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How to be a Musician - Marketing Yourself | MarsBands
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You’re The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread!

Market Yourself 

Ok, great, you’ve got some music to market and you’ve created a gameplan.  Awesome.  Now what?

Now it’s time to socialize.  You are going to want to make your own webpage.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to pay big money for hosting (some places are even free).  If you happen to have a web-guy in your band, you’re golden.  But you want a place to direct all your new potential fans.  Using a Facebook or Reverb page as your “official website” is lame.  Nobody will take you serious.  After you have your site up and running, you’re going to want to start uploading whatever you have to the popular social networking sites.  You’ve got to start letting people know you exist.

Remember, you’re trying to show people you exist and that you are actually doing stuff.  You need to prove to people you are more than just Facebook statuses or Tweets.  To prove this, you need to upload videos, pictures, and most importantly, your music.  Below is a small list of websites you need to create an account at and upload some goodies.  There are a few others that might be helpful (like Pinterest and LinkedIn) but these are the big ones that you MUST use:

  • ReverbNation
  • Bandcamp
  • SoundCloud
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube/Vimeo

ReverbNation, Bandcamp, SoundCloud
Ok, so maybe you don’t have “professional” recordings, but so what?  They don’t have to be perfect.  Hell, they don’t even have to be good.  It’s a fine line, actually, but here’s how to figure it out.  The audio quality of your uploads to these sites doesn’t have to be sparkling, but if they have skips, loud noises, or are off-beat don’t add them.  If you just throw any ol’ thing up, people will think you don’t care and that you aren’t good.  Have some respect for music and your image.  Nobody is saying they have to be CD quality, but don’t get too lax with it, either.  There’s a big difference between Lo-Fi and terrible recordings.

Facebook and Tumblr
If you have your Facebook Fan Page set up, it’s time to make some fans.  Oh, and don’t use your personal profile page as your Fan Page.  That’s lazy and not a great idea.  Once on Facebook, interact with anyone who “Likes” you.  Be personable.  Remember, at heart you are a musician, but by day you are a salesperson.  Sell yourself.  If you have a band practice tomorrow night, tell people.  Tell them what songs you’ll be practicing.  Once you’re at the practice, take pictures, maybe even a few short videos.  Post it all to Facebook and Tumblr.  What this does is let people know that you are actually doing something – that you’re not just a faceless person behind a computer.  Believe it or not, your followers want to connect with you.  They admire your creativity and ability to make music.  Also, while on Tumblr, look around at other bands and musicians and reblog their stuff.  It’s a good way to socialize and it shows up to other people and can gain you some followers.

Twitter
Once you have your Facebook Fan Page rolling with content, jump into the Tweeter Machines!  Find some bands or musicians you like, and start following their followers.  But have some discretion.  Most Tweeters have a short bio.  If you are a Rock band and you follow someone whose bio says “I love Classical music and opera”, maybe don’t follow them.   You’ll also want to make relevant Tweets so as not to annoy your followers.  You’ll also want to Tweet enough, but not too much.

 

Examples: Good Tweet – Heading off to band practice with @bandmember!  Bad Tweet – Just took a massive dump!  Good Tweet – Have you heard @favoritebandsname music? It’s awesome!  Bad Tweet – Just had some dinner.  Good Tweet – Just saw @localbandsname play at @localvenue and they ROCKED!  Bad Tweet – Saw a show tonight.

You see?  You want your Tweets to engage other people.  You are a spec on the planet and you need to get people’s attention.  The best way to do that is to use other people’s popularity.  Retweet stuff from other bands you like.  Follow some of their followers and then send a tweet at them.  Be nice, not mean.  Always.  Even on your tiny scale, you are now in the public’s sight.  If you are a jerk or disgusting, people will see it and avoid you.


YouTube/Vimeo
If you are already playing shows and you have some videos to post, you’ve got a head-start!  If you don’t have any videos to upload, get some, and fast!  Even if it’s just some band practices or rough recordings of you coming up with a new song, get it up there.  It shows you are actually doing something.  Remember, don’t go social until you have something to market.

People love to see the band they are hearing.  I know when I am researching a new band, I’ll listen to all their music, and if I like it, then I check them out on YouTube.  I want to see who I’m hearing.  If you have an electric personality like Well Hung Heart or a passionate artist like The Glass Child, you have an advantage over your peers.  People are drawn to those types of personalities.  Use that to your advantage.

And here’s another thing to remember, don’t let your videos be too rough.  Your recordings don’t have to be fantastic quality, but they do need to be good enough that you can actually hear what’s going on.  It’s all about the music, so if the video is choppy, personally, that’s not all that important.  The audio is what is important.

THIS IS IMPORTANT! DO NOT SKIP THIS!
After you have put your music on ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp, you will have the irresistible urge to charge people to download your music.  DO NOT CHARGE THEM ANYTHING!  You can certainly accept donations, but do not charge them to download your music.  Think about it like this:

When you share something on Facebook or Twitter, say, a funny picture or a great website (like MarsBands) it may go viral and get 1,000s of “Likes” or ReTweets.  Now, if you had to pay money to share that funny picture or great website, how many “Likes” and ReTweets do you think you’d get?  Think it will go viral?  Not a chance.  People love free stuff.  They love free stuff even more if it’s good.  You WANT people to share your music, and you don’t want ANY of them to be cautious about it.  You put a price tag on your music – even one penny – you will turn a lot of people away.

Turn on the radio and you’ll hear crap like Katy Perry, Kesha, and Gaga.  Do you think the bulk of their money comes from selling their music or playing shows?  If you said from selling music, you’re dead wrong.  On average, music sales account for around 5% of a musician’s income.  They make a TON of money playing a sold out show.  That’s why they play so many shows – all over the world – and only come out with an album once a year.  If you think you are going to get rich selling your music, you are very, very wrong and you need to get that thought out of your head immediately.  Playing shows is what will pay your bills.  Music sales will get you a cup of coffee a week – at best.

Forums
Another great way to get your name out there and have people start to notice you is by joining forums.  There are tons of them (Drowned in Sound comes to mind).  Join them, look for the appropriate places to post your band’s info, and start socializing with other members.  Many forums let you create a personal signature to append to all posts you make on the forum.  Put your band’s website and name in that signature.  Start leaving as many posts as you can without being spammy.  Leave a relevant comment.  They will get rid of you if all you’re doing is spamming.

Mailing List
You will undoubtedly want to reach your fans at some point.  Don’t you want them to know when and where your next show is?  Don’t you want them to know when your next single/EP/album is coming out?  Trying to reach them on Facebook is a crap-shoot.  Your fans don’t necessarily get to see everything you post.  Facebook ultimately decides who sees what and when.  And Twitter is nearly impossible to reach your fans on a consistent basis.  You need a mailing list.  You can make one relatively easily to put on your website.

Having a mailing list on your website is a must.  You can also sign up for ReverbNation’s, but it has a max of 500 subscribers and then you have to start paying.  But people are often reluctant to just give away their email address.  They don’t like spam.  So you’ll have to bribe them.  This is where you can give away a song or even a full EP or album.  The trick is, make sure the people on your mailing list find out whatever news or exciting stuff is going on with your music before you share it on any social media sites.  That’s one of the perks of signing up to a mailing list.  Exclusive information before everyone else knows it.  Makes them feel special.

 

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