Category Archives: Social Media

Top 10 Keys to Success For Independent Hip Hop Artists

[Editors NoteThis blog was written by Hao Nguyen and it originally appeared on Stop The Breaks, a digital marketing and promotion platform focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists.]

The independent route is a tough, long grind, no doubt about it.

People look at the top independent hip hop artists in the game today like Tech N9ne, Nipsey Hussle and Currensy and see how they’re balling out of control, but they don’t understand just how much work these artists put into building their lifestyle.

Tech and his business partner Travis O’Guin have been building Strange Music, Inc. from the ground up for close to 20 years. Nipsey got dropped by Epic Records before starting his independent grind. Spitta was hustling and learning about the rap game from No Limit and Cash Money since 2002.

It’s never easy and takes a special type of person to succeed in the independent music industry. Someone who has the entrepreneurial spirit combined with the gritty fortitude to keep going no matter how hard it gets.

As a digital platform focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists from all over the world, Stop The Breaks has had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of artists about their grind and really get an understanding of what creates success in this industry.

Here are our top 10 keys to success for independent artists. Or as Future would put it “I got the keys, the keys, the keys.”

1. Understand effective marketing

In its simplest form, marketing is raising the profile of a brand and its products or services in the public’s mind. So in that case, I would say all independent artists understand the basics of marketing their music – yes, even those rappers spamming SoundCloud links are doing some form of marketing.

But notice that I wrote “understand effective marketing,” which makes all the difference in the world between success and failure.

You can market your music by hitting up everyone on your Twitter feed with a link to your new single, or, you can effectively market your music by creating a solid marketing strategy and executing it regularly.

2. Relentless work ethic

There’s a saying: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” You’re not going to be successful at anything in this world without hard work and dedication, shout out to Money Mayweather.

Look at all our case studies on successful artists – whether it’s superstars like Kanye West and Drake or independent grinders like Yo Gotti – and the one constant factor is that they put in the long hours above everything else.

How do you think Curren$y drops some many projects in one year (8 so far in 2016 and counting)? How do you think Gucci manages to flood the streets even when locked up? How do you think Fetty Wap scored a number one album and five top 40 hit singles?

It’s all about hard work guys. But not just about the music.

In addition to putting in the long hours working on your craft; you also have to put in the hours distributing and promoting the music, fine-tuning your live performances, engaging with fans online and offline, and constantly educating yourself on the business side of things.

Which brings us to…

3. Music industry knowledge

Like Rap Coalition founder and music industry veteran, Wendy Day, said: “I think the most important trait is seeking out the knowledge and experience to do this properly. You either hire the right people who have the knowledge and connections to help you succeed as an artist or you learn how to do this yourself.”

Educating yourself thoroughly on the music business will make a huge difference in your success as an artist. Make sure you understand the fundamentals of music publishing and licensing your content, especially if you’re looking to set up your own independent record label.

4. Strong team around you

To Wendy’s point above, if you don’t have the experience or time to learn about the music business, then you need to make sure you build yourself a strong team to address your weaknesses.

Just because you’re an independent artist doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. There are only so many hours in the day and you have to be smart on which tasks you dedicate your time to and which tasks you delegate.

Depending on what you’re missing in your arsenal, consider hiring a manager, marketing director or promoter, tour manager, graphic designer, lawyer and accountant. It doesn’t have to be right away, but you should definitely have a plan to slowly build up your team as you hit new levels in your recording career.

5. Effective social media presence

How many rappers do you know who are really active on Twitter or Facebook, but all they’re doing is spamming their followers with music links? There’s no genuine engagement with fans, no real interaction with followers, just blindly spamming link after link hoping they’re going to be the next big thing.

Don’t do this. Trust me, it’ll do more harm than good.

It’s good to be active on as many social media networks as possible, but only if you can manage them properly and engage with the fans regularly, otherwise don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s better to be active and effective on 3 platforms, rather than on all them and not using them properly.

6. Produce regular content for fans

We’re currently living in a super connected world where consumers are conditioned for instant gratification and trained to get everything, right away. As an artist, you have to try your best to fulfill these consumer needs.

There are only a few major artists out there who can get away with disappearing for months on end and coming back to commercial success. Kanye, Eminem, Drake and Kendrick, just to name a few.

Everybody else needs to be continually creating and distributing content to stay in touch with fans. When I say content, I don’t just mean music. It can be social media updates, email newsletters, tour videos, blog posts, guest articles, whatever you need to engage with your fans.

7. Investing in building their brand

Investing the time and money to build up your brand now is the most important thing you can do for a long-term career in the rap game. Other artists can copy your ideas, fashion, music, and believe me, they will. The only thing they can’t copy is your brand.

Think about the most successful independent artists in the game and how they communicate their brand to their fans. Currensy has his Jet Life movement, Tech N9ne with his insane live shows and Technicians following, Chance The Rapper and his positive, Chicago music.

Everything you put out contributes to building your brand, whether it’s positive or negative. Your new logo has just as much impact on your overall brand as how you perform on tour. It’s a long term investment but it’ll definitely pay dividends if you put in the effort now.

8. Focused promotion campaigns

Marketing is your overall strategy of raising awareness of your music and brand to your target audience; promotion campaigns are more tactical and focused.

For example, releasing an album would be one promo campaign. To ensure you get the most out of your promotion budget, your campaigns need to be planned out and precise. Consider the best distribution channels for this project – will it be online, offline or both? Which platform will you be using – Bandcamp, SoundCloud, iTunes, etc.?

Which publications and blogs are you going to be targeting? It’s better to pick out 10 to 15 to send out personalized press releases rather than spamming 1,000 people with a generic message.

Once you have everything in order, hit the launch button.

9. High quality product

Let’s keep this one short and sweet. To be a successful independent hip-hop artist, you need to have dope music. I don’t mean Grammy-award winning, critically acclaimed music – I just mean music that will build you a fanbase. You need to make music that people want to listen to, otherwise, it’s not going to work, period.

10. Create realistic goals

Being ambitious is one thing, having realistic goals is another. It’s great if you have ambitions to be the biggest rapper in the world, making the most money, winning awards, selling out stadiums, but having pragmatic, achievable goals is a much better way to approach your recording career.

Let’s take a look at J. Cole. He went from posting songs online to standing outside JAY Z’s building, wanting to produce for the legend. Cole dropped mixtape after mixtape and it was only after Hov heard “Lights Please” that he decided to sign the rapper to Roc Nation.

From there, he released a number one album, went platinum just last year, and is now selling out stadiums across the world with his very own HBO documentary and record label, Dreamville Records, financed by Interscope.

Having goals is the best way to not drive yourself crazy, thinking that your career is going nowhere. Start off small – e.g. you want to perform in front of 25 people for the first time in your career, you want to drop a mixtape, you want to collaborate with an artist you like, etc.

Create a list of realistic, achievable goals, then tick them off as you accomplish them. Keep grinding, keep working, keep putting out dope product, keep engaging with your fans and your dreams will come.

Maximizing Facebook Ads On an Indie Budget

[Editors NoteThis 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 monthly seminar titled “Facebook Marketing For Musicians.]

Independent artists are constantly looking for ways to eke maximum value from very limited promotion budgets. As Facebook continues to solidify its position at the center of the social media ecosystem, many conversations revolve around taking advantage of their incredibly powerful advertising tools.

The primary hesitations about the platform tend to be some combination of “it’s too expensive” and “we don’t see results”, but by sticking to a few core targeting and budgeting strategies you can take advantage of Facebook’s promotional benefits without going broke in the process.

In our experience you don’t need to spend a lot of money on Facebook advertising to get concrete results. However, if you’re working with a modest budget, it’s even more critical to structure your campaigns in a way that delivers the most value.

To this end, start with a premise: The bulk of your “results” – ticket sales and album sales in most cases – are going to come from your existing fans. Using Facebook ads to increase this pool is a separate topic entirely, but once a show is on sale your focus should shift to those who have already identified themselves as fans.

The most effective way to spend money on Facebook by a wide mile is reaching this group of people. On the surface this seems like a very easy concept and in many ways it is. So why do so many bands have a tough time getting results from their campaigns? In many cases, they’re spending too much.

Let’s look at an example…let’s say a band has 500 Facebook fans in Chicago, and they have an upcoming Windy City show scheduled that they’d like to promote:

Assuming a typical ad cost of about $10 per 1,000 people reached, a budget of $10 will reach all of those fans, likely twice each.

Since these 500 people are our most-likely ticket buyers, we always suggest reaching them three different times leading up to a show. However, these three campaigns should to be separated from each other by some “dead air” time where people won’t be seeing your ad.

Think of it as a reminder. This is a group of people who already likes your band, so they don’t need to be persuaded – they just need to be reminded. And if you remind someone about something five times a day, they’ll be annoyed. If you remind them every week or two, they’ll appreciate it.

So ideally, the band creates three different campaigns budgeted at $10 each, for a total of $30. It’s important to note here that this is very different from a single campaign for $30.

With the 10/10/10 model, they’ve got 100% coverage of their fans a few different times, but not to the point where they’re being bombarded six times a day for a month.

So to reach the 500 fans in this example $30 is not only all you need to spend, it’s all you SHOULD spend. Unfortunately many bands think that by pushing the budget up to $100 is going to give an extra push to ticket sales, when the reality is that it won’t help – and often it hurts. When people see your ad too many times they often will block or hide the ad posts, which negatively affects your page’s organic reach down the line.

There are certainly ways to put an additional $70 to good use, but that isn’t one of them. And the bulk of actual ticket sales are always to your existing fans so spending the $30 is critical, but spending the additional $70, even when done correctly, is far, far less critical.

Which brings us to another critical component of campaign structure: Your ads to existing fans should always be separate from any other targets.

As your most-likely ticket buyers, you want to ensure 100% coverage of this target. With other targets, you’re just looking to reach as many people as possible within your budget. So instead of running one campaign to “fans of our band, fans of Band X and fans of Band Y”, you should run one campaign to “fans of our band”, budgeting to ensure full coverage, and then a separate one to “fans of Band X and Band Y”.

To be sure, there are plenty of other elements that go into successful Facebook Ad campaigns. But following these targeting and budgeting strategies will put any campaign in a much better position to maximize the value of limited budgets.

10 Kinds of YouTube Singles to Reach Fans

[Editor’s Note: This blog is written by Jesse Elmore and was originally featured on Hear The Music.]

A good number of successful musicians’ careers are built upon hitting it big with a great single song. In today’s world of Spotify, YouTube, and iTunes the single has never been more important.

The technology available to musicians today is incredible. Recording a single song used to cost thousands of dollars in studio time, equipment rental, and professional audio engineering mixing. Now you can setup a home recording studio for a fraction of the cost and record as many songs as you want in whatever time frame you need.

10 Different Kinds of SinglesAlso, with the great (and free) distribution channels available you no longer need to wait until you have a full album ready to go pitch it to a studio and hope you get that .01% chance that they promote you. You simply go on to YouTube, upload the video, and the whole world can immediately see it.

Now, I know it’s not quite that simple. You still need people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, follow you on Twitter, and connect with you on all the other social media platforms. But the fact is that it is easier today then any time before to connect and share your music with the world.

With all that available to you it only makes sense that you would want to get your latest songs in front of your fans eyes as soon as possible. Consistently recording and making music for your fans to enjoy, share, and buy is important, but what if you’re running out of good ideas about what you should be creating?

If you find yourself stuck on what type of single you should be working on, read below for my list of 10 different kinds of singles that are sure to please your fans.

1. Live song

Live ShowDon’t have any new songs to record or release? How about polishing up a live recording from your latest show and releasing that? It’s a great way to breath more life into one of your older songs. Look back through your list of YouTube videos that doesn’t get as many views as it once did and re-release it as a live version.

No one expects a perfect mix from a song created at a live show, so don’t let that stop you. Your fans will LOVE seeing you out in the “real world” and it will give you something to put on your resume the next time you’re meeting with buyers and promoters.

2. Cover song

Doing cover songs is a perfect way to pull in new people who haven’t heard you yet. When you’re looking for a song on YouTube or Google what do you search for? Probably name and artist just like me. Be sure to include the original name and artist in your song title and your version will show up in their search results.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing and covering older songs will bring in the kindred spirits who share your taste in music and are fans of the same musicians as you. From there it’s a short step to them checking out your whole catalog of music and becoming a fan of yours too.

3. Translation

Music Sheet GlassesCan you speak more than one language? Do you record songs in each of the languages? Why not? Record some of your songs in alternate languages and grow the potential size of your audience.

I have heard some beautiful cover songs where the vocalist switched between languages during different parts of the song.

4. Your newest song

This one is kind of obvious, but it’s also one of the most important. If you record a song you’re proud of, then release it. Even if it’s not your favorite or you are working on a new “super” song. More songs = more views. You never know which song will take you to the next level.

I don’t recommend sitting on finished songs unless you have a very good and specific reason to do so. If you never put the song out there, then no one will ever hear it. Pretty obvious right?

5. Rarity or unreleased track

Do you have any songs sitting in the back corner of your computer that you’ve never release? Do you normally perform pschodelic new-age throat singing songs and the one country western track you recorded didn’t fit anywhere on your last album? Release it!

Your fans will love hearing it, even if it isn’t what you normally do.

6. Holiday single

Christmas TreeYou see big names do this every year. You can either write a new holiday single or cover a classic. November and December are huge months for retail music and everyone is quick to snatch up a seasonal single.

If you’ve written some original songs I would also include some classic covers to pull people in. As I said before, nostalgia is very powerful.

7. Topical songs

Do you have a unique or interesting view on a topic that is currently trending in the news? Write a song about it and get it recorded ASAP. A song about the current blockbuster move will find a much bigger audience now then in 3 months.

You can find inspiration for topical songs from the news, movies, TV, other artists, or wherever. The important part is to release the song while the topic is still on everyone’s mind.

8. Acoustic/alternate version

Acoustic Piano SingleIn the same vein as a live version, record an acoustic or alternative version of some of your more popular songs. Switch up the instrumentals, arrangement, or production and release them. Dedicated fans love hearing their favorite songs “unplugged”.

If you saved any of the alternate mixes from when you made the original, look back over them and see if there is anything you can use.

9. Remix

This is a very specific type of alternative version of a song. Depending on the type of music you make remixes may or may not resonate with your fan base. If a remix is something you think they would enjoy, but you don’t know how to go about creating one, then start a conversation with an artist that knows how to make quality remixes. Ask them if they would like to work together, give them your recordings, and see what they come up with.

Working with another artist is mutually beneficial and can lead to the creation of some unique music that never would have been made otherwise.

10. Instrumental version

An instrumental version of a song can come in a few different flavors. You can simply take the vocals out and leave the music there, use a new instrumental part carrying the melody of the removed vocals, or fully reinterpret and re-record the whole song.

These can be surprisingly powerful and popular. Especially with established fans.

Conclusion

I hope these 10 different kinds of singles gave you some ideas about additional music you can be producing. Remember that you should strive to consistently release music and it’s a good idea to keep some variety to your songs. This increases your fan base and keeps them excited about what you’ll be releasing next!

6 Essential Tools for Indie Artists

By W. Tyler Allen

Being a DIY musician in today’s industry requires, work and hustle — but it’s possible. Straight up, it’s completely possible to become a successful independent artist in today’s digital landscape. How exciting is that?!

You can make it, but like any profession or task, you need tools. Throughout my career working with artists and management teams, I find that there’s a lot of tools out there that are simply overlooked, or just not known about.

Here are some items to add to your “tool kit” to ensure that you’re marketing and managing your work properly.

1. First, The Things You Already Have…

I find that often in the music industry, we are signed up for certain memberships or use certain programs, but we really aren’t using them to their fullest potential.

For instance, did you know that TuneCore offers publishing administration services, for a small one-time fee? With this service  they actively assist in the process of getting your work licensed in TV and film.  This is just one of many services that your distributor can provide for you. Do your research, as there is plenty more!

Similarly, is your music registered under a PRO (performing rights organization), such as BMI or ASCAP? It really should be. A PRO is how to ensure you’re getting actively compensated for your work.

But did you also know that PRO’s also have workshops, networking events and even pitch sessions? While some of these may require some travel, your PRO tends to do more than just look out for royalties. For instance, many PRO’s will have music supervisor sessions, where a supervisor listens to pitches and considers your music for placement in TV and film.

Your distributor may also offer conferences, speaking series, or even concerts. Look into these events — and see how they can benefit you.

Research the tools you’re already using and see how you can ensure you’re optimizing them.

2. Buffer and/or HooteSuite

I believe that artists should tweet and post in real-time. Scheduling too much of your content can come off as impersonal. However, you also want a consistent presence. So I do recommend looking into scheduling programs such as Buffer or HooteSuite.

These are especially useful for when you’re touring or busy recording — however, I find them the most useful for certain “pieces” of content. A good content mix, which I’ve discussed before, is about 70% branding, 20% personal posts and 10% sales posts.

A scheduling tool can take care of those occasional promo posts, or brand building posts — so you can focus on simply interacting with others, and using your social channels as you normally would.

Buffer and Hootesuite are two of the more popular platforms, however, there exists dozens of similar outlets. I prefer Buffer as it automatically posts during your customized “peak hours”. So you simply schedule, and it posts automatically during times that are the most active for your follower-base. This feature is also optional as you can schedule whenever you’d like.

I also dig Buffer as it automatically pulls photos from links, where as with HooteSuite you have to manually insert the link.

HooteSuite, on the other hand has integration with Instagram, and if you’re a manager or agency, you can manage multiple accounts for free — and an unlimited amount for only $10 a month.

Regardless of how you go about handling your social media, a scheduler is key to having a solid content mix. It allows you to consistently have a social media presence even when you’re on the road, touring — or maybe just not feeling up to it that day.

Although, remember that you need to schedule a mix of content — so, re-share your videos, but also throw up new music you like, or local events you want to check out. Be dynamic — but also, with a scheduling tool, you can also remain consistent.

3. Canva

I always recommend an artist hires a designer for any kind of complex design campaign. This might be an album cover, or a banner for a website. However, images go beyond that — artists need visual content on their social media channels. Images always do better than text posts — so, little things like “Coming Soon” graphics, simple show reminders, or even graphics with your lyrics on them can go a long way.

However, these aren’t really worth investing in a designer, especially when tools like Canva exist. Canva allows for simple graphics, and also gives templates that include dimensions for certain social outlets, as well as text tools. It doesn’t have great “photoshop”-level editing functions. But it does allow you to quickly edit a photo, as well as add in lines and other tools to really create some compelling and simple social media (or blog) graphics.

I highly recommend you check Canva out if you need a quick image boost on your social media.

4. Boomerang

Boomerang is one of my secret weapons. Boomerang allows Gmail users to schedule emails — while this might seem like a small feature, it’s actually huge for artists who want to pitch press, but don’t have access to a professional email tool. Sure, you can use MailChimp for this, but email inboxes register it as as a “marketing” program, so it goes to a “promo” or even a spam folder.

To use Boomerang, first, I activate up Gmails “canned response” feature. This allows you to quickly pull up pre-written text without having to go and copy/paste. That way you can tweak a pre-written pitch, quickly.

(Note: Always tweak your pitch, state the writer’s name, tell them how you found their info.. make ’em feel special. This is key.)

Then, you simply go to the Boomerang icon, that now appears in your email window, and schedule it! You can schedule a certain amount a week for free, or for a small fee you can schedule a larger amount. It’s certainly worth the cost.

I even have access to major PR databases and scheduling programs, but I still find myself using Boomerang for the scheduling aspect. I simply feel that it’s easier to tweak the pitches in Boomerang, and make them more personalized towards the writer. Rather than just launching them all out in bulk.

This is also good for artists with small media lists, or who just want to send pitches out to a few key people before a launch.

Bonus Tips: Searching for writer emails? Use outlets like ZoomInfo for press contacts — another good way? Google ’em. Seriously, try searching a writer’s name and you’ll be surprised with how often you find some form of contact info.

5. Google Drive

If you’ve worked for any agency, start-up, or company with a lot of moving parts — you may be familiar with project management programs such as Slack, Trello, and BaseCamp. These are all great tools, and I’ve used them with a few labels — however, they’re only really necessary for large teams with numerous projects.

So… if you have an in-house PR team, booking agent, a designer, an inventory specialist and a manager — then sure, use these programs! But if you’re reading this, you’re likely a team of less than 5 folks and having project management tools may be a bit overkill.

While I’ve used these tools with large management teams and indie labels, most of my clients work directly off of Google Drive. Google Drive is just like Dropbox, though since it’s cloud base — it’s a bit easier to navigate and edit documents in real-time. Here’s what I use in Google Drive:

  • Google Drive Folders

Obvious, but great for separating out photos, PR documents, tracks, and organizational documents.

  • Google Sheets

This is my go-to tool for weekly status updates. I have columns for “Task”, “Status”, “Next Steps” and “Responsibility”. Then we work with the team (managers and/or artists) to fill out each item.

I also use Google Sheets to keep up with media lists, budgeting, track what writers I’ve pitched, venue contacts and more.

  • Google Docs

Another obvious but good tool is the Google Doc. Google Docs allow for one document to be shared with your team for collaboration. So, this could be a marketing plan you’re working on with your manager, or it could be a social media content calendar.

It’s a great tool to create a document, and have a team give insight and feedback.

6. Good Ole’ Fashion Knowledge.

Hey! I know you wanted some hacks and quick tips, but I can’t stress this piece enough. Simply, educate yourselves.

One of the largest ways artists step towards failure is by trying to rush success. This might be going broke paying for sketchy promo deals, or maybe just giving up because they aren’t seeing results soon enough. However, the real success comes in understanding the industry. It goes into knowing what makes a good pitch, how to network, what makes a good social media presence.

You might say, well — I can have a PR team handle that. Yes! But… how are you going to know if they’re doing a good job? How do you know if your manager is doing their par? If you don’t understand what goes into these two arenas, you can’t gauge their productivity.

Recently, I started offering musicians my Artist Launch Kit which, instead of blindly pitching on the artist’s behalf, I give them all of the tools they need to pitch press and operate their brand. This includes a series of pitches, an EPK, a custom media list, as well as a marketing plan.

However, it goes beyond working directly with folks like me. TuneCore’s blog has become a great resource for artists, same with HypebotSonicbids, and more. There’s also some incredible social media influencers out there who talk about music marketing (without trying to sell you something too often.)

Read blogs, connect and network with folks in the industry, education is everything, especially as our industry continues to grow.


w tyler allenAs a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more about Tyler Allen’s music consulting and background on his website here.

UK Artists: 4 Tips For Getting Your Music Heard

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog, written by Louise Dodgson, Editor at The Unsigned Guide, an online music industry directory. Since 2003 The Unsigned Guide has been used by emerging bands, artists, producers and music managers to search over 8,500 UK music contacts across 50 sectors of the industry.]

So, you’ve recorded some great tracks and now it’s time to share them with the world, including the music industry. Check out the Unsigned Guide’s top four tips to start spreading the word and get your music discovered.

Get some gigs

There’s no better way to introduce your new music than by playing live. Contact local gig venues and promoters to book some shows, and once you feel you’ve made an impact in your local scene, spread your wings further afield to another UK city or town.

Getting slots at festivals is another good way to play your music to a crowd of potential new fans. Again, you can check out local opportunities to play festivals but there are also plenty of more established UK music festivals that accept applications from emerging bands and artists. Why not give it a shot?

Send your music to blogs, radio, and press

Getting airplay on radio for your new single, reviews on influential music blogs or in local press and magazines is a huge step in getting your music out to a new wave of listeners.

Starting local is the key. Contact local radio stations who are keen to push bands and artists from the area. BBC Introducing is also a fantastic way for UK bands and artists to get national radio airplay so make sure you upload your track to them.

In terms of blogs and magazines, it’s unlikely you’ll get coverage from the likes of NME and Clash straight off the bat. Focus on creating a buzz amongst smaller, regional music blogs and magazines. Once they are championing your music, it’s time to contact the big guns who will pay far more attention if you already have lots of favourable press and reviews to share with them.

Connect with fans digitally

Every band and artist should avidly work to grow their fanbase. There are a few fundamental things you should have in place to help enable this to happen. An up to date website for your band is somewhere you can direct people to. Social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are also a wonderful way to engage with your existing fans, plus allow your personality and music to shine and hopefully win over some new fans.

Creating an email mailing list is essential for any band. With interaction on social media being so fleeting – if you’re not online when something is posted it can easily be missed – regular emails to your mailing list allow you to keep in direct touch with personal updates. Whenever you meet new fans at gigs or festivals, make sure you jot down their email address and add them to your mailing list so it continues to expand.

Get in touch with the music industry

Yes, it’s time to knock on music industry doors with your new music and there are a number of specialist contacts that will be able to take your music to the next level. Working with a record label will allow you to release your music with financial support, plus their expertise in marketing and the industry.

Music publishers and sync agencies can help get your music featured on TV programmes, adverts, films and games; another great way to get your music to fresh ears. Digital distributors will make your new single, EP or album available across digital music stores and streaming services such as iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Apple Music.

To get in touch with reputable music industry folks in these areas, you can firstly start by doing research on the web. Also ask around other bands you know or your own existing music contacts to be pointed in the direction of recommended music industry professionals who can help you out.

Alternatively, The Unsigned Guide online music industry directory is a great starting point and contains contact details, all in one easily searchable database, for over 8,500 UK music contacts, businesses and organisations that work with emerging bands and musicians to help further their music careers.


To save 30% on an annual subscription to The Unsigned Guide music industry directory, use discount code TUG30S at checkout. (£20.99 instead of RRP £29.99)

Untitled-1Since 2003 The Unsigned Guide has been used by emerging bands, artists, producers and music managers to search over 8,500 UK music contacts across 50 sectors of the industry.

 

The Most Overlooked Elements In An Artists’ Digital Presence

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written for us by music marketing strategist Tyler Allen. Learn about his consulting services and follow him on Twitter here.] 

10 years ago you wouldn’t have been reading this blog.

Because even just a decade ago, the digital landscape that we use daily was an entirely different place.

While sure, self distribution and some social media marketing tools were around in 2005 — they certainly weren’t polished and geared towards the self-marketer, and certainly not intended for the DIY musician.

Twitter wasn’t around quite yet, and neither were music-centric programs such as SoundCloud or BandCamp. Facebook was just a year old and restricted to college students– plus there weren’t even Facebook fan pages yet, and certainly not viable Facebook advertising tools. Similarly, a decade ago you wouldn’t find any streaming services, and physical CD’s were still a relatively normal route for artists.

But that’s all changed drastically, right?

These days everyone has a platform to promote their work through social media, stream their music through various channels, and to even build their own websites, and book their own tours. The internet and social media have become very powerful forces in promoting our music, getting our work noticed, and for some, it’s even been an avenue for mainstream success.

This isn’t breaking news. This isn’t a revelation — success via social media has obviously been true for well over a decade.

My focal point though is the effect of these platforms–because with this blessing also comes a curse.

Now with social media and DIY tools, anyone can be an artist, anyone can have a platform — which now puts you into a sort of competition with thousands of other artists. All vying for the same spotlight.

So, how does an artist stand out from the rest? The answer is simple.. but very important: Be Professional.

By having a professional, solid and thorough feel to your social media, website, and all other digital outlets, you’re going to stand out from the static. A solid product and solid digital presence is certainly going to get you more attention than the artist that’s barely putting in any effort.

So, what makes a presence “professional”? And what are the most overlooked components of a professional presence? Here’s a few of my go-to tips that I give clients of all genres on how to clean up their online profiles.

A Proper Content Mix

This is easily one of the most overlooked aspects of an artists digital presence. Think of a major brand that you follow online, any one will do. Go and check out their content.

You’ll notice that it’s typically going to be a combination three content “types”:

  • Brand building posts
  • Miscellaneous content that may have nothing to do with their brand at all
  • Sales posts

Those three elements are the main elements that you want to showcase in your online presence. You also want a good mix of these three. You don’t want to post way too much sales content, and scare fans away with spam, and on the flip side, you don’t want to post so much random/personal content that everyone forgets your an artist.

There is a formula for this, called the 70-20-10 rule which (roughly) says 70% of your content should be brand building.

This is you in the studio, you on the road, photos from shows thanking fans, or talking about an upcoming project.

20% of your posts should be misc. content, or personal posts. These are the posts that fans like to see — it shows your brand in a more personable light. This is you talking about a good restaurant you found in town, talking about the new Jordans, current events, or funny memes.

10% of your content should be the content where you’re actually getting folks to buy your work. These are the download posts, the posts that push your merch, or showcase your presales.

Now, is this an exact science? Not at all. Plus “brand building” can be pretty subjective. Let’s say you post a photo of you and your band at a restaurant with the caption:

“We’re here at Gino’s Pizza in Austin, after wrapping up one hell of a show! One of our go-to spots when we’re in town for late night eats. Thanks to everyone who came out tonight to Joe’s Bar, we’ll be back soon! We’re also in Houston next Friday! Check out the pre-sale info here…”

That post was brand building, because it showcased your recent gig and shows that you’re a touring band. It hit that personal/misc. category because you mentioned how the local spot was a go-to spot for light night food, and you plugged a pre-sale link.

Just in one post just you hit all three of our categories. But it was done in a way that wasn’t in-your-face, or too salesy. The overall point here is to divvy up content topics, and ensure that your posts aren’t too one sided. Give your audience a full glimpse of your work.

Frequency of Posts

Engagement is key to any social media platform. For Facebook, it’s 100% essentially, as you could have 10,000 likes, but if you post something that gets little engagement (likes, comments, shares), only a very small fraction of that 10,000 will even see it.

Similarly, with Twitter or other outlets such as Pinterest of Tumblr, if your work isn’t retweeted (re-pinned, re-blogged), it’s not going to have much of a shelf life.

Being active is incredibly important, and while I recommend scheduling posts in advance via HooteSuite or Buffer App, you should also spend time engaging with fans and showing love to each platform. The sweetspot for each outlet tends to be:

Facebook: 1-3 Posts Daily

Twitter: 3-5 Tweets Daily

Instagram: 1-3 Posts Daily

Twitter and Instagram can surely go beyond the above recommendations. Just ensure your posts are spread out — also ensure that you’re interacting with others on Twitter or Instagram. Finding people to follow and actually engaging with their work.

The idea here is to have an active presence, not only to engage fans, but also to show other influencers such as media and labels, that you take pride in your work.

The Big Picture

One big issue I find in a lot of artist’s online presence is the linked accounts, or the copy and pasting on various outlets. For instance, having a Facebook tied to a Twitter, so every time one posts on Facebook a link appears on Twitter, too.

Not only is this not engaging, it’s also lazy and an eyesore. Most tweets end up looking like this:

“Make sure to order our new album out o… http://fb.com/1237867/page/aiaiajf5454”.

And while taking a tweet and copying and pasting it into a Facebook post is a little better, you should still ensure that every social media outlet has it’s own voice and purpose.

For instance, you may utilize Facebook as your go-to place for ads due to it’s user-friendly platform, Instagram might be your place to really showcase that personal side of you or your branded imagery, where as Twitter is your go-to place to find fans, and be interactive.

Don’t forget other outlets too — an artists website is very important, and should serve as a long-form version of what you feel is too long or intricate to post on social media. Your newsletter is also a great place for fan interaction in a more “fan club” type of way.

Ensure that each channel has your brand, but that it always gives your fans something new and fun to interact with.

These are just three general issues one can find in their digital presence. Though, by being consistent and having a strong presence, you can always ensure that you’re standing out from the crowd and making an impression on potential fans, listeners and media, too.


As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.