Album finished? Check. Tour dates? Check. Press photos? Check. Press release? Check. Biography? Urgh! If you’re not a spectacular storyteller or wondrous wordsmith, then the task of writing or updating your biography can seem like an arduous task. However, a biography is an essential item in any musicians marketing tool kit. It positions your brand identity, communicates your key achievements and provides background info to fans and media alike. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way…..
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Entries in marketing (101)
Recently, ASCAP’s Daily Brief included an article by David F. Carr entitled, “How Warner Music Turns Social Media Fans Into Customers”. I thought there was one paragraph in there that was extremely insightful that some readers may not have caught. It needed to be expounded upon. If you’ve always wondered how a major label goes about building a fanbase for a new artist - as far as their overarching philosophy on it - there it was!
There’s an item missing from the music-marketing dictionary. What do you call the person that has decided to surrender an email address, follow you on Twitter, or Like you on Facebook? If the word ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’, or as someone said last week: “a fan is someone that buys all your stuff”, then we need an intermediate descriptor that sits between a potential fan that has yet to learn about you, and a fan or fanatic that is already buying your stuff. ‘Pre-fan’ seems like it will work, but why bother?
As more and more labels and artists use advertising to bridge the gaps between social media islands, it’s essential to get the advertising return on investment (ROI) calculation correct. If a potential fan is not yet a fan, and if a pre-fan is not really a fan, then you need to apply TWO conversion rates to your ROI calculation.
In the same way that there is an art and craft to songwriting, there is also a craft to writing and using language in general. And these word-related skills can play a big part in how effectively you communicate with fans - especially online.
Fans become fans because they LIKE your music, but they are naturally curious about the person behind the music and the LOVE getting to know you even more than they like your music. This is an incredibly important lesson to learn. Keep in mind that the same should be true for you in order for there to exist a genuine relationship between the two of you…be more interested in learning about and knowing your fans than SELLING to them. They will buy your music if and only if you’ve established trust and interest with them as an independent artist. Let’s face it - we’re not Taylor Swift or Beyonce who have had millions of dollars behind developing their brand that is mass-marketed to everyone. We are independent artists with limited marketing budgets and time and genuine care will go a LONG way in your social networking strategies.
So how hard is it really? You write songs and sell them, that’s all there is to it, right? Unfortunately the music industry isn’t quite as simple as we’d all like it to be. There are many different sectors through which an artist must pass and even more ways in which these sectors can be negotiated and traversed. To successfully navigate the music industry one must learn what happens in each of these sectors and how they inter-relate. To help you get started we have a ‘Map of the Musical Universe’ courtesy of PRS (click to enlarge).
Running a Facebook ad campaign is confusing. You bid for ad placement, but the price you pay bears little relation to your bid. What’s the difference between reach and social reach, connections and clicks, CPC and CPM? More importantly, is there any way to tell how many people played, downloaded, and shared your song, or signed up for your mailing list? (answer: no, there’s not)ReverbNation’s new Promote It tool addresses those shortcomings, and then some. You pick a song, photo, and budget, and it automatically generates dozens of optimized Facebook ads based on past Promote It campaigns, and continually optimizes your campaign based on the performance of those ads. New fans click through to customized landing pages that track not just clicks and likes, but plays, downloads, shares, wall posts, and mailing list signups. As I’m quoted as saying in the press release, “It’s the ultimate ‘set it and forget it’ fan-making machine!” I was invited to try it out and provide feedback during the beta period, and I’m flattered that some of my suggestions made it into the final product. So far I’ve run six campaigns. Let’s walk through the creation and performance of my latest and most successful one.
I asked 5 of my favorite gods and goddesses of online marketing and Social Media promotion to share with me the top questions they get asked the most by musicians. Then I sent them around for all of us to answer. I’m going to kick off this installment with a question Bobby Owsinski ofte gets asked. Here’s the first one: It’s obvious and so simple! Why does social networking take so much time?
More goes into impressive merchandise sales numbers than meets the eye. For one, there’s the marketing research that needs to be done beforehand so that you have product fans actually want to buy. After that comes the effectiveness of the person selling the merchandise; getting your band’s gear into fans’ hands is harder than sitting behind the table and letting them come to you.
How many times have we been inundated on Facebook with “spray and pray” wall messages from “friends” promoting their music or tagged in photos and videos that bear no relevance to us? How many times have “Tweeple” tweeted us to watch music videos that we didn’t ask for and don’t have an interest in. It’s annoying isn’t it?
This happened to me recently (again) whereby I received a charming rock video that involved all kinds of torture, sex and death imagery (evident within the first ten seconds you could see where it was going … no major label deal for this band!). They were a follower of mine on Twitter. This video however, was unsolicited and not to my taste. Consequently, I blocked them.
Theoretically, we have permission so why do we find this kind of thing so irritating? Surely, by default, we are fans of our friends’ and followers’ musical endeavours? This got me curious why we feel this way and got me back onto a marketing strategy I am working on based on trust.
Growing a Crowd for Your Music Through Engaging Stories: FanBridge Co-Founder & CEO Spencer Richardson Shares Thoughts on Engaging Influencers One Chapter at a Time
FanBridge Co-Founder and CEO Spencer Richardson says, “When you can tell your story through your voice… instead of trying to do the spinning plates trick, where you try to keep everything up at once, you develop a momentum and synergy through your narrative. It starts with a story, and the channels are just a reflection of the story. The strategy becomes much easier.” Continue reading to learn more about leveraging the power of the crowd and best practices for engaging with the press.
Embedding your music in another product - a mobile app, for example - is going to be the way to sell music in the future. Consider this article, published just 5 months ago in the New York Times. It highlights the major labels’ mad dash to get into the mobile app market. Bjork new album will be a collection of apps rather than a list of songs. UMG is creating an app for Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. And it makes sense. Just last month news surfaced that Apple has now sold more apps than song downloads - even though iTunes had a nearly 4 year head start on the App Store.
How important is it to know who really cares about your business or your music?
Until very recently, most successful businesses would aim to market their goods or services to the ‘safe centre’, the large section of society that follow the crowd in seemingly predictable ways.
Trend setters, geeks and super-fans were not worth marketing to directly because there are never enough of them to sustain growth.
It’s true that industry professionals and artist mind sets could not be farther apart. They are on two totally different sides of the game, yet working together as a team. All industry people probably receive anywhere from 15 to 200 emails or calls a week from indie artists wanting to work with them or get their advice. This is not an exaggeration. Most of these calls/emails are unfortunately misguided and are not going to get the artist anywhere just based on their approach. As an indie artist I am sure this must be incredibly frustrating… constantly sending out emails to industry people and not receiving replies. You’ve been told that to be proactive you have to mail, call, email, and send presents to industry representatives to get their attention. This is NOT true… let me help you out here.
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(Updated Sept 29, 2014)