Somewhere between a motivational ebook and a Lifetime made-for-TV movie, I’m really writing an article about “The Lies That Hold Us Back”. Not because I want to get sappy, or stand on a soapbox — but because in our nuanced, intricate industry, it’s tough to stand out and to see genuine success. However, on the flipside, with the amount of DIY tools that exist for artists– it’s easier than ever to get your music distributed, your name recognized and your sound heard.
And most importantly:
The main thing that holds us back, is the nonsense that we tell ourselves.
The majority of the time, we are our own roadblocks, we are our own detractors and it’s imperative that we take a deep look at our issues and think — is this really a problem, or are these excuses I’m telling myself?
Now sure, there are genuine financial, geographical and physical issues that can stunt a career and be a valid “reason” for a slow in growth. However, I’m not talking about reasons, I’m talking about excuses. The objects that we (and we alone) are creating and manufacturing that are holding us back.
Initially, I was going to relay this into one funky, inclusive blog post — but I think a helpful way to really let these ideas marinate is to divide ’em up into a few different posts.
So, here is a very common “excuse”, probably the largest one of ’em all: Money. More specifically, money towards marketing. This one, I wouldn’t say it’s 100% an excuse (in future posts, we’re going to explore some straight up emotional excuses, so get ready), but this one is more of a misconception. However, it holds some pretty large consequences when stunting growth.
Here it is…
Marketing Is Too Expensive.
Why it’s a myth: Because… well, not always.
Tell me this, how much does a tweet cost? $0.00
How much does it cost to follow potential fans and personally reach out? $0.00
How much does it cost to create a list of realistic blogs, and then search for contact or submission info? $0.00
How much does it cost to write a proper pitch? $0.00… okay you get the point.
You might be thinking,” Tyler, you work in marketing — isn’t it counterproductive to convince artists that they can market for themselves?”
The answer is “no” because I often get emails from artists who just aren’t ready for PR or big campaigns … yet. Their social media numbers are low — or there just isn’t any buzz that’ll make blogs buy into them.
Therefore, if I run a risky campaign with them, and it’s unsuccessful: The artist is out of money, and I look like a lousy publicist.
Now, if you’re just starting out, or need help “getting ready for PR” — then absolutely! Let’s collaborate! Just know that we might be focusing on a phase structure where we hit your social media for 2-3 months before we even look at pitching journalists.
The above paragraph isn’t me selling my services (well, that wasn’t the intention) but it’s my way of saying that prior to any campaign or launch– artists should be focusing on organic reach.
Bring in a publicist, or project manager when you’ve hit walls or need an extra boost. This is going to happen! You will need extra help eventually. It’s going to be a natural evolution for you. But don’t hire one off the bat. Know when to hire someone ..which is when you’ve done a decent bit on your own.
But what if you aren’t starting out, what if you have some releases under your belt, and you’re strapped for cash? The same can be said for any artist: marketing is simply building relationships, and that — is free.
Do your best to network with writers — authentically. I have plenty of artists who send me their work, and write me in a way that’s authentic and real — so I listen and pass it along to my connections.
You should be doing this — but even better if you’re connecting with a writer rather than a regular ole’ marketing guy like me.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with artists who have genuine relationships with writers, so it just takes a few texts and phone calls, and their track has a pretty solid buzz.
These artists will then hire me to give that track an extra push to more outlets, if necessary. But point is, they have enough authentic relationships to do a large amount of the work on their own. Simply because they took the time to hustle and network throughout their career.
And of course, I’m mainly harping on PR because that’s a very large expense. But the same can be said for anything from graphic design to online ads. For instance, if you just need a simple social media graphic, don’t hire a designer — check out Canva or Pixlr. Similarly, before you throw money into Twitter ads, try simply following and connecting with fans of similar acts.
Will you need help? Most likely. You may need help booking a tour, or getting media placements — because some professionals just have better contacts than you. However, see what you can do on your own for a while!
Or, better yet invest in education!
Invest in ways to learn the tricks of the trade, so you can navigate the ship as far as you can, before passing it on. I offer consultation and educational packages that allow artists to jumpstart their marketing on their own, and make great headway before needing to hire on additional help. (And when you are “ready”, I can help with that, too!)
So, what are ways to capitalize on free marketing? Here are three quick ways.
- Be consistent on social media.
Schedule posts throughout the week via HooteSuite or Buffer (Free tools!). Do this in advance, so now you have time to genuinely speak with fans, followers and writers– and not worrying about remembering to share your music every other day or so.
Also, remember, fans want a mix of content: Posts about your music or your career, posts about your day/personal, and then “sales/promo” links. Remember to have a healthy mix. Too much promo and you’re spamming — not enough, and they forget you’re an artist.
- Be authentic on social media.
I get two types of social media interaction.
- NEW SINGLE, LINK IN BIO.
- Hey Tyler, I just saw your article in Hypebot, appreciate the tips! Mind checking out my latest track? And if you dig it maybe passing it along? http://bit.ly/3434343
Of course, #3 gets my attention and I usually end up — at the very least — sharing it on my social media platforms. At the very most, sending it to some of the writers I’m close with.
By reaching out to industry influencers like writers, producers — or just music fans with big followings– you can make genuine friends and get your music further. The key is just this … be real. Come off as genuine. No spam, no links, no sending music and then never interacting again. Be an authentic human, not a spam robot.
- Develop a Media List and Pitch
A pitch should be succinct — it should be more than just a link and title. But it also shouldn’t be more than two paragraphs. It should give writers a reason to write about you.
“Just wanted to give you a heads up on a new video dropping by Bill Thomas. Bill actually co-wrote Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off and Selena Gomez’s Hands to Myself. This is his first solo-project, and I’d appreciate if you considered it for review.
I’m including all the links below.”
Something like the above works just fine. It’s to the point, and also giving them a reason as to why they should care.
The other side of this is developing your media list.
When talking about media lists, things get a little tricky. This involves making a list of where you want to be covered — blogs, magazines and more. Now, it’s smart to be realistic. If you’re a new artist with relatively low social media followers, then a Complex or Rolling Stone may be a bit much. However, blogs that are geared towards indie outlets may be a good fit.
Always check websites for submission info, but — also find an article you enjoy, and Google the author’s name. You’d be surprised at how many writers have portfolios, or Twitter pages that contain their contact information. Another route is using Zoom Info or other lead generation tools to find editor contacts.
The above are three social media and mini-PR tasks you can do to really get an amazing grip on your social media and PR. These tips can help fan interaction, media relations, and even enhance your social growth which is more attractive to booking agents and other influencers.
For your viewing pleasure, I’ve also made a slightly longer list of even more things you can do for free that can benefit your overall career.
- There is PLENTY you can start doing right now, for free, that will benefit your career.
- Many artists think they need a publicist, manager, and video crew before they even dropped their first single. Slow down and know when to invest, and when to do some marketing on your own.
- When connecting with fans and press, be authentic and strive to make genuine connections.
- If you aren’t ready for PR and want to collaborate on how to get “ready”, within your budget, let’s chat!
- If you’re going to invest now, invest in education, and someone who will build with you long-term and within your budget.
Next week we are going to explore the excuse of…
I want to market my work, but I’m just too busy!
Speak then! If you want to talk about a consultation, strategy or hey — maybe you are ready to invest in a full-out campaign, email me here.
Also, want these 5 tips (and more) straight to your inbox? Sign up for my newsletter here.
As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.