song go viral!
Social media platforms can aid in creating a strong fan base for music. Create your social media accounts, publish original content, and communicate with your audience frequently. To meet new people, you can also share your work in social media music groups.
People eagerly share inspiring and entertaining content because they enjoy it. They particularly enjoy video content, which is advantageous for you. An engaging video featuring your song has the power to grab viewers’ attention.
Learn about Instagram video marketing, TikTok promotion, and Facebook video marketing. You’ll eventually notice the growth of your community if you use the most efficient social media marketing strategies to promote your music and utilize the same platforms as your target audience.
Use Live Streaming Platforms to Your Advantage
Live streams are an excellent way to strengthen your audience relationships and increase the effectiveness of your music marketing campaigns. Real-time communication with your listeners will help you develop a loyal following. Talk about what your audience wants to hear from you and occasionally give live performances.
To go live, you can try Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or Youtube Live, among other platforms.
And suppose social media platforms don’t work for you. In that case, there is a large selection of other live streaming platforms like Concert Window, StageIt, Twitch, YouNow, etc.
Discover Musicians to Work With
If you want to increase your fan base, try to establish connections with other musicians. You can work together with bands and artists who are currently at your level. It would be simpler to communicate with producers on an equal footing, particularly when you are still growing your audience. However, contacting more well-known artists will significantly advance your career.
Working together with DJs is an additional choice. They are able to remix your music and play it for their audience. This is a tried-and-true tactic that has made many musicians stand out.
Contact Social Media Influencers
Who are the influencers? A person who has a sizable following across several social media sites is an influencer. They could be well-known YouTubers, public figures, bloggers, or vloggers.
Find relevant influencers in your niche and get in touch with them to work together. They can start a new dance challenge with your music and give you credit, or they can use your song as the soundtrack for their videos. This will be very helpful to you, especially if you’re just starting to expand your audience. Access to their audience will allow you to market your music more effectively.
Contact Music Bloggers
You can get the word out about releasing your new song or album by contacting music bloggers. Many people use various music blogs to find new music. In order to reach that audience, get in touch with bloggers you’d like to collaborate with and attempt to be featured in their blog posts.
Try to establish connections with any relevant bloggers you find, and you must create an excellent pitch for your music. If you have a music video available, send it along with some basic information about your work, the genre, and what makes it special. To highlight your distinctiveness, offer music bloggers your music, story, and branding.
Create Music-related Video Tutorials
Making tutorial videos as a professional musician can make you an invaluable resource for aspiring musicians. This could be an excellent start if you want to advance your career. Your audience will be more eager to support your music if you provide them with more value and information.
Including your tutorials on your website is one of the best ways to spread the word about them. Sharing those videos on YouTube is a fantastic additional option. Make playlists for your tutorials as soon as you begin to upload them to YouTube. Playlists are a great way to keep viewers interested.
Send Your Contacts an Email Newsletter
You can build relationships with fans on social media, but email is where you convert those relationships into clients. The Direct Marketing Association estimates that email marketing generates a return on investment of 4,300%. According to ExactTarget, every dollar spent generates a return of $44.
However, it goes beyond creating a strong newsletter and communicating with your mailing list. You also need to understand the concept of email nurture sequences. This entails writing 3- or 4-part emails that take readers on a journey, share a story with them, and help them get to know you better.
Photo by Bich Tran
Take marketing seriously, and keep in mind everything you just read. Afterward, you will have a great knowledge of your brand, capabilities, audience, and promotion tools. With all of this information in hand, you can put it all together to create your marketing strategy.
Creating music marketing plans might seem like a lot. However, once you start your marketing campaign, you’ll notice that your marketing mix becomes much more organized, and you’ll have less trouble establishing yourself in the music industry. With those marketing efforts, you’ll also get a deeper understanding of your own brand and target audience.
Don’t miss an opportunity to showcase your value and uniqueness. By opening your world to new fans, you can become someone who is needed by your audience. Success is assured by thinking like a businessperson, so don’t be afraid to become one!