Marketing Plan Tactics For Independent Musicians – Part 1 of 3: New Album Preparations

Marketing business sales
Chris Hacker here, I create Marketing Plans for artists at Cyber PR® and really enjoy working with my many clients. I’ve noticed a huge problem though. Artists call the Cyber PR® offices all the time looking for us to promote their new album, totally fine of course, but the problem lies in that many of these artists call us when their albums are coming out the next week!! It completely baffles me that an artist or band will work so hard on an album, spending hours and hours writing songs and practicing these songs and then spending large sums of money recording, mixing and mastering, to only rush the release with no plan in place! Not planning enough lead time for a press campaign isn’t the only issue, but many people we talk to try to release their album when some of the basic music promotion elements aren’t even in place, for example a website where you can sell the music!

In a three part series I will discuss some basic components of a marketing plan to help properly market you and a new release. This first blog post in the series can eloquently be called the “getting your sh*t together” phase. Here I’ve laid out 5 areas that need to be addressed before any official announcements should be made about a new album coming out.

 

1. Digital Distribution

Figure out how you’re going to digitally distribute the album, and a physical CD only release or selling the CD and mp3′s strictly on your website is not the way to go. You need to make your music available everywhere digital music can be streamed and bought, such as on iTunes and Spotify, and the best way to do that is work with a digital distribution company like CD Baby or Tunecore. With that said, I talk to people all the time who then take this one step too far and sign up with multiple distribution companies because they think they are covering all their bases this way. Which they are not. All that does is put multiple copies of the same album on iTunes and the like, which looks silly and can cause unnecessary confusion. And if you plan on working with a PR company to promote the release don’t set the release date until AFTER you have talked with them first.

 

2. Online presence

Make sure your online presence is complete, effective and contains all the necessary promotional tools. There are lots of places online that artists can have a presence, here I talk about three of the most important sites: Official Website, Facebook and YouTube.

Official Website – Your website should have a place where people can easily listen to and buy your music (but not a player that plays automatically when a person enters the site, can’t stress that enough), a homepage that has a news section where people can read the latest happenings with your career, and a newsletter sign up form, one that offers an incentive for signing up such as free music or discounts on merch. Plus it always surprises when I go to an artist website and can’t find any contact information or links to their social media networks.

Facebook – Just as important as your website is your Facebook Fan Page. On the new timeline there are three tabs that are on display; one tab should be a band profile that at a minimum contains a music player, tour dates and press quotes. Next is a newsletter sign up form, and again, this should offer an incentive for signing up. And the last visible tab should be a Store.

YouTube – Another important piece of your online presence is YouTube. I’m always curious how people listen and discover new music and time and time again the response I hear back is YouTube. It’s critical to have videos up on YouTube for every song of the new release by the release date or soon after. Not saying these have to be well produced music videos, but just the songs themselves. To do this some artists just put up an image of their cover and leave it at that, but people are much more inclined to listen to your music if there are scrolling lyrics they can read as they listen or if there is a slideshow to watch. Taking free archival footage and editing together to make a music video is another relatively easy and inexpensive way to create a video for your songs, and can be a lot of fun too.

 

3. Newsletter

This is real simple. Have one. And contact your mailing list once a month with news. Don’t cut corners on this either, a newsletter is where you’ll see the greatest impact on sales. All the tweets and facebook posts about a new album out for sale won’t equal the results of a well crafted newsletter, so spend money on a mailing list service provider that can help you design a rich looking email and provide analytics and tracking capabilities so you can measure the effectiveness of your newsletters and make adjustments where need be.

 

4. Touring

Ideally you’ll have a tour booked immediately following the release, which greatly helps a PR campaign. A local blog or local newspaper will be much more inclined to cover a new album for an artist if a show is booked in town. And not saying this has to be a month long tour, just a few regional dates will help with your press efforts. Now timing can be tricky here, just like setting a release date too soon, you don’t want to book a tour and then not have the album ready or press plan in place. So wait until you have a better idea of what that will look like and then start booking a tour, and if the tour doesn’t happen until a month or so after the release that is quite alright.

 

5. Merchandise

Pretty much everything in regards to your music career takes longer than expected, from making the album to creating the artwork to booking shows, and this definitely applies to any merchandise you want to have available to sell with the new album. And merch isn’t limited to T-Shirts and tote bags, handmade items can make for great unique offerings. Here’s a tip, at your merch booth bundle your music with these items cheaply and easily through download stickers from MerchMusic.com, where 120 codes will cost you just $10. Even though people aren’t buying CDs much anymore, they are still interested in supporting artists they love so give them lots of different ways to support you and purchase your music instead of just having a CD and leaving it at that.

So remember, plan early so you can have these items when you’re ready to release a new album, which I will be getting in to in more detail in the next blog post where I will discuss some basic principles for an effective pre-sale and album launch.

To find out more about the marketing plans I create for artists please visit our page here.

Click to continue...

9 Comments

Basic Marketing Principles For Artists – Part 3 of 3: Increase the Amount of Money That You Charge

bigstock-Crowd-at-a-music-concert-audi-45242353
Welcome to the final segment of a 3 part series that was inspired by a mastermind program I participated in with Ali Brown who is my mentor in the world of online marketing.

Here’s the recap of what we’ve gone over thus far…

There are three ways to increase your income:

Part 1. Increase your number of clients (fans).

Part 2. Increase the frequency of purchase, how often your fans buy from you. (and you’d better have more than just music to sell).

Part 3. Increase the amount of money that you charge…

Increasing the amount of money you charge poses a problem if all you have to sell is music because music is now widely available for free, and people have proven that they are not willing to pay a premium for music.

However, fans will pay plenty of money for experiences, like a great concert or a chance to be a contribution to an artist, a special memento, or wonderful merchandise that really resonates with your fans.

An Example…

Jeff Krantz created a BIG payday in one fell swoop.

Jeff Krantz & The $10,000 Song
http://jeffkrantzmusic.com

Recently I was hanging out with past Cyber PR client who had a fabulous tale to tell. Jeff launched his singer-songwriter career in Second Life where he has managed to build a wonderful fan base.

Through networking online, he met a man who fell in love with his songwriting and became a fan. This man called up my artist and told him that he was having a big anniversary coming up and he wanted a special song written just for his wife. He asked if he would be up for writing and recording a custom song for her.

Realizing that this was a huge opportunity told his fan that he would present him with some options he began to THINK BIG. So he created 3 packages that this man could choose from with three separate prices (depending on how much he wanted to spend / how involved it would be silver, gold and platinum)

Here’s what Jeff wrote about how it worked:

As part of the Gold package that the client chose, I agreed to write 3 different songs (first verse and chorus) for the client to chose from. Once the client selected the song, I spent 1 week writing 2 full lyrical options for the client to chose from. Once they had decided on the song, Jeff went into his studio and recorded the song, bringing in musicians to fill out the arrangement. He then sent it to a top studio to be mixed and mastered and 2 weeks later he sent the client the finished song (with the masters). “It took about 60 hours in total but it was so much fun and I made almost 10 grand for the effort!”

The point is because he leveraged just ONE relationship with just one fan he managed to make over $10,000 on ONE song.

Had he not been working on increasing his fanbase by networking online, he never would have had this opportunity present itself to him.

Fan Funding

A newer option that has become a widely available option for indepdent musicians to take advantage of is fan funding. Fan funding sites (often called ‘Crowdfunding’) have become an incredible resource for musicians to employ this very strategy.

Here are a few options available:

Be it your album creation process, setting up a tour, creating merchandise, or any other important aspect of being an independent musician, creating a fan funding campaign not only helps you to raise the funds, but it will allow you to give your fans the opportunity to take part in a unique experience.

Your fans will be paying more because they will be buying into more than just a pre-sale for a project, they are paying for the opportunity to join your journey to get there.

How Have You Added Value?

I would love to hear how you have managed to add value and get more profit. Please share!

Click to continue...

1 Comment

3 Helpful Social Media Infographics for Musicians

Happy Friday, everyone!

Marissa from Team CyberPR here.

Ah, infographics…somehow they’re much more fun to read than just plain type. Most people tend to like and remember information much better when it’s presented visually, which is probably one reason why the popularity of infographics exploded in 2011 (they also tend to do well in Google searches).

And since an infographic presents information in a compact format, people like sharing them. I’m in a sharing kind of mood today, so here are 3 helpful social media infographics I’d like to share with you!

Click to continue...

2 Comments

Basic Marketing Principles For Artists – Part 2: Increasing the Frequency of Purchases

cash register

The first piece in this series focused on increasing the amount of fans and how this is a necessary step towards success.

Part 2 of the basic three principles is increasing the frequency of purchases.
The cornerstone of this is simple: You can not only sell music.

In order to get the frequency of purchases up you must provide something that actually gets your fans to buy more frequently.

If you are only selling one album or one set of MP3s, it’s pretty near impossible to get this step accomplished because your core fans will only have one thing to buy (therefore making frequency non-existent)

Thousands of record stores have closed in the US in the past decade. This points out to one very clear conclusion: People are buying fewer CDs (of course we already knew this) but think about it – are you only selling music?

I sadly see this all too often. Artists only think about putting out one CD, but to survive and thrive in this industry where music — like it or not — is now widely distributed for free all over the Internet, fans are no longer buying music like they once did.

So, you must create additional products and offerings to sell. At the same time you must be building a two-way conversation with engaged fans.

Remember not to put the cart before the horse here, But if you don’t have a fan base to sell these things to, there’s no reason to build a series of products.

Survey Your Fans

Expert Internet marketers never release products without testing the demand first. Maybe you think you know what your fans want but they might surprise you.

Understanding who they are and what they like/ want becomes critical.

Internet Marketers always ask their core fan group what it is they would like and then they create the products based on their answers.

I have said this may times – that music is a feeling and it’s not like a typical Internet marketing product and its hard to get fans to tell you how they feel about new music that you may be writing but its EASY to get them to tell you what they like.

  • Is it girlie T’s
  • Yoga mats
  • Special non-leaching water bottles
  • Limited edition hoodies

If you don’t ask them they wont tell you…

Online Surveys

Using Your Mailing List

Set up a survey online and use your email newsletter list or Facebook page to get fans to tell you what they may buy from you in the future. Survey Monkey will allow you to create a free survey that you send out to your fans to ask them specifically what they might like to buy from you and how much they might be willing to pay.

Using Twitter

If you do not have a large enough mailing list to get a response, you can survey your fans using this great Twitter app – http://twtpoll.com/

Using Facebook

Or you can survey right on your Facebook page using the Survey Monekey for Facebook app or http://www.facebook.com/simple.surveys

Then make it and they will!

Merchandise That Works for Artists

Here are some great merch ideas to get you inspired.

Family Force 5 created a limited edition T-shirt of the month club. They offered their fans a new T-shirt every single month and it generated thousands of extra dollars for themselves and their fans loved the limited edition shirts.

http://www.myspace.com/familyforce5

John Taglieri, who I talk about often has a marvelous new series of EPs and books called Lives. This new project will consist of four 6-song EP’s, books & graphic novels, as well as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and blogger accounts for the two main characters.

http://thelivesproject.com/

Will Deynes made a Valentine’s Day song, and he would custom record the name of people’s beloveds right into the song. He sold dozens of them to his fan base at Valentine’s Day.

http://www.myspace.com/wildeynes

I met Shelter with Thieves, from Halifax, NS and they gave me an awesome USB drive full of music and special bonuses like artwork and videos, and its wonderful because fans can use the USB drive for school projects or at work.

http://www.shelterwiththieves.com/

Jen Chapin, being environmentally conscious and clear that her fans are too like purchased a few cases of SIGG Water bottles and had them customized. She sent an e-mail to her entire list that she had wonderful, non-leaching, water bottles for sale and she ended up selling many of them

http://www.jenchapin.com/

Carla Lynne Hall is organizing a Bowling Tweetup at The Harlem Lanes near her home just to hang out with friends and fans and bond. She is not selling merch yet but you can be sure that when it comes time for her to sell that extra time she took to make friends with her fans will pay off. Studies show that people purchase from those they like and trust and Carla is building trust.

http://rockstarlifelessons.com/

Click to continue...

6 Comments

Musician’s Arsenal: Killer Apps, Tools & Sites – Presskit.to


Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend, but now it’s back to the grind. To kick off the return of the grind, I have a brand new tool I’m excited to share with you – Presskit.to. Presskit.to (powered by Indie Ambassador) is an easy to use, very slick looking digital press kit that ships optimized for mobile. Presskit.to is currently in private beta, which means you need an invite to sign up, but CEO and co-founder Ben Maitland-Lewis has kindly offered me a limited number of invites to give out to our readers. If you like what you see here and want in on the action, hit me up on Twitter (@jloom718) and I’ll get you set up.

So what’s makes Presskit.to so awesome? Let’s take a look at 7 key features and why they’re cool.





1. Design – First and foremost, the design of Presskit.to is extremely clean, which is important for a digital press kit. It cuts straight to the point with one photo, band name, location, genre, links and tag line. The whole press kit is contained in one page, which means the user never has to click through pages to find what they want.

Click to continue...

4 Comments

How to Write Engaging Newsletters – Ariel’s Greeting, Guts, & Getting!

bigstock-Typewriter-closeup-shot-conce-17177594
Are you still not sending out newsletters to your fans? Studies prove you should be… Boston based research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey has completed a study that all musicians should know about.

Here are the important highlights:

Three-quarters of web users are likely to share content with friends and family, and nearly half do so at least once a week. But while much social networking content is built around such shared items, most people still prefer to use email to pass along items of interest.

The study goes on to say:

Overall, 86% of survey respondents said they used email to share content, while just 49% said they used Facebook. Broken down by age, the preference for email is more pronounced, as users get older. And only the youngest group polled, those ages 18 to 24, reverses the trend, with 76% sharing via Facebook, compared with 70% via email.

So, if your audience is older than 24 you better be thinking about your newsletter strategy now!

In conclusion the study says:

“Rather than focusing on sharing content they thought the recipients would find helpful or relevant (58%), most respondents cared more about what they thought was interesting or amusing (72%).

Here’s the entire study if you want to read it (with lots of pretty graphs too): http://bit.ly/b4dfcI

So, ask yourself:

Are you including content in your newsletters that is interesting and amusing.

If you are just talking about your next show and or your next release then you may be missing the mark.

Long story short, in the online world, email is still king when it comes to generating revenue. You make relationships with fans on your social networks, and turn them into customers with your newsletter.

Click to continue...

7 Comments