Business professionals understand that they're too many things to do and not enough time in the day to do them all. Worst of all, if you try to do everything all the time, you'll get burnt out quit all together. Your artist career is a marathon not a sprint. Here is a management technique to breakdown what's important in your business and to create a way to manage the important things while leaving the not so important things alone.
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Creating a successful artist business is hard, and with so many moving parts, it can be difficult to figure out what to focus on to create success. Below you will find out the 5 pillars to focus on that will give artists a huge advantage in today’s new music business. Let’s jump in!
We’ve all heard it. “The money’s in the list,” but it’s true. Being able to have a dedicated list of people who you can communicate with directly that will read your messages is extremely powerful. This is one of the most difficult things to build, especially in the beginning of an artists career.
Not only can you build your band, but you can also promote your music, merchandise, live shows, and much more.
A few ways to build your email list are:
- Collect emails addresses at your shows by walking and talking with fans directly
- Use a download gate that collects email addresses in exchange for an exclusive download
- Have people purchase products on your website
- Ask people on social media
- Have an email form on your website
- Use popups on your website with special offers
- Create a value proposition to entice fans to give you their email
Your website goes hand-in-hand with your email strategy because it focuses around your brand. This is just another way to show fans who you truly are. It also gives industry executives that extra bit of professional that will allow them to take you as a serious artist.
Depending on what you’re trying to do, your website can be as complex as Amazon or literally a one-sheet. The most important thing is to have a platform that you can control that showcases your work.
2. Social Media:
Social media is very important as well because this is a way to help you connect. Your email list is private and you may not always display how your email list does, but your social media is public and gives you social proof. This is very helpful when it comes to booking shows and to show how influential you are.
It’s not only about how many followers you have but also the quality of those followers. Are people engaging with your content? Are people sharing your content? Is the social media platform you’re using looked at by industry executives?
There’s many different platforms but to start out, a recommendation is to start building 1-2 platforms and just focus on those. 1 streaming platform that you promote + 1 non-streaming platform that you promote. Each platform has their own pros and cons so it’s best to figure out what works best for you and your business.
Here’s a breakdown:
- Spotify (Currently pays the most in royalties per stream and has a huge hip hop market)
- Youtube (Currently pays the least in royalties per stream but has the largest consumers of music out of the streaming platforms)
- Soundcloud (As of late 2018, just opened their platform to allow any artist to monetize their streams rather than just being invite only; royalties amounts has not been confirmed yet)
- Apple Music (Currently streams are lower than Spotify but higher than Youtube; not as many options as the other platforms)
- Instagram (King of visually branded content, tons of features, and geared toward the 16-27 age crowd)
- Facebook (More mature platform, paying customers, performs well with all types of content, music can be monetized on the platform)
- Youtube (King of video content, largest platform for music consumers, advertising costs are remarkably lower, still growing)
- Twitter (King of thought leaders, slow to no growth, users a very engaged, does well with the Black community)
You want to have your music everywhere but chasing too many pigs at one time will leave you catching none. Connect all your platforms together and really double down on the platform where your audience is.
3. Fan Engagement:
Fan engagement is critical because it will help you build the quality of your fans. Start talking with your fans so you can understand their wants, needs, desires, and fears. What kinds of fans are attracted to your music? Which types of songs should you make more of? Which regions will most likely gravitate to your music?
These are the questions that can be answered when you talk with your fans. Not only will you deepen your connection with you people (which you should want to do if you’re a musician), but you will get a huge amount of market research so you’re not wasting your limited marketing dollars.
When discussing fan engagement this includes:
- Responding to emails
- Responding to social media comments/ direct messages
- Talking with potential and current fans after a live performance
- Starting conversations with people who are liking your content
- Talking about things other than your music
Remember, people will want to support you if they like you first. Then throw in that you make music and they may be likely to listen. Ask your people what makes them happy and be a source of value before you ask for something.
When I say marketing, I mean putting your content in front of eyeballs in an attractive way. That could mean marketing on social media, email your mailing list about your upcoming release, or making music video trailers of your upcoming project. Anything that informs more people about what you’re doing is marketing.
Today we live in a digital world but that doesn’t mean you should totally forget about offline marketing techniques such as, printing flyers and business cards to hand out, doing live shows, or going to college campuses to talk with people in person.
Most artists don’t reach the level of success they’re looking for because of how they’re marketing. Some artists may not even know what it means to market their music. It’s hard to get paying shows when no one knows you but it’s also hard to get people to know you without doing shows. Maybe those first couple of gigs means you’ll have to pay, but make a goal for each show. Maybe aim for 15 Spotify followers and email addresses each time you perform the first couple times.
What’s going to make you stand out from the crowd is taking massive action, no matter what industry you’re in. You may not have the money, people, or business skills, but you can always outwork your competition. It just depends on how hungry you really are.
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Branding is one of those intangibles that can be difficult to explain but easy to see/feel. Your brand is your personality. 1 thing I hate in life is tomatoes. That’s just how it is because that’s part of my personality. If my mom ever saw me eating tomatoes, she would think I’m sick! That is an example of a personal brand. Same goes with your artist brand.
Here are aspects of your artist brand that you should take into consideration:
- The types of beats you use
- The lyrics you use
- The artists you collaborate with
- The type of fashion you wear
- Your activities outside of music
- How you treat people
- The types of things you support
By staying consistent with your brand, you’re considered to be “on brand”. Anything else and your audience will feel it. Your brand will continue to grow, and you should definitely experiment with your brand, but always remember to stay true to you and your brand.
In general, have a budget every month to advertise. Learn different advertising techniques on 1 platform at a time or find someone who could help you with advertising. In the digital age, you could literally pay $50 and get in front of 500+ people. At the start of your music career, how many shows could you get with those numbers?
Not saying it isn’t possible, but that’s how you get people to “see you everywhere.” Depending on your strategy, you need a way to reach new fans, and with it being as easy as a click of a button to reach thousands of new people, there’s no reason you’re not doing it. With the amount of data we have, it’s now so easy to figure out how to move. If you have many fans in Japan, maybe that’s where you should do you next tour and things like that.
Publicity is also a subset of marketing but it has it’s own pillar because it’s extremely crucial in the music industry. If people are not talking about you or sharing your content, it will be extremely difficult to build a strong career. This could mean people re-posting your music onto playlists, dj’s playing your music in clubs, getting blog coverage, or going to music conferences and talking with people who can place your music into influencers hands.
A good publicist is going to cost you $2000 a month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to people on your own. Search for influencers who have a similar target audience. Start genuine conversations with them or pay them to expand your reach.
You can start out small, by reaching out to 10 new people per week, and build it up over time. Remember, consistency is what people remember. Just by constantly reaching out periodically, you stay top of mind. In today’s game, the battle is for attention.
This music industry is not for the feint of heart, but if you can cut through the chaos and focus on these 5 pillars, you can really stand out. Mind you, this has nothing to do with creating great music or a great quality product. I’m not saying your music should be mediocre, but when you have a mediocre product that you’re telling people about, it’s going to reach more ears than a good product that’s stuck in your basement will.
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