This is the one you were waiting for, right? I made the most mistakes in my album release when it comes to marketing. Even if you think you have all of your publicity set up via social media or whatever, don’t assume that you’re done until you’re done. If you don’t take anything else from this post, understand that you’ll want multiple marketing avenues.
Do you have a website? If not, get busy! Many of the “musician sites” (Reverbnation, etc.) have website options. As far as I can tell, they are more about the provider than about you. If you really want to create your own site, find a good hosting company and create a site from scratch. One hosting company that I’ve found to have reasonable rates and good service is SiteGround. If you have no money for a site (you did the budgeting process, right?), try one of the free sites like WIX or wordpress.com.
If you do have a website, you still need to get busy and maximize it (design, user interface, call to action, and so on). Make sure that a music-player, your mailing list, and your album are front and center on the opening page. If you budgeted for it, hire a designer or marketing company to help with this process.
And you do have an email/newsletter list, right? Hopefully, you’ve been building it for a while and can count on a few interactions from each newsletter you send. I recommend sending newsletters on a schedule (for example, monthly or weekly). I failed to follow my own recommendation and must live with the consequences.
Social networks can be helpful for some acts, too. Honestly though, I know at least a dozen local musicians who don’t even have accounts on FaceBook or Twitter and they get lots of people at their gigs. They use word of mouth and email lists to do all of their fan communication.
What are your local connections for marketing? Do you have a strong local following? If so, continue to optimize however nearby fans keep up with your gigs and other updates. If not, be sure to network with venue entertainment directors and owners. Playing live gigs will be the most obvious and important way to gain regional fans.
You will be reaching out to a lot of people in the press. If you’re early in the process, start by networking with them. Be sure to include both bloggers with international reach and local reporters who can plug your release party. Whatever you do, don’t rely solely on email for this communication. It’s much more influential if you can connect on LinkedIn (a good network to find press people), call them on the phone, or — even better — meet up for coffee or at a gig.
Because musician minds don’t always work like a marketing mind, you may need to hire someone to work on your press. A few words to the wise here:
- You (sometimes) get what you pay for with press. The point is that you can rack up a lot of dollars very quickly for marketing/PR for your album. (This is why I went into debt during the creation of my album.)
- You occasionally don’t get what you pay for. More than once, I received messages from PR folk saying how “simple” or “easy” getting press is. That’s not a match for my experience. Given the amount of networking effort I put into getting press, there was only a tiny return.
- Check the work of anyone you hire for PR. For example, one marketing resource that I hired provided a list of email address with more than 20% of them bouncing (i.e., undeliverable).
- Don’t ignore your gut. If your intuition says that something recommended by a PR person makes no sense to you, check it out with friends and web searches. You may sometimes prove your intuition wrong, but you may also prove the PR person wrong.
Unless you can afford to outsource all of your press and marketing efforts, you should plan to spend about as much time promoting your release as you did writing, arranging, and recording the songs. The more personal contact you make with both press and fans, the better your outcome will be. In short, network and then network some more.
Next in this series: getting your songs heard.