How To Build Your Online Music Brand in 24 Hours

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Paul Loeb. Paul has been at the intersection of music and tech for 20 years. He is founder and CEO of DropTrack, a music promotion platform for independent artists. His goal has always been to give musicians like himself the tools to stand out from the rest, get heard, and make deals.]

 

Whether you’re pursuing music full- or part-time, you’ve likely been asked by family, friends, or perfect strangers about how you plan to make it in the music industry. Annoying, sure, but it’s a fair question. It’s a tough industry to crack and success takes much more than musical talent. Unlike in the past, however, making it big as a musician isn’t just about who you know. The good news is, with a bit of marketing, you can start to set yourself apart from the musicians who simply continue to hope the right person happens to walk into a near-empty bar for a listen. Here are a few quick tips for building your music brand so you can stand out amongst the competition.

It Starts With a Conversation

If you’re a member of a band, it’s important to start the branding process with all members present. If you’re a one man or woman show, you can get started immediately. You’ve probably already talked or thought about how you define your music, but for branding purposes, let’s focus on what makes your story different or unique.

There are thousands of hopeful “indie rock artists,” but are you in a band with your siblings? Did you learn to play the saxophone from your grandpa? Even if you’re convinced there’s nothing special about your background, there’s an interesting story behind any true passion. If you’re still unsure of how best to tell your story, look to the musicians who inspire you. Odds are, they’re paying marketers big bucks to help with this process, but reading a few of their stories can help provide a template to follow. Teasing that story out is the first step to successfully branding yourself.

Tell Your Story Concisely & Authentically

Now that you’ve done the hard work in getting to the root of what makes your music brand unique, it’s important to create a few variations of that story. You’ll need your quick, 30-second elevator pitch as well as a more detailed version for things like your website, talking to press, etc. The more concisely and consistently you can tell your own story, the catchier it becomes. Also be sure that you’re telling an authentic story and building a connection between you and the listeners.

Think about the musicians you love: there are likely certain stories—the love story behind the lyrics of your favorite song or the random way in which the guitarist met the drummer—that stick with you because of how well, and how consistently, they’re told. Which part of your story would you want to stick with a music blogger? With your biggest fans? It may seem redundant because these narratives are surely in your head, but getting them onto your website or into an email is critical in transferring how you see your music brand to how others understand you.

Be Consistent Across Channels

Now that you know your story and can tell it effectively, you’ll want to make sure it’s updated across all your channels, from your website to various social media platforms. You’ll want to make sure that a music blogger who checks out your Facebook page has the same experience there as (s)he does on your website, Twitter, and Instagram. Your messaging and the visuals that support it should all reflect the story you want to tell.

Create a List of Influencers

Once you’ve gained direction with the story you want to tell, it will be easier to find bloggers and publications who might be interested in your vision. You can use free, online tools like Buzzsumo to quickly search for relevant influencers. Broaden your reach by thinking about your story from a couple of different angles. If you’re a New Orleans-based funk band, look for bloggers who cover other funk bands, but also look to local New Orleans publications who might be interested in the local, hometown aspect of your story. You should cater your message to these two types of writers differently, but send promos easily and track which aspect of your story might be having a greater impact.

Make a List of Resources You Need

Ok, so it might be hard to do a total rebrand in 24 hours. But, now that you know the brand image you want to portray, have updated media to the extent you can, and made a list of the people with whom you want to connect, it’s time to jot down where you can go the extra mile in completing the branding process. Maybe your visual aesthetic isn’t telling your story as effectively as it could be. Scheduling a photoshoot or reaching out to a designer about a new logo are proactive steps you can take today toward a complete, successful online branding.

Now that you’ve put some serious effort into building your brand, it’s time to make sure you’re getting in front of the right people. Music bloggers and industry influencers will be more likely to give you a listen when you present yourself in a unique, consistent manner. (Remember, your demo isn’t enough, but your new branding will help you get the email open or link click-through.) There’s also no time like a rebrand to ramp up your marketing emails and connect with your fanbase with an email marketing campaign through Droptrack. You’ve done the work; now, go get your brand in front of the right people.

Is Posting Covers on YouTube the BEST Use Of Your Time?

By Carlos Castillo

d lot of music biz teachers will tell you that you should commit time to releasing cover songs on YouTube because you’ll get all kinds of organic growth and attention.

This is a proven strategy that has been working for several years. But, especially now that so many musicians are applying it, I’m not sure it’s all that it’s cracked up to be anymore. And it’s not as simple as picking songs you like and recording your own versions.

It’s true that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. Which means that if you post songs that people are ALREADY looking for, you can show up in those searches. So your Lady Gaga covers might get some traction. But your Journey covers probably won’t.

In order to REALLY make that strategy work, what you have to do is cover POPULAR songs as soon as they are released. I’m talking the DAY they are released or within a few days at most.

Remember when Adele released “Hello” and everybody and their cousin covered it on YouTube?

The problem there is that you put yourself in a situation with a LOT of competition…

…AND you’re playing someone else’s songs.

So if your goal is to build an audience for your ORIGINAL music, before you put any more time into YouTube covers you should try something different.

Just trust me…

And follow my instructions exactly for a 7-day Facebook Live challenge.

Here are the rules:

Each day go on Facebook Live and play one of YOUR songs.

Don’t do it from your fan page. Do it from your personal profile. More people will see it that way.

Before you hit “Go Live” add a link to your squeeze page in the video description.

Mention 3 different calls-to-action during the broadcast:

1: “Please turn on my live notifications.”
2: “Please share this video or invite people to join.”
3: “Please subscribe to my email list.”

That’s it.

I promise that if you do that for 7 days in a row, you will not only get MORE subscribers and engagement out of it than your last attempt at a YouTube cover, you’ll do it playing your own songs.

For extra credit try it out on other platforms where you can broadcast live like: Periscope, Twitter, Instagram, & YouTube.

Not only will it help you identify which social media platforms are the most responsive for YOUR original music, you can also repurpose the videos as blog posts for your own website and put them into rotation as content that sends traffic there!


For more actionable advice, tips, and Musicpreneur wisdom, click here to join the Schwilly Family Musicians Community.

Carlos Castillo is a Musicpreneur, Artist Business Developer, International Road-Tripper, Lap Steel Player, and Captain of the Schwilly Family Musicians. Find him at Schwilly Family Musicians, or on Twitter at @CaptainSchwilly

Copy of Facebook’s New Reach Objective: A Game Changer for Touring Musicians

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Don Bartlett, owner of No Door Agency, an Austin, TX-based boutique management and marketing agency. Don also hosts a seminar titled “Facebook Marketing For Musicians. Be sure to read his TuneCore Blog article on maximizing your Facebook ads on an indie budget.]

From it’s earliest days Facebook has used its powerful data algorithms to deliver incredibly well-targeted ads. It was a dream for most advertisers. They wouldn’t just put your ad in front of your target audience, they’d put it in front of the specific members of that audience who were most likely to engage with the ad. The success of this approach changed the entire landscape of advertising, and advertisers reaped the benefits. For musicians trying to promote tour dates, though, this presented a problem.

Bands are in a relatively unique position, from an advertising perspective. In each tour city we have small but very valuable target group of people we want to reach. It’s critical that we reach ALL of that group, not just the ones who might be prone to engaging with Facebook posts. If we’ve got 500 fans in New York City, we want all 500 to see the ad for our show.

Until now, the best objectives were “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” which deliver to those people who historically took those actions when viewing ads. In many cases that left a decent chunk of your fans out.

In late 2016 Facebook rolled out a new objective that solves this problem. When you choose the “Reach” objective you are now functionally telling Facebook that you want to reach as many people in your target audience as possible. After a few months of testing we’ve found that ads with the Reach objective perform significantly better for these small but valuable targets.

Note that that when you’re advertising to larger, non-fan target audiences….fans of similar bands, for example…you’re still better off using the “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” objective.

Another significant advantage to the Reach objective is that for the first time Facebook is allowing you to put a limit on how often people see your ads. Even an ad for your favorite band’s show can get annoying if it’s popping up in your newsfeed 4 times a day. This new feature lets you define an amount of time that a user will not see your ad again after viewing it.

It’s a very helpful tool that provides an extra degree of control to what your fans are seeing from your page. A good rule of thumb is to build in a frequency cap of at least two days for most campaigns.

Taken together these two new features provide a huge improvement to the tour marketing arsenal. Facebook ads have always been a one of the most effective ways to reach fans in a given city, but the effectiveness was often limited by their optimization algorithms. With the “Reach” objective we now have a concrete way to reach all of them.

The Music Industry Belongs to the Hypercreators

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Ryan Kairalla, an entertainment lawyer based in Miami, FL. He recently published Break the Business: Declaring Your Independence and Achieving True Success in the Music Industry and also hosts the Break The Business Podcast.]

“You Can’t Use Up Creativity, the More You Use the More You Have.” –Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was giving a talk at the NAMM Conference in Anaheim, California. After it was over, a musician approached me and asked me what was the most important thing he should be doing to be more successful in his music career.

I succinctly responded: “Make music. Make lots of music. All the time.”

I could tell that this young creative was more than a little unsatisfied with my answer. Perhaps he thought I would give a lengthy discussion on the value of effective social media. Or maybe he was expecting that, as an attorney, I would talk to him about the importance of having good legal structures in place.

Granted, those things are important. But if you’re going to be in the business of making music, there is nothing more important than making as much music as you can. Today’s musicians need to be “hyper creators.”

Let’s lay down some essential truths about the current state of the industry:

  1. It has never been easier or cheaper to create quality music thanks to advancements in low-cost home recording hardware and software.
  2. It has never been easier or cheaper to distribute your music thanks to the digitalization of music and the emergence of low-cost distribution platforms.
  3. It has never been easier or cheaper to promote your music with the advent of social media.
  4. It has never been easier or cheaper to fund your music projects with the rise of online crowdfunding platforms.

Modern technology has removed nearly all of the barriers preventing artists from creating music constantly and sharing that music with a worldwide audience. Being able to make more music means that artists can have more opportunities to connect with their fans. It also means that artists can have a larger catalog of material to sell or license.

The musicians that will succeed in this world will be the ones who are best able to take advantage of these developments. This means creating lots of music—far more than the musicians of previous generations did.

The prevailing music creation model of recording and releasing an album’s worth of songs every two or three years is making less and less sense in the New Music Industry. It is a product of a bygone era where the creation, distribution, and promotion of music was an expensive endeavor, and thus bunching together the release of a small number of tracks was the way things had to be done.

Today, it is a better strategy to (1) make more music and (2) spread out the releases of your music throughout the year so that your fans never have a chance to forget about you. You can still make and release traditional albums if you so choose, but don’t do it at the expense of depriving your fans of a steady stream of new material.

Many musicians have effectively embraced the hypercreation model. Ireland-based indie acoustic artist J.P. Kallio has garnered some impressive success by releasing new original songs every week. Colorado-based Danielle Ate The Sandwich gained considerable fanfare for writing, recording, and producing an album’s worth of songs in just 24 hours (and she’s done this twice).

And then there’s New Jersey’s own Jonathan Mann. Mann has written and recorded a new original song every day for the past eight years—and counting. Mann and his catalog of nearly 3,000 songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and HuffPost Live.

If hypercreation seems too daunting to you, remember this: Creativity is a muscle. The more you create, the more prolific you will become. Conversely, the less you create, the more that muscle atrophies. Make creation a constant in your music career, as each song you produce gives you one more opportunity for success.

A final word of warning:

As you embrace hypercreation in your own career, you should be wary of business relationships that are not conducive to you being prolific with your art. You cannot hypercreate unless you have complete authority over when, how, and with whom you make music. As a result, you should look upon exclusive recording agreements with great skepticism.

These contracts essentially give someone else (such as a record label or producer) full control over your recording projects. Under such a deal, you would not be able to make music without that someone’s permission, and they almost assuredly will not approve of you creating new music on a weekly basis. Rather, they will favor the old release model: Make an album, wait 2-3 years, and make another album (assuming that the label/producer still wants to record with you).

In the New Music Industry – one in which the creation, distribution, and promotion of music is so conducive to hypercreation — artists should give some serious thought to the significant value in being able to create on their own terms.

The Sneaky Way to Promote Your Music Without Actually Talking About Your Music

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Dave Kusek and originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.]

I know it sounds completely counterintuitive to promote your music and raise awareness for yourself as an artist without actually talking about your music – or your music career, for that matter. But it’s being done more and more and has become a really powerful way to make a name for yourself by bypassing the crowded indie-musician market.

Let me explain. The key is to establish yourself as an expert in some related topic like gear, self-releasing music, or songwriting. It’s about sharing valuable information on a topic you have a lot of experience in to draw potential fans. They find you by searching for “how to write a song,” or “how to book your own gigs,” or “guitar pedal review,” and discover your music through that connection.

Push vs. pull marketing

Traditionally, there are two ways to go about promoting your music. You can either push your message out to fans and potential fans (push marketing), or you can pull them in and get them to come to you (pull marketing).

Push marketing is those typical advertisements you see on TV and hear on the radio. They’re just pushing information out about their product to a large audience hoping to reach someone who may be interested.

Pull marketing is about giving out valuable information that you know your target audience is searching for. This valuable information could be exclusive or behind-the-scenes access to you as an artist. This kind of content will pull in current fans and deepen your relationship.

But you could also share advice on something you have a lot of experience with. This will help you reach a new audience who may not even be familiar with your music.

So let’s go through the strategy step-by-step.

1. Find your expertise

The first step is finding something you have a lot of experience and knowledge in. As a musician, you have a few really obvious routes – music, songwriting, mixing, mastering, music theory, gear, instruments, etc. These are the skills that form the very foundation of your career, so you definitely have a lot of valuable information to bring to the table here.

Many musicians, including Scale the Summit’s bassist Mark Michell, have set up online schools to share their musical knowledge and techniques. The key here is to bring this training online instead of doing local lessons. Not only will you be able to reach a much larger audience, you’ll also start showing up in Google searches for things like “online bass lessons.”

Other musicians pull on other skill sets like music business knowledge, booking gigs, or creating YouTube videos. DIY musician Ari Herstand, for example, runs the blog Ari’s Take, where he shares his experiences and the skills he’s learned from booking his own shows and generally running his own career. Other musicians like Alex Cowles share their knowledge on self-releasing music.

2. Find the right platform

If you want people to organically find you, the best option is to go online. Depending on the kind of information you share, your platform may be a little different. So, if you’re creating music lessons, videos may be your best bet. Try making YouTube tutorials, playthroughs, and lessons, and release them regularly to build an audience.

On the other hand, if you’re sharing the things you’ve learned on getting your songs licensed or booking college gigs, a blog may suit your information better. Gear and guitar pedal reviews and demonstrations might use a combination of blog posts and videos.

You could also aim to partner with other media outlets to share out your information. This will help you get your name out to a larger audience. In addition to his own blog, Ari Herstand also writes for Digital Music News. Maybe you could get a regular column in a small online music magazine or music industry blog – start small and grow from there.

3. Show up in search

Now that you have your content up, you need to make sure people can actually find it. There are plenty of SEO guides out there, but basically, you just want to think about what people are actually typing into search. There are also a lot of cool tools like Google’s Keyword Planner that can give you some ideas.

You want the keywords and article titles you choose to be relevant and specific to what you’re posting. So if you’re posting a review of a certain guitar pedal, a title like “Boss Waza Craft VB-2W Vibrato Review” will perform better than “Guitar Pedal Review.” Likewise, if you’re sharing your tips on how to set up good lighting for a music video, something like “Setting Up Good Lighting for a Music Video” will probably do the trick.

Of course, good SEO won’t instantly drive thousands of people to your articles and videos. It’s going to take a lot of work and consistent posting to build up an audience.

4. Create the connection

Here’s the most important part of this strategy: you need to make the connection to your music and drive your viewers or readers to check it out. After all, music is your main gig.

There are a few options here. You could obviously host your blog on your band’s site, or share your tutorials or gear reviews on your band’s YouTube channel. That way, your music is just a click away. This works, but it will make it more difficult to get the SEO working like you want.

If you host your content off your music website, you need to make the connection obvious. Include an “About” page that shares your story. Highlight your musical journey and your creative career as an indicator of your expertise on the subject.

You should also mention your career and bring out stories in your articles and videos.Preface an amp review by saying you brought it on tour and recorded some awesome sounding live videos with it. Include the live video to prove your point (and introduce your readers to your music).

If you’re teaching people on YouTube about modes, you could mention that you used a certain mode when writing a new song you have out. Play a short section of that song to show your point and include a card in the top right corner to link to your music video.