How To Plan a Music Marketing Campaign
Music marketing is one of the core functions carried out a record label.
The most important is A&R. The focus of A&R is how to help an artist reach their full creative potential. Great A&R is vital.
Next is music marketing & promotions.
Within a label this covers the roles of product managers, radio pluggers, press, TV, online marketing, media planners and buyers, sales and catalogue. Their job is to work together and use their experience to maximise the potential revenue.
The challenge for a label working with a new artists is getting their contacts excited about the release. For an established artist then an added challenge is to reach the existing fanbase.
If you’re not signed, or you manage unsigned artists, then music marketing all rests on you, my friend. It’s a tough challenge. Many label execs have been doing this for years. But first things first. Let’s break down a music marketing campaign into 7 easy steps and explain each one.
Define Your Image
Bono’s shades. Lady Gaga’s peroxide blonde hair. Lizzo’s figure hugging outfits. Ed Sheeran’s man-next-door. Drake’s immaculate cut.
They’re all images that we recall whenever we think of them.
These images act in a similar way to a brand logo, like the McDonald’s arches or the Nike Swoosh.
Brands use a logo, or ‘trade mark’, so when people see it they know what to expect, i.e. consistency and quality. In the same way, a strong and consistent image enables you to stand out and be recognised.
When defining your image think about how you dress, a logo, your photos, cover artwork, website, social media and merchandise. Try to make the image consistent to reinforce the image you’re trying to project.
Don’t fake an image or try to be something you’re not comfortable with. The facade will inevitably crumble. But it doesn’t have to be over-complicated. A hat. Shades. Hair cut. The way you dress. Simple but effective.
Treat each album as a distinct project or campaign that can last several months. A band should agree on their image and stick with it throughout the campaign
The best way to define your audience is to think like a fan. Ask yourself,
- Where do you go to discover new music?
- What blogs do you read?
- Which artists do you follow?
- What radio stations do you listen to?
- Which playlists do you listen to?
- Where do you listen or buy your music?
By thinking like a fan you naturally define your audience. These places are where you’ll find your audience. It should also be relatively easy to approach these media channels since you know they like the same things as you.
Don’t fall into a trap of saying ‘Everyone’ or “Anyone into pop music”. These definitions are too broad. When you start out you need to laser focus on the fans who are most likely to appreciate your music.
Set Your Targets
Don’t go into a music marketing campaign blind. Record labels set targets for every album release. What do you want to achieve? Your aims will dictate where you focus your efforts.
Make sure your targets are reasonable. It’s fine to be ambitious but set a target that is too high and you’ll simply be disappointed.
For each target you’ll need a separate strategy. By setting a target it will force you to think how you’re going to get there. What services might you need? Who can help you?
- Plays, monthly listens and Followers on Spotify. What is a reasonable number?
- Mailing list sign-ups. Set a goal and work out the incentives
- Physical & digital sales – if you’re paying for the manufacture it will cost you to produce too many.
- Playlists – How many playlists do you think you can get featured on?
- Interviews or features, e.g. 5 key interviews on blogs or radio.
Labels create a LOT of content to support a release. Bear in mind, pretty much everything you do is content. The album’s track-list is content. The lyrics. Photos from the studio. Studio notes. Tour dates. Stories about each track.
As an artist you are a content factory! The most popular accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are music artists because they have constant streams of interesting content.
'Content' Is A Showcase For Creativity
Remember, your music is the foundation everything else is built on. This has to be your number one focus. But, after the music is finalised, your content is a great showcase for your full range of creativity. Remixes. The video. A lyric video. Live versions. Demo versions. Acoustic versions. Artwork. And believe me, you’ll never have enough.
Create A Timeline
For each piece of content you need a plan.
What is the content, when are you going to release it and where is it going?
You’ve spent a long time to get this far. By that, I mean, all the years of practice and the hours of rehearsing. You owe it to yourself to maximise the return on everything you do now, no matter how small. Music marketing requires planning and placement to reach your potential audience on whatever platform they’re using.
- The making of the video
- Video trailer
- Countdown to the video
- The video premiere
- Lyric video – countdown & premiere
- Footage of the track being recorded in the studio. Trailer, teaser, countdown, premiere, extended version, trailer, etc
- Acoustic version being played in the studio
- How the track was made
CREATE A PR PLAN
Create A PR Plan
There are lots of people who should know about your music:
- National Radio
- Local Radio
- Local Press
- Music Journalists
- Digital Retailers
- Instagram Influencers
- Tik Tok Influencers
Who can you approach and get them excited to write about you? What can you offer them from your content library?
For many in the media, your music alone isn’t enough. They want exclusives and inside stories.
Give them some insider information – a tour announcement or a new release. Most of all, tell them a story about you and your music.
For more, read my longer feature on Promotion For Musicians.
Now, perhaps the most difficult part of any music marketing campaign. Having planned it all, making it happen.
It takes courage, determination and focus to execute a music marketing plan. You’re approaching people you don’t know and many are likely to reject you.
Rejection can be hard to take.
Sometimes, you’ll feel like you’re not getting anywhere. People may seem uninterested or make vague promises, which they don’t keep.
Psychologically, this can take its toll. As a musician, your number one aim is to make music. Yet here you are, trying to persuade strangers that what you’ve put your heart and soul into, is worth listening to.
‘Rejection’ is an emotion. You can choose how you deal with it. Use it to prove people wrong. Keep going. Follow your plan. And when it’s done, have a review of what went right and what could have been improved.
Next time, you can improve. Or better still, you can pay someone else to do it for you 🙂