I wish that anyone would have told me, but most importantly introduced me to the idea of how to approach an audience with my music via digital marketing.
Musicians are a strange bunch and most are certainly not their own marketeer, rather the contrary, I can attest to that as one myself. However, like any other product (being music) deserves and needs attention in order to survive in the digital age. So, how are we independent artists supposed to get around?
As you can guess, investing your time and energy into your music is often barely enough for an artist to gain effective reach and loyal listeners. Therefore a portion of that investment will have to go into putting yourself out there.
The State of Digital Music
Demand is not the issue; but it has decreased, as we today have more sources to listen to any recorded song or recording out there. Some of these services like; Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Pandora followed by hundreds more are a result of that; but with a cost to artists’ earnings via physical music media and audio recordings.
With that in mind, it is easy to get your music out there but being heard is another story since your competition is greater than it has ever been. Therefore any independent artist that wishes to gain exposure online would have to eventually touch upon these marketing points in order to do so:
- Your message – What do you want to say? Style and ability to stick out from the rest.
- Target audience – Who is the message for and how are they identified?
- Market Analyze – Who will listen to you and what do they expect/want?
- Platform focus – Where and what tools will you communicate your message with?
- Goals, Long- & short term – Where are you going and what do you have to do to get there?
- Image – What identifies you as an artist and makes you memorable?
- Strategy – How can your market be reached? Can it be planned and executed?
- Budget – How much are you willing to spend? Will there be a return on investment?
Here is where you can usually identify and separate between aspiring artists from regular musicians and as in any business, establishing core values and focus can outlast the product in the long run.
Balance Marketing is Key
Relying fully on your digital approach can prove to be ineffective with a lack of traditional means like gigging, word of mouth, flyers, and any personal contact as it isolates your message to your target. Therefore, making it sometimes more receptacle and cost-effective than digital marketing itself. After all, that is how we came to this point, and hence uniting the two is an obvious balance in music promotion.
With pandemic comes marketing problematic
For roughly two years we have seen a change in music promotion and marketing due to COVID-19, one that has led to traditional means of marketing like mentioned difficult or legally impossible to implement other than radio perhaps. Hence forcing upon either hiatus or a focus in digital marketing for the artist in order to keep exposure.
Consequently, with a higher investment rate in digital marketing overall lately, it is a matter of getting to work with your message, core values, and image to be able to generate traffic. Also, to create a following that can separate your craft from others, not just musically.
The Artist is the brand & the brand you
In order to pull this off, it is crucial to view and treat your own artistry with a sense of business. In order to generate attention and income to survive apart from growing as an artist, not only the craft has to be good but everything behind it as well.
When trying to understand branding in music the easiest approach is to pluck and strip down artists and musicians that surround us and certainly that relates to ourselves, whether that is musically or how they want to be perceived.
Without getting too much into the historical background and what brought them to fame, here are some elements that identify the following artists & bands:
- Identity: Young character Dominic Richard Harrison emphasizes on his personality to be full of energy in need of placing it in his hobby of music and arts. Diagnosed at teenage with ADHD and unmedicated for it, Dominic embraces what he is with pure honesty as well as he doesn’t care for labels or different sexes but rather connection.
- Message: Yungblud is a typical example of personifying his music, expressing himself as a rebel that does not seek to walk on eggshells but rather say as it is, he has gained attention among youths and teens for living up to that standard.
- Brand: Heavily influenced by punk and rock, Yungblud brings harsh elements into his sound of modern pop that is very reflected upon his looks and attitude.
- Identity: Three New Zealanders around their 20’s, who have all grown up in the countryside of New Zealand and with heavy cultural influence and personal identity with the indigenous Maori language, tradition, and history.
- Message: Although not necessarily focused on portraying their own personalities, Alien Weaponry seeks to shed light on their culture and for listeners to understand the roots, style, myths, and struggles. Not to forget how awesome metal music sounds in an ancient tongue, which has been captivating for their increasing fans in search of new original music.
- Brand: While going for a more standard outfit, they let the music speak for itself and therefore focus more on portraying Maori culture in videos, language, and expression. Mainly via traditional war dance such as Haka (Maori ritual dance), which is a big and well-respected part of New Zealand’s national identity.
Your Resources & Priorities
With some examples out of the way and an understanding of branding and artist portrayal you will need to get familiar with methods and resources in some platforms of music marketing:
|Social Media||Streaming Services||Shops & Website||Digital Distribution|
|TikTok||Deezer||Music Glue||Ditto Music|
Social Media: creates connection and a follower base for your artist pages, simplifying and making your digital reach more effective.
Streaming Services: Other than via physical means, how will consumers access and hear your music? It is not very likely that radio will be the first media for your music to make itself heard.
Shops & Websites: Pages where consumers can tip and purchase your services or music.
Digital Distribution: Sites that enable you to have your music via streaming services for a fee. These companies provide different means of digital marketing assistance as well if available.
All these tools offer some kind of digital promotion that is there for the taking and with a cost to your wallet as well; but not to the extent as let’s say content creation, paid promotion, publisher, royalty collectors, and management for instance.
Keeping in mind, your task would be to prioritize the platforms you seek to gain a following on. Since you cannot be present on all these sites it is required that you build a strategy and direct your focus as the lone entrepreneur that you are.
Music promotion DIY or non-DIY?
In your path of digital marketing, you will notice the number of tasks and material that you will have in your hands. That is the cost of doing it yourself. Therefore, your marketing strategy has to be supported by the time you have and the skills required for your goal.
If not available you will have to turn to others for their skills and time for you to stay consistent in your content and digital marketing. In turn, networking and word of mouth is an artist’s best source of finding those key figures, and in social media, that is all possible.
To summarize, any industry is and has been affected to some degree by the surge of affiliated marketing and digital marketing in addition to a sudden decrease in personal contact due to Covid.
Just like any business owner and entrepreneur, musicians and music artists are witnessing a demand for them to put themselves out there digitally speaking. All they need to do is to coerce strategy and their branding image along with the arts to gain from it. So, I would say yes – It is very important.
Hi there, Ollie Ivarsson here. I am a 25-year old intern at IIDM for the Marketing Master program. My experience and expertise can be narrowed down to mainly music marketing and graphic design as I have more than 10+ years of being a musician and 5+ years as a freelancer in both Germany and Sweden. I seek to build my career on that while performing and implementing Digital Marketing and music promotion for my act Cuprion.