Industry Insights is a series where we ask industry leaders to weigh in with advice on various aspects of the music scene. From songwriting and recording to virtual shows and marketing, there are so many things going on behind the scenes and we’re excited to take you there with a little help from some friends.
Anyone who has had to cart a bass amp up a flight of stairs at 2am already knows that being a musician isn’t all fun and games. And while loading gear comes with its own headaches, getting music out to the masses is the other beast of burden every musician must face. If you’re writing and recording tunes, it’s a known fact that your job has only just begun once your songs have been laid to tape. If you don’t want your music to fall on deaf ears, it’s the execution of your roll-out that will lead you on your path to success.
We reached out to a few of our most trusted friends on the PR and marketing side of the music industry to ask them some loaded questions about how to get your music heard once the recordings are in your hand. The answers aren’t simple and the steps you need to take aren’t easy, but that’s what makes being a star that much more rewarding at the end of the day.
What is one thing an artist should consider before they start promoting their music to the public?
Lexani Talionis, Director of Marketing at Nettwerk Records
Make sure you’re ready to update all of your channels (Spotify, socials,website) with a new bio, photos, and any other important info when the release happens. This ensures your existing fans know of the new music and new fans can learn as much as possible about you.
Bronwyn Ford, Marketing Manager at Fat Possum
A social media and advertising plan is key. The algorithms are working against us these days so one post is never enough. Social media is also a direct connection to your fans, which is the most valuable thing to build when starting your career. Be genuine, honest, and try not to make every post about the music, but also about other interests and daily life.
Colleen Krueger, Project Manager at Flemish Eye/Founder at Landlocked MGMT
Have some ideas in place for music videos and directors you want to work with. Our digital world is hyper visual and content driven so make sure you think about quality over quantity to captivate people’s attention.
Sarah Lutz, Owner at Looters Marketing & PR
Come up with a promotion timeline and decide what exactly you are promoting, how you are promoting it, and any budgets or costs associated.
What advice would you give to a band or artist writing a bio or press release?
Lexani: Ask yourself, ‘What is my story?’ Believe it or not, your own unique story is what separates you from everyone else. Be authentic and let the world get to know the real you. Also, articulate your story in the most refined and succinct way possible. People want to know the juicy details without having to read the whole “novel.”
Bronwyn: Definitely keep it short. Start with a brief introduction then dive into specifics. Where was the song or album written? What inspired it? Any anecdotes you can share about it also helps the angle of the story. Publications want something they can really dig their teeth into. Try to think of the press release or pitch in their perspective. What would make them want to listen to the music attached to the email?
Colleen: It’s important you get press outlets the information they need to consider you for coverage. Don’t forget a link to high quality press photos, links to stream or purchase the album, videos, and any other appropriate content.
Sarah: Be creative, to the point, and show some personality. It’s not all about the music; include proper links for where you want to direct people, including your social channels and contact information.
What is one of the biggest mistakes an artist can make when trying to promote their music?
Lexani: Not doing the research on whom they are reaching out to. Reach out to the media/press that specializes in your type of music. Start from there and grow your audience with your core stakeholders from day one.
Bronwyn: Not promoting their music. It seems simple enough but I think a lot of artists think their job ends with the music going live. Promotion is the other (not as fun) part of the gig as a musician so make sure you’re ready to commit the time to talk about the music. At the beginning it might take some courage to really put yourself out there and promote your music to your peers, but that bubble will grow if you keep it up. You’ll be surprised how encouraging your friends can be.
Colleen: Don’t rush the album release. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Once you have your recordings in hand, take your time to think out the other parts of the project. If you are looking to assemble a team, management will also want to know you have the patience to work through the project and allow them the time it takes to get things in proper order. Also if you don’t rush the release you have more time to work on other things like photos, album covers, and videos.
Sarah: What works for one artist or band may not work for another. So through trial and error you can learn what does work for you. Or hire a professional to help you navigate this a little faster with their experience.
What are some of the benefits to hiring a publicist for your next music project?
Lexani: If you’re an unknown artist/band, the publicist’s job is to educate the media about you in the hopes that one of your songs will eventually catch their fancy. Media might not come to the table on the first single, however when growth is communicated champions will appear. If you aren’t starting from scratch, the publicist’s job should always be to take you to the next level.
Bronwyn: A publicist’s job is to find and communicate the reason why your music is newsworthy. They are able to give insight on what your bio should look like as well as writing the press release. Publicists also tend to have very good relationships with writers and often work within the same genre of music so they’ll have the right connections to pull favors to get your music on blogs and in magazines.
Colleen: By hiring a publicist you are aligning your project with their press contacts and getting the word out far and wide. If you are bringing on a publicist, hire someone who has similar artists to your own style. It’s great when you can land one or two great pieces (of media coverage) for your release. Make sure to share and tag those people so they see you return the support.
Sarah: All publicists work differently, so definitely do your research. For us at Looters, we work with your team already in place—even if it’s just band members or a manager—carving out a plan that best suits your expectations to get you results.
How do you measure the success of a campaign?
Lexani: Anyone hiring a publicist should always have some sort of benchmark or goal communicated before the campaign starts. This way everyone is on the same page as to what success looks like to the specific project and all expectations are realistically managed. Hiring a publicist does not guarantee press coverage. The true measure of success (and what separates good publicists from bad ones) is being able to actually receive a “Yes” or a “No” from all the outlets/targets contacted. This way the artist/band knows that their music was indeed serviced and a reply was given. Regardless of whether you got coverage or not, that writer/editor now knows your name and sets you up for the next time.
Bronwyn: It varies with all of the artists I work with. At the beginning of each campaign I work on, we lay out our goals across press, streaming, physical sales, etc. and work towards those. If you are releasing something for the first time I’d suggest setting a realistic goal like 1,000 streams within the first month and 100 new followers in the first two weeks.
Colleen: We take in all kinds of information and review lots of analytics including sales, streaming reports, press reviews, and overall social engagement. We also consider where the artist is in their career. If the artist is in the developing stage, we will take any engagement as a success because it shows there is some interest and we can use this as a resource for the next project. Any engagement and feedback creates a foundation to work from for all future planning.
What are some cost effective ways new artists can promote their music while working with a small budget?
Lexani: Take time to learn about Facebook and Instagram advertising. The internet is your best friend and can teach you all you need to know on how to best target and optimize your own advertising campaigns. You can promote your music to potential new fans without breaking the bank.
Bronwyn: Running small advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube would be my first suggestion. A little can go a long way there. If you aren’t familiar with Facebook’s ads manager platform I’d suggest just boosting posts as those can work well and are much more user friendly.
Colleen: Don’t be shy to roll up your sleeves and put in your own elbow grease. Social media is an artist’s greatest tool to connect directly with fans. For press, I would work on a top five press goals list and reach out to each of them directly. Over time, just keep adding new press contacts to your list. If you keep your goals realistic and get one or two pieces, that is a great foundation for sharing and building your next project on.
Sarah: Social ads, working with local media or previous contacts for cheaper ad rates, collaborating with media/influencers/other artists on social platforms.
Like what you saw? Here’s more:
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5 Canadian Artists To Watch In 2021
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