1. The Standing-Out Strategy
The first thing that jumps to mind for most musicians when they think promotion is to get their album reviewed by a music publication and played on the radio. You don’t have to start there. Publications and media that cater solely to music are probably the hardest place to get your music noticed. Plus, they won’t write about you or play your music until there’s something interesting to find when they do a search on your name – which is the first thing they’ll do. The competition for attention in music publications and sites is overwhelming. For instance, National Public Radio’s “All Songs Considered” receives 200 to 300 CDs a week. Out of that, only eight get featured – and those are sandwiched in between other songs, and played just once. The same is true with music reviews. Although they are good for getting quotes for your press kit, it probably won’t get you many new fans, since it’s just one music review in a pile of music reviews. Instead of focusing on music publications and media, think in terms of audiences. Put your music where it will stand out from the crowd. Consider one of the biggest sellers in the early days of CD Baby: an album about sailing. Instead of following the crowd and sending the album to a music magazine, the band instead cleverly sent their album to a sailing magazine. The sailing magazine, which wasn’t used to receiving music, much less an entire album dedicated to exactly what the magazine was about, ended up reviewing the CD. The band’s CD didn’t have to compete against stacks and stacks of other CDs to get noticed. And because the magazine had a large audience and the CD got a great review, sales shot through the roof. The great thing about the standing-out strategy is there is room for everyone. While your music has a style or genre, just targeting the people that like that kind of music represents only one, highly competitive channel for your music. By putting your music where there usually isn’t any, you can get noticed.
2. The Piggybacking Strategy
The quickest way to get the word out there is to piggyback on something that people already know about. One of the best known forms of piggybacking is listing out the bands you sound like on your website, CD Baby page, and press correspondences. This gives new listeners a clue as to what to expect by drawing on what they already know. Of course, another popular piggybacking tactic is to cover a well-known song. Often, these covers become your initial best-sellers. But they also act as a gateway. If listeners like your version, they’ll likely check out your original material. But piggybacking on other bands or cover songs isn’t the only way to employ this technique: you can piggyback on anything that already has an audience. When a topic is hot, a large number of people will be searching for information about it.
3. The Agent Strategy
Most bands start out promoting and representing themselves because they start out small. But it’s human nature to take an artist more seriously when someone else promotes or acts on their behalf. In fact, it’s been shown to be true in various psychological and sociological studies. Even if you’re just starting out, find someone to represent you and you might just have more successes. It doesn’t have to be a professional – it can even be a friend of family member. Having an agent is even more useful during negotiations, because they can be as tough as you want them to be. If you negotiate for yourself and you give the other side a particularly hard time, they might start to dislike you, rather than your agent.
4. The Multitasking Strategy
The musicians that have the most success don’t just rely on one project for their income. Most of them work on many things beyond playing live, selling albums, and selling merchandise. For instance: • Guapo by day works in a management position for a well know promotions company, by night he’s either on stage preforming as the artist he is, or managing his long time hit maker Deonte’ • Noah GZ is known for brining the hottest artist’ in town and throwing the livest venue concerts. But ask the next person in line and their jamming his newest single on their ipod • Drumma Boy platinum producer for some of the largest names in the urban music Industry. Drumma Boy also has Drum Squad DJ’s, an urban music DJ coalition with DJs in every state in the US. Drumma Boy has an alter ego as well, goes by the name of D Boy Fresh, thats right…an artist himself.
5. The Long-Haul Strategy
While major labels had to focus on making one-hit-wonders because of their business model, that was never the best situation for the musician. Furthermore, it’s not even similar to the way that most businesses work – they build their name over the long term, and eventually get consistent income over time. A musician looking to make money with music is no different.