To increase your music income you must first increase your active fanbase.
The internet is a veritable treasure trove of information, but at the core of it for musicians looking to increase their income are three key principles which are at the heart of long term music marketing.
None of these three parts are brain surgery. But they do take time and strategy.
I’ve said in previous posts that you cannot market music online in the same way you would market a diet product or car insurance. Traditional internet marketing – in my opinion – doesn’t work very well for music. Why is this?
Products that sell online tend to solve people’s problems (like losing weight or making money). In order to market music effectively, you need to approach the whole thing a bit differently.
With a little customization and savvy strategy, musicians can use those three basic principles to increase their own incomes.
The Three Ways to Increase Your Music Income:
1. Increase your number of fans (fanbase).
Here is how you can do this: Get serious about your newsletter.
On socials, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole frantically searching for new fans, but you may be forgetting the ones you already have.
These fans don’t need to be found, because they’re already following you!
Studies have proven that it is much harder to make a new client and get them to purchase something than it is to get a client that already knows and trusts you to purchase from you over and over.
Yep, stop wasting time on Facebook ads and tweeting till your fingers go numb and adding more filters to Instagram!
The #1 way to get fans to engage and increase your music income is still with your newsletter.
You need to be consistent in sending and have a reason for fans to open each and every one.
Use Mail Chimp or Constant Contact
You must be able to track open rates and customize and train yourself to send your newsletter at least once per month. Train your audience to expect them on a certain day and time of month.
Always Be List Building
Take time every month to add new email addresses to your list
Mine your inbox and outbox for names and addresses to add.
Send DMs to Your Most Engaged Fans on Socials
Spend time on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and ask if you can have their e-mail addresses for your newsletter. This is a bit arduous but the results will pay off.
If you need to whip your socials into shape I have a process to help https://www.cyberprmusic.com/social-media-magic/here.
Invest in Clipboards & Promote From Stage
It’s so old school but it works – pass a clipboard around the venue asking people for their social media (everyone wants more followers) as well as their email addresses
Invite people onto your mailing list with a raffle or giveaway from the stage, and collect e-mail addresses.
During your performance, hold up a merch item on stage and then give it away: you’ve just inserted a full commercial into your set without feeling “salesy” and you’ve excited one of your fans by giving them a gift.
Or get a cheap phone and ask fans to text you their email straight from the stage!
Study Newsletters And How To Best Utilize Them
Here is a full article on best practices that expands on this – I touch on subject lines and CTAs (calls to action).
And here is a newsletter how-to video, with a downloadable action sheet if you are into this kind of thing!
2. Increase the frequency of purchase (how often your fans buy from you).
To do this, you’d better have more than just music to sell!
Ask yourself: what can I offer your fans on an ongoing basis that will get them to buy?
First, you have to have real fans that have proven they want to buy. Once you do here are some ways to get them to
Have A Strong Presale Strategy
Watch this video with my dear friend Michael Shoup of 12 South Music all about how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign:
Work with Pledge Music to structure an effective pre-sale campaign before you launch a new project to monetize it.
Monthly Fan Club – Use Patreon
Record a unique track, live session or video once a month and charge your fans a small fee and have a sliding scale the club ($2 – $10 a month). This will add to your vital music income.
Special Events with the Band Club
Create a fan club that hosts periodic special events a year. Not all of them have to be you performing. You can get creative. Have a wine tasting, a bowling night, a dessert party or a pub crawl. Get local businesses involved by holding these events on a slow night, like a Monday, or during a down month for the business.
Artist Critique and Feedback
Invite your biggest fans to come to hear the songs that you’ve written for a new album or EP release. If your fans don’t all live near your hometown you can do this on a live streaming site or as a Facebook Live!
Play the tracks and give listeners feedback cards and let them contribute thier opinions. This makes your fans feel extra included because they can help you choose what will make it onto your new record.
You can play a dinner party or a backyard BBQ, or a coffee shop gig that’s private-invite only. You could arrange these 2X – 4X a year. Offer the fact that you are available to play private gigs in the newsletter. Your fans may bite – but you have to make the offer!
An Event for Each Season
How about a concert for each season? This would be a great way to get fans to pay four times a year. Hold a quarterly concert with a theme, such as Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Summer Solstice, April Fools, or Winter Wonderland.
3. Invest In A Long-Term Musician’s Marketing Plan
Before you go straight to hiring a radio promoter, a Spotify playlisting company or a publicist – STOP!
Ask yourself what your objectives and goals REALLY are! Most of the time just getting PR won’t add money to the bottom line!
I am always amazed that artists will spend years preparing a release and then spend almost zero time planning for how to properly roll it out according to what is actually working in today’s wild-west of the music business.
To create momentum, this you need a Long-Term Strategy that focuses on money – Is it playing more gigs, licensing to film and TV, or creating better merch that sells for you? Without a plan in place for how to increase your income you won’t.
I deeply suggest you work with someone who knows how to build a plan or take some real time to get clear on how you are going to build and make sure you allocate serious time for each part.
We have identified 15 steps to prepare to release new music in our Musician’s Marketing Plan series – Here they are:
15-Step Musician’s Marketing Plan Guide
Put these 5 into place before any official announcements about a new album, EP, or even a single
1. Distribution – choose the right distributor
2. Website – modern and functional and easily updatable
3. Social Media – well branded and primed for building news
4. Newsletter – platform selected and new contacts added
5. Single (s) Selection – choose the strongest singles and plan out how each one will be released before a full EP/album.
The Second 5 Elements: Ordering the Chaos
The next 5 elements are all about organizing so you will be in action and not in reaction mode
1. Timeline – plan some milestones before the release date and follow through – make sure you focus on music income while planning.
2. Release – make sure the release day is as effective as it can possibly be
3. Social Media – content strategy and calendar planned out
4. Press & Promotion – PR targets and social media tastemakers identified
5. Shows – release show or special listening party event planned
The Constant 5: The Ongoing Work!
And finally, the work transforms into supplying consistent compelling content to strengthen relationships with fans and potential fans.
1. Releasing New Music – keep fans engaged with what they originally came for
2. Live Shows - hit the road or get in front of your audience without leaving the comfort of your own home
3. Ongoing Social Media – keep your channels exciting and fans interacting
4. Merchandise - plan what merch to get, how much, and when
5. Making Money – Newsletter, film & TV placements, continuation programs, VIP experiences, and crowdfunding are all fabulous options
Want some help with organizing your Long-term marketing perspective while keeping music income at the forefront? Come download this fabulous checksheet to help you get organized:
Or watch my presentation at the Sync Up Workshop in New Orleans, ‘Making the Most of Your Record Release.’
The next blog post in this series attacks principle number two, increasing the frequency of purchase. In the meantime, I would love to hear how you build your fan base in the comment section below!