A recent study showed that artists get paid $0.004 on average, per listen on Spotify. Effectively, you’d need a quarter of a million streams just to make a thousand bucks. To survive in this scenario, bands need to know how to raise their marketing game to the next level and create more value to stay relevant to their listeners.
But how exactly do you do that? How do you market a band successfully?
Survey data from music industry insiders show that the three most important factors influencing success for independent artists in 2023 are the ability to identify their core audience demographics, create share-worthy content consistently, and implement multiple monetization streams.
In this post, we’ll break down the tactics that move the needle most for artists and bands, and offer you actionable strategies to grow your audience base and profits. Let’s dive in!
Take care of branding basics
Imagine you’re browsing online and you come across a video about a gadget that you think is quite interesting. You want to find out more about it, so you do a couple of searches, but you can’t find much information about the company that makes it. Then you come across the brand’s social media accounts, and the information is incomplete, there’s no about section, and the last post on their page was eight months ago.
What are the chances you’d buy the product? Exactly; not great.
The same principle is at work when people check out a new artist who they’ve never heard of before. Even though there may not be an immediate transaction requiring them to pay money, they need to be persuaded to pay something far more precious: their time and attention.
To do this, your brand must inspire confidence, and as an artist, your band is your brand. In order to make it popular, you have to ensure that your brand is distinctive, memorable, and professional. Here’s how:
- Make sure your band’s name isn’t something that is already in use or trademarked by someone else. Check on platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud, and the USPTO’s trademark search.
- Unless you’re well-versed in design yourself, hire a professional graphic designer to create your band’s logo. You don’t have to spend much; there are many highly-rated logo designers on freelance marketplaces like Fiverr that have affordable pricing.
- Get your artist profiles on Spotify and social media platforms fully completed. Ensure your photos have great lighting, balance, and composition, and that your album art is relevant and intriguing for your genre. (Related: Check out our guide on why and how you should use Spotify Canvas.)
Find good gigs
Doing gigs is one of the best ways to gain exposure and generate valuable content. Even if you aren’t getting paid for putting on a show, you can use gigs to your advantage.
For local bands looking to grow, gigs offer great marketing and revenue opportunities. Gigs help bands generate videos and photos for marketing, create fans by interacting with audiences, increase visibility by later tagging these new connections online, and even sell merchandise.
All kinds of people are present at gigs including people from record labels who can see you in action. Here are a few tips to help you score a gig:
- Start with open mics. If the band is good there is a chance that the venue owner might book you for a gig.
- Do free gigs and be open to playing at weddings, private parties, and events — if they’re going to help you meet your target audience. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.
- Create a highlight reel with short video snippets from your previous performances to build a compelling case with venue managers and show promoters for future gigs.
Record a professional demo
Many rock bands landed their first gig or their first record deal on the back of an amazing demo. The advent of streaming music has changed the dynamics greatly, but the power of a well-produced demo (bonus if it includes a great music video) still cannot be overstated. While you don’t need to invest in making videos for every track you release, putting a little extra effort into your demo is a good investment for your band.
Your demo offers potential clients a glimpse of what you bring to the table. You can give it to show organizers and venues to book gigs.
Up your social media game
This is a no-brainer. For any business or brand to thrive, a robust social media presence is a must. Social media gives you the chance to reach out to millions at once and create a strong fan base.
Here are a few things that you can do to strengthen your social media presence
- Post regularly. In the social media game, quantity is just as important as quality.
- Find angles that your listeners would be interested in. Finding overlaps between what you have to offer, and what you know your audience already likes, is a great way of doing this.
- Stay on top of trends and be a part of them. Better yet, add your own spin to them.
- Have live interactions with your fans.
- Have music premieres on social media channels.
- Encourage followers to promote your music by giving them shoutouts or gifts.
- Upload personal content that shows the human side of the band.
Make industry connections
As with every other industry, networking is a must in the music business too. The right connections can open many doors: gigs, record deals, collaborations with other artists…
Make it a point to attend networking events, conferences, gigs of other artists, workshops - anything that will give you a chance to meet interesting people from the industry. Pro tip: What establishes strong connections is what follows after you attend an event. If you meet someone who can help your band, then do stay in touch with that person.
Here are a few tips for successful networking as an artist:
- Prepare how you want to introduce the band so that there’s no fumble and all the important information is communicated
- Find out more about the people hosting the event beforehand, so that you can engage them in conversation appropriately.
- Carry a business card. Yes, really. When you’re marketing your band, you should be wearing your business owner hat, not a whimsical artist hat. Act the part.
- Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct and ask for help
- Always scope out interesting events around you that could be worth attending. Check out this great list of music industry events, as well as this compilation of online music networking events.
Figure out merchandising
Thanks to the innumerable streaming apps, there are very few options for listeners to get tangible forms of music that they can keep and cherish. On the flip side, this means that fans are eager to get official merchandise from the artists and bands that they really feel connected to. T-shirts, hoodies, beanies, caps, badges, wristband — the possibilities are endless. Before you jump into merchandising, keep a few things in mind:
- Choose the merchandise products based on your listeners’ interests.
- Make sure the merch is of great quality so that it doesn’t leave a bad impression of your brand with your fans.
- Vinyl and CDs are making a comeback. These are great options to sell your music to fans, especially at gigs.
Optimize your streaming presence
Getting your music onto multiple streaming platforms is simpler than ever before, thanks to great music distribution options. But being present on multiple platforms is one thing; aggregating revenue from all of them and making sure that you’re actually getting paid on time is completely another. (Check out our helpful blog post for a quick and easy overview of revenue management.)
The other aspect of growing streaming revenue is, of course, growing your actual streams. We have a step-by-step breakdown on playlist promotion, how it works, what to do, and most importantly, what NOT to do if you don’t want to end up getting blacklisted by streaming platforms. We highly recommend you check out that guide, to ensure that you know what you’re doing before you approach playlist curators to grow your streams.
Leverage brand partnerships
Brand collaboration and endorsement deals can be very lucrative. It is important that you collaborate with brands that align with the image of your band. For brand partnerships, it’s a must that you have a consistent and robust digital presence. When done well, this can be a great marketing tool that not only helps your bottomline, but also helps new audiences discover your music, through collaborations and content that is cross-posted on the brands’ pages.
For more on brand partnerships, check out Effi Summers’ helpful video.
Monetize your social content
It isn’t just streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube that pay artists royalties on listens. Today, nearly every social media platform offers content creators some form of tools to monetise their content on the platforms. This includes TikTok, Instagram, and even Facebook. Make sure you’re not missing out:
A band is no longer just a group of musicians making money from the sale of albums. Today, the revenue streams have multiplied and so have the challenges. While there are always some common tactics and best practices that apply universally, it’s also true that every band is unique and needs a customized game plan to maximize success.
De Novo Agency specializes in curating advertising strategies that are distinct and specific to that band. We have professionals with years of music industry expertise who transform bands into bankable brands and create a loyal fan base. Check out our highly-rated services, which include campaigns focused on PR, Spotify, YouTube, social media management, SEO, and much more, with testimonials and ratings from thousands of growing, independent artists.