Some of the most common questions I get on a daily basis are:
- How do I market my music online?
- How do I go viral?
- Why are you so sexy and how can I be more like you?
Ok, maybe that last part isn’t true. But, these are honest questions and I love getting them.
I get to do my passion: helping musicians grow into entrepreneurs.
But every other day, I get some weird question about marketing:
- What about Spotify or X (insert passive music streaming site)?
- I’m going to be the greatest X and I need to reach 10 million people in a month (DAMN)
- Can you please listen to my song? Is it any good?
My reaction each time:
You guys are weird, but I love you.
Listen, jokes aside, I know what it’s like. You work hard to make it just right.
And life hits you hard sometimes, and you feel this weird sense of false support from your loved ones, friends, or anyone within ear shot.
They say: “That’s nice, good luck with that. So…how was your weekend?”
It makes you cringe inside because you feel alone. And that’s not fun.
So, we get super motivated, start something, hit the first wall of resistance, and completely stop, feeling worse than before. It’s a crippling cycle.
When we do post it, someone says: “Meh, it’s ok. Kinda reminds me of X artist. Not bad.”
Isn’t it funny that when you listen to music experts, they always go:
- Follow your passion
- Build a buzz
- Get out “there”
- Build a brand
- Post on instagram and snapchat
- Ask your family to share your stuff
- Just do whatever and work hard
If I hear those phrases one more time, I’m going to the nearest sink and ripping it out.
Then, other music industry experts say:
- Don’t follow your passion, follow what’s trending
- Try and get a record deal
- Ignore all that stuff, focus on your live shows
- Ignore live shows, focus on social media
- Ignore social media, do guerilla stuff (I love how they never give specific example on what works in guerilla marketing. Hint: it’s always really stupid like pass out business cards. Lame)
- Ignore guerillas and embrace life
- Ignore life and become nothing
- Ignore nothing and become everything
Whoa, sorry, went a little too deep and existential there.
Well damn, what the $%#^ should I do, William? Is there a moral to this chaos?
Each advice fits you depending on how you feel in that moment of time.
When I first started out, I was so desperate. Craigslist was my main source of promotion.
Let’s all point and laugh at William. 1…2…3…
Hey, stop laughing at me. Not cool.
I can remember being age 15 and replying to every Craigslist post under the sun.
My results consisted of weird “auditions” with washed-up men who were massive Def Leppard aficionados.
The auditions consisted of them jamming on a bass guitar awkwardly, me setting up my rig only to stand around contemplating why we’re in an unfinished basement, and them talking about the most bat-shit, out-of-the world conspiracy theories mixed personal goals that I’ve ever heard in my life, usually topping it off with the line:
“Hey man, I’ll put in my demo real quick for you to listen to, but I got glaucoma, I need to smoke my medicine real quick.”
Obviously, this method was dumb. But hey, I told you, I’m a master practitioner. I have to test everything.
When we start losing sight of our purpose, we ultimately give in to others and their direction. Resist this need to fit in and you will rediscover your path.
This time, we are going to dig deeper and I will show you what works when promoting your music online.
Stop focusing on your views, hits, tweets, fans, friends, likes, dislikes, downloads, and shares.
Read this and when you trust this process, you will see results. I guarantee it.
Step I: Create 1 Amazing Song
Your Song – I hear a lot of people advise to build your “brand”. But remember, at HTBAMS, you don’t build your brand, your customers do. How you shape it is dependant on your strengths as an artist and in providing superb customer service.
The most important thing to worry about is your music – everything else is secondary. That includes your image, any music spin-offs, or other projects. Your music is the most important aspect behind this, so treat it professionally and take it serious.
I want you to go through your music. You don’t have to go back to the dawn of man, but just go to the most recent songs, riffs, or ideas. What worked and didn’t work? Was the response positive or negative from your audience? Or what about no response at all?
Look for the game-changer, the one that people include exclamation marks on. That is AMAZING! – that’s what you want for feedback. If it’s not that, go back to the lab and fine-tune.
Go back and re-listen to your music without judgement and with zero emotion. You want to look and feel like a robot, almost empty inside.
Now, play your music and let it stir the emotion from within. Does it make you feel anything? What does that song feel like?
The song that makes you feel something is your best track. If it’s a “meh” feeling, that’s not it.
Jot down what you feel and what combinations led to this. Are you heavy on strings? Do you work best in certain scales?
If you’re having difficulty finding that powerful song, or you want to write it, here’s a few power questions to spark that fire:
What sound do I feel is missing in the music world?
What do my friends like most about my music?
If I were perfect, and I had to play in front of the entire world, what would my music sound like?
One of the biggest known factors of getting bigger results is to ask more pertinent questions. Answering these questions will open the door to your inner creativity and set you up for the next stages.
Your Audience – You always hear it from others: Target your audience. Let me explain in a different angle:
I want you to compare your music to the closest artist you can find. Take off the rose-tinted glasses and enjoy trying to find an artist that’s identical. Again, we can ask specific questions to spark better results:
What’s one artist that I could open for and the music transition would be smooth?
What’s one artist that is in this same genre, but is unknown?
Where do they hang-out at? Sites?
If your sound is incredibly unique, then find the closest half-genre. For example, if you write orchestral hip-hop, you know that’s a rare genre. But, you might find artisanal hip-hop that focuses on deeper stories, odd time-signature beats, and unusual structures. This is a great starting point for your seed to grow.
Of course, it’s always advisable to promote rap music to rap fans. But, according to my research, all genres have secret crushes on other genres, they just don’t always admit it.
What we want to do is find our audience in two ways:
I am an EDM producer. If I knew nothing about music, where would I go to find EDM music?
I am an EDM producer. What genre might have a crush on EDM? Where do these people hang out at?
List out every response that comes to mind and let it flow. Again, no judgement here, just get it out.
Step II: Build Your Home
I see a lot of artists with deserted home pages but really active social media accounts. For now, ignore most of social media.
Are you crazy, William? Every person under the sun says to focus on social media. Justin Bieber got famous off of Youtube, and X artist has a million likes on their facebook page.
I don’t disagree with them, but I disagree at which point social media is needed or warranted. Your goal is to build your tribe, and that starts from the bottom up, not top down.
One of the biggest things that made 50 Cent so successful was his own website, where he could test out new music, separate and make fans apart of his vision, and give his fans access to talk to one another. Most artists use social media as a promotional tool instead of a story-telling tool, and this is where it goes wrong.
Why do you want your homepage to be the main focus?
Because you can control it. It is your domain that plays by your rules and is not clouded by anyone else or any other advertisement. It’s designed by you and it becomes an extension of yourself, your music, your voice, and your sound. Your goal is to build your site and have it act as an umbrella over your other channels.
Use your site to blog, share funny stories about yourself, new things you’ve learned, or new music you’re listening to. Your site isn’t a hobby, it’s a business.
What you’re doing is building your business, and this will become valuable as your music continues to evolve.
We can only focus so much of our energy on certain tasks, in a given day. By spreading yourself thin over multiple tasks, we diminish the quality of our music. Let me explain further:
If you go off and build 30 social media accounts, it will be a waste of time and become overwhelming. For best results, split it up into two methods:
For direct channels, I recommend: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Social Forums.
For passive channels, I recommend: Google+, Pandora, Spotify, Facebook Advertisement, and StumbleUpon Advertisement.
The main goal behind direct channels is to reach out to people in your audience. The main goal behind passive channels is to let it build up your rank, promote your old music, and have it long-tail back to your site.
Use these channels, in addition to your site, to grow. For example:
I’m a Pop Artist that sounds like a mix between X artist and Y artist. I found my closest doppelganger artist, and I’ve seen where they hang out at. My research says that my audience likes to hang out on:
1 Direct Channel: Youtube
1 Passive Channel: Pandora Radio
Just do 3 channels for now (1 Site, 1 Direct, and 1 Passive) and master this process. Once you get a following, gravitating towards other mediums will be natural. Start here and the next step will place it all together.
Step III: 1 Fan A Day
Based on your research, reach out to one person that might like your music.
It’s scary to create a relationship with a total stranger each day, but with my template, it’ll be a lot easier (this works for any platform):
1. Show your best song to a potential fan and ask:
“Hey, my name is X, I hope you’ve been well. Quick question – would you listen to this in your car or when you work out at the gym?”
3. If they say no – say: “Thanks, I appreciate your honesty.” Go to the next person.
*P.S. When you tell them you appreciate their honesty, they will most likely reconsider because you reciprocated the honesty.*
4. If they say yes – ask:
“Awesome, super insightful. By the way, can I keep you updated on my progress? I want you to be apart of my insider list. What’s your email address?”
5. They will say yes because:
They will feel like royalty because you gave them access to a VIP list, it’s non-intrusive, and it’s low commitment. People will go to great lengths to be associated with you, even if it’s something as simple as your fan list. It makes us feel socially validated. And, they’re thinking – sure, why not?
6. Get the email address and add it to your list of fans. Repeat this 1 fan at a time.
Just like that. You now have a sales lead, a new fan, and someone who subliminally just told you – yes, I would listen to this when I’m starting my day to get me in a good mood.
95% of the battle is already done. Selling isn’t an issue at this point. They trust you.
Don’t shoot for 1 million fans, 100,000 fans, 1000 fans, 100 fans, or even 10 fans. Focus on getting 1 fan a day. That’s it. No more.
If that’s too much, that’s completely ok. Make it 1 fan every 2 days. Do this until you are comfortable, your systems are worked out, and you’re churning out new content with optimal results and engagement.
Trust and enjoy in the process of being small and growing slow. You are building momentum and giving yourself time to make mistakes, learn, and testing what works and doesn’t work.
Wait a second, William –
So you’re telling me I’m going to get 365 fans in a year if I do this? That’s too small William.
You’re right, it’s boring. Everyone says this: “OH YEAH START TWEETING EVERYONE AND THROW UP 1000 SONGS AND START POSTING STUFF EVERYWHERE. BUY LIKES AND STUFF TO TRIGGER ALGORITHMS WOOHOO”
Ignore this noise.
Instead, follow my process and this is what you will see.
Just the sheer excitement of getting 1 new fan will give you encouragement needed for consistency. As your promote more material, these fans will start showing their friends and increasing your tribe count and value.
On most occasions, each person that joins your tribe will share it to 3 additional people. So, the 365 fans will turn into 1095 fans that want to hear more of you.
As you do this more and more, this will compound even greater, going from 1095 to 3285, and so forth.
By doing so, we completely side-stepped the entire game.
While everyone is posting their newest single on their grandmother’s facebook, we are turning strangers into fans, which fans turn into leads, which leads turn into cash-buying customers.
Readers, can you get 1 fan a day?