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Marketing 101 for Musicians

Article How to Sell Your Music
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You've recorded and produced your killer single. Now comes the really tough part: selling the drama. Here we will recap and add some steps in order to implement your marketing plan- putting it all together, and managing your time and resources for optimal efficiency.

Marketing Plan

bookThe musician seeking to build his fortune online must do so with a great deal of forward thinking. It will require a lot of fortitude and wisdom, confidence to know the labor will result in profit, and above all, the patience to persevere through the rough times that will surely occur at the inception of any new business.

 

The number one reason why new online businesses fail is because the owner of the business hoped to make a quick fortune without effort, knowledge, or patience. There is nothing wrong with dreaming of instant wealth, as long as the dreamer knows that it is inherent in our nature to dream of gold without digging, but there comes a time when the fantasy must end and the work must begin.

 

I have worked with many people in the music and Internet marketing business. One characteristic I’ve noticed in common among those who succeeded was the willingness to do whatever it took to make their dreams happen. Success rarely requires talent or intelligence. Rather, it’s the persistence of working at the business every day, chipping away at the goal week in, week out, that makes the difference.

 

Here we present to you headlines from the Marketing Plan.  Understand that each headline is a full on project by itself that we are unable to cover due to the confines of this article....

 

Step 1:

  • Record the product.
  • Record and mix your master CD, then make up two to three short clips for MP3 download/streaming.

 

Step 2:

  • Package your product.
  • Make up your graphics, songlist, and covers. You can either:

 

webStep 3:

  • Send the package to a manufacturer for pressing OR
  • Make your own limited quantities using your own computer.
  • Prepare your marketing materials.
  • Assemble Press Kit: Photos, Bios, Backgrounder, EBC.

 

Step 4:

  • Build web site or hire web designer.
  • Contact a hosting company to host site.
  • Maximize meta tags and keywords.
  • Submit site to all major search engines.
  • Organize contact list system.

 

Step 5:

  • Use Goldmine or other contact management software.
  • Start listing on portal sites.

 

At this point, you will go to MP3.com and other portal sites, and establish a Web presence there. You will upload your music files and list your promotional materials, with a link to your Web site. This will be your primary foundation. Bookmark all portal sites and keep them in a linkable file, for fast access.

 

Step 6:

  • Begin Online Campaign.
  • E-mail online radio stations with your letter of introduction.
  • Prepare and send online media press release.
  • Prepare online radio station release.
  • Post first round of Usenet newsgroup releases.
  • Set up live Web appearance date.
  • Start online radio station.
  • Write first newsletter for your first target group.
  • Secure live online radio station interview or tape interview.
  • Begin posting to chat rooms, bulletin boards, and online social networks.

 

Step 7:

  • Begin Offline Campaign

 

Step 8:

  • Set up local record store appearances.
  • Contact indie radio stations, such as colleges have promo materials printed, such as bumper stickers, t-shirts, magnetic car signs, window cards, stickers, etc.
  • Begin placing materials and do giveaways.
  • Set up live appearance schedule, including radio station interviews.
  • Send press releases to all local media, such as newspapers and radio.
  • Assemble postal mailing list and do first mailing to first target group.
  • Contact local office of a national charity and offer to do a live concert in exchange for promotion of your group’s Web site and CD.
  • Call your local media and tell them the news you are getting local and national coverage. The publicity machine is a like a snowball, and it feeds on itself.

Repeat

 

Repeat the above steps, again and again!

 

Remember, once you have your program in place, much of marketing is persistence, repetition, and follow-up to your previous cycle of work. As each new event occurs with your group, you will be making yet another round of submissions. These submissions will inform all your online and offline media of your latest exploits or success. The submissions will be in the form of press releases, live announcements, and media events such as a listening party to kick off your new CD or even the completion of your new song!

 

Marketing is really all about information flow, the creation of information, the exchange of information, the delivery and follow up:

 

Create news story > write up press release > distribute press release > follow up

 

typingAlthough the news will change, the process by which the news gets delivered stays the same. As you establish new channels of distribution, the process widens. Generally, you are contacting your contact list, sending and following up on e-mails regarding your band’s latest news, releases, concerts, songs, plans, etc. Yes, it’s a constant time-consuming, challenging job, but someone has to

do it. After you do it for awhile, the glamor fades, and it can become monotonous. It’s hard for one person to do it all. In the hierarchy of traditional music business marketing, many of these departments are handled by specific agencies. Sometimes it’s the record company, the concert promoter, the song plugger, the retail store, but always, the job remains the same: To get your product before potential buyers.

 

As an independent, unless you can afford the luxury of hiring specialists for each job, you must do the jobs yourself. There is no other way, because if you ignore the area of marketing and exposure, if you don’t produce good publicity and follow up, you will find your career dead in the water. Marketing is about making one helluva racket, and making sure the right people hear it. If you have to be obnoxious, abrasive, incorrigible, and just plain stubborn, be that way.

 

It is better to make a commotion than to stay silent in quiet pride, humbly bowing to the idea that by keeping your mouth shut you and your music will miraculously rise from obscurity into the mainstream. The only thing silence and pride will buy you is more obscurity.

 

You’ve got to become a one-man or one-band promotional machine, willing to do anything and everything it takes to get your music in front of the people who are most likely to buy it. The only cardinal rule here is don’t alienate or insult your buyers. Deliver a consistent image. If your personality is unsuited to the task, then hire someone who will do the marketing for you so that you can move on with the business of making music.

 

The best bit of advice I ever heard on marketing was this:

 

“Good marketing done inconsistently is not nearly as effective as bad marketing done consistently. But the only way to true success is to do good marketing, consistently. “

 

Time Management

 

timeOur only true asset is time, yet we often take time for granted. Many people accustomed to working for someone else may not possess the discipline required to work long hours on their own. For these people, hiring others to do the job may be the only way. But for those who must do it themselves, there are other pitfalls. You may have the drive, but do not have the ability to prioritize tasks and maximize allotted hours to getting the work done. Sitting alone at the computer, you may find your attention turning to other distractions, and there are endless distractions online. Add to the online distractions the offline distractions like ringing phones, unannounced visitors, screaming kids, a lonely spouse, the list goes on and on. The only way to overcome this difficulty is to set up a priority list and a work schedule, and stick to it, every working day.

 

Since you are also a musician, you will need to work your playing, practice, and recording time into your weekly schedule. It is important to have a workspace where you can be alone, free of distractions.  If you work from home, that might mean setting up a small workspace in the garage or attic, or in a room isolated from the rest of the house.  A phone line for the computer and a phone line with a phone that remains switched off while you do your work may be the only way to have uninterrupted time. In fact, some find that renting office space outside the home is the only way to get free of the temptation to become sidetracked from the task at hand.  The real trick to marketing is doing it in an intelligent, focused, and consistent manner. By consistent, I mean every working day. You need to manage your time, and the best way to do it is on a schedule sheet.

 

Here is an example of one of my daily schedule sheets:

 

6:00am Power up computer - check e-mail - have coffee - check phone messages
6:45am Post to newsgroups 1-25
8:00am Write press release for new CD - submit to media list #3
9:30am Breakfast
10:00am Link exchanges
11:00am Search engine submissions
12:00pm Return phone calls

1:00 pm Lunch Break - run errands, drop off dry cleaning, go to bank. (Gym on Tues, Thurs.)

2:00pm Return to office - check phone and e-mail messages, return calls
2:30pm Cold call offline and online radio stations about new promo
3:30pm Follow up with existing radio stations on last week’s press release
4:30pm Mail online press kits to Folker, WPPR, and Web TV
5:00pm Finish outstanding work, make up schedule for tomorrow
6:00pm Power down computer and leave office
 

 

 

 

Each day as you finish the day’s activities, you may be jotting down notes for the next day’s schedule. Then at the end of each working day, you will make up your next day’s schedule. Keeping organized like this, you will develop a priority list that will maximize your time and effectiveness, providing a clear and consistent marketing plan for moving ahead at full steam. When you replicate this kind of focused effort over time, you will begin to see very rewarding results.

Short Term vs. Long Term Results

 

long roadMany people operate under the popular misconception that the Internet brings instant sales results. Of course, in some respects, that’s true. A measurable response is often quicker on the net because people can respond more quickly to your promotions. But this is where any resemblance to a quick profit ends. Most of the clients I have worked with are often disappointed when results do not come in a matter of weeks. For those who are doing their own marketing, the lack of immediate response is one of the biggest reasons why they give up too soon. You must view your online marketing as a long-term investment strategy, one that will pay dividends over time. It is not the route to short-term, windfall profits. Think of marketing on the Internet as the sowing of seeds. It takes time to till the soil, plant the seeds, move on down the line, nurture the seedlings as they grow.  As the weeks stretch into months, you will see the makings of a decent crop, a cash crop, if you will, that will continue to yield results for you the year round. But not all seeds grow, and not all trees yield fruit. In this modern age, we are accustomed to getting the things we want right away. But things of the greatest value are often the most difficult to obtain. In order for good marketing to be effective, we must carry out the marketing consistently over time. The man searching for short-term profit may want to take up day trading or short-term stock speculation for an investment vehicle. The Internet is no place for short-term thinking.

 

If there is one solid lesson to remember, it’s the fact that building a successful business takes time and considerable sacrifice. The relative ease and inexpensive access that the Internet affords brings us an abundance of buyers, but it also brings us a surfeit of competitors.  It’s rather easy to throw up a Web site using a template, and it’s easy to host the site with a budget host, and it’s easy to call the site a business. The reality of actually building a money-making business on the Web takes a great deal more work.

 

I’m sure you’ve met virtuoso players who played so well that you at first wondered why they were not playing music in the big leagues. But then, when you got to know the person, you found they had problems getting along with other players, or ego difficulties, or a drug or alcohol challenge, or any of a thousand other limitations. The most common problem is laziness, the unwillingness to do what it takes to make the dream happen.  Work your marketing plan, work it hard, every day. Avoid short-term thinking, and keep your eye on long-term results.

 


Mark W. Curran is an independent recording artist as well as the author of several books on music marketing for DIY musicians.  This article is an excerpt from Curran's book How to Sell Your Music.

Short Term vs. Long Term Results

 

Many people operate under the popular misconception that the Internet brings instant sales results. Of course, in some respects, that’s true. A measurable response is often quicker on the net because people can respond more quickly to your promotions. But this is where any resemblance to a quick profit ends. Most of the clients I have worked with are often disappointed when results do not come in a matter of weeks. For those who are doing their own marketing, the lack of immediate response is one of the biggest reasons why they give up too soon. You must view your online marketing as a long-term investment strategy, one that will pay dividends over time. It is not the route to short-term, windfall profits. Think of marketing on the Internet as the sowing of seeds. It takes time to till the soil, plant the seeds, move on down the line, nurture the seedlings as they grow. Over the days and weeks, with the right climate and water, those seeds will begin to sprout, imperceptibly at first. As the weeks stretch into months, you will see the makings of a decent crop, a cash crop, if you will, that will continue to yield results for you the year round. But not all seeds grow, and not all trees yield fruit. In this modern age, we are accustomed to getting the things we want right away. But things of the greatest value are often the most difficult to obtain. In order for good marketing to be effective, we must carry out the marketing consistently over time. The man searching for short-term profit may want to take up day trading or short-term stock speculation for an investment vehicle. The Internet is no place for short-term thinking.

 

If there is one solid lesson to remember, it’s the fact that building a successful business takes time and considerable sacrifice. The relative ease and inexpensive access that the Internet affords brings us an abundance of buyers, but it also brings us a surfeit of competitors.

It’s rather easy to throw up a Web site using a template, and it’s easy to host the site with a budget host, and it’s easy to call the site a business. The reality of actually building a money-making business on the Web takes a great deal more work.

 

The musician seeking to build his fortune online must do so with a great deal of forward thinking. It will require a lot of fortitude and wisdom, confidence to know the labor will result in profit, and above all, the patience to persevere through the rough times that will surely occur at the inception of any new business.

 

The number one reason why new online businesses fail is because the owner of the business hoped to make a quick fortune without effort, knowledge, or patience. There is nothing wrong with dreaming of instant wealth, as long as the dreamer knows that it is inherent in our nature to dream of gold without digging, but there comes a time when the fantasy must end and the work must begin.

 

I have worked with many people in the music and Internet marketing business. One characteristic I’ve noticed in common among those who succeeded was the willingness to do whatever it took to make their dreams happen. Success rarely requires talent or intelligence. Rather, it’s the persistence of working at the business every day, chipping away at the goal week in, week out, that makes the difference.

 

I’m sure you’ve met virtuoso players who played so well that you at first wondered why they were not playing music in the big leagues. But then, when you got to know the person, you found they had problems getting along with other players, or ego difficulties, or a drug or alcohol challenge, or any of a thousand other limitations. The most common problem is laziness, the unwillingness to do what it takes to make the dream happen. Work your marketing plan, work it hard, every day. Avoid short-term

thinking, and keep your eye on long-term results. This is what separates the successful players from the rest of the pack, and it’s what will make you the rising star that shines above the rest.

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