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.

How You Can Use ‘Instagram Story’ to Market Your Music

[Editors Note: This blog post was written by Michelle Aguilar, a writer and digital artist based in Los Angeles. Read her tips on how to maximize Instagram’s coolest feature rolled out in 2016 when it comes to connecting with fans! If you’re a TuneCore Artist, be sure to check out TuneCore Social in your dashboard.]

Think about the last time you hung out with a group of friends or people.

Now, think about the person in the group that kept things alive and entertaining. Maybe it was that story your friend brought up about that one camping trip and how the tent flooded with rain because everyone else thought it was waterproof so you all ended up “glamping” in a somewhat dysfunctional tavern instead (true story). Well this experience is no different from Instagram’s new Story feature—it provides a visual compilation of a personal event or message. It gives people fresher insight and appreciation to the person sharing the Story. As the long-time writer for Time magazine Roger Rosenblatt puts it, “We are a narrative species.”

Since its launch earlier this year in August, Instagram Story has become millions of Instagrammers’ favorite tool for instant communication. Amongst these, include people of all kind and have attracted entrepreneurs, artists, illustrators, photographers, activists, musicians, DJ’s and much more.

Notice how I’ve mentioned “instant communication tool”. Of course, all social media platforms serve as a medium for communication but when it comes to Instagram as a whole, the new Instagram Story feature serves as a more specifically direct form of communication. Think of it as a new method for highlighting a certain message to your audience.

Reveal Sneak Peeks

Everyone loves gifts, and although it’s that time of year, the type of gifts I’m referring to are the gifts of good old sneak peeks; they provoke interest and an even stronger connection towards your fans and audience.

With stories, you have a chance to take your followers (and prospective followers) on a more realistic journey—without the staged and beautified element that the general platform presents.

Ramp up your Instagram Story by posting a rehearsal session in the studio, a moment with your friends, the process of your art, or exclusive footage on a video shoot. The choices are limitless– just think about a significant moment that your audience would normally not get a chance to see.

Although blogs have been commonly known for their roles in sharing additional insight on a band or any business, the immediacy of the Instagram Story provides the instant gratification that most users seek while helping to retain your current audience, as well as garner newer audiences (assuming your profile is public).

Keep Your Audience Posted

Definitely a pun intended here, but going back to the concept of Story as a more direct form of media communication, Story helps simplify your promotional endeavors. Many musicians, comedians, online influencers and the like use Story to update their viewers on new releases, projects or even special offers. By referring viewers to their link in their bios, they are smoothly directing them on learning more about the offer and how to participate. Announcing merchandise giveaways is no longer limited to a generic promotional graphic or even a gig. All you got to do is just say the word through Story.

Missed out on a concert? No problem!

For those who couldn’t make it to one of your shows, your Instagram Story could serve as an instant preview of what they have missed. Ask someone to record parts of your performance and update it on your story as soon as you can. Not only does this supply your viewers who weren’t able to make it, but it gives them a nice foretaste of your talent and energy — in real-time. Showing them a preview may ultimately inspire them even more to see you live and to continue to support your work.

“Hmm, What Happens If I Push ‘The Button’?”

Notice how when you first log into your Instagram account, you can’t help but glance at the rainbow highlighted icons right above the vertical strand of pictures that follow. There’s a tempting element to this approach. I myself notice that although I might not intend view a user’s story at first, I eventually tap to see what they’re about, because well, they’re all waiting in a row to be viewed!

The new Story feature has changed a significant chunk of Instagram’s template; take this change as a complimentary edge to your platform.

Regarding Instagram’s newly revised template, there are two other perks that come with this update.

First, is that you’re able to get quick qualitative and quantitative feedback on user engagement to your Story. After posting your video, tap on your Story and slide your thumb upwards to see who and how many users have viewed your Story videos. By doing this, you can gather this simple data to help draw conclusions about the types of videos that interest your audience and the types that don’t.

This leads me to the second perk of Instagram’s new template features. Although this feature was added on to Instagram much earlier than the Story, it is still worthwhile to mention. You can easily switch your account to “Business Profile”. Tap the options icon  and then tap “Switch to Business Profile”. You’ll need to connect your business profile to your Facebook account.

Once you’ve done that, make sure to review your business’s contact information and you’ll be ready to run your new business account. Shortly after, you’ll notice a blue “contact” icon to the left of your profile icon. You’ll also notice on the upper right hand side of the template, an analytics icon that will direct you to an “insights” page. This page allows you to review and gain more specific feedback on the behavioral impact of your posts on other users.

Story’s new “1:1” communication format is similar to Snapchat, and if you’re familiar with Snapchat, you’ll be much quicker to get the gist of how it works. On the other hand, if you’re completely new to this feature, it’s helpful to think back to that last time you hung out with a group of friends.

Think about what made you pay attention to that particular person telling a story. What made you engage and what made you respond? More often than not, when somebody shares stories which in turn creates and recreates moments, we are left feeling somewhat more connected and with a better sense of who that person is—that is, what ultimately interests us and keeps us wanting to learn more.

Why You Should Treat Your Music Career Like a Startup

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rory Seydel and originally appeared on the LANDR Blog. Remember – if you need your songs polished instantly, give LANDR a try!]

The music biz is still the wild west — Here’s how to be an outlaw.

Howdy stranger.

Music promotion and growing your career as an artist is the most difficult thing you can do on this earth (trust me, I know).

I’d argue that growing a startup is the second hardest. (I know about that too).

For some reason I’ve been fortunate—or crazy—enough to try music and startups. It turns out it’s a lot easier if you learn from both.

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They each require constant GROWTH. That six letter word that that can’t be ignored in any career — be it creative or business. Or creative business.

Here’s what I’ve learned, and what you should too:

MAKE A PLAN

This sounds obvious, but let’s face it: musicians aren’t the best at thinking ahead.

We live in the moment. And that’s fine.

But a little foresight goes a long way. Especially when it comes to the lifecycle of recording, releasing, promoting and touring.

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Every good startup has a roadmap — or in musicians terms a longterm plan (hello dreams!).

They also have a short term plan (reality!). Just don’t be afraid to be fluid— ’cause when life happens, you need to be able to adapt.

RELEASE FAST

Think of it this way: you spend 3-years working on your first record. But then you realize that your brand of obscure underground music resonates with no one.

Music changes at an insanely rapid pace, the internet decides the speed of consumption and taste.

So how do you stay ahead of the curve? Easy. Release your music while you’re making it.

Publish it to SoundCloud. See what resonates with your community, your audience, your friends.

Take the feedback you get and make more music. Your community is a super supportive laboratory where you should test all kinds of stuff. When it doubt test it!

If something works do it again—but better. If it fails then ditch it quick.

Release constantly and listen to your audience. They will guide you to your best work.

STAY HUNGRY STAY FOCUSED

Remember that roadmap from your original plan? Use it.

Take 5 minutes a day to be inspired by your hopes and dreams. Don’t be afraid to be hungry.  Sacrifice in the name of your art.

Work in the moment and remember why you started creating music in the first place.

Stay in and work on your projects instead of going out. It’ll pay off faster than you think.

FAIL EARLY FAIL OFTEN

This saying gets thrown around constantly in business but it’s essential to quick growth.

People are afraid of failure. But as the startup gods have taught us: Failure is awesome!

It sounds weird but think of it this way: you learn a heap load more from failure than you do from mediocrity.

In mediocrity we pat each other on the back, learn nothing and don’t grow.

In failure we have no choice but to look at what can be done better, pick up the pieces and go back to the drawing board knowing what to avoid.

USE TECHNOLOGY

Startups are not afraid of technology (probably because they are too busy making it).

But musicians often are. Don’t be afraid. There are tons of hyper useful and creative music technologies being developed right now.

Get used to the idea that good technologies exist to make your life better. It’ll open up a whole world of possibilities.

Native Instruments, Ableton, LANDR, SoundCloud and Echo Nest are a few examples of technologies that are pushing the envelope to help you.

And with new music tech popping up daily there’s no sign of it slowing down. Get involved or get left behind.

COLLABORATE

Think Jobs and Wozniak — Lennon and McCartney. Kraftwerk or the way Kanye manages a teame of hundreds.

You need people around you. You need them to bring out the best in you, and you need to bring out the best in them.

The role of the conductor is often under regarded.

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BE DIGITAL

There’s a community for everything online. The sooner you find yours, the more successful you’ll be.

Look at the way Radiohead sells records. From booking a tour to setting up a website, you should be pouring most of your promotion time into music promotion. That means digital marketing, communities, sales and PR.

Don’t underestimate IRL. Hit the road and get involved face to face. Just make sure to update your Instagram as you go.

Having an antiquated business plan for your music career won’t cut it any more — you need a lean startup plan with smart strategists (AKA awesome bandmates).

So make a new plan. One that fits today AND tomorrow. And enjoy some rapid growth.

First Steps in Email Marketing For Indie Artists

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog courtesy of Amanda Krebs (follow her on Twitter!), Client Services Community Manager at FanBridge. Email marketing is an oft-overlooked element of connecting with fans, so take note!]

Email marketing can be a difficult tool to grasp in the beginning, but once you harness it, it can be a big part of how you monetize your music!  With such a big undertaking, it can be hard to know where to begin, and there are a lot of routes you can take in the process.

Here’s a few guidelines for musicians to follow as they start building their email list and sending newsletters to fans: Continue reading “First Steps in Email Marketing For Indie Artists”

Should You Post The Same Content On Facebook & Twitter?

[Editors Note: To keep up with our ongoing “Getting Social” series, here’s a great read about the pros and cons of sharing the same content across Twitter and Facebook. It was written by producer/singer/songwriter and music journalist Sam Friedman, and it was originally featured on the Sonicbids Blog.]

We’ve all seen it: Twitter feeds with incomplete sentences that turn into “on.fb” links, Facebook pages with nothing but tweets that are smothered in hashtags and Twitter handles we can’t click. Yes, it’s nice and convenient to be able to share the same post on both platforms, but is it always smart? Will it really make the most of each platform and help you reach your following to its full potential? These are questions you should ask yourself when posting the same content on Facebook and Twitter. We see artists doing this all the time, so below, we’ve weighed the pros and cons for you to help you decide on an approach that works best for you.

Pros of cross-posting

Information is recycled

This is good for tour announcements and big updates, such as news about your upcoming releases. When a piece of content is important for name repetition and brand awareness, you need to utilize both platforms in order to get your call-to-action across to fans.

Easier keep-up and less time to generate material

We understand that managing social media and creating new content is time-consuming work. You’re an independent musician – it’s hard doing it all. Reposting the same content on Facebook and Twitter frees up the time you would’ve spent coming up with ideas for different posts. If you come up with a strong Facebook photo post about your band’s new practice space, you can simply share it on both platforms and get back to practice. It’s simpler and saves time.

Consistency among platforms

This goes back to brand repetition. Consistency is key in social media, and when your social media platforms match, your message is clear.

Cons of cross-posting

Engagement varies between Twitter and Facebook

Twitter is a post-often platform with tons of replying, favoriting, and retweeting. Facebook, on the other hand, is a more of a “post-every-once-in-awhile” platform. And engagement is through comments and liking. Engagement is the most crucial element of social media. If your Twitter fans can’t reply to your Facebook-created tweet because they have to be redirected to your Facebook in order to see the full post, you’re not giving them the opportunity to use Twitter to engage. They have to go to Facebook to engage. This isn’t bad, but then what’s the point of having a Twitter? They’re different platforms, and the differences in engagement are important to note.

Cross-posting comes off as lazy

This is the most obvious con of cross-posting the same content on Facebook and Twitter. If your Facebook is nothing but a Twitter feed, people who follow you on Twitter are going to see the same thing pop up on Facebook and will likely think of you as lazy or unaware that you’re bombarding people with the same exact posts.

Information is lost

This is mainly for Facebook posts that are synced to Twitter. If your post on Facebook runs over 140 characters, your tweet is compromised. Who knows, maybe the important part of your announcement is the part that’s cut off! Also, Facebook has tags to pages, people, and events that link to other information. These don’t come up on Twitter. Likewise, Twitter has handles to link to, which don’t link up on Facebook.


So, to help you determine your approach, here’s a summary of when you generally should and you shouldn’t cross-post on Facebook and Twitter.

You should cross-post if…

  • It’s an important announcement, such as tour dates, new track releases, etc. You can slightly alter the posts to be sure they format for Facebook and Twitter, but important info should be cross-posted and recycled.
  • It’s a great post that you know will kill it and needs to be on both. Again, be sure the post is formatted specifically for Facebook and specifically for Twitter. But, if you have a killer post – maybe an awesome picture of your singer belting it out at a sold-out show – you want it on both platforms.

You shouldn’t cross-post if…

  • It’s a short post. Keep that on Twitter. Facebook has its place for short posts, but generally, if it’s not imperative band information, keep the short posts to Twitter. Twitter has a character limit for a reason.
  • It’s a picture-only post. Picture-only posts typically have a better reaction on Facebook because Facebook has an arguably better layout for photos. Twitter usually needs text to be relevant.
  • You want to post the exact same thing word for word. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have posts be specifically formatted for Facebook and Twitter. If you only wanted to make the exact same posts, why would the two social media platforms exist? They wouldn’t – there would only be one.