10 Top Marketing Strategies for Musicians

Quality music isn’t enough for musicians to succeed. To make it in the ruthless music industry, artists must also market their work properly. Creating an EPK, investing in video content, and setting up an e-mail marketing strategy are just three examples of top marketing strategies for musicians.

Do you feel like you make great music but your songs aren’t getting the recognition they deserve? You probably need to take some time to consider how you’ve been marketing your music project. If you know nothing about marketing, these 10 top marketing strategies for musicians should come in handy.

1. Create an Electronic Press Kit

An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is a shareable folder containing all the relevant information about your music project. It’s not the same as your music project’s website, accessible to everyone including fans. Ideally, EPKs should only be viewed by music professionals such as journalists, record-label A&Rs, and booking agents.

A band without an EPK is like a businessman without a business card: you can still make it out there, but the industry sharks will always look down on you.

What do you need to create an EPK? While there are many different ways of approaching EPKs, you just need to compile all the information about your music project in a single place. The goal of EPKs is to make deals easier. Music pros engage with up to hundreds of bands daily, so they need to have access to all the relevant facts about a music project as fast as possible. Finding everything they need in one folder is more than convenient.

What do you put inside an EPK? The fundamentals include links to your music, your social media accounts, a bio, and a technical rider. Find out more about what should be in an EPK.

2. Have a strong online presence

This is one of the most evident marketing strategies for musicians, but it’s nonetheless worth mentioning. To make your music get to as many people as possible, you need to upload it to as many places as possible. That makes sense, right?

Virtually all music projects have a Facebook and Instagram profile, but you should always try to take things further and bet on all social media platforms.

The same goes for music platforms such as SoundCloud and Bandcamp, which allow you to upload your music directly. For streaming websites such as Spotify and Apple Music, it’s important to contact a digital music distribution company to start reaching new audiences, featuring in playlists, and even getting paid (check out our article on how much Spotify pays per stream).

If possible, you should also create a music website for your project. Even if it doesn’t get half the engagement your Instagram profile’s been getting, it helps you to look more professional and you have full control of the experience and any data that you capture.

Luckily, there are plenty of high-quality music website builders out there. For more tips on how to develop a website for your music project, take a look at this quick start guide.

Managing multiple social media platforms at a time can be a hassle, but some online tools can make your life easier. Social Champ, for instance, allows you to upload to multiple social media websites at once, manage your analytics, and calendarize posts.

3. Know your target audience

This marketing tip works for everything, not just music. It’s an unbreakable law of marketing that one needs to know its target audience to sell anything, even if it’s music.

Let’s face it: not even the songs of The Beatles please everyone, so it’s very likely that yours will not be unanimously beloved. However, they will surely attract people who enjoy the genre of music you make, listen to the same type of music you listen to, and understand the pop culture references of your generation.

Before spending a dime on ads or even creating content for your music project, you need to understand who is most likely going to find your music exciting and do everything you can to grab their attention. If you’re in a metal band, for example, a graveyard artwork will probably suit your target audience better than an artwork featuring cute kittens. If you’re a dance-music DJ, you probably shouldn’t target people aged over 60 with your Facebook ads.

4. Create video content

You have the music, but now you’re missing the rest. Creating non-musical content (and video content in particular) for your music project is one of the best marketing strategies you can rely on. A music video can be very powerful, working as the visual element your music so desperately needed to truly make an impression.

It’s easy to think of music videos as purely artistic, but their mere existence is a marketing move. A band with a high-quality music video has increased chances of reaching new audiences, landing a record-label deal, and playing music festivals.

Making a music video can seem daunting, but this guide should be very helpful.

5. Contact as many outlets as possible

Print media is not what it used to be, but there are still plenty of music outlets on the Internet that can help you to land new fans. A positive review is always a must, even if it’s not featured in a major press outlet such as Rolling Stone and NME.

Before attracting the attention of the big boys, your music project needs to get featured in the local newspaper, a small niche music blog, the YouTube channel of a music enthusiast, or an up-and-coming music website. But how do you get there?

The key is to find e-mail addresses (usually disclosed online) and send direct e-mails to all the music writers, music blogs, and music websites you can think of. Try to describe your music project as appealingly and concisely as possible while also including links to your social media profiles.

Sending a physical copy of your latest record to a postal address is still the best way to get a review online, so don’t forget to save a few CDs and vinyl records just for this purpose.

6. Pay for live-show ads

Of course, paying for ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google is a good way of marketing your music project. But underground musicians don’t always have a lot of money to spend on ads, so how can they make the most of their money?

The best ads unknown musicians can pay for are live-show ads. If you have a live show next week, you can use social media ads to target the people who live close to the venue and have an interest in music.

These ads matter because they have a real, noticeable impact on your life. The more successful your ad strategy is, the more people will be watching you play live within a week.

7. Collaborate with better-known artists

If an unknown rapper asked me what’s the best way to become famous overnight, I would recommend him to get Drake featured in one of his or her songs. I’m using Drake’s example to make the point that collaborating with better-known artists is one of the most effective ways of reaching a new audience.

If your local band is just getting started, why not talk with an older band and asked them to play the first half of their next show? If you met a rapper who’s more famous than you at a party, what’s so wrong with asking for a feat? And if you respect the work of a well-known electronic musician, why not send him or her a remix of a song?

The point is – Get the attention of musicians that have been around for longer than you, and you will, at the very least, learn something.

By collaborating with better-known artists, you’ll get temporary access to their larger fanbase, meaning that your chances of finding new fans increase exponentially.

8. Freebies for e-mails

Before talking about the importance of a good e-mail marketing strategy, it’s worth mentioning that giving away freebies in exchange for e-mail addresses can be one of the best ways of getting the e-mail addresses of your fans.

The freebies are up to you, but free music downloads are by far the best option. Your music is most likely what people value the most about your project, and a .mp3 file (unlike a physical CD or a piece of merchandising) won’t cost you any money.

Another great method for getting e-mails is to collect the e-mails of the people who attend your live shows. You can do so, for example, by offering a 25% discount on tickets if people leave their e-mail addresses on a piece of paper. The more e-mails you get, the more effective your e-mail marketing strategy will be.

9. E-mail marketing for the win

Building an email list for your music project is still one of the best ways to build a fan-base in a meaningful manner. It takes a lot more time to build these lists, but they tend to have far higher engagement rate than social media, and you’re not at the whims of their algorithms.

If you’re into music, you’re probably on the mailing lists of a few bands. It can be annoying to get yet another e-mail from Band X and Y in your inbox, but one thing’s for sure: for better or worse, you’re always up to date on what’s going on in their lives!

That’s the power of e-mail marketing in a nutshell. Even if most people ignore yet another e-mail with news of your music project’s latest live show or music release, a few will find it relevant and act accordingly. The goal of an e-mail marketing strategy for music should be to ensure that everybody who’s ever stumbled upon your band, even if by accident, is aware of everything your band’s been doing. Trust me, it will make a big difference.

For a comprehensive guide on how to start a band mailing list and reach out to new audiences, click here.

10. Have a strong offline presence

Nowadays, it looks as though the pathway to success in music is exclusively made online. But while it’s true that countless successful artists have built a fanbase exclusively through their computers, it’s undeniable that a strong offline presence is still very important.

The best thing about having a strong offline presence is that you can build meaningful connections with people who can take you places. Having a strong offline presence involves attending showcase festivals and music conferences, but that’s only half of the story. Unlike what many people think, the best networking is fun networking.

The most important connections music pros make with other music pros don’t happen during the conference but during the afterparty. The best connections between musicians don’t happen at showcase festivals, but when two artists share a backstage beer.

In other words, having a strong offline presence is about being there. It’s about getting involved with your local artistic community, going to music venues and art shows, and talking with the people close to you who are into arts. It’s about going to niche music festivals and meeting people who think like you and, who knows, may also work at a booking agency or run an independent record label.

In the music business, you can do a lot of progress online. But if things aren’t working out for you in the digital realm, that’s probably a sign you need to get out of the house more and physically reach out to other musicians and die-hard music fans.

Conclusion

In a perfect world, everybody would know how good your music is. However, there’s plenty of competition on our planet. To make a name for yourself and get to even a fraction of those people, you need to rely on something other than your musical talent.

For better or worse, marketing is the best way of getting into people’s hearts or, at the very least, reaching their ears. If you snub the marketing side of your music career, you’ll either never make it or take a very long time to do so.

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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