There is a new-world-order in the music world. You urgently need to reinvent your music marketing strategies if you really desire to make a significant change in your career. It's a stiff competition that won't allow emerging artists to excel. Millions of new musicians and huge music firms are trying to get to the same destination and to be frank, its a hard nut to crack.
Its not an easy task to persuade someone to become your die-hard fan unless if you immerse your self in hundreds of top strategic marketing sources, trying to understand deeply how to attract a morden day fan. Truth be told, it's a rough path for independent artists because its not that easy to handle both the recording and writing processes and the advertising and distribution side, its a time consuming mission and the bad part is, it requires a lot of money.
But how do you lift up all the heavy load if you are struggling to attract investors and promoters, you bring your own company into existence by applying the same tactics used by those giant firms, reading the same books and articles used by experts in that particular field. It only require your hard-work, consistency, sacrifice and your unremittingness.
As a music addict, it took me more than 10 years searching and analyzing how professionals (CEOs, managers and promoters) handle the music business, their secrets and their tactical ways they apply. It prompted me to write this post, generously sharing secrets and psychological ways used by these top agencies. They make sure not to expose these tactics and rules to the public. Only students pursing the marketing program or any individual who sacrifice time and money to acquire sources used by these firms will get to know the steps taken to build millions of fans. (DISCLAIMER - The author behind this article is not a Public Relations / Marketing expert. Therefore the content in this article should not be taken as marketing advise. If you want to ask specific PR or marketing questions, we advise you to look for a trusted top PR / Marketing Firm.)
Why is it not working after you followed each and every step you read from all those internet blogs? Example: a source can give you some basic information in the picture below, but it won't expose you to the deep info or it won't dig deep into each and every aspect.
The bad part is, the internet was made for the whole world to use freely. Some sources provide unique information that might work but that information is exposed to millions of people, as a result, you can't withstand the competition, striking from all angles. One fact about this is that you won't be successful in this chess game if you don't make rational moves.
Every musician's aim is to rise a certain number of his / her target audience, depending on the genre. Alright lets mark this as the starting point, to accomplish this mission successfully, there is a path to concentrate on first and foremost before you rush to the promotional phase:
- Every musician should study more about how music is perceived, physical nature of sound and how human beings respond to it so as to create you content accordingly.
- Musicians should study more about their potential competitors so as to deduce tactical ways to use against these competitors.
- They should have deep knowledge about their target audience for instance, their age, social class, gender e.t.c. (I will cover this fully later in this post)
- They should have deep knowledge about "Consumer Psychology", so as to plan accordingly.
I will describe more about this later in this post.
But before we get to the core part of the story, there are crucial rules and regulations most musician tend to ignore. In order to generate millions of loyal listeners you are required to humbly follow the following rules. Please don.t jump into the strategies i mentioned above before these rules.
Essential rules regulating artists before they proceed with their strategies.
Yes, an unwillingness to settle for anything less than perfection. "Why do experts encourage artists to have a perfectionist mindset?" so that they will resist to settle or to produce an imperfect song / studio album or lyrical content that does not meet very high standards. People on YouTube are willing to depend or rely upon your channel if and only your videos are extremely engaging. One reason why people dodge this factor is because its time consuming, but its better to take a year writing and crafting concepts for a single song than to follow a schedule of one or two days for a song. There are many notable successful perfectionists e.g. - the late Steve Jobs, the rapper Kendrick Lamar,Kanye West, its a long list and if you check these guy they are / were all successful. One important advantage of being a perfectionist is you force yourself to give the consumer quality content.
Creation of Engaging Quality Content
If you are an emerging artist, who is really serious about building a tremendous amount of loyal listeners soon after sharing your songs and videos, I will keep on repeating this one, concentrate on creating marketable engaging quality projects not quantity . When I say engaging songs, I'm talking about:
Adele's - "Hello" ,
Taylor Swifts's - "I Knew You Were Trouble",
J.Cole's - "Love Yourz"
Lamar's - "To Pimp A Butterfly"
like I said in the last paragraph , its better to spend a year or more without releasing any project so as to create enough space for research and content creation. Nowadays most artists are more concerned about the money, so in order for them to generate more money they create a lot of tracks in a short period of time, so as to fully benefit from the streaming platforms. This lead to the downfall of your brand, as there will be a lack of depth in your music.
Unique Art / Style
This is an essential factor, no doubt about it, people online fall for content with a different concept. If you follow or copy trending styles, you won't be able to make it to the top of the mountain in the music world, unless if you enhance and change the trending style. You won't pass this subject unless you work day and night, searching for ideas from different sources, which you will combine to form new unique concepts.
You don't want to invest days and hours in creating a song / an album that does not influence or make an impact to any of the listeners. You need to derive a formula you can use to write content with complexity and depth, content that universities can use as a reference, content that people can revist thousand times.
Why is this a crucial strategy?
Control of Perception
The reason why I mentioned about influential lyrical-content is because its effective in changing the way people understand things. For example you might be able to change a drug abuser into a sober soul or you can tone down someone's depression through your lyrical content thus, these people will promote and help you to spread you brand name to the world.
Please consider seriousness from the moment you start working on your first song. Don't spread your garbage or all strategies will fail to make an impact. If you are really sure that you surpassed all those rules then it will be the right time for you to think about your marketing and distribution plan.
Next step, lets talk about this term - Niche , which means (in music) to focus on a specific type of genre or a sub-genre and then you thoroughly search for specific groups, communities or locations where people understand more about that type of genre and study their behavior. This is done so as to acquire knowledge about those people, for instance: their way of living, their culture and language, their needs and wants etcetera (I will describe more about this). You might be asking yourself this question, "why all this?" so that you create your music accordingly and to effectively spread it to them. This is the best procedure to carry out, than trying to reach a broad group. One advantage of this is that you connect deeply with these people because they will consider you as one of their kind or race and they help to preach and spread your tracks to other groups of different kind until it reaches the global mark.
Remember, the first path to take, carry out a deep analyzation about those groups or communities and the most important, your competitors. Like I said find more about Consumer Psychology, according to Michael Robert Solomon Saint Joseph's University (PA, USA), this when your study more about the processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and desire. If a musician craft his / her content and tactics according to those factors, he / she is able to overcome any hindrances from the main two pressure points, competitors and the behavior of potential fans. One thing I know without doubt is that this procedure will cost you more than time and money so you need to be patient, work hard and willing to sacrifice anything for your projects (not humans). Below I'm going to describe a number of factors to consider when searching for your right audience.
Factors to consider when searching for potential fans who can understand your art and genre
Lets take this as an example: In the world, there might be more males who listen to hip-hop / rap than females. So if are a new hip-hop entrant who is looking forward to see millions and millions of monthly loyal listeners, don't just post your streaming links to any social media group / hashtags. You need more information about that genre and those groups where you think you can get fans. Check if it is a female dominated group or if it is a male dominated group, and spread your projects, depending on your type of music.
You can't expect an 84 year old man to support club-music, he passed that era. If you make club bangers then you should know that you going to exclude communities or groups dominated by old aged people on your target list.
Its a fact that most highly educated people don't tolerate nonsensical music, only a few enjoy it. For example, if an artist who is a club-music maker publish his music to an area dominated by highly educated people, he / she is more likely to receive a lot of criticism.
Culture is one big factor that act as a barricade in marketing. One good example is Africa or China. Most Africans don't understand American Rock music except for a few exceptional ones who search more about it. Why? Because the style, art and lyrical content in rock is American based, and it does not match with their cultural values. So you should know more about the culture of that location you wish to spread your music to and create your projects accordingly.
Lets say you focus more on sexual and vulgarly music, don't you ever expect a community of Christians to support and promote your music unless if switch your lyrical content to gospel-like content. Christians are against anything that does not support the word of Jesus Christ. So if you post or publish sexual-music in an area where Christians operate a lot, you are likely to face a lot of public criticism.
Don't expect millions of listeners from America if you sing or rap in Chinese or to spread Christian's music in an area or groups dominated by Muslims. Your music will get negative reviews from people of that community.
There are a lot of factors such as past experience, social class, economic factors. In order to maximize the number of loyal listeners, musicians should always try to consider those factors whenever they are searching for fans because they need know to when, where and how they will tactically distribute their music to certain areas where they think they can get people who understand their music.
Now this is the question you have been asking your self - "Where exactly can I find these groups of people who can understand my music?" just like what other musicians do, they use blogs, Twitter hashtags, Facebook, Reddit (subreddits) and community gatherings (you can use google to search for locations to find certain kind of people). But you need to take this step carefully because you are required to study and understand how each of those platforms work and how people communicate and then you craft strategic moves to use for each platform you wish to select.
Lets hop to the next phase. Its time to talk about what big firms call "Fan Psychology". According to Jeff James and Daniel Funk, from the University of Texas and the University of Illinois who carried out a research and created this model back in 2001, it is a model used to build loyal fans for sports clubs, musicians or for anything that require fans. You should consider it as part of your music marketing strategies because it is mostly used to convert casual followers into full time followers tactically.
How to Apply Fan Psychology in Music
Please pay attention, the above model will apply only if you follow music rules and regulations I described before (Perfectionism, Engaging Quality Content, Effectual-Lyrical-Content, Unique art, Control of listeners perception) because its not that easy to use successfully use this model to turn your critics into fans. Now let me explain step by step from the bottom to the top:
The Buildup Phase
First and foremost people must be aware of your music or any project of yours. So you are forced to lose money in order to release and distribute quality singles, Eps or other non-musical content but relatable to you genre and brand to different communities, internet forums or other social media groups / hashtags where you target audience can be found. Don't release trash because in this phase its all about creating new followers and turn them into your loyal brothers and sisters and also you might lose a lot of money.
Attend any event and participate (I will describe more about this later) to build connections. Be generous to anyone. Be ready to offer help / assistance for free in those communities where you can get your target listeners. You want a lot of people to be aware of your existence. According to James and Funk, It is in this stage where people are influenced by their family members to follow a certain artist, a football club, NBA team or anything that require fans for support, especially young men and women. So you should try to convince these young ages to support you because they are potential long-term fans and they got the energy and power to convince their friends and family to follow you (social proof).
The Attraction Phase
This is the most important stage. Soon after you see a reasonable number of followers, people will start to mention your name or discussing a lot about your music in those communities, forums or on social media, this means that you are now in phase 2, you are no longer an unrecognized name, you now have a starting point. In this phase you should care a lot about those few numbers of followers you created in the first step because these people are the ones who will turn you into a superstar, just don't disappoint these golden people. They promote your work, they promote your brand name and sometimes they can fund you, at the same time, look back at the buildup phase and keep on building more followers again and again until you reach a world mark.
Alright let me focus on content creation for this stage because a lot of artist fall on this stage due to lack of knowledge. It is on this stage when fans weigh a lot of options when choosing their future favourite artist so your content and character will be your only advocate. As the number of your followers / listeners increases soon after a lot of people are aware of your existence, this will be the right time to release a project, like a mixtape or another EP or if you want an album so as to keep them engaged on you products. Always keep in mind to invest more days and months in searching and creating better content than to release a lot of projects in a short space of time, as it will be the only thing to keep your fans and to attract new ones.
Spend money and time to find different sources which dives deep into music creation, for example you can dive deep inmusic creation top secrets. Find out a lot about how certain melodies or any other instruments are perceived by the humans, deep concepts you can make use of to write lyrics and use it to create your best project accordingly.
It is on this stage where you can get millions of new fan, if you project really hit the mark.
The Attachment Phase
The last stage is the attachment phase. This is the phase where fans you carry from the buildup phase to the attraction phase and if they keep on believing in work because of its incredibility, they will finally turn into you loyal fans. These are the fans who are will to spend all they got to invest and support your work. This is the stage where you expect yourself to turn into a superstar. At this stage you should try to release an impactful album because you got your loyal fans, casual listeners and other people who are aware of your existence, to help you to spread it around the world.
According to Robert B. Cialdini who wrote a book about "The Psychology of Persuasion", people tend to choose or make decision based on other people's decisions because they are always in a rush to analyze and select the most profitable idea. Therefore, if we apply this theory in music we create something huge. That small number of your true fans will generate thousands or millions of new followers because they strategically force other people to taste your project and those new people who will be able to convince their family and friends to taste your project until your reach the world mark.
To be honest this model will only work if you content is marvelous.
You need to create a spot ( websites / social media accounts) where any individual who is eager to know more about you or who is willing to help or to work with you, can get your information such as your email. One bad thing about this is you need to pave your own lane to succeed in this process because top digital marketing companies is always a step ahead of you. Please capture this, you need to create two or more websites, better than exceptional ones (in terms of design and the information you put on those sites). One will be packed with all your information and links to your music, the other one(s) will be a blog(s), where you put non-musical content that can help to boost your fan base. (I will explain more about this below).
Branding and website development
These are crucal steps to put hours on during the development of your music career. So you need to teamup with people who specialize in web development and Public Relations. You really need to save money for this move because:
- These are steps required to build yur brand name as an artist
- You can easily get thousand new fans without interacting with them physically
First, create one major site where you put links to all your music / project links (Spotify links, YouTube links), links to your social media accounts, details about your next events with tickets links.
Second, Create another website linked to the first one, a blog like, a spot where you put you non-musical content. For example, you can write articles related to your type of art, lyrical-content or your genre. If you are a gospel artist, you create biblical posts, quality posts with unique content. If you successfully create relationships with experts in the field of web development, they will optimize these websites and make it visible to the world through search engine such as Google and Bing. Why is this second site important? Because you can turn web traffic into fans and customers
Once you get visitors from you second blog website, introduce them to your music planet by inviting them to your major site and links through ads. One advantage of a website is that it push you to work on / create email newsletters. (I will focus more on this below)
The reason why professionals force artists to focus on email newsletters
There is this strategy used by companies or experts to promote their products or projects, they offer free gifts to their fans / consumers, it might be free tickets to crucial events, a favor, or generously speak to their fans directly, giving advice or to promote their fans. Alright, this strategy was fully explained in the book I mentioned before: "The Psychology of Persuasion". The book described this strategy as "The Principle of Reciprocation", which state that a person will always pay back or reward someone in exchange for a favor done for him or her.
So how do you apply this in music? you send an email to a selected number of your followers / fans offering free tickets to your shows or donating something or to be part of some work, for free and in return those people you favored will pay you back by uplifting you name, promote your projects or by investing your brand.
Old school strategy: Paying blogs to promote your brand name and projetcs
Believe it or not, it's still working. I want you to track what happens when a big artist release an album, popular blogs will be the first ones to spread the news. These sites get 100k to million monthly visitors and these visitors can easily turn into you fans if and only your content is incredible. Beside your personal websites, you need to work with popular blog post. If you are a rap / hip-hop artist you can work with Dj boothor any other popular blogs, you just have to make sure that the blog can effectively promote your business.
Targeting curated playlists?
One advantage of the streaming era. A curated playlist is a list of songs created by music analysts or online curators, that fans may love. Your goal is to make your best track to be featured in the top 5 of most popular playlist.
One tactic experts encourage artists to do is to target lesser known playlists as it will be easier than targeting well known curators. Also it will be more easier to create relationshis with these curators.
Remember, its not an easy task to persuade someone to become your diehard fan, this require your hard-work, sacrifice, patience and focus. Try to get knowledge about the people in an area where you think you can get potential fans ( their way of living, language, past experience, their education background, culture and a lot ), so that you can craft your content accordingly.
Find out more about your competitors, plan you best strategy to dethrone them.
I will always repeat this again and again, its not about music marketing strategies only but the best way to gain millions of loyal fans is to take your time to create best content (instrumentals, lyrics, album covers, videos) or you can find top guys in those fields to execute it for you. Yes you might get a record deal but content is king, no one can escape from this truth.
Follow the Fan-Model, study it.