How To Market Your Band Online — Without Being Lame

Posted January 9

Welcome to the O Music Awards guest writer series, a place where we hand the proverbial reins over to qualified writers/musicians/etc and let them share their thoughts about music, technology and more. Today’s guest blogger is Scott Feldman, formerly. of Rock.com, OurStage and Nimbit. Last year, he founded D.I.- Why to offer services to indie and d.i.y. musicians. Now Scott has distilled much of what he’s learned into a new book The Analysis Of Hype: A Musicians Guide To Online Marketing.

At some level, everybody thinks they’re a rockstar. They want to party like rockstars, they want to live like rockstars, but let’s face it: They’re not rockstars. In fact, if the music industry stats are to be believed, 9 out of any 10 acts signed to a major label will fail. With odds like that, it’s amazing that we wouldn’t rather party like surgeons and rocket scientists.

In order to become the rockstar many musicians aspire to be, it’s equally about the music as well as the marketing. If you’re scratching your head right now, that’s OK. Lots of people never dig deep enough to understand that marketing effort that leads to musical success.

For example, look at Justin Bieber. He’s everywhere. You know who’s he’s dating, what car he drives, and just about any other random detail you could want to. But how many of his songs do you actually know? How many of his lyrics can you actually recite? My guess –- not too many. But he’s everywhere! His marketing people know where to place him, how to dress him, and which car he should drive. And no doubt, he’s making money at it.

Disclaimer: The life of the musician “should” be about making music. That being said, can you sing a song to your landlord instead of paying rent?

Let’s take a look at an artist who’s just getting started. What’s he doing, how’s he doing it, and how this can help you.

Dan HL is a Boston based singer-songwriter who describes his music as “abrasive-folk.” After a parting of the ways with his former band, Dan’s about to release his first album. But at the time, he had nothing of his own –- no website, no Facebook page, no Twitter account. He was starting completely from scratch. Lots of musicians get to this point and panic. It’s understandable. But if you take things logically and strategically, it’s not impossible. Here’s how it went for Dan HL:

First thing we did was establish his goals: In 90 days (crazy!) he was going to have his album finished. By the time the album was done, we wanted to have his website up and populated with content as well as creating a presence on social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter).

Dan’s website came together quickly. And since it was done before the album, we were challenged with putting up content. He didn’t have his own tunes to add (yet), so we added a couple of rough demos (and let people know they were demos!) followed by some blog posts about songs and artists that he liked. In this case, the bands he talked about were pretty well-known. They helped clue potential fans into his style as well as drawing a little attention on their own.

A little while later, Dan was goofing around on Facebook and replied to someone’s post with a haiku. It was random enough, and funny enough, that people started asking him to write haikus for them. We moved this over to his artist page and let it be known that anyone who “liked” the page could suggest a topic for Haiku Monday. From there, we recapped the day’s best haikus over on his website: Haiku in Review.

Soon enough, community started to build around Dan and his music. The album was released and tour dates started to book up with less effort. New album, shows booked, sales coming in, and all for a debut release. The best part? All of “Haiku Monday” was totally free.

At this point, you’re thinking -– haikus and folk singers don’t mean much to me. It doesn’t matter! What Dan did, and the lesson to walk away from, is that there’s more to your music than just music. A marketing campaign that was inspired by a joke got built up into some serious marketing efforts. We were able to convert interest on his Facebook page into attention on his website, community interest in his music, and the foundation of a successful career.

To recap — in 90 days, we got Dan HL’s marketing together and sync’ed up to the release of his album. Three months after that he had his first round of tour dates taking him through 6 states. Another three months later, and he’s heading back on tour for more dates in better places.

That’s success. And that’s what you want.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Tim Patterson