Over the years I’ve seen the same problems occur again and again. An artist will call us up looking for help promoting a new album that they’re planning on releasing in a few weeks or less! And often their only plan is just to hire a publicist. It completely baffles me that an artist will work so hard on an album, spending hours and hours writing songs and practicing these songs and then spending large sums of money recording, mixing and mastering, to only rush the release without being ready and having a complete plan in place. Especially in today’s saturated climate where even small music blogs are getting inundated with hundreds of emails a day from artists looking for coverage, just making an album and then wanting to “get some press”, is not enough of a plan. An artist needs to be working many different angles and taking many different approaches to get seen and heard.
In this three part series I will discuss some basic components of a marketing plan to promote you and your new release. This begins with building a solid online presence, which will be the focus of part one in this series.
Time and energy needs to be spent building a strong online presence in order to be taken seriously as an artist for when the time comes to start actively promoting. This will begin many months before there is even a thought of releasing an album. Here I’ve laid out the critical elements for a solid online presence and other important steps that will prepare you for a new release launch.
The music industry is built on appearances. To be taken seriously it is very important to have a complete and professional looking online 360 degree presence. There are lots of places online that artists can have a presence, but I will focus on the four of the most important: Official Website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Your socials are not substitutions for your website. It’s important to have an online home where you are in complete control that is modern and functional. Your website should have a place where people can easily listen to and buy your music (but not a player that plays automatically when a person lands on your site, I can’t stress that enough), a news section where people can read the latest happenings with your career, and a newsletter sign up that offers an incentive for signing up such as free music or merch discounts. It always surprises when I go to an artist website and can’t find any contact information or links to their socials. Ariel wrote a great guide to help you with the architecture so you don’t miss anything.
This platform is great as you can easily build a following of targeted users. Many clients come to us with stale Twitter accounts (their last Tweets from months ago), the profile is missing a cover image or bio and there are hardly any followers. What I also see is many don’t know the basics. Not understanding them will really hurt your promotional efforts as bloggers, and other music industry professionals you may be contacting will often visit your social media sites to see how serious you are and see what kind of existing following you have, and a stale profile will not help you chances. If this is the state your Twitter is in it’s time to jump start your followers by following people and many will follow you back. Every single person you interact with in real life should be searched for and followed on Twitter (friends, musicians, producers, club owners etc.) As there are only so many people that you can interact with in person, also target similar sounding artists online and follow their Twitter followers, as there is a great chance that these followers will also like the music that you are creating. There are many tools out there to help with this following effort, Tweepi is a great one for example. But don’t follow more than 50 accounts in a day to avoid being flagged by Twitter.
Next to tackle the image problem, or lack there of, upload a cover photo that says something about you and your music. A picture of the countryside may look beautiful, but instead use this prime real estate as an advertisement. A simple solution is to use a publicity shot with text on top of the image that promotes anything on the horizon like single, EP, or album releases, new music videos and tour announcements. To keep your profile active with Tweets use a program that will allow for pre-programming like Hootsuite and in as little as one hour could potentially schedule a weeks worth of tweets. Vary the topics you tweet about from career news (which should be no more than 20% of your output) to your interests, passions and hobbies. News, politics, sports, culture are all great topics to share for people to engage and connect around. There are many relationship building practices and benefits for being active on Twitter of course that we teach our clients, but by following these instructions you will at least have a respectable presence on this powerful platform.
Yes there is definitely a pay-to-play reality on Facebook for a Fanpage to get maximum exposure. If you wish to spend money on advertising we suggest it but you should have goals in place before you do, and you should have a complete Fanpage that is active with daily posts if you want to appear professional. Make sure the page has a cover photo as discussed above for Twitter and install apps that work as promotional tools for you and your music. Three that I suggest you install are an artist profile (Ex. Bandpage), a store (Ex. Bandcamp) and a mailing list sign up form (Ex. MailChimp). For your posting efforts even though the posts won’t get seen by a large percentage of the people who have liked your page without advertising organic reach is still possible and an active Fanpage helps to show that you are an active artist. Posts that are not just text will have a greater chance of being seen, so share photos and links as much as possible and ask questions to increase engagement.
YouTube is the first place millions of people worldwide go when they’re looking for online video, and with music being the number one type of content being streamed, it is a very powerful platform where artists are getting seen and discovered. youtube icon For any artist looking to increase awareness and raise their profile, it is imperative to have a presence on YouTube with a professional looking channel, one that has a branded cover image and is linked to your other social media profiles so people can connect with you across platforms. Create a home page that looks amazing and is very functional by making categories to group your videos for easy viewing, such as “Behind The Scenes”, “Official Music Videos”, and “Live Performances”, and highlight an official music video in the featured spot at the top. For the videos themselves I often see artists leaving off their artist name in the title of the video, which is terrible for search. Need to think of these videos as stand alone entities, not videos found on your YouTube Channel. Make sure you include keywords in your tags and place those most important keywords and keyword phrases at the start of your tags fields. Use adjectives that describe your music and similar artists as keywords with your artist name also being a keyword, the latter of which will ensure a greater chance your other videos will show up in the “related videos section” after one of your videos is viewed. I also often see description sections left blank too. This is a crucial piece of real estate to tell the viewer what they are watching and provide links to other content you own, such as your website and iTunes, where they can go for more music and learn more about the band (Make sure to use http:// or it won’t turn in to a hyperlink!).
This is real simple, have one, and contact your mailing list once a month with news. Don’t cut corners on this either, a newsletter is where you’ll see the greatest impact on sales. All the tweets and Facebook posts about a new album out for sale won’t equal the results of a well crafted newsletter, so spend money on a mailing list service provider that can help you design a rich looking email and provide analytics and tracking capabilities so you can measure the effectiveness of your newsletters and make adjustments where need be. A premier solution that many of our clients enjoy working with is MailChimp.
5 Critical Things to Keep In Mind for Your Newsletter
Cyber PR’s 3 G’s – GREETING, GUTS & GETTING – How To Write An Effective Newsletter
I know this might seem too soon to talk about press but it’s not. This is not about pitching press, but identifying and becoming familiar with press outlets that you will eventually want to pitch your music to well in advance. Before reaching out to press it is a good idea to make a connection by simply following them on social media and then retweeting and favoriting tweets they are posting. For blogs that you want to make an even further connection with leave a comment on one of their blog posts (not about your music, a genuine comment about the blog post). Through this activity this way when you do send the press outlet an email about your music, or if a publicist will be doing it for you, there could now be some familiarity there and relationships potentially built that will help the PR campaign in getting your emails opened and then your new album hopefully featured. There are many ways to start building a media list of targeted media, one method is to identify a musician that is on the same level as you, or slightly further along with their career, and take note of the press outlets that they are getting featured in as then there is a great chance that those publications would also feature you.
Now that you know how to build a solid online foundation and the beginnings of an online community dive in and do it. Do not cut corners here. Having a true base will put you in a much better position when you’re getting ready to release a new album, which is the topic for part 2 of this 3-part series. In the next blog post I will discuss some basic principles for an effective album or EP launch.
When your ready for a publicist check out my website and then give me a call. www.collinsconnect.org and follow me on Twitter! @Makiniteasy