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The Power of Personal - When Traditional Marketing Still Counts

Written by Jem Bahaijoub

As a new artist it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constantly evolving new media world. With new marketing platforms bombarding us every day, it’s difficult to see the forest from the trees. So what should you do to market your debut EP? How can you build up a fan base from scratch? Next time you feel a panic-attack coming on and start screaming “where do I start?!”, take a deep breath and remember that we were sociable before we were social. So cast your smiley text faces and FB invitations to one side, and go back to basics. The foundational elements of direct-to-fan marketing all started in the physical world….

Put Your Face In A Face

Always remember that your most important marketing tool is yourself. Nothing can ever replace the importance of face-to-face interactions. You may not have time (or the money) to attend every industry and event conference but remember that every time you step outside of your house a marketing opportunity presents itself - at your local coffee shop for example (can you leave postcards on their counter?), going to see other local bands (how about a gig swap?), even at dinner with your extended family (get them on your mailing list!). The power of personal will ALWAYS trump the online world. Why? Because you are instantly more memorable in real life, and people will be willing to help you out more if they know you as a person.

Old School Word-Of-Mouth

Facebook invitations won’t get bums on seats. They only compliment your existing marketing efforts by providing relevant information to interested parties. You are far more likely to rustle up a crowd to your local EP release by asking your friends and family to help you spread the word. So get out your front door and start asking for help! You’ll be surprised at how many people respond to your request when you ask them personally rather than via email or Facebook. Again this is all about personal interaction and relationships in the physical world.

For example, next time you are out with with a group of people (followers of your music, friends, family etc.) take the opportunity to make a subtle push of shameless self-promotion. If you’ve got a big show coming up in three weeks, why not try to sell a few pre-sale tickets face-to-face or convince your friends to drag a few people along? You can also offer incentives to loyal fans who bring in new faces. Offer them a “Limited Edition Pre-Release” of your album, a free T-shirt, a front-row seat at your release show, or even a written letter of thanks with an autographed picture (might be worth something on eBay one day!). View them all as your unofficial street team.

Personal Presentation Counts (Yes We Are A Shallow Bunch)

While you are busy re-designing your new website, don’t forget to ensure that your offline image is consistent with your online image. First impressions count. They always have done, and they always will. What we now label as “branding” has always been important - you need to walk the walk in person, not just talk the talk online.


Progressive hip-hop artist Christylez Bacon is an amazing offline marketeer. He looks as impressive in person as he does online. Whether he is in a business meeting or riding a Capital BikeShare bike around town, Christylez’s personal presentation is always striking and impeccable. There is no disconnect between his physical world and his online presence. He is consistently memorable.

You Got Mail


Gone are the days of throwing money at expensive mass mail outs and print advertising. Broadcasting to the masses in the hope that you’ll get noticed is an outdated strategy. However there are the occasions when you can use physical mail to your advantage. Especially when it’s the exception and not the norm. I’ll never forget the time I received a handwritten “nice to meet you” letter in the mail from a new industry contact. The fact that she had spent the time writing and sending a card made me feel special, and in turn, increased my respect and value of her as a colleague. A personal offline gesture can make a bigger impression than an email or text message. So think twice next time you want to thank a blogger or fellow musician for supporting you. What would be the best way of demonstrating that you really value them?

Direct mail should always be a selective marketing tactic. Acoustic folk-rock singer-songwriter René Moffatt recently launched a highly targeted and inexpensive direct mail campaign to promote his residency at a new local events space. He noticed the venue was surrounded by a number of upscale apartment buildings which could not be reached via his usual online marketing methods. So he used the zip code look up on for apartment information and distributed postcards sized flyer invitations to his local neighbors. He also partnered with a local mobile expresso company who offered free coffee on the first night as a thank you (and incentive) to guests. Furthermore René gave personalized gift bags to everyone who attended. He says “I’m definitely putting in a little bit of my own money on this first show …..I couldn’t pass up direct contact with a lot of residents who literally live around the corner from the venue, and I felt this was the best way to reach out to them and make an impression”.


So remember that the power of personal has always been important. Online marketing hasn’t replace offline marketing. It just allows us to maintain, extend, respond and track our reach more effectively. Direct-to-fan marketing should be applied to both the online and offline worlds.

Technology has been an amazingly empowering tool in the music industry, but old school counts too.

Jem Bahaijoub is the founder of imaginePR, a music marketing company based in Washington DC. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. is a simple yet powerful portfolio web app designed to enhance communication within the professional music & entertainment industries. Capable of delivering curated & protected content to any internet connected device with a single URL, makes it easy for you to pitch a concise message to anyone capable of advancing your career.

Reader Comments (7)

Hey Jem,

Nice article on the evolution of music marketing. I think all musicians have their own personal brand - on and off the web. It's just like a figure head.

And you're right - mass mail-outs are so 1996 :p

February 21 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

It's so funny that this showed up in my inbox today! Just last night I was up worried about the future of marketing one's self as an artist with the rapidly changing marketing strategies. Then this appeared, reminding me of the fundamental and most necessary strategy of them all :) So thanks, Jem, for the awesome article and for providing a bit of relief!

February 21 | Unregistered CommenterKattronique

this article feels like it was meant for me to read! great advice, thanks :)

February 22 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you all enjoyed the piece.

Jem Bahaijoub

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterJem Bahaijoub

Al this time i have been thinking about what i should be doing about my music to help in the marketing process of promoting here at home and the answere that i've been looking for,you just gave it to me,because this is how i really see it. Thank you.

February 27 | Unregistered CommenterFred Nash

I remember sending flowers to a music industry contact I met. He was sooo happy and was able to help my career immensely. we' re still friends til this day. Very nice article and you provided great feedback for artists.

February 27 | Unregistered CommenterTamara

great article, I am using traditional marketing but this article changed a lot of my plans in the future.

May 31 | Unregistered Commenterrobin

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