In the age of digital music, the internet and social networking many different artists or bands have many different models or strategies on how to market their music. Facebook and Twitter linked to your Soundcloud is a great place to start, first off a basic account is free, it shows you basic stats on how many people are listening to your songs everyday and it puts you in contact with other people who are making music. It’s a good way to get feedback on your songs during the creation of your album. Soundcloud is not the best way to market yourself and your music, but I see it as a good preliminary step to start building a fanbase, and it’s a place to send people who ask “how can I hear your music? is it online?”
In these early stages I have heard people say “Now don’t be afraid to give your music away for free to get yourself out there”. That is partially right in my opinion and we really need to be careful with this. There needs to be a solid strategy when doing this because we don’t want to cheapen ourselves or give away all are best stuff early on and not get paid for all of our hard work. When you complete an albums worth of material copyright it, this protects your work and it’s not hard to file online on your own.
The next step would be to find a way to sell your music to the public, a great place to start is CD Baby or TuneCore. These are distribution companies that have packages for D.I.Y artists to get your music into iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Myspace and a couple other outlets.
I would also get your artist website up and running at this point either by doing it yourself, paying a trustworthy person or reputable company. Having your own website allows you to sell your digital downloads, CD’S, vinyl records or any other merchandise you may have directly to your fans. Having your own online store is reasonable in price and fairly easy to execute these days. Having your own online store will earn you more in profits because you don’t need to pay any commission to anyone.
The more research and leg work you do for yourself the more profits you are able to keep. This is where I think giving away a song or two for a limited time would do you the most good to get that word of mouth going. Websites like BandCamp can be a good kick starter for selling your music, but I would really try to be as independent as possible in these early stages, do some research to see if it’s right for you.
At this point we really need to play some live shows to promote our album, so we need an Electronic Press Kit. I don’t have enough room to go in detail about it, but there is a lot of great information online about them. Basically an EPK is a DVD that shows future promoters or agents how you sound, how you look and how you sound and look live. So for those early live shows it’s always a good idea to find a local film or video student and a good quality camera to rent and film yourself playing a live show.
Do little photo shoots along the way in places that might convey your sound, if you have an Urban sound get a picture of yourself under a bridge, is a very basic example, but get creative with it. Your EPK is how you are able to play music festivals, which gives you the opportunity to be seen and heard by tens of thousands of people in a short amount of time, and when those people get home they will look you up online and all that work you did building your website will pay off.
Building a name is like building a brand. You want your music to have good continuity with your album art, attitude and live performance it’s all relevant to how your audience perceives you. You want to always set yourself a part from the rest of pack.
Have fun with it, enjoy the journey, set small goals for yourself and try to reach them one at a time. Work endlessly towards your dream and you may wake up one day exactly where you want to be.
Guest Post: Rick Lloyd is a Musician/Producer with 8 years of experience writing, performing, recording and producing with a variety of musicians focused in Electronic and Indie Rock music. Rick is currently getting ready to launch Ghost Print Media, an in depth media blog website focused as a reference guide and networking site for the D.I.Y artist, as well as reviews of media services, software, and equipment used to create our media. Follow him on Twitter @GhostPrintMedia