As we had mentioned a few weeks ago, branding guru Barry Silverstein has prepared a special 4-part report for us, designed to help new and independent artists prepare to market and promote their recorded music themselves. It will serve as the next four issues of his Sound Marketing for Bluegrass newsletter, distributed free of charge to subscribers from Bluegrass Today.
Here is part 1; additional reports can be obtained by signing up for a free subscription to Sound Marketing for Bluegrass.
A Special 4-Part Tutorial for Artists: Getting Your Music to Market
The upcoming IBMA’s World of Bluegrass 2015 (September 29 through October 3 in Raleigh, North Carolina) is the premier annual celebration of bluegrass music. It’s also a great time for bluegrass artists to take stock of where they are and where they want to go. For every artist, it’s all about the music, of course. But becoming a successful artist – one whose music is both appreciated and purchased by fans – is a big challenge.
That’s why we’re devoting the next four issues of our email newsletter to a special 4-part tutorial for artists called “Getting Your Music to Market.”
Part 1: You’ve Got an Album. Now What?
You’ve worked hard to lay down some great tracks… and now you’ve got an album. So you can just sit back, relax, and watch the album sales take off, right? Well, not quite. Even before you release your album to the public, you should be building anticipation for it. In fact, you need to be promoting your album as much as 60 to 90 days prior to its release.
Here are a few of the things you can do to get some pre-release buzz going:
1. Invest in a great album cover.
The cover itself is very important, because the image will be seen over and over again, both on physical copies and in digital media. This is not the time to get your cousin Charlie, an amateur photographer, to snap a photo of yourself or your band. It pays in the long run to get a professionally photographed and designed cover so DJs and fans will take you seriously.
2. Make sure you are visible online.
You’ve seen the massive transition in music to the digital world. The same is true of marketing, which is largely dependent on electronic media. It is vital that you have an online presence before you release your album. In addition to a website, you should be active on social media. Having a Facebook page is virtually mandatory for music marketers, and other social media, including YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, are just as essential to help increase visibility and engagement. It is also wise to make sure you have a presence on Bluegrass Today.
3. Get your existing fan base involved.
Your current fans are your best customers for your next album. You should let them know about a new album well before its public release. If you have an email list of fans, send them an upbeat email newsletter about the album and include two calls to action: 1. Tell them they can pre-order it (if possible) or give them a specific date when it will be available, and 2. Ask them to tell family and friends about your album so they act as your own informal sales force. In addition to email, you can get the word out via your website, social media, and on tour.
4. Tell the “bluegrass public.”
Bluegrass fans are a special breed of music lovers. While they may have their own favorites, they tend to want to support bluegrass artists in general and see them succeed. That’s why you want to make sure as many bluegrass fans as possible know about you and your upcoming album. If you or your record label can afford it, you might want to consider engaging a public relations (PR) person or firm that specializes in helping independent performing artists. A PR professional can help you by writing an effective press release for your album, developing a solid bio, and getting some top-notch publicity photos. But even if you do it yourself, make sure to get your name and music out into the marketplace in as big a way as possible.
5. Make bluegrass music professionals and radio DJs your best friends.
Other bluegrass artists and music professionals, along with radio DJs, are the real influencers who can make the difference in whether your new release gets exposure. The bluegrass music business is not huge: everybody in bluegrass pretty much knows everybody else, so make sure you know them and they know you. When it comes to DJs, there are some specific actions you should take – and that’s what we’ll cover in Part 2 of this tutorial.