If you’re an indie musician, you’ve no doubt spent countless hours trying figure out how to promote your music. Without the resources of an established record label at your disposal, this task can be daunting. The fact of the matter is so many musicians (at one point, myself included) spend their time hoping and looking for a one-size fits all strategy to success with their band promotion. In reality, no such strategy exists. This article is not a cure-all solution to the music marketing woes of the indie artist. It’s simply some firsthand suggestions from someone that’s tried (successfully and not-so-successfully) some techniques that have provided meaningful and measurable growth for my brand, and advice from some of the people in the industry who do what they do best.
How to Promote Your Music-The Basics
A lot of this might sound simple, and for some of you maybe even patronizing, but it boggles my mind when a buddy says their band doesn’t have the basics addressed. To turn a band into a well oiled music marketing machine, the foundation has to be there. Have a well written, sleek looking one page bio to include in a completed electronic press kit (with a couple of songs, photos, and maybe a video) that’s available through your website; this information should be consistent across all of your online pages. Make your contact information easy to find, and keep your pages fresh with new content, announcements, and band promotion material.
Get Yourself Some Press
One of the best ways to get exposure for your new releases or tours is to get the media talking about it. Fans in your target audience find new artists through outlets like Alternative Press and Pitchfork all the time, and while those huge publications might be a little unrealistic of a goal for a newer artist, the same applies for smaller outlets. James Moore of Independent Music Promotions (who did a wonderful job on our pre-release for Life in Static) says “…both advertising and PR/media outreach are so important for independent artists. If you don’t put effort into both these areas, you may wonder why people aren’t getting on board. The reality is that there may be people reading your emails and checking you out, but when there’s no press and only a small social media following, in their eyes you haven’t created any momentum or invested in yourself. So why should they bother following you?” While your budget is probably tight as an indie band, a good publicist might be a good investment. James works with independent bands constantly, and may be one of the few heavy hitters in the industry that still chases after ‘music with depth’ as opposed to a runner up on American Idol. He compares the DIY approach in this area to door to door sales, stating “a professional publicist has spent years cultivating close personal contacts who are like friends or business partners. [T]his is where virtually ALL results come in. It’s all human. Barely any press comes from sending music out to a list.”
Network with Bands and Fans
Your band needs to take over your hometown, and build a following by playing and attending shows, but honestly you should know this already. Taking over other cities, though, is a different story. Don’t just chit-chat and promote to similar artists and potential fans, network with them. Build relationships with bands in cities within touring distance that are on your general level; trade shows to build each other up in the new market or tour together and utilize your first fans there. James also suggests utilizing online advertising to crack open new markets. “There are many ways to hyper-target advertisements on Facebook as well as a host of other sites and social media outlets. It especially helps to have relevance to the area such as live shows…” I don’t claim to have reached the pinnacle of success in the music industry. This post doesn’t even scratch the surface, and I’ll probably be blogging a bit more about music marketing later on, but above all I value the advice of other artists and people in the industry who know how to promote your music, and it’s my hope that I can pass some of it along myself. Cheers!