Wednesday Video Diversion: December 13, 2017

Another Wednesday is upon us folks, and there’s only two more of ’em left in 2017 after this! A fun musical fact to complement this week’s fine selection of TuneCore Artist music videos, today marks the birth of proto-punk and all around rock and roll legend Tom Verlaine! Verlaine fronted the New York City-based group Television and released the iconic Marquee Moon debut album (followed by the criminally underrated Adventure). Here’s to Mr. Verlaine – now, enjoy those music videos.

Katie Costello, “Holiday”


Sama Blake, “Turbulence”


The Animal In Me, “I Created a Monster”


Futuristic, “I Want It I Get It”


The Dear Hunter, “Blame Paradise”


SWIMM, “Groupie”


Pink Fireball, “Eva Green”


Gus Dapperton, “Prune, You Talk Funny”


Niko G4, “The City (feat. Dom Kennedy)”


Carns Hill, “Big Business (feat. K Trap, LD, ASAP, & Blade Brown)”

Digital Marketing Tools & Resources For Independent Musicians [Part 2]

The following is written by Raj Shah of TakeLessons – it’s Part Two of a two-piece article that aims to break down tools that independent artists can utilize in their digital marketing strategies  – all available at their fingertips! Read Part One here.

Develop Your Brand

Marketing and branding is about selling yourself as much as it is about selling your music. Identify what’s unique about your personality, goals, and the specific niche you hope to establish yourself as an authority in. Then, create and promote content on the regular that reinforces your brand.

Let’s look at how you can be consistent with your branding assets, voice and tone in your content, and general social media habits.

Take Advantage of Branding Tools

1. Canva. Every serious musician should have a branding kit and Canva is the perfect DIY tool to make one on a budget.

Your branding kit is your bible for all things related to content and design. To create an effective and consistent brand on your merchandise, albums, and website, always stick to your branding kit.

Here’s a tutorial from Canva that helps you identify the perfect logo, typography, and color palettes. Check out this tutorial on how to create a consistent effect.

2. Stencil. This is a great alternative to Canva for non-designers and DIY artists. The tool allows you to create captivating images for your social networks, as well as feature images for your blog content.

You can also use it to create ads for Facebook and Twitter. Once you draw up an image, use any of the custom settings to resize images based on what site they’ll be added to.

Canva offers more marketing and advertising design templates, but Stencil gets the job done fast.

3. Logojoy. When it comes to designing a logo, try Logojoy. The tool guides you through the entire process, comes up with a look that reflects your style, and differentiates you from competitors.

If you want something free and fast, you can mock up a logo using Canva or Stencil. If you want a premium logo but don’t want to pay a designer, Logojoy is a happy medium.

For $65, you’ll get a high-resolution logo of your choice with black and white variations and different file formats so you can update your logo in the future.

4. Google Fonts. As far as typography goes, check out the popular and free, Google Fonts. Fontpair is another great tool for finding body and heading fonts that pair well.

Once your brand kit is established, don’t worry about revisiting it to “perfect” it. Your time is better spent on music production, content creation, and promotion.

Define a Content Marketing Strategy

Let’s define content as anything of substance that you can create and promote. This includes your latest songs, blog articles, and social media posts. It also consists of any asset that can attract people’s attention such as interviews, giveaways, contests, downloads, etc.

In the digital marketing world, content is thought of as a magnet that attracts attention in the form of social media conversations, backlinks, and press coverage. This then leads to conversions: product sales, newsletter subscriptions, leads generated, etc.

A well-defined content marketing strategy not only helps you get attention, but it also helps you narrow down your audience. In other words, it can help you identify a niche in the industry that only you and a handful of other artists can carve.

Related: Why Content Marketing is One of the Best Ways to Promote Music

The thought of narrowing down to small audiences scares most musicians, because we live in a world where numbers in the thousands, millions, and billions reflect success.

The truth is however, that you need to win over a small audience and establish yourself as an authority there first, and then work your way up to broader audiences. While your competitors are aiming to leap straight from dozens of listeners to millions, you’re better off taking small steps and progressing further in the long run.

In baseball terms, amateur musician marketers “only swing for home runs.” On the other hand, a musician with a content strategy hustles to get on base by any means necessary. Every piece of content created and shared will lead to a walk, single, double, triple, or home run.

Content Marketing Tools & Resources

  • Strategy Templates. Here’s a list of the top 10 content marketing and strategy templates to kickstart your planning process. There are templates for building an editorial calendar, content creation ideas, and more from some of the top digital marketers out there. Pick one and take some time to think through each section.
  • BuzzSumo. This is hands-down the best tool to find content ideas, influencers in your niche, and the most relevant websites to promote your brand and content on.
  • Quora. Use Quora, the best Q&A site on the web, to find the most popular questions and identify the types of content or music your fans crave the most. Any time you get in a creative rut, fire up Quora and get inspired.
  • The Right Margin. Ever struggle to finish writing something? Whether it’s a blog post or a new song, this tool helps you break it down into bite-sized goals which you can chip away at one-by-one.
  • Workflowy. Work better and think better using this app for organizing your thoughts and making lists to keep you on track to reaching your goals. Workflowy helps musicians stay productive and efficient.
  • Google Drive/Docs. Stay organized and sync every document you’ll ever need for free with Google. This includes spreadsheets, docs, and calendars.
  • TuneCore Social. Schedule social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and more. Check out all the performance data of your posts on different networks, learn what works, and adjust the timing of posts to maximize engagement with your fans.
  • MailChimp. Your fans aren’t always logged into Facebook or Twitter when you post something. The best form of communication to ensure they receive the message, and to build long-term relationships, is e-mail. Send news, updates, and offers to your subscribers on a regular basis. MailChimp is an excellent tool for all of your e-mail marketing. They even have specific use cases for musicians.

Final Thoughts on Achieving Success for DIY Musicians

Today’s artists have more low-cost technology and marketing potential than ever before. Don’t cross your fingers and hope you go viral overnight. The overnight success is a myth.

Take full advantage of the resources available, define success on your terms, and keep taking small steps in order to put yourself in the best position to win. Using these digital marketing tools and resources you can get the attention, income, and fan loyalty you deserve.


Raj Shah is the Senior SEO Manager at TakeLessons – a site dedicated to providing affordable and accessible options when it comes to learning instruments and languages. Check out Part One of this article here.

Digital Marketing Tools & Resources for Independent Musicians [Part 1]

The following is written by Raj Shah of TakeLessons – it’s Part One of a two-piece article that aims to break down tools that independent artists can utilize in their digital marketing strategies  – all available at their fingertips!

 

The hard truth about success in music is that the modern artist must be 51% marketer and 49% musician.

In today’s world, the overall difference between the thousands of up and coming artists and the millions of amateur artists trying to make a name for themselves isn’t talent, it’s marketing. Specifically, an artist’s ability to nail digital marketing.

If you can generate an income from music sales, gig bookings, and merchandise, then you’re ready to leap to the next level where people know you, find you, talk about you, and hire you on the regular.

If you’re an amateur that’s looking to take that next step and start marketing yourself more seriously, this guide will provide a list of actionable tools and resources to get started.

While only 1% of musicians blow up, surpassing the “tipping point” and becoming household names, the rest of us still have the opportunity to make a respectable career as professional artists. Digital marketing helps you do just that.

Build Your Own Website/Marketing Hub

If you don’t already have one, get yourself a website. At the heart of every digital marketing strategy is a website – one that you own and have full control over.

Your website sells you and your music in your sleep. It should showcase your bio, shows, events, and your latest and greatest tracks. A website with blog content is even better, as it radiates your expertise, lessons learned, and the niche you’re working to carve in the industry.

Putting all your eggs in someone else’s basket, ie. putting all your content only on sites like SoundCloud or Youtube, is a risk you shouldn’t bet your career on. Social networks that are the hottest thing today might not exist tomorrow. They could have a change of ownership or start charging you a fortune.

Yes, keep creating and promoting profiles on these sites. Just don’t make them the heart of your marketing strategy.

Put your website at the core of everything you do and any prominent social networks or apps second.

Creating a Site from Scratch on WordPress

You don’t need technical chops to build your own website these days. You can easily fire up a WordPress site with a decent managed host like Pressable or Flywheel. These run for about $15-25/month but are worth the investment.

There are cheaper options but managed hosting services provide better support, security, performance, and updates.

Next, choose a decent WordPress premium theme for musicians, bands, or DJs. Here’s a showcase to choose from.

Need some more in-depth help getting a WordPress site up and running? Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up your website from WP Beginner.

Website Plugins for Musicians

Plugins add unique functions to your site without the need for any special coding. Plugins are lifehacks if you use them wisely.

Consider adding these plugins for musicians to your site to allow your visitors to play music, pay for music, book you for an event, and more:

  • WooCommerce – set up shop and get paid for your music
  • Audio Album – let visitors play songs and see your albums
  • Calendar Event – show off your upcoming events
  • Social Icons Widget – showcase social icons for your Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, Spotify, Youtube, and other profiles

Here are a couple great lists of helpful plugins for you to consider adding to your site. Most of these plugins are free, but sometimes the developer might offer a paid version with additional features.

WordPress is built on open-source collaboration, which means it’s constantly being improved and new plugins are constantly rolled out to solve site owners’ challenges.

Pro tip: Plugins are tools, not toys. Don’t get caught up experimenting with so many plugins that you waste precious time you could be using to create new music or content.

Alternatives for Building Your Website

As simple as WordPress is, maybe you don’t want to spend your time and energy building a website from scratch.

A great alternative for building websites is Bandzoogle. You pay monthly, as low as $9, and in return you get a professional site, fan data, built-in mailing list functionality, and the ability to sell your music, merchandise, and tickets. Here’s the list of all the features covered.

How to Promote Your Website

Your website is a powerful branding tool. Try searching some of your favorite artists on Google and you’ll notice their website often ranks #1. This usually means that whenever they do interviews or promote upcoming events, journalists and bloggers are linking to their website.

Spread the word about your new site. Once you have a website, keep it updated with fresh content. Don’t limit your blog to news about your music, merchandise, or events. Use the blog to discuss happenings within your niche and build a following.

Encourage conversation, respond to comments, and listen to the audience for new insights. Share your posts on social media. Give shout-outs to others in your space, and maybe they’ll give you a shout-out too. These are all excellent ways to promote yourself and your website.


Raj Shah is the Senior SEO Manager at TakeLessons – a site dedicated to providing affordable and accessible options when it comes to learning instruments and languages. Check out Part Two of this article tomorrow!

New Music Friday: December 8, 2017

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

Follow Music Made Me – a Spotify playlist that’s updated every Friday with new releases from TuneCore Artists – stream it below!


Wolves
Story of the Year

Alternative, Rock


12.23.95 (Acoustic)
Jimmy Eat World

Holiday, Alternative


Light Work
Rich Jones & Vapor Eyes

Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul


Big Business (feat. k Trap, LD, ASAP, & Blade Brown)
Carns Hill

Hip Hop/Rap


Hell No
Von Sell

Alternative, Electronic


Roll The Dice 2
Niko G4

Hip Hop/Rap


From Now On
Vedo

R&B/Soul


Dear John
Robert Ellis & Courtney Hartman

Folk, Singer/Songwriter


Shoot This Arrow
Kate Voegele

Pop


Prune, You Talk Funny

Gus Dapperton
Pop


Untitled EP
City Of the Sun

Alternative, Instrumental


Eva Green
Pink Fireball

Rock, Pop


96
Fear of Missing Out

R&B/Soul, Hip Hop/Rap


Love You Down
SWIMM

Alternative, R&B/Soul


Live From the Hurst
MRG

Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul


Notos
The Oh Hellos

Folk, Rock


Summer Salt
Curtiss King & Gosh Leotus

Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul

5 Tips To Get More People to Sign Up for Your Newsletter

Written by Hugh McIntyre

Email newsletters may seem like a form of promotion that has gone the way of the dinosaur, but as a musician (and especially one who is still working their way up the industry ladder), I’d suggest you don’t turn your back on these messages just yet. If done right, you can really make these occasional emails valuable, and once you convince a few people to sign up, you could see sales of merch, music, and concert tickets begin to grow.

It is tough to stand out and offer an email that people want to read, and getting them to agree to be emailed in the first place is one of the toughest things to do! Here are a few tips that may help you grow your subscriber count, which is something a musician is always looking for.

  1. Offer an incentive
  2. Post on social media
  3. Explain the benefits
  4. Use a good placement
  5. Promise to be safe

1. Offer An Incentive

Some of your biggest fans won’t need much convincing when it comes to signing up for your email newsletter, because they’ll understand that it’s a great way to support you and to keep up to date with everything you’re doing. Since they love you, they’ll likely seek this out.

Sadly, even if you’re a star, the percentage of fans, or of those who have even heard of you and your music, who will voluntarily sign up to receive promotional messages from you is going to be small. People don’t want to be bothered, and we all know what it feels like to see our inboxes become inundated with missives we weren’t looking for.

As an extra incentive to convince people to sign up for your newsletter, offer to give them something of value in exchange for access to their inbox. It doesn’t need to be anything huge, but it does need to be something they actually care about and that many people will want, since you’re not going to be tailoring this to each individual person.

A free song, a small piece of merch (like a sticker or a pin), or perhaps a certain percentage off a larger item or even a concert ticket could be enough to help you collect a respectable number of email addresses.

When you’re just starting out, you won’t need much help with managing this, as you’ll be able to simply keep track of who signed up and when and then personally email them their gift. After a certain point, that may prove to be exhausting, but there are dozens, if not hundreds of services out there that can help you run your newsletter, and there are plenty of free options that are great.

2. Post It On Social Media

Newsletters are wonderful for you and certainly still important, but we are living in a social media world now…though you shouldn’t think that the two can’t interact or cross promote! You should absolutely have links to your social channels in all of your emails, and there’s no reason why you can’t promote the fact that you have a newsletter on your social platforms as well!

As I suggest whenever you’re promoting anything on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, be smart about how you do so. Don’t simply copy and paste the same message asking people to sign up!

Be more creative!

Think about how often you’re posting, what time of day you’re sending a tweet, how this ask could work visually, and phrase your request in several different ways, so people don’t mind seeing it, and so they aren’t struck by the fact that they’ve likely seen this several times before.

Most of your fans will be following you on social media, since that’s the first place they go to find you and see what you have to say and what you’re up to, but if you can convince even some of those people to take that next step and allow you into their email inboxes, you may have a superfan in the making.

3. Benefits!

Newsletters used to be the only way (or at least the best way) for many people to find out that you had a new song or album coming or that you were preparing to head out on the road, but now most fans are content waiting for the news on social media.

That might sound like it’s fine, but the average person’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are not only incredibly crowded, they’re also now subject to algorithms created and implemented by the companies themselves, and they might not be helping your chances.

Explain to your fans and followers that it’s important to you and your career that they sign up for your occasional emails, and spell out the benefits for them. They should be the first to receive news about everything from new music to upcoming shows, and depending on how you’re set up, you might want to think about allowing those people to have first dibs at tickets to your new tour.

You don’t need to get too technical at the beginning of your career—just send them the link first! This may change as you become more popular, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves just yet.

4. Be Smart About Placement

For the most part, people will be signing up for your newsletter on your actual website, as it’s easiest to direct listeners there and have them enter their address via a simple form. Referrals from social are great, but don’t forget about people who may have found their way to your website organically!

As you’re creating your page, or as somebody else is, give some thought to where you place this form, and don’t only put it in one spot. You should be copying and pasting the code for your newsletter sign up form below every news item, underneath every blog you write, and somewhere on the front page where they can see it almost immediately.

It’s not always the most visually appealing addition, but it’s important, so be creative with how you incorporate it into your design!

5. Promise To Be Safe

Like I said earlier, people are exhausted by the number of emails they receive on a daily basis, and most, if not all, of them are trying to sell something (this will be the same with you). Be very clear that you have no interest in sharing their email addresses with anyone for any reason, not even for cash!

Many companies sell off thousands or millions of emails to others to encourage spam, but you’re not some major outfit! Remind your fans that this is just for you to promote your music and your shows, and nothing else. Most people won’t suspect any ulterior motives, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them!


Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.

Wednesday Video Diversion: December 6, 2017

Happy Wednesday once more, readers and music video lovers. Today we’re celebrating “Underrated Drummers Month” and wishing Rick Buckler, drummer of British trio The Jam, a happy 62nd birthday! Who are The Jam? Only one of the finest rock outfits to come out of the 1977-82 UK punk/Brit-pop era, (if you ask this editor, anyhow). If you’re less familiar, dive into The Jam’s wonderful discography AFTER you enjoy these wonderful TuneCore Artist videos.


$uicideBoy$, “Face It”


Foggieraw, “U Can’t Be My Baby (feat. DJ Yung Vamp)”


Cuban Da Savage, “Let It Blow (feat. Molly Brazy)”


Michael Christmas, “Not The Only One (feat. Tobi Lou)”


DREAMDOLL, “Everything Nice”


Bill $aber, “Creepin N Kurkin”


Corey Finesse, “No Suburban Remix (feat. Sheff G)”


Francois van Coke, “Die Wereld is Mal”


Sun El-Musican, “Akanamali (feat. Samthing Soweto)”


Sketchy Bongo, “Let You Know (feat. Shekhinah”)