I don’t doubt that you’ve probably heard of every single item on this list. But it’s easy to forget just how many (often free) resources are at your disposal and the ways in which they can help you market your music. So consider this a reminder. In this post, I’ll share why each online tool is helpful and some ways to use them well.
1. Mailing list
For the average artist, the mailing list is that thing you put in the back of the room on your semi-professional-looking merch table. You don’t encourage people to sign up and your average fan doesn’t even know you have one. What’s worse is that you rarely use it and you probably send out one newsletter update every four months #majorfail
BUT your mailing list is the single most important marketing tool you have at your disposal. Social media (we’ll talk more about that later), is great and all, but no one can keep track of everything in their feeds. And platforms (like Facebook) are making it increasingly harder to get your information across if you’re not paying for advertising.
Your newsletter is free advertising and allows you to target meaningful information to a group of people who are already die-hard fans! Use it...and please send out at least 1 newsletter per month. Never underestimate the fact that you can reach your biggest fans with a click of a Send button.
Facebook is not a website. Bandcamp is not a website. In fact, your ugly, unmanageable, hard to navigate website is not a website. There, I said it! Artists underestimate the power of websites just as much as they do their newsletters. Fans want a one-stop-shop where they can listen to your music, watch videos, learn about upcoming shows, and find out more about you. The easier it is to find you, the easier it is to follow you.
Furthermore, venues are more biased towards artists who represent themselves well by having a professional looking online presence. Do yourself a favor and create something with Bandzoogle. Their designs are simple, clean, and easy to use.
3. Indie on the Move
Indie on the Move is an absolute must-have for the traveling artists. Cutting through Indianapolis on tour and need to find a coffeehouse within 30 miles that hosts live music on weeknights? IOTM will be your best-friend.
They have the most extensive database of venues all across the United States. They allow you to search by city or within a mile radius of a zip code. Venue listings also include comments and reviews by musicians who have already played that venue. They’ll tell you how management was, if the payout was decent, and if the room fit their style, among other things. IOTM is invaluable.
Every artist should use Facebook. And most do...sort of. The thing is, Facebook will work for you if you let it. But it’s not as effective as the average artist wants it to be. The thing is, half-spirited posts, status updates at the wrong time of day, lengthy posts that no one will get through, over-posting, and inviting people in Pennsylvania to your show in LA are only just a handful of the ridiculous mistakes that musicians make every single day. Do yourself a favor and read up on some Facebook best practices.
With the advent of Instagram, artists don’t always see the value in Twitter. After all, Instagram is kind of like Twitter with the added bonus of pictures. But Twitter appeals to an older generation and you can still find more business using it over Instagram.
The key to taking advantage of Twitter is tagging...and again, it will only work as much as you let it. Make sure you not only tag fellow musicians and venues when you’re talking about a show, but use hashtag keywords that specifically apply to your event and the city you’re in.
Instagram will be your best friend...especially if your music appeals to a younger audience. In fact, you might start using it more than any other social media platform. People love photos, plain and simple. But they don’t like ads.
Take it slow with posting show posters, and things that look too polished. Find ways to be creative with your show promo while still capturing the essence of the organic nature of Instagram. Here are two great examples of how to remind your fans about a show on Instagram without saying "hey, come to my show" for the one-hundreth time: Example 1. Example 2.
Also remember, the beauty of Instagram is that you have the opportunity of sharing everyday things with your fans - what you ate, clips from new songs you’re working on, and the bite your dog took out of your lyric notebook.
YouTube is in fact a marketing tool. Think of it as your audio/visual business card. It gives people a 3-dimensional idea of who you are. Upload videos often and share them even more often. Check out this post for another great way to use your YouTube account.
Besides being a use-friendly platform for musicians to share music, sell music, offer free download codes, and create audio widgets for your website; Bandcamp is ever-evolving and finding ways to help artists maintain more control over how they share their content. They also do a great job curating and promoting music on the platform to encourage customers to discover new music.
SoundCloud is the Industry standard. It’s where fans and fan-makers alike go to find and listen to new music. SoundCloud offers a different experience than any other resource by letting fans comment on songs and share thoughts such as a favorite verse, other songs that they think of when they hear yours, or opinions about specific instruments on the track...etc. With the exchange of ideas and opinions, SoundCloud could be considered one of the very first music crowdsourcing platforms.
NoiseTrade is all about exposure and offers a pretty simple strategy. 1. Upload your song. 2. Offer it as a free download in exchange for downloader’s email address. 3. Build your fanbase. Musicians love it because, just like SoundCloud, it allows you to control the spreading of your music while also helping you build your newsletter.
Now that you know which tools you're going to use, be sure to create a music marketing plan to put them into action: 5 Steps to Creating an Effective Music Marketing Plan
Joy Ike is a full-time singer/songwriter based out of Philadelphia, PA. She is also the founder and primary writer for Grassrootsy, one of the most-read music business blogs on the internet. She believes the greatest tragedy in the world is having a talent and keeping it to yourself.