by Alex Cosper (2/08/14)
Promoting music is very different from promoting most other products because music is such a personal and emotional experience and an identity statement. It's also entertainment, making it extremely competitive. Many people eventually stop keeping up with new music and just spend more time listening to their favorite music. The biggest challenge when it comes to promoting music, though, is getting people to listen to something they haven't heard before. Creative marketing is almost always necessary to make your music stand out from competing projects.
Even though virtually all the music you hear on commercial mainstream radio is in some way promoted to radio to get attention for airplay consideration, there is no guaranteed way to get radio airplay. Radio stations keep their playlists tight so that they are constantly playing music their audiences have already told them they want to hear. Most stations that play new music only have a handful of slots to fill each week.
There are professional music promoters in the Los Angeles area who get paid by artists and managers to promote their music to radio and to other media. These promoters are usually a completely different group of people than concert promoters. Radio airplay at one time was viewed as vital to sell albums. But this century is more about playlists than albums. The music industry has been slow to accept this reality and has fought for continuation of the album. At the same time the industry has developed new revenue with online streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, iTunesRadio and Slacker. Getting played on these platforms can generate some cash, but it takes millions of plays to generate significant cash.
Radio airplay, due to its repetitious rotations to thousands of people, still helps sell music and generally still accounts for the top selling music. Television has proven to be just as powerful at selling music, although it does not usually provide the benefit of high rotation. Music videos are still important to artists and fans, but became such a financial setback with no return on investment that labels began trimming video production budgets. Both MTV and VH1 moved more into talk and away from music videos, partly due to the wasteful economics.
Some independent music promoters decide whether or not a project is worth taking on since their reputations are at stake among the radio and music industries. Then again, there are some pros who will still accept money from artists and managers, such as $1500 per month, to promote your music to radio. Chances are, a song is not going to become a radio hit if only one person is calling radio stations across the country about it. Most successful radio hits are the results of promotion teams saturating radio programming staff with a constant stream of information that promotes the recording's performance in terms of how many new stations added it for the week.
Despite the fact that radio still sells music in the millions of downloads, new marketing paradigms are starting to redefine how music is bought and sold. Inbound marketing is a modern approach to Do-It-Yourself internet marketing. Indie musicians who are internet-savvy have picked up on powerful techniques that combine inbound marketing with traditional marketing, as well as ways to create massive online promotion at low cost. Independent artists now have the tools to market music themselves without a label or radio airplay. You just need to create and execute your own strategy in such a way that takes advantage of whatever your niche is.
Even though there are thousands of internet stations seeking to play independent music, these stations usually do not have big enough audiences to make much of an impact. In time there may be many indie outlets with big audiences looking for your music. For now, the best way for indie artists to reach a wider fan base is by being featured on popular music blogs.
Writing a lot of quality content about your music and how it relates to other things in the world is one direction you can take to boost your online presence. The key is developing a music product and then marketing it through a website using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Since most web traffic comes from search engines, it's best to learn how to maximize your website so that it is perceived by search engines as having authoritative, unique and fresh content.
Think of creative ways to get people to listen to your song based on the song's content. You may even want to come up with a fun contest with a prize to get people to listen to your song. Of course, first you have to build an online audience. The way to build an audience is with SEO and building lots of web pages full of creative content that should include at least music clips.
Once you have your music on iTunes (through TuneCore) or another platform such as ReverbNation, you can begin developing a marketing list based on people you know and find on social networks who might like your music. The most powerful way to manage a marketing list is with an email marketing software program. It will allow you to create individual profiles of each of your fans with contact information. Use your marketing list to create an online newsletter or blog in which they can become subscribers. In your materials that you send fans, always provide links to your musical products.
The best way to promote local shows is still a mix of flyers in locations that reach the target audience, media interviews, ads and word of mouth, especially through social networks. Many local artists find that they can sell plenty of their CDs at shows.
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