First impressions are lasting impressions. Your actions on a daily basis reflect how you are perceived as an artist. Often you are seen before your music is heard.
There are common tactics that are perceived as ‘amateur’… in other words, the artists that are really out there killing it and making a living from their music (whether on an indie or major level) aren’t going about promo in this way – yet these tactics are so common, that most artists mimic what they see others doing instead of learning how to do it themselves, the right way.
The difference between bad marketing and good marketing is, bad marketing talks AT people, good marketing talks with them. Everyday I watch artists, that might potentially have good music, throw their dreams down the drain little by little with every unsolicited link they send out in hopes that someone will listen to their song and ‘put them on’. Understand that you need more than just a listen. I repeat: YOU NEED MORE THAN JUST A LISTEN! You need people to engage with you. You need people to share your music with their friends. You need them to want to buy your merch and come to your shows. There is no official blueprint to how to accomplish that, however there are definite ways that DO NOT WORK but yet these tactics are so very common. It’s time to put a stop to this now.
I’ve had numerous discussions about this on Twitter, through email etc. but I’ve decided to write an article on the subject to really make things clear. Once you are done reading this article, I hope that you are either giving yourself a pat on the back because you do not make these mistakes, or if you do, I hope that you change your ways and come up with an actual plan that will really help you reach your goals (because these tactics surely aren’t going to cut it!).
Here are a list of common promo tactics and the reasons why they aren’t effective:
Promo Tactic: Sending out unsolicited links via twitter.
Why It Doesn’t work: Twitter is a social networking site. SOCIAL NETWORKING. Understand what that means. Twitter is a place where things can get spread very quickly, however in order for that to happen, the content must be engaging and ‘retweetable’… Twitter is not to be used strictly for promotion, it doesn’t work that way. You can spend hours sending out your link to individual people, it will not do anything but waste your time and annoy people before they even listen to your music. You must take a step back and realize what you are doing. If you have to @ people with a link to your music, that just means that you’re not interesting enough for people to actually pay attention to your tweets.
Twitter can be great for building and promoting your brand, but not if you use it strictly as a promo service. You must build your clout by engaging with others, releasing quality content and building a following that looks for you and pays attention to your tweets.
Promo Tactic: Sending out unsolicited emails.
Why It Doesn’t work: There goes that unsolicited word again! That’s why it doesn’t work. Do YOU open random spam emails? Do you realize how many emails people get everyday? Do you really think that your email stands out with the title ‘Check Out My Music’ or ‘Music Submission’ when sending to a random person that you have never spoken to before? Come on now, you must think before you do. Email marketing is an amazing way to promote yourself, however you should be building your own subscriber list, filled with people that know who you are and want to hear from you. Emailing random people that you have never spoken to before is a waste of your precious time that can be spent being more productive. Also, how do you even know if that person accepts submissions? Most artists send out emails to people without doing any research on that person. They don’t even know why they are approaching that person, I guess it’s just to see if they can get someone to listen.
Promo Tactic: Posting a music video to someone’s Facebook and/or tagging a bunch of people that you don’t know in your status.
Why It Doesn’t work: You are talking AT people instead of engaging with them. Just because you are friends with them, doesn’t give you the right to promote your mixtape or freestyle all day by tagging them. You should be making sure that your posts are attracting viewers, so that when you post something, people look for it without you having to chase them.
If you noticed, there’s one common word that was used in all of those points… the word is UNSOLICITED. If you are unsure of what that means exactly, it basically means ‘not asked for’ – so if you are sending anything unsolicited, that means you are sending it blindly to someone that you do not even know, hoping that you’ll get a response. WRONG!
Promo Tactic: Paying to perform at a local showcase:
Why It Doesn’t work: Way too often a ‘promoter’ will come along and throw a ‘HOTTEST IN YOUR CITY’ showcase or something along those lines. They decided to throw this event because they know they can get 10 clueless artists to pay $100-$250 just to get on stage (because they don’t know any better). Once they accomplish this, they now have a packed room full of other artists and their ‘entourages’ that are only there to support who they came for. So the artist ends up performing in a room full of people who are generally not interested in supporting anyone except for who they came with. How does that benefit an artist? IT DOESNT. It just puts money in the promoters pocket. Money that you could have put towards something more beneficial, like promotion for your album or getting your tracks mastered. Sometimes the ‘promoter’ will even try to ‘woo’ you by telling you that ‘so and so from big named records’ will be in attendance to check out your performance. Damn gets them every time! But artists that learn the biz, understand how these scams work, and they understand that no 1 person is going to come along and magically ‘put you on’, therefore it doesn’t matter if the label rep is half-assed watching your performance, they can’t do much for you anyway! Honestly, you could of gotten more out of an open mic than you did out of that showcase. But it’s ok, now that you made that mistake, you know not to do it again.
Promo Tactic: Paying to get a slot on an unknown DJ’s mixtape:
Why It Doesn’t work: Let me say this, before you pay for any sort of promotion, you must do your own research. There are many unknown radio stations, DJ’s, Promoters, etc that will ask you to pay for a mixtape slot, or a radio interview, or a placement on their website, etc however that does not mean that you will receive any exposure from it. You need to research, find out how many viewers they really get, check out their website, are people really tuning in? Does that DJ get any exposure himself? If not, how do you expect them to get you exposure? If that website only gets 50 views a day, but they are asking you to pay $250 for a spot on their home page, is it really worth it? It seems that artists get so excited that someone wants to interview them or someone is offering to get them a spot on their website, that they forget there are other things that go into it. You have to bring yourself back down to earth and really analyze if things are beneficial to your career.
Promo Tactic: Buying likes, followers, views etc.
Why It Doesn’t work: It’s fake. Fake people and fake numbers don’t get you real support. You need to keep it organic. Having 100 real fans is better than having 2000 fake ones. You need to start small and build out. Those supporters that you already have are a power team. You need to keep them interested and have them help you spread your music.
”Artists tell themselves that if someone sees that they have 100,00 likes that makes it more likely it’ll be viewed. The problem is that they can buy 100,000,000 views – that factor alone won’t gain interaction.” – Tony ‘TheConnect’ Guidry
Promo Tactic: Only promoting online or vice-versa.
Why It Doesn’t work: Both online promotion and in your face street promotion are needed to build a buzz. There are many artists that hide behind a computer but no one on their scene knows who they are. Then there are artists that could care less about social media because ‘they are hot in these streets’ however they don’t realize that Google practically runs the world and even if you do meet someone that can potentially help you, the first thing they are going to do is look you up online. Your ‘but I’m hot in these streets’ attitude must reflect this online as well or else your falling short.
So you’re probably thinking, you told me all of these things not to do, so how do I do it the right way? You have to attract people to you, not chase them.
It’s pretty simple actually – post extremely good engaging content on a consistent basis. I’ll repeat it. All you need to do to continually grow your fan base is to post good content that is engaging and interesting to your current and potential fans.
Supplying great content is the key to growing your fan base. If your site isn’t getting traffic, if you’re not getting any re-tweets on Twitter, if you’re not getting many likes on your Facebook fan page it’s because your content isn’t important or useful enough to the audience your trying to reach. It’s that simple. You’re not raising the bar, helping people, entertaining them, changing lives, and inspiring your readers to take some form of action. If you were, your audience would grow.
Remember, social networking is exactly that – NETWORKING. You need to show your personality while at the same time providing great content to your followers. Most artists only use social media for promotion, which can actually hurt you more than help your situation. There has to be a mix of both. You should be posting 7-10 tweets a day with content as well as interacting with your followers. Promotion should only take up about 20% of your time while the rest of the time is spent engaging. Nowadays the better content you have, the more fan base you have, it’s that simple.