I have a friend in Brooklyn who is an accomplished artist/producer, doing astonishingly well selling his music on iTunes. Since iTunes is where the vast majority of online music is purchased I asked him if he would sit down with me and explain to me how he promotes himself exclusively from within the walls of iTunes.
I was enthralled by what he had to say. It turns out being a top seller on iTunes is not just a random thing that occurs. You must promote yourself within the walls of iTunes just like you have to promote yourself everywhere else.
My friend asked not to be named and so it is not revealed (it turns out the top indie promoters on iTunes are very competitive).
He took me on a step-by step breakdown on how to get started effectively promoting yourself on iTunes. This is a labor-intensive process but it yields fruitful results. My friend earns hundreds of dollars a month from his iTunes sales.
Step 1 - Sign up to iTunes & Buy Some Music!
I am always surprised at how many artists I meet who have their music available for sale at iTunes but they themselves have never purchased anything from the site. The first thing you should do is sign up and buy some music (yours and your friends) so you are familiar with the buying process. This will come in handy when you ask your fans to buy later!
Step 2 - Create 5 Separate Profile Accounts
Did you know that with each credit card that you register with iTunes you get 5 separate accounts? iTunes designed it this way so families in one household can all use one card.
These profiles are totally separate and they are not interconnected so this gives you five individual profiles that you can register and you can use each one to help promote your music. One of the profiles you create can be you but the other 4 will be created to help you promote yourself.
TIP: While you are creating these profiles: Think about your target audience – who are they? Older dudes that like prog rock, or teenagers that like Britney Spears?
Create profiles that would fit the types of people who like your music. Choose a name for each profile so they each have an individual personality. Give them distinct personalities and even imagine where they might be from.
Step 3 - Review Other Artists
With each profile – individually begin to review other people’s music. You definitely want to review three or four other artists that have nothing to do with you or your genre so choose some of the artists that have influenced you or artists that you like and create some reviews.
Step 4 - Create iMixes
You will create 2 catagories of iMixes:
1. iMixes that have nothing to do with you and your music
A jazz essentials list
Best of Madonna
Great local bands from your hometown
Best of Bob Marley
Best of the 1970’s
2. iMixes that INCLUDE YOUR OWN MUSIC ☺
Create mixes that include your own tracks with other complimentary tracks (artists you get compared to and who you are influenced by that sound good when played next to your songs). When you create iMixes think of yourself as a DJ or a curator and piece together thoughtful lists.
TIP: Add some of the top sellers from each week in your genre and style as buyers will already be looking for the top sellers when they come to iTunes.
TIP: You should create an iMix at least one time per week per account.
Step 5 – Vote for iMixes
Next you will use your accounts to vote for the iMixes you create and also vote for other iMixes that you like. Vote for your own iMixes using your other profiles.
COOL: iMixes that begin to pick up votes rise to the top where other buyers will begin to respond to them and purchase your iMixes.
A Note about iMix voting:
People who are key users who are also heavily promoting their own music sometimes can be competitive. They may try to vote your iMixes down so that the iMixes that they have created rise to the top.
What my friend says about this: Being malicious on iTunes is awful. Don’t give other people bad reviews. Stay away from this type of negative behavior. Just focus on your own voting and contributions.
Step 6 – Master iMix Sandwiching
When you create an iMix, you want to sandwich yourself between hot chart-toppers in your genre, and add artists that already have five-star reviews.
For each iMix, make it at least 20 songs, but you can go to 40 or 50 songs. To stay on top of the charts for your iMix, you must get the most votes and the most stars.
TIP: Don’t forget to vote for other people’s iMixes so it looks like you are well-rounded.
This is where registering different credit cards and different personalities so you can actually log in and vote for yourself comes in handy.
TIP: Ask Your Band Members & Street Team For Help
So, if you had four credit cards (or if you have one and 3 of your band members or essential street team members each help you out), you can have 20 profiles total, five per credit card, and you can have those profiles voting too.
Step 7 - Remove Unpopular iMixes & Update Them
If your iMix fals below three stars you should take your iMix down from iTunes, add some new tracks to it, and then add it again as an updated iMix.
It will take a few hours for your updated iMix to show back up into the iTunes profiles, but you don’t want to have a poorly rated iMix sitting in the iTunes system with your music in it.
How To Update an iMix
In order to update an I-Mix: Click on the arrow on iTunes. Then click on “update,” and add some new tracks,
TIP: Don’t rename your iMix
iMixes are good for a whole year, so you want to make sure that you start voting, when it goes back up. It takes between 6 to 12 hours for a newly edited or a new iMix to show up.
Here’s The Wrap Up:
For each profile you create: Their iMixes to match their personality:
1. Create then wait for your iMix to show up.
2. Log in as each of your different reviewers and users.
3. Vote five stars from each of the profiles you have created.
4. Start watching your music sell ☺
5. Go in two times per week and create new iMixes.
6. After a while to stay in the most recent, you must continue to make new iMixes. Vote, vote and vote.
7. Remember, you must log in and submit votes for each of the iMixes with each of your separate accounts and many sepearte times. This is the most time consuming part of the process, but if you do this, the rewards and the sales will pay off deeply
8. Log in and vote for: Was this review helpful? And click yes per account. This will help your iMix move up the charts.
9. When you make an iMix, don’t only include the chart toppers, but also include what appeals to you as a listener and what the fans of this iMix might actually like.
10. Remember, you are creating a useful contribution to the iTunes community. The key is make iMixes on Mondays because on Tuesdays the new release schedule will kick in and that’s when your iMixes will show up
Using iTunes as a promotional tool isn’t the only way to the top of the charts…
I recently launched series 2 of my Sound Advice vodcast featuring the band Making April. The series details how they Sell 1,000 tracks a week on iTunes. There are 14 segments in total: come watch them tell how they have become top independent sellers on iTunes using mostly MySpace.
I am looking forward to hearing about how you promote yourself on iTunes (or anywhere else that drives sales to iTunes) here on the forum.