[Editors Note: This article was written by Chelsea Ira.]
It’s the big question all musicians ask: How do I promote my music?
So today I’m going to key you in on the best strategy to promote your music, grow your fanbase, and make more money – and it’s something that can work for any musician and any career path.
We’re talking about content marketing.
Content marketing isn’t some big, intimidating strategy that you need to build from scratch. Chances are, you’re already using elements of a content marketing strategy. So today, let’s focus on optimizing and perfecting.
To get started, I have two great resources you can checkout:
- A free content marketing checklist that will take you through all the steps for implementing your own content marketing strategy.
- A series of free lessons that will take you into more advanced content marketing strategies.
But for now, let’s focus on what content marketing is and why it’s so important.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a more strategic approach to promoting your music where you create valuable and interesting content to attract and retain an audience, and, ultimately, to create fans who financially support your career.
Essentially, your goal is to pull fans into your world with awesome content and make them want to hear from you. (Instead of pushing your music in their face.)
That means instead of just posting “buy my new album” on Facebook, you first provide truly relevant and interesting content to your fans.
Let’s take a look at a great example that has become pretty popular these days: making-of videos.
In this strategy, you film the writing and recording process of your new album and release the videos leading up to the official album release date. The videos bring fans into your world, they get them excited and emotionally invested in the album, AND they can be used to drive pre-orders.
Why is Content Marketing Important?
In today’s music industry, it’s almost impossible to shout louder than everyone else. This push marketing tactic worked well in the past when labels had big bucks to throw into promotion, but it’s just not feasible on today’s indie budget. (And to be quite honest, fans are starting to get fed up with being shouted at.)
So let’s go through a few reasons why content marketing is so powerful.
1. Content Marketing Turns the Process into a Marketing Tool
Content marketing is all about selling the process.
What do I mean by that?
For a lot of musicians, the promotion cycle looks a little like this: release an album, promote the crap out of it, go comparatively dark to work on the next album.
But with content marketing, you start sharing before you have anything ready. You let your fans in on the album-creation process with blog posts, Instagram stories, and vlogs. You bring fans into rehearsals with Facebook Live sessions. You let email subscribers vote on merch designs.
This accomplishes three things:
- It gets fans invested in your work (both from an emotional and time perspective). Fans are much more likely to buy a shirt if they feel like their vote helped create it. Fans are much more excited about buying an album if they’ve seen the process and the stories that went into the songs. In short, it fosters trust and relationships.
- It keeps you present in fans’ minds. Especially with many social channels being driven by some form of algorithm, going dark will only hurt your relationship with your fans.
- More impressions = more sales. Sometimes it takes a fan being exposed to your offers a few times before they actually buy. So the more you can link to your website, blog, videos, and email list, the more fans will be exposed to your offers. The key is to be authentic and relevant about it.
2. Content Marketing is Long Term
A lot of musicians get really focused on the short term – you know, promoting the new single, building up hype for the tour, getting fans to watch the new music video – and wind up completely losing sight of the bigger picture.
In other words, the short-term goals completely overshadow the long-term goals.
Of course, having short-term goals is important – they help you see progress and stay motivated. BUT, the problem arises when they take over. Without a long-term goal you’re running blind. You’re taking a bunch of steps but there’s no guarantee they’re all in the same direction. And that leads to discouragement and burnout.
A good content marketing strategy blends the short term and the long term together seamlessly. Ideally, most pieces of content you share have a purpose, or some larger agenda.
Here’s an example:
- You share a short video clip of the recording process for an acoustic track.
- You link to your email list where fans can get that exclusive track for free in exchange for an email.
- You use that email list to promote all your upcoming projects in the future.
- You create a new cover video for YouTube.
- You link to your Patreon where fans can support you and get early access to all new videos and can vote on the songs you cover next.
- You use Patreon as a place to build a superfan community that will support you for years to come.
You see? It’s all concentric circles with the small things like Twitter posts leading into larger career goals and objectives.
The 3 Steps to Your Content Marketing Strategy
1. Know Your Audience
The first step is to really know and understand your audience. You want the content you create and share to be really relevant to your fanbase and their interests.
You can find some basic demographic information like age, gender, and location on social media analytics. Beyond that, you can use polls and surveys to learn more about your fanbase. Even posting a simple question on social media getting fans to vote on the kind of content they would like to see will be immensely helpful.
Some bands have found that a good portion of their audience is also musicians and release tutorials, gear reviews, and sound sheets. Others will find that their fans prefer longer-form vlogs to short music videos. Every fanbase is different. Know yours.
2. Know Your Goals
The next step is to know exactly where you want your music career to take you long term. Because quite honestly, there are more ways to be successful as a musician today than ever before.
If making most of your money from YouTube and Patreon is a goal of yours and you have no interest in going on the road, all the content you release should encourage fans to engage with you on those platforms. You might even consider dropping the traditional “album” for singles (which may be more relevant to those platforms).
3. Use Relevant Call to Actions
Once you know what kind of content to create, you need to tie in a relevant call to action.
In marketing, a “call to action” is just asking your fans to take some further step – like clicking a link or supporting your Pledge Music campaign.
Like we talked about earlier, each piece of content you release should have a purpose.
- You’re not just releasing a studio vlog, you’re using that vlog to link to your pre-sale campaign where fans can buy the album early.
- You’re not just sharing a live recording from your last house concert. You’re using that video to show fans how awesome house concerts are and give them a link to volunteer as a host.
Hopefully this article has given you some new ideas to promote your music. Remember, content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s not a completely new approach, it’s just OPTIMIZING content you’re already making.
That being said, it will be a bit of a transition. If you want some guidance, click here and take the short quiz. We’ll send you a series of free content marketing lessons.
Chelsea Ira is the Director of Marketing for The New Artist Model.