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This post goes out to those who are making music, most importantly if you’re doing it independently. If you’re considering spending money online to promote your work, please take a minute to read this first. Over the years I have been doing online marketing, I’ve managed to make some pretty expensive mistakes in the process of becoming effective at what I do, and talking about what these pitfalls are, might just get you on the right track to getting the right results, while avoiding costly mistakes that EVERYONE makes during their early years in online marketing when it comes to music.
Honestly, this is a subject that I could write a book about because I feel like I’ve made every mistake possible, and I’ve wasted so much money not having my s**t together when it comes to marketing music that it’s been painful and troubling to reflect on, but if any good can come out of it, you might be an artist right now, who I can save from a similiar fate. If you’re about to start spending money online marketing your project, I’m going to take a gamble and tell you that I’m 99.9% sure you’re simply NOT ready to market your music online effectively.
Here’s the classic story. You have some music out, or coming out soon. You want to start a pre-save campaign on spotify, or you want to start spending money to boost your posts about your music so that you reach more people, you want to get more engagement on your socials, so that you can build hype for the release, your organic reach isn’t great, but you need to build followers on the DSP’s and you need more people on the blah blah so that you can blah blah blah… Stop.
We all want to be rock stars, and we all want as many people listening, streaming, and downloading our music, but we need to be smart. Most of us don’t have a cheeky million to drop on a release, with another million ready if it fails, and major labels are taking gambles on that level. Most of us need to to understand how we’re going to recoup as artists starting with much smaller budgets than you typically see being deployed. Most of us, need to be very careful, and we need to strategise excatly what we’re going to do, BEFORE we spend the first dollar.
In an attempt to avoid turning this into a billion-word essay, I’m going to try and condense the main concern I have (as there are many), with the statement that the most important thing musicians need to learn about and prepare is a CRM system or (customer relationship manager). It’s something that every area of sales seems to use, yet we overlook it in music, because we think we’re too cool for this kind of thing, because music should just blow up on it’s own, without the need for clever marketing analysis (cue management company of hugely successful streaming artist ‘insert name here’ who is struggling to sell tickets to shows).
A CRM, is a place where you keep track of who is supporting your project, it’s basically a list (a database), where you can keep important information on the user, that updates in real-time as they spend money purhasing, or opening communications from you. Here are some examples of vitally important information that you should be collecting on your listeners & supporters OUTSIDE of the standard stuff like their contact information: Nearest major city (for analysis and forecasting touring plans), LTV or ‘Lifetime Value (so each year you can audit the average income per subscriber that you generate as an artist), Purchase tags (so you can make sure you’re retargeting the right people with the right products, albums/merch/tickets etc)’ all of which can be integrated into lead forms on social media as custom questions, and they can can fill in your database of listeners on auto-pilot while you sleep.
The whole point I’m trying to make here, is we have incredible tools at our disposal, yet we’re in this viscous cycle where each time we’re releasing music, we’re deploying promotional budget, building hype, and promoting the project. Once the dust settles, we may grow a little, but as the heat wares off it’s matter of time before we’re looking to get the next budget together for the next release, and we’re spending alot of that just re-engaging the momentum that is lost and re-hitting the same people again and again.
How we need to be thinking; is how do we incorperate the collection of direct-to-listener information throughout every campaign, so that we’re growing and owning our own listener data? That way we can contact them for a lifetime without re-deploying ad spend again and again and again. The implication of this on the second, third, or hundredth release, is that off-the-bat there’s already a massive pool of listeners, that you can broadcast to and engage with, on mass, for free, in the relevant markets. More than that, you can communicate excatly what they want to hear about, and where they want to hear it (as you have their city tags!) via a number of different channels (DM’s via manychat, SMS via broadcasters, Email etc). This is the MASSIVE difference that succesfully recouping artists are implementing when it comes to their strategy with their music projects, and without it, your driving blind, and you’re not using your money effectively. You’re also not measuring whats being effective and whats not. Chances are 80% of your campaigns are not very effective, while 20% of your efforts are producing 80% of the results. Diagnosing this is vital, and it can’t be done without measuring.
So… Before spending that first dollar, get these things in place first: Make sure you have a CRM setup and working. Make sure you are running lead-form ads (or anything similiar i.e. Landing page traffic) across the platforms where you’re being discovered or where your listeners engage with you, and make sure these are integrating with a platform like Mailchiimp/Klavyio/constant contact so users are being ingested automatically without you needing to spend your time on it. Make sure you have pixels tracking users going to your websites and DSP link-tree’s so that you can re-target users that you know are engaged with your music, and make sure that you’re testing all the time when it comes to the ads that you’re running on socials, to take the guesswork out of what content is resonating, and what isn’t.
Collecting, measuring, and carefully interpreting your listener and purchase data, will be the make or break of so many musicians in these coming years… Please please get on top of it. I hope this article can bring some important focus to artists out there!
DEAR READERS: We’re very excited to have partnered with Mark Kovic on a comprehensive training course on how to understand online marketing. You can access this right now via this link, and is designed for content creators and business’ who want to learn how to build and run ads online, even if you have no prior experience. (Click to see the course or hit ‘my courses’ in the top right)