You’ve heard all the usual music marketing advice. Stay active on social media. Promote your music but not too much. Build your brand but be responsible about it. Attract new fans and always be moving forward. You know all of this and yet, something is still missing. It’s not quite clicking.
Here’s the truth. Each musician, their fans, and their journey will be completely different. What works for the other band may not work for you and vice versa. That means lots of experimentation and finding what works for you. That’s the fun part! Social media and marketing in general, when done in a way that aligns with your personality and beliefs, should actually be fun.
Yes, I said fun!
If you’re not there yet, try some of these ideas and see what comes naturally. It won’t always be easy but it should always feel you. Play around with these different ideas and see what clicks. All of them (even the ones that sound grandiose) are budget-friendly for DIY artists.
1. Create a mini-documentary
I know, I know, it sounds expensive right? But before you get too nervous think about this. I’m not talking about the next Netflix documentary (though that would be cool if you have the resources). You can make a documentary on your phone these days and upload the whole thing to YouTube or put it together in iMovie. If you want to keep it small you could release it in parts leading up to a single or album release. You could even consider launching with a Twitch livestream to celebrate as a way to keep it cost effective but still make it feel like a special event.
If you want to really go all out, partner with a small local theater that specializes in working with independent filmmakers and do a red carpet event where you premiere the documentary and do a special live performance for fans in the area.
Can you think of a more fun way to kick off a release?!
2. Tease new artwork, lyrics, or songs
You’ve heard this one before, but have you ever seen it made into a game? Here’s what you can do: release your artwork broken into different “puzzle pieces” over the course of a week until finally the whole artwork is revealed. It’s an easy way to tease the artwork (and album title) and build anticipation, while giving you something to post and share with fans every day.
You can also post photos of your lyrics, or part of a song title, inviting fans to guess the title or what the song is about. The more you can make them a part of the process, the better.
3. Host a listening event in a unique venue
Think: art gallery acoustic set. Park side jam. Skateboard park rock out. Picking a unique venue that aligns with your brand and the kind of experience your fans want to have and doing something outside the box is a great way to shake things up and step outside your comfort zone of the usual “show at venue” while giving your fans a really unique experience to get excited about (and share on social media!)
4. Do something extreme
Nothing dangerous! I’m thinking something like entering a band member in a hot dog eating contest and filming it for content, or hosting your own annual ice cream sundae-a-thon with performances from local bands and old fashioned sundaes at a beachside house you rent for the weekend. You can even try to break a record like Tokyo Police Club filming their video for PCH. Like the above option, this is meant to be a way to shake things up and give fans a memorable experience.
5. Ask fans to appear in your videos
I love it when I see bands bringing their fans into the mix like this, and what better way to do that than involving them in your music video! You can do this according to the song’s themes. For instance, a song about friendship might be made up of photos of your fans with their best friends. One about love could be your fans with their partners. It’s a great way to show them how important they are to you, and they’ll almost certainly share the video that features them which means exposure to a larger audience.
6. Explore press opportunities
As a publicist and marketer myself, I’d be remiss not to mention the power of press. Press has changed a lot over the last few years but it’s still just as important as ever for legtitimizing your band and finding new fans. It helps you get your message out there and more than ever it helps you connect with powerful industry players that can help you build your career and spread your music even further. There are so many creative ways to do this from traditional press (blogs, podcasts) to playlists and even influencer partnerships. The goal of these is the same: get your music to as many people as possible.
I hope these have sparked ideas for all the different ways you can build your audience and have a blast doing it! Marketing can be a ton of fun once you embrace it to fit your brand and audience. I can’t wait to see what you do!
Angela Tyler is the founder of MP Co. (formerly Muddy Paw PR) and has secured placements on Forbes, American Songwriter, Lead Singer Syndrome, & more. She loves dessert, her dog Sawyer, and new music—feel free to send her yours!