Working in a marketing agency, I am surrounded by creative people everyday. From designers to copywriters to video producers. Today I was having lunch with some brilliant designer colleagues when the discussion started. The topic — how hard it is for creatives to promote their own work. For example, one of them said “Why am I able to create a logo for someone else but not for myself? I don’t even have a logo yet!”.
Promoting yourself as an artist can be one of the most daunting tasks you’ll ever have to carry out. Creativity is in your veins, but getting into the business and marketing side of things is not really your thing. Truth is… IT SHOULD.
Promotion is what you make of it
Yes. So cliché, ain’t it? The best tip I can give you on promotion is — use your creativity and play with the tools you have.
Think of the reason why…
Why have you started the project in the first place? Was it just because you love doing it? That’s ok. But think deeper, what does your work represent? Is it a representation of yourself? Is it a statement? Who are you?
Who listens to your music…
…goes to your shows, follows you on social media. But I don’t have a fan base yet! What do I do now? — My suggestion: show one or two songs to different people around you in different age groups, different backgrounds if possible and understand their body language when listening to your music. Don’t trust what they say. Instead note their enthusiasm, gestures and face expressions (become The Mentalist!). People will often lie by telling you what you want to hear, in order to avoid confrontation or hurting your feelings.
What do you want to achieve with this promotion?
Some examples to get you inspired: landing a publishing deal, getting more people to go to your concerts, get a global distribution deal with a major label, attracting / finding a booking agent.
Finally, use every tool at your disposal.
There are many options you can choose from. But here are some free tools you can use to promote your music online.
Website & Social Media
These are your owned channels. Your primary point of contact with your audience. Keep them updated with engaging content. On social media, photos and videos of you in studio or in a concert showing the audience work quite well. People like to feel included, so include them in your content and plans as well. Instagram is king right now. Although being present everywhere is important,
…you should only really be present on the platforms that you can focus on.
It’s not worth having 5 social accounts and not doing anything with them. Or not doing it the right way.
Even though many disregard the power of a good mailing list, you should not. Mailing lists are a great way to keep the relationship going between you and your most loyal fans. Besides that, it’s another way to keep them up to date with your new work, in case they don’t go to your site or social media that much.
You have different email services available for free. I personally like Mailchimp, as it’s quite easy to create templates, schedule sends and manage different mailing lists. They also have a pretty cool blog with useful tips and case studies.
Image and music go hand in hand. YouTube for music is not all about fancy music videos. There’s loads you can do. From video diaries while on tour or studio, to live stream concerts, interviews, etc.
Another great way to promote yourself on YouTube is to reach out to music channels that promote alternative or street performances with great artists. Get yourself a slot. Influencers, in particular those who make reaction videos, are the paradise of promotional boost. You get a positive reaction, you have the world at your feet.
Send your single, album, EP to local and national specialty blogs. Bloggers are constantly looking for content and if yours is good they will very likely write a review or a post. Make sure you provide some background to yourself and your project — tell and sell the story.
This is one of the largest concert discovery platforms out there and it offers you an easy way to get your gigs in front of your audience.
Subscribe to newsletters that matter to you. It’s a good way to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry worldwide and how artists are getting promoted. “Steal” some ideas, so to speak.
Some of my favorites: