MAKE a music career from scratch, zip, nada, nothing. is a daunting task.
I know I’m going to get feedback that this article isn’t about starting from Scratch, because – well sometimes the internet just sucks. “the artist you wrote about has played live gigs”, “that artist learned to play when she was 5 yrs old”, ‘OMG their parents bought him a toy drum set as a kid”… FML people just suck…
So while I plan to outline and then go into detail about each of the different step I take when starting with a new artist, understand – everyone started from somewhere and marketing a new born to play music would be creepy (though maybe effective, think Tiger Woods or those staged photos of JFK as a child).
This is the start of a series, the project is going to take an actual person who is going to remain nameless as I don’t want to run the risk of this article impacting the marketing being done. Sometimes this will mean recreating the assets to mask the identity but the spirit will remain.
This is not a step by step guide to build your music career, as every career has different advantages and disadvantages based on a number of different factors – some controllable other are un-controllable but all of them are factors to be dealt with.
Lets start with the basic’s first.
MUSIC CAREER GOALS
We’ll call our rock star “Mia”. She’s been playing guitar for 10 years and is 24 yrs of age. She is based in Toledo, Ohio and has played a “few gigs”. She has 4 songs recorded and released on Spotify that has a total of aprox. 3000 plays. Mia has never done any real marketing, and SAYS she plays both Rock and singer-song writer genres of music.
This is enough to be interested in taking her on as a client combined with hearing her music and noting it is of professional quality.
Mia wants to be able to live a good life off music, buy her parents a house and not worry about money again. Sounds like a good goal, unrealistic – but common.
here is a copy of my New Artist Interview form I would give Mia to fill out. Can you answer these questions for yourself?
- Who are your fans?
- Who is most active online?
- What’s the crowd like at live shows?
- Who is someone that doesn’t listen to your music who you think should?
- How would you describe the project to someone at a party that’s never heard of you?
- Who do you dream of opening for?
- Who do you dream opening for you?
- What’s your ideal press headline 12 months from now?
- In which publication?
- What are your goals at each of these stages:
- release week
- 3 months after project drops
- 12 months after project drops
- What do you think you need to do to hit those goals?
- If you were to completely start over again, what would you do different?
- Who are the 10 artists who you feel are closest to your sound (5 at your level and 5 above your level)?
- Why do people NOT listen to your music?
- Who makes up the existing team? (photographers, video directors, social media managers, paid media specialists, stylists, hair and makeup.)
- What do you expect to change with marketing this time around?
- What do you think I/we will solve for you?
- What is the approval process for creative?
- At what frequency do you release new music?
The response to these questions helps the team to understand the realistic goals and “pie in the sky” goals. We break down a basic marketing plan to figure-out what details fit Mia. Here is the top level marketing for a new artist – of course the details are what makes a difference and we’ll cover those in additional articles.
- Identify target audience: Understanding the target audience is crucial in order to create content that resonates with them. Based on Mia’s response to the New Artist Interview form, her target audience would be individuals who are fans of rock and singer-songwriter genres of music.
- Choose social media platforms: Based on the target audience, Mia should focus on platforms that cater to music enthusiasts, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. She should also consider platforms such as TikTok and YouTube for promoting music videos and live performances.
- Establish a consistent brand image: Mia should ensure that her social media profiles reflect her brand image and showcase her personality, music style, and genre. This can be achieved by using consistent colors, logos, and fonts across all profiles.
- Create engaging content: Mia should post regular updates on her music, upcoming gigs, and behind-the-scenes content. She should also consider creating short videos showcasing her music and live performances, as well as interactive content such as polls and Q&A sessions with fans.
- Utilize hashtags: Mia should use relevant hashtags such as #music #singer-songwriter #rock to increase the reach of her posts and attract new followers.
- Collaborate with other artists: Mia should consider collaborating with other artists in her genre to cross-promote each other’s music and reach a larger audience.
- Utilize paid promotion: Mia can consider using paid promotion to reach a wider audience, such as Facebook and Instagram advertising, or sponsored posts.
- Engage with fans: Mia should actively engage with her fans by responding to comments and messages, and retweeting or reposting their content.
- Track performance: Mia should regularly track the performance of her social media profiles by monitoring metrics such as reach, engagement, and conversions. This will help her determine which types of content are resonating with her audience and make data-driven decisions for future campaigns.
- Stay updated: Mia should stay updated with the latest social media trends and best practices to ensure that her content remains fresh and relevant to her audience.
Once we have a clear understanding of Mia’s goals, target audience and existing assets, we can begin to build the details of her marketing strategy. The first step is to create a comprehensive marketing plan that includes a budget, target audience, messaging, and tactics. This plan will be the foundation for all of the marketing efforts moving forward.
Next, we need to build an online presence. This includes creating a website, social media accounts, and email list. The website should showcase Mia’s music, provide information about her, and have a way for fans to connect and stay updated. Social media should be used to engage with fans, share news, and promote her music. The email list is a powerful tool for direct communication with fans and for promoting upcoming shows and releases.
Live performances are crucial for a musician’s career. Mia should make a schedule of local shows and actively seek out opportunities to play at festivals, venues, and other events. Networking is also important, meeting other musicians, industry professionals, and fans can lead to new opportunities and collaborations.
Another important aspect of marketing is press coverage. Mia should reach out to music journalists and bloggers, send them her music, and let them know about upcoming shows and releases. She should also create a press kit that includes a biography, photos, and videos to help journalists write about her.
Finally, paid advertising can be a valuable tool for reaching new fans. Mia should consider running social media ads, Google Ads, and other forms of paid advertising to reach a wider audience and promote her music.