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

[Author: Raj Shah *
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 Two of this article tomorrow!]

Thoughts On How To Approach Music Bloggers

[Editors Note: This article is derived from the “Question and Answer” format found over at MusicPreneurHub.com, a site that connects artists and music industry experts. It was written by Jack Ought, a musician, freelance writer and digital artist from the UK.]

 

1. Start With Empathy

I’d say start with empathy. Empathy is a vital skill for dealing with other humans, whether they blog or not. Try to put yourself into the head of the music blogger before you contact one. What do they want out of life and how can you help them get it with your music? Put another way, ‘what’s in it for them’?

It’s a bit like submitting to A&Rs at major labels. If they’re really big, they’re getting more submissions than they can possibly deal with. They’re getting generic/irrelevant pitches all the time, and they might have grown to resent ‘bad pitches’. They don’t want to read War and Peace, even if your content is relevant to them – instead, they’re looking for short, informative, and ’to the point’ releases that allow them to learn more, if they want to. And they are always looking to uncover music that they feel has real value, why else would they do what they do?

If it’s a commercial blog (i.e they have ads), understand their revenue model – they want more page views, which generate more ad revenue. How can you help them generate more page views? One of the things that always gets my interest as a journalist or blogger is an exclusive – I’m not interested in posting content that a bunch of other people have put out before me. Do you have something new to announce that they can post first? A new tour perhaps, or a new single? Perhaps consider: “if it’s not new, it’s not news”

2. Your Mindset

Perhaps consider your mindset too; in the sense that you are here to serve and provide value. You are here to give them something very exciting to show to their readership. You have something genuinely valuable to share with them in the form of your art.

What to do when you pitch a blogger:

Have a strong headline: It’s worth bearing in mind that your email subject is a bit like your headline – you really have to get it right, because if they don’t like the title they won’t even read your email.

Do your homework on the blog: Some blogs ask you to do certain things in your email to help them better process your submission. If you don’t, the blogger will likely reject your message outright.

Personalize your pitch: Make sure the salutation references them by name, if you can. If not, name of the blog that they write for. Don’t start an email with something like ‘Dear Blogger’, please. Tailor it to the blogger in question, ideally in the first paragraph by referencing something they have written about in the past: And why what you have to OFFER them is RELEVANT. I speak from experience when I say that if someone shows that they have taken the time to research what I am writing, I am much more inclined to respond. It’s not flattery per se, more an example that you’re a professional who has taken the time and thought to do their research.

Expect a low hit rate: Sad but true, even the best crafted, most targetted pitches will often evaporate into nothing. This is very often the case and not something to take personally. People are busy, people forget stuff, sometime spam filters get excited, there are many reasons. Which leads us to the next bit… Follow up: 3-5 days later, politely. A short, friendly follow up email to remind them. There’s a trade off between emailing indefinitely until they get back to you or tell you to stop, or not. I think it’s like a lot of stuff in life in that persistence pays. Remember, you have something useful for them to see. An optional step – you could pick up the phone and call them (or try to get them onto Skype). If you are the kind of person who is good on the phone, this may be better for you.

Provide easily accessible links to your content: Either download links to music and imagery on a site like 4shared, or your EPK. Say thank you at the end: Everyone is busy, the fact that the blogger has taken the time to read all the way to the end is great. Politeness will get you around. Here’s an example of an email title (first introduction) that could work for you: “Hi [NAME OF JOURNALIST], I read your piece on [SOMETHING THEY WROTE] & thought you may like this…”

3. On Bloggers (Big and Small)

Please don’t rule out smaller bloggers. Just because they’re ‘small’ doesn’t mean they’re not important – even though a blogger may not have the following of a bigger publication, they often have a highly engaged and super niche following of the kind of people you want to get in front of. For example, they can be followed by journalists at bigger publications looking to catch new bands before they take off. Big outlets often get their ideas from smaller ones.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that bloggers are, on the main part, fanatical about what they like and they can be some of your biggest champions, if they like you. Most of the time, the ones who went into it purely for the money were quickly weeded out when they realized that they’re probably not going to get rich and famous overnight.

How To Get Writers to Actually Open Your Emails

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the co-founder of 24West, a full-service creative agency focusing on music and tech.]

It’s often said that the internet and home recording has made it possible for anyone to explore their creative side musically. Another positive effect of the DIY culture the internet has nurtured is that as these bedroom musicians begin the process of turning their hobby into a career, they are able to handle a lot of the business and promotional side themselves to get the ball rolling.

Chief among these early efforts that an artist can use to start spreading the word is press. A little interweb stalking will turn up the contact info for most of the writers that you would want to cover your music. With a carefully-crafted pitch, you might start to see your music start popping up among the new songs and videos of your heroes that your favorite blogs are covering.

On the flipside, this instant access to press contacts means that most of the writers you want to reach out to are simultaneously getting hit up by hundreds of other artists on any given day. As a result, publicists devote a lot of time to figuring out how to cut through the clutter and get writers to prioritize checking out their clients ahead of the droves of other submissions.

If you can’t yet afford to hire a publicist, here are five tips on how an independent artist can get their favorite music bloggers to give their new music a spin!

 

  • Be Personal – The fact that you are an artist hitting them up directly gives you a leg up with a lot of writers. But if you send them a generic pitch, chances are you’re going to lose that favor. Tell the writer why you’re writing to them specifically.Which artists have they covered that leads you to believe they’d be into your music? What articles that they wrote made you a fan of theirs? Do you really love them on Twitter? What about your music is unique? These are the elements that are going to entice a writer to hit play on your Soundcloud link or YouTube video.
  • Is There A Certain Regular Feature You’re Interested In? – Another good way to approach writers is to reach out about a specific feature they oversee.For instance, is their blog pushing to promote a Spotify playlist? Do they run a “track of the week” series that you find a lot of your new favorite music on? These are the sort of deliberate pitches that might garner a quicker, more favorable response.
  • Be Precise: One thing that often goes overlooked with pitching writers is that brevity is key. It’s understandable why you want to cram every iota of information that you find interesting about your project into your email, but your life story might push your message to the TLDR folder.Stick to the necessities; (1) why are you writing to them specifically, (2) why they would like your music, and most importantly (3) a link to the music. Also, make sure it only requires one click in your email for the writer to be able to listen. If they like the music and decide to cover it, they will ask for more info at that point.
  • Get To Know The Writer (For Repeat Pitches): This is probably the most important key to continued coverage of your music. Get to know the writer! Is there a certain way they like to receive pitches? Do they prefer text or twitter messages to email? Do they want a full press release or personal message every time? Will they even cover non-exclusive tracks? These are all key to success with developing a rapport with writers. Even better, if they live in your city, see if they’d be down to meet for coffee, a drink or even to check your project out live. The better you know their personality and preferences, the more accurately you’ll be able to pitch them. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to make friends with another music fan!
  • Always Have An Angle: We mentioned the ‘special feature’ angle already and have hopefully made it abundantly clear that you need to speak to how you’re unique when contacting writers. But how specifically are you going to frame your music in an enticing way? Is there something interesting and quirky about your personality that you can use in the voice of your email? Is your music a part of a bigger vision that spans multiple artistic mediums that you will be unveiling in the coming months? Is your new song part of a concept album or tell a specific tale?There has to be something about you and your sound that makes it endearing because there are a lot of talented musicians out there you are trying to beat out for coverage.

 

If your music is good and you can translate your special qualities to the writer quickly and precisely, you’ve greatly increased the chances of a writer actually clicking play. And getting them to listen is half the battle!