Execution: Planning Ahead to Maximize Your Results in the Modern Music Industry
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Your band should have a plan.
Yes. Right now. If you’re in a band and reading this, you should have something brewing in your back pocket that you’re eagerly waiting to finish and then set it free into the internet dot com for all your friends and fans to enjoy. A good plan should include multiple layers of media, catered to your demographic, and released in a way that’s unique, creative, and memorable.
We’ve all seen the cliche, bands that post “Big things coming soon!” for 6 months straight, like repeating those desperate words like a mantra is enough to stay relevant in the eyes of their fans. The fact is that nobody, unless you have an insanely dedicated following, is eagerly anticipating the release of your next single. Keep in mind that what you’re competing for is people’s TIME and your competition isn’t other bands. It’s Facebook, it’s Apple, and it’s Coke. How does your marketing stack up compared to theirs? The truth is, probably not so well. You most likely don’t have a multi-million dollar marketing budget or a team of highly paid, experienced marketing professionals at your beck and call, but what you do have is the ability to cater your efforts to very specific niches and pivot quickly if what you’re doing isn’t working. The rest of this article isn’t a definitive how-to guide, it is just one of the countless techniques you can use to help maximize your results and stretch those marketing dollars as far as you possibly can.
Make your new single feel special.
If you’re releasing a new song, make it meaningful, make it’s release something that people want to anticipate, and then want more of after it’s over. Do this by first by making sure that you have high quality recordings. Whether you want to do it yourself, or want to work with an engineer, you have to be objective about the quality of the product. Low quality recordings will make your new single fall flat immediately and no amount of fancy branding or marketing will be able to save it.
What’s your branding for this release?
What’s the mood of this release? What’s the color palette? Should you get some new promo shots to fit the theme? What will your social media headers and profile pictures look like leading up to the release, on the day of the release, and post release? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself. The goal here is to decide what message you’re trying to convey to the customer and which assets can you use to best communicate it, captivating your customer in the process. Does your song have a dark, somber tone? Maybe go for a color scheme heavy in dark blues, blacks, and grays. Is it a pop release? Don’t be afraid to go with neons! By coordinating all of your media, you begin immersing the customer in your universe and if it identifies with them, they’ll be more likely to want to spend time (and money) there.
Record a GOOD music video.
Video has the opportunity to provide the best ROI of all of your marketing efforts, people who watch a video are 1.81x more likely to purchase than non-video viewers (Source). When it comes to video, it really pays to find someone who does great work. Nothing will cheapen your brand quite like an unprofessional music video. Find a producer and crew who are just as hungry as you are to make it in this industry and work WITH each other to craft a badass product. Make sure to come into this conversation prepared. This is where all of that work you did planning your visuals/branding will come in handy!
Create extra content.
So you’re about to release your music video. What content do you have to promote it? Sharing the YouTube link for your video 100 times over the next couple of weeks is not going to be efficient, because Facebook’s feed algorithm calls for linked content to receive the least organic reach. On the flip side, Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes videos which are uploaded directly to Facebook, so we can use this to our advantage. Here’s a few ideas:
Cut up 3 clips from the video itself to use as separate and fresh content. Take two 15-30 second clips for Instagram + Twitter sharing, and a 45 second portion to upload directly to Facebook, tossing the YouTube link in the caption.
Use the first as a teaser pre-release, the second for release day (for Instagram/Twitter, attaching link), and the third a week or two after it’s released.
Remember to THINK about how you’re going to use your content to it’s fullest potential and you’ll be able to stretch those marking dollars much further than you think.
To outsource or not to outsource?
If you don’t know anything about marketing, start Googling, but realize that marketing is difficult. Great marketers are some of the most sought after people on the planet, spending an hour going through Forbes articles is not going to be enough. Take your time, absorb everything, throw out what you don’t think is relevant, and execute. Nothing gives you a better education than taking something to market, analyzing your results, and adapting.
The other option is to get a freelancer on the job. This sounds great, in theory, but you have to be realistic about the type of results you’re expecting. Like I said, great marketers are some of the most sought after people on the planet, so anyone who’s truly great is not going to be cheap. Expect to pay $1000+ per month, easily. You have to be the judge of whether or not that money would be well spent.
One caveat: If you’re a brand new band with only a handful of songs recorded, your ability to make profit on an $1000+ per month overhead is limited by your small circle of influence. Even if you’re maxing out your creative assets, you may not have the fan base to rationalize spending that kind of money. In the music world the chances of failure are extremely high when you look case-by-case, so until you have some market validation, make sure that you’re making the most of your time and effort by leveraging your own ability to learn.
The road ahead.
What’s next? Is this single in promotion of a new EP? Is it a stand alone? What’s the plan for your NEXT release campaign? It’s a revolving cycle that will never stop, if you want to stay relevant. You wanted to plan a hometown headliner show? Great! Can you make that coincide with another event, like your EP release? Perfect. Every single action you take from now on will reinforce your long term goals, which will have been thought out, debated, and selected based off of your vision for your creative future. The road ahead will be difficult, but difficulty has time and again shown to be the best teacher for those who aspire to do great things.
“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca