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The digital era has changed the music industry in many ways. Most notably, the new ways that people discover and consume music have changed how it is distributed and promoted.
It’s now easier for independent and unsigned musicians to promote their music and have a successful career in the music industry.
However, due to a now oversaturated music scene, simply making good music is not enough to get a high number of music sales, downloads, streams or bookings and make enough money to sustain a music career.
The funnel system details the tasks and the best tools recommended to help you promote your music. It also clarifies the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track and measure success.
A successful music promotion campaign requires four key components: good music, unique branding, fan personas and a variety of promotional content.
Learn more about the music marketing funnel system.
The 3-Stage Music Promotion Funnel System
Stage 1: Awareness – Get People to Know About Your New Music
Releasing your new music without prior notice may result in very low sales, downloads and streams, especially if you don’t have clout or a big fan base.
It’s best to start teasing and promoting your music about 2-8 weeks before the release date to build up the anticipation and gather a large audience of people who are excited and looking forward to your new music.
The goal of Stage 1 is to gather as many people who are likely to be interested in learning about your upcoming music by targeting an existing fan base and attracting a new audience, before and after your music is released.
You can use a variety of promotional content like cover artwork, audio previews, video teasers and photos to make people aware of your music.
To alert your existing fans and followers, make an announcement via your social media accounts, website, email newsletter and any other platform on which you have existing fans.
To attract a new audience, you can use paid advertising, get featured on music blogs, do radio & TV interviews, and collaborate on promotional campaigns with music industry tastemakers and social media influencers.
Upload your audio preview on SoundCloud, Audiomack, Riverbnation or any similar platforms that you use and track how many people visit and listen to the preview.
Share your cover artwork, audio previews and video teasers on all your social media accounts and ask your family, friends and fans to do the same. Include your unique #hashtag on your posts.
If you have a mailing list, send an email with a link to your music previews and track how many email subscribers open the email and click the link to preview your music. You can use email marketing tools like MailChimp,Aweber or GetResponse.
If you have a website, update it and create a landing page with your music teaser, then use Google Analytics to track how many people visit and listen to your music teaser. You can also create landing pages using services like SmartUrl or Linkfire.
Run paid advertising to promote your audio or video teasers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or Youtube. Track how many people see, interact, follow or subscribe by responding to your ads to measure the performance. Your ads need to be highly targeted to people who closely match your fan personas. For example, if your music is conscious hip hop, it’s best to target people who like other conscious hip hop rappers.
Find playlists that match your music and pitch your music to the playlist curators and ask them to include your music on their playlists or hire a Playlist Plugger to do it for you. You can use Chartmetric to find playlists.
Gather a contact list of music bloggers/journalist, send them your press release and ask them to feature or review your music on their blogs/publications. Or hire a music PR company to do it for you. You can also submit your music to blogs and playlist curators using SubmitHub or Fluence.
Send your music and press kit to radio show hosts and music directors or hire a Radio Plugger to do it for you.
Find influencers or tastemakers in your niche that have access to your target audience to run creative promotional campaigns. Influencers can either be dancers, models or comedians, preferably those with access to a highly engaged big audience and are relevant to your brand image and style of music. Draft a creative idea and pitch it to them or ask them to come up with their own ideas to promote your music. To find influencers you can use Shoutcart, Tapfluence or Upfluence. When you run these campaigns on social media, use a unique hashtag and track how many people see the posts you create with the influencers and tastemakers.
The KPIs to track for measuring the success of your campaign are the number of people reached, music plays, video views and impressions of your unique hashtags.
The secondary metrics to monitor are the number of blog/magazine features, radio placements, playlist placements, interviews booked, and social media followers.
Stage 2: Nurturing – Get People to Connect with Your Music
Generally, people tend to pay more attention to music that is trending or that they feel a strong emotional connection with.
If you don’t have clout or a large following, getting your music to trend on social media can be difficult because it requires a large number of people searching or mentioning your name online. Keep in mind that it is much easier to reach and connect with people who are already aware of you.
In Stage 2 the goal is to get those who are aware of your music to emotionally connect with it.
Whether your music makes people want to dance, makes people open up about sad feelings, makes people happy or gets people excited, the aim is to evoke people’s positive emotions via storytelling promotional content that reveals the messages behind your music.
You should also engage your target audience and encourage them to continue talking about you and your music. You can do this by running social media contests and challenges.
The nurturing stage begins a few weeks before the release date and continues even after the release date. The more creative you are at evoking the emotions of your audience, the higher your chances of success are.
Stage 2 – Recommended Steps:
Before and after your music is released, you should continue sharing more storytelling promotional content to maintain the buzz. Your content must be engaging and share-worthy.
Run a fun social media challenge, competition or contest and encourage your fans to join in. Create a unique hashtag and track hashtag mentions and impressions using tracking tools like HootSuite, SproutSocial, or UnionMetrics.com.
Organise a listening party and promote it to your fans on social media and/or collaborate with a promoter to help you promote the event for you.
Monitor when your name is mentioned on social media using tools like SproutSocial, HootSuite, Mention.com or Keyhole.co. Then go through the comments to learn what they are saying, the emotions they express, what they like or dislike about your music and understand their language. Respond to as many comments as you can.
After the music is released, you can maintain the buzz by sharing the progress and showing gratitude for all the support you receive. You can also share more surprises, stories about your music, personal branding content to showcase your personality and get people to know you more. If your music receives a high number of downloads or streams, mention it on your social media accounts with proof/screenshots.
If you and/or your music are featured on music blogs, magazines, radio stations and playlist, share the links, quotes and screenshots on your social media pages and express your gratitude. Features add social proof and more value to your brand image, so flaunt it and let it be known.
The KPI to track for measuring the success of Stage 2 is the engagement rate. Phlanx is a great tool for measuring engagement on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.
The secondary metrics to monitor are social media mentions, comments, likes, shares, retweets, reposts and number of media features.
Stage 3: Monetising – Get People to Pay for Your Music
If your ultimate goal in is to make a living via the music industry, monetising fans of your music is the best way to do that. The primary method of monetising your fans is through music sales, streaming royalties, merchandise sales and touring ticket sales.
At this point, you should have built a strong relationship with a big crowd of people who like your music or personality, preferably both.
In Stage 3, the goal is to encourage the people that you have attracted and nurtured to buy your music, consistently stream it, and purchase tickets to see your live performances.
There are other income streams that don’t come directly from your fans but from businesses like live venues, nightclubs, event promoters, licensing and synchronisation.
Stage 3 – Recommended Steps:
Distribute your music to digital stores and streaming platforms to be able to collect mechanical royalty payments when your music is sold and streamed on-demand.
Create a landing page on your website or use smart link services like smarturl.it, hearnow.com or linkfire.com to promote your new music. The landing page should allow you to direct your fans to their preferred platform and track data about their preferences, location, conversion rates, etc.
Register your music with a performance rights organisation (PRO) like PRS for Music in the UK or ASCAP in the US & SoundExchange for digital performances, or hire a music publishing company to collect your performance royalty payments from radio plays, streaming plays, TV performances, live performances, etc. Each country has their own PRO so if your music is being played in other countries, make sure you’re signed up to the relevant PRO to collect your royalties. Independent distributors like TuneCore, DittoMusic, CDBaby and Disktro offer publishing services to collect royalties globally.
For every live performance you do, if the venue is registered with a PRO, send your PRO a set list of the songs you performed with proof that the event happened so that you can get paid performance royalties.
You can also sell your music directly from your website or using platforms like BandCamp or ReverbNation.
Find a booking agent that can get you live performance gigs or reach out to event promoters and music venues that run events with music/artists similar to you. Let them know you’re available for live performances.
Run your own tours to perform your music and make money by selling tickets.
Create and sell merchandise that is relevant to your music and fan persona.
For licensing and synchronisation income, submit your music to music libraries for a chance to get music placements in commercials, movies, documentaries, TV shows and YouTube vlogs. To increase your chances of getting placements, pitch your music directly to music supervisors and ad agencies who are responsible for music placements. Synchronisation is a great source of income because one licensing deal can make you anything from £1 up to £100,000 or more. NBC reportedly licensed “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones on Conan O’Brien’s show for $500 000.
The KPIs for measuring the success of Stage 3 is the total income from digital streams, music sales/downloads, radio plays, bookings, ticket sales, merchandise sales and licensing deals.
You should also find other income streams that you can take advantage of to increase your revenues. A good approach is to prioritise most of your effort on income streams that generate higher revenues.