If you’re getting pretty serious about this whole music career thing, you’ve probably already started brainstorming some band marketing ideas to gain more exposure.
But if you haven’t gotten much farther than “set up an Instagram account and post a bunch of stuff,” don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with 13 essential marketing strategies to add to your list.
1. Know your brand
Before you can market your band, you need to have your brand in place.
What’s unique about your act? Which aspects of your story are the most compelling and set you apart from every other band out there? How will you present yourself consistently — from your onstage look, to your social media tone, to your logo and color schemes and photos?
Once you’ve honed your brand, the specifics of your band marketing strategies and fan communication will flow from there.
2. Work your email newsletter
Your email list is your most valuable direct line to your fans, and it’s by far the most effective way to sell your music, tickets, and merch. There’s nothing you can do about Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm, but you can always use your newsletter to reach the people who want to hear from you.
3. Create a website
Investing in a great band website is one of the most important things you can do to maximize your marketing efforts. A poorly designed, outdated website — or no website at all — will hurt your credibility and give off the impression that you’re not serious about your music.
When done right, however, your band website acts as the central hub for everything you do. You have full control over the user experience and fan data, and you can directly sell your music and merch using whatever pricing model you want.
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4. Get active on social media
Managing several different social media pages can quickly get overwhelming, so the key is to focus on where your fans (and potential new fans) are most active. Don’t worry so much about amassing huge numbers of followers — focus more on engagement, having two-way conversations (it’s social media, after all), and building genuine connections.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great places to start, but you should also explore the potential of platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat. If you’re in need of in-depth social media marketing advice, check out our guides for getting more fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus 14 killer content ideas you can try out on any platform.
5. Experiment with ads
Sometimes, relying solely on organic reach just doesn’t cut it for important marketing campaigns. If you have even a small budget to work with, familiarize yourself with how to run Facebook ads and Instagram ads to make sure you’re hitting the right audience with the right message.
It takes a little trial and error at first, but as long as you keep an eye on your ads, you can save money by tweaking or turning off anything that’s not performing well.
6. Focus on streaming
While we still have a long way to go before the average artist can realistically earn a living from streaming revenue, there’s no arguing that services like Spotify and Apple Music have become the new go-to for music discovery. These days, having your song included in a curated Spotify playlist can be just as effective (if not more) than traditional press coverage. Plus, most of the popular streaming services share robust fan insights and data to help artists make smarter marketing decisions.
If you don’t already have your music on all of the major platforms, sign up with a digital distribution company to get your releases out there. The setup process is easy, and there’s really no downside. The more places people can find your music, the better!
7. Leverage the power of video
Video is a powerful medium for band marketing. By adding a visual layer to your artistry, you’re reinforcing your brand while allowing fans to connect with your music in a deeper way.
YouTube is one of the first places people search when they’re trying to find a specific song, so make sure you upload all of your original music and official music videos to your band’s channel. You might also want to consider regularly posting unique cover videos, vlogs, live performances, or interviews so that you show up more often in search results and make yourself more accessible to potential fans.
TikTok has also quickly become one of the best ways to reach new audiences. The hyper-personalized algorithm gives you more opportunities to organically reach new fans than most other social media apps. Check out CD Baby’s tips for promoting music on TikTok.
8. Gig, gig, gig
Performing live has always been a reliable strategy to get new fans and market your band, but COVID restrictions around the world have made this difficult at best — and impossible at worst.
On the bright side, live streaming technology keeps getting better, and music fans have been more than willing to support their favorite artists from home in any way they can. New platforms are popping up left and right, so we’ve compiled and compared a list of live streaming platforms to take some of the confusion out of it.
In a post-COVID world, our recommendation would be to start by focusing on your local scene. Don’t hesitate to play charity events, fundraisers, or private events in between your music venue and bar gigs. Once you’ve built up a strong local following, you can turn your attention to regional weekend tours and music festival gigs to gain even more exposure.
9. Build press relationships
Getting publicity for your band is all about relationships, but you shouldn’t wait until you can finally afford a music publicist to start working on your strategy. Keep a running list of any local or independent music blogs that have covered bands similar to yours, and make a note of their contact info along with any specific pitching requirements.
Even if you only hear back from a couple of small blogs at first, you can use those initial reviews to build momentum and buzz, and eventually work your way up to getting covered by bigger publications with a wider reach. Plus, you never know where those small bloggers will end up in a couple of years, so make sure you maintain those relationships.
10. Create band merchandise
Let your die-hard fans do the marketing for you by donning a T-shirt with your band logo on it.
Besides the usual suspects like clothing, stickers, and posters, there are tons of creative merch items you can offer your fans — think phone cases, flasks, or even handwritten lyric sheets. Just make sure that whatever merch you create is aligned with your brand, and something that your fans would actually be excited to purchase.
11. Run contests
Running an occasional contest or giveaway is a great band marketing idea — you benefit from the exposure, and lucky fans of yours get something for free from a band they love.
You could do a simple social media giveaway, or maybe host a virtual VIP listening party. Whatever you do, try to make it fun and exciting so that people are incentivized to spread the word on your behalf.
12. Don’t forget radio
Radio might not be your first thought when you’re brainstorming band marketing strategies, but targeting independent and college radio stations can be a very effective way to promote your music.
If you manage to grab a program director’s attention, you’ll be able to tap into a new audience that trusts and enjoys their music curation. Here’s how to pitch radio stations.
13. Look into sponsorships and partnerships
Before you get too scared, we’re not talking about some huge, unattainable contract with a major international brand. You can partner with local businesses and work out a deal that’s simple, authentic, and mutually beneficial.
Do some research on companies that are already working with bands similar to where you are in your music career. Take note of what both parties put into and get out of the arrangement, and then think through what you could offer and would benefit from.
As an example, you could strike up a collaboration with a local graphic design firm. They create a unique, limited-edition merch item for you to sell, and in return, you give them a cut of the profits and help promote them on your website and social media pages.
As you’ve read through these strategies, you’ve probably gathered that it all really boils down to this: Build genuine relationships that turn your casual fans into devoted superfans, and they’ll supplement your efforts with the most powerful marketing of all — word of mouth.
It obviously requires consistent hard work to engage and nurture your fans, but those superfans are the key to building a legitimate, long-lasting music career.
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