Marketing and promoting your music is a task every musician has to face throughout their career. But it’s also the one thing many musicians wish they never had to do again. With all the noise out there it can really feel like no one's even listening to you.
So how do you stand out and get heard? How do you break through the noise and get your music the attention it deserves?
Today I'm going to key you in on a secret.
The BEST thing you can do is shift your approach - instead of PUSHING your music out in front of people, you need to PULL fans in with enticing and interesting content. Make them want to hear from you.
That's where content marketing for musicians comes in.
Now I know "content marketing for musicians" sounds a little intimidating... But here's what we're going to do to make this really simple for you (hint: once you get this strategy down you'll find that everything just falls together and you have even more time for music):
- Read through this article to learn the basic content marketing approach
- Download this free content marketing checklist to keep yourself on track
- Take this quick quiz to discover the one thing that is holding you back from getting the recognition and income you deserve.
As you'll see, you can easily turn the content you’re already creating every day into plenty of interesting and engaging social media posts, but for now let’s talk about what content marketing for musicians actually is, why it’s such an important tool to have in your music promotion arsenal, and how you can use this approach to authentically promote your music and grow a powerful fanbase.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is quite literally exactly what it sounds like.
You use valuable and interesting content to draw your audience in. It’s a form of "pull marketing" where you get your fans interested and emotionally invested in what you do. Think about it like you're pulling fans in rather than pushing your music in their face.
So that means instead of posting “check out my new song,” you release a short video telling your fans about what the lyrics mean and include a link to purchase or pre-order.
Instead of relentlessly posting announcements about your new album (you know, the “buy my new album” spam), create a blog series or a vlog series on YouTube documenting the album creation process with easy links to pre-order.
Instead of just asking fans to join your email list, offer valuable video lessons or exclusive events to make them want to join.
You see the difference?
The Problem With Push Marketing
In the past, marketing was all about pushing out messages with big money to get it in front of as many people as possible and hoping some would bite. Artists with big record label backing could thrive because they had the big bucks to promote.
But in today’s social media-dominated world, this shout-louder-than-everyone-else tactic just doesn’t work (even the big labels are having trouble despite their big budgets). You just can’t shout loud enough to be heard over the crowd anymore. Especially as an indie with a minimal marketing budget.
Now, don’t get me wrong - announcements and push marketing style promotions will always have a place in your marketing mix.
But the problem arises when you literally base your entire strategy on shouting at your fans.
Instead, turn it into a conversation, draw them in, and they will be much more interested.
Reaching The RIGHT People
I also want you to understand that you don’t need to reach everyone when you're promoting your music.
I know, I know... This is hard to remember in a social media world where big follower counts are glamorized. But try to keep it in perspective - the number of followers you have on Facebook or Twitter is just that - a number. And having people on your email list or following you on social media who don’t really like your music that much won’t do anything to further your career.
50,000 followers who don't buy your album won't help you fund your next project or go on tour. 50,000 subscribers who don't come out to gigs won't help you step it up to play bigger venues.
Instead, focus on finding the fans who will actually buy your music, come out to shows, and support you.
1,000 true fans is infinitely better than 50,000 followers who don't really care. In short, it’s not about reaching more people. It’s about reaching the right people and nurturing those relationships.
This is going to influence the kind of content you release in your content marketing strategy. Always keep your ideal fan in mind when you're creating new social posts, blog posts, videos, or events. What will they want to see? (Hint: if you're not sure, ask them!)
Why Content Marketing Works SO Well
Let's do a little thought experiment to illustrate just how powerful content marketing for musicians can be...
Would you be more likely to purchase an album from an artist you follow if you just saw one or two announcements about it’s release?
OR if you had been following a weekly vlog series documenting the album creation process for a month?
Most people would go for the latter.
You see? Present it like entertainment. Who wouldn’t be interested to see what goes on in the studio? And after spending all that time watching that series, the fan is invested in your project - both from a time perspective as well as emotionally.
Start Before You’re Ready
The key to effective content marketing is to start before you’re ready. Don’t wait until you have something to promote (like a new album, tour, gig, or song) to start building an audience. Fans don't form around nothing.
Start NOW. Begin creating a fanbase around what you’re already doing everyday (even if you don't have anything to sell yet).
Remember, the process can be just as valuable to you from a promotion standpoint as the finished product. Then, by the time you’re ready to release something, you have a captivated audience just waiting to see what you have in store for them next.
Tie in Relevant Calls to Action
Now I know it can seem counter-intuitive to use content to promote. BUT, the key to successful content marketing is adding relevant calls to action. Try to make the content you release have a purpose.
In marketing-speak, a call to action is just asking your fans to take some further action. Maybe you want your fans to vote on a merch design, pre-order your album, pre-order a ticket to a show, support you on Pledge Music, or sign up for your email list.
Let's run down some ideas:
- Post a picture to Facebook of you and a fan who won a merch bundle for pre-ordering a ticket to your recent show. Let your fans know that they could be entered to win free merch too if they pre-order instead of buying tickets at the door.
- Share a short video montage on Facebook of your last email-subscriber-only live stream. Give your fans a link to subscribe to get in on the next one.
- Make a YouTube video teaching your fans how to play your new song on guitar. Include a link where they can buy the song. (Bonus points: ALSO give fans the chance to download the tab or sheet music in exchange for an email address.)
Conclusion: Content Marketing for Musicians
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas to promote your music. Keep in mind that content marketing doesn't have to be overwhelming. Don't think of content marketing for musicians as a completely new approach. It's just OPTIMIZING and sharing content you're already making.
That being said, it will be a bit of a transition. If you want some guidance, click here and take the short quiz. We'll send you a series of free content marketing lessons.