Music Marketing Tips
Here are some of the things that need to be included in an effective marketing plan, broken down by traditional “departmental” functions. Remember that each label functions differently, so make use of the following as best fits your own company’s style and structure.
Publicity. Also called public relations, its job is to build public awareness of an artist and release thorough use of such print media as newspapers and magazines, radio and television interviews, etc., not only for the recording, but also in support of all public performances and road tours. It’s done through use of press kits containing promotional CDs that are seeded to media three or months prior to street date, and then committed follow-up with writers and editors.
Promotion‘s task is to get radio airplay for a release based on the genre of music, and its inherent musicality. Stations, whether commercial or non-commercial, will be pitched as appropriate. In some cases, classical for instance, there may be a limited number of possible stations that might broadcast the music; whereas there are very many stations that might be right for a straight-ahead rock track. A radio promoter might work a complete album, or just a specifically chosen “airplay” track. And the person or department may very likely obtain assistance from one or more independent promotion people to assist in getting airplay. In that event, your designated in-house person’s job is to rally the forces and keep track of plays and rotations.
Touring is usually the responsibility of an artist’s manager, since most indie labels don’t have anyone on staff to handle it. The manager’s job is to keep the artist performing in front of the public, but it’s the label’s job to coordinate its efforts very closely with the manager and/or agent.
A label might also help to obtain commercial sponsorship and/or tour support from appropriate companies that might be willing to provide funds, instruments, or equipment in exchange for publicity or other considerations.
It’s also the label’s job to see that Publicity coordinates touring with media so that newspapers are encouraged to not only write about an upcoming performance, but also to publish reviews. Sometimes in conjunction with promotion, Publicity should arrange for on-air interviews by local DJs and music directors just prior to a public performance.
A company’s digital download direction is generally label-wide, but you might want to offer a free track as an initial “come-on,” or set up some kind of a special promotional deal with one of the online stores.
Don’t forget to consider how email can be an effective marketing tool, and most important, how you’ll make use of the web. Each artist and release should have its own web page or pages, but be sure that they’ve been fully thought through and developed.
When appropriate to artist and music, clever use of street teams can do a great deal to increase public awareness of an act, at very little expense. But it will needed to be coordinated by someone at the label.
You must also consider whether or not to make use of video as a part of your marketing. Although effective music videos can be made for a modest amount of money, some can be very expensive. Be sure there’s potential for your video to actually get broadcast on stations where it might help build an artist’s profile and career.
Advertising is one of the least important considerations, and generally unnecessary at the outset of a new artist’s release. Loads of ad dollars will not make someone buy something from an artist she’s never heard of and whose music is unknown. Save such money for established artists, or in support of a release that’s accumulated sufficient heat to make the gamble seem reasonable.
Budgeting. All of these efforts will have to be carefully budgeted in a comprehensive spreadsheet. Allow for phased expenditures based on what you plan to do and then on what’s actually happening. Don’t “chase” a release by throwing money at it, but have enough arrows in your quiver to use on selected targets as positive events occur. And most important, be sure to keep track of all marketing commitments and expenses as they’re made.
Be prepared to set up your plan for a lengthy period of time. It might be six or more months before a release takes off, so be sure to budget accordingly. Encourage managers to keep their acts on the road for an extended period of time. This is what builds exposure for the artist and the music. Above all, follow-up on everything. Keep everyone involved well-informed, and be sure your own staff, all virtual professionals, and particularly your distribution partner and retailers, know about positive events as they occur.
Remember, any marketing plan is just a road map based on what you hope will happen. Be prepared to take detours as necessary based on positive or negative reactions to the music and its marketing. After all, the plan is written on paper, not in stone.