As a music-lover and former entertainment journalist, I often find myself in the company of independent artists. As soon as I let it slip that I’m a publicist who worked with quite a few indie acts, the questions start pouring in.
From poets to bass players, the underlying theme is always the same. How I do get more publicity? Most artists have big dreams of being famous, and some just want to find and keep their niche. But very few have any idea how to get there.
As various art-forms are marketed in different ways, this article will focus specifically on how to brand and market your music. So here are six ways to help you find your niche, and make it big.
1. Take Advantage of Paid Promo Opportunities
I tell my clients all the time:
Be willing to spend. If you aren’t willing to invest in your work, why should anyone else?
Labels and booking agents are no longer looking to make you big. They want to hop on your bandwagon of success and roll with you.
Because of this, it’s important to build up a large following online and off. And in order to do this, you have to be comfortable with spending some money.
For instance, even $25 per month spent on boosting Facebook posts can make a difference. It won’t take you as far as $100 or a few thousand dollars, but it’s definitely a start. There are also other paid advertising opportunities on websites. Not to mention making merchandise to sell or give away.
It might be tempting to sell your merch to recoup your losses at your shows. But at least in the beginning, consider giving them away for free, or selling them for a steal.
Why? Haven’t you ever wondered why so many big companies are only too happy to give out branded goods at trade shows and festivals? Simply put: it works! People become walking billboard signs when they use and wear your merchandise, so make the design memorable.
2. Get on Social Media
To make up for the money you’ll be spending on promotional opportunities and goods, social media is an awesome, free tool to boost your brand.
However, social media isn’t a magic wand that simply launches you into fame and fortune. It’s a tool, and like any other, it works only as well as the user behind it.
It goes without saying then that just having a few social media accounts isn’t enough. They should be branded – whether with your logo, or a photograph of the lead singer or the whole band.
In the beginning, since virtually no one knows who you are, it would be best to use the exact same photo for all your accounts: from Facebook to Twitter. This helps fans to recognize you.
In a world where your audience is constantly bombarded with other options, visual branding is your friend.
3. Build a Website
In 2016, I had a blast covering indie bands for Indie Ville TV. Even so, there was one thing I dreaded every time I got a list of interviewees: the artist without a website.
Chances are, your booking agent and most venues you approach won’t care if you have one or not. But if you’re looking for publicity opportunities, a website is important.
Here’s why. It makes the media’s job easier. And if you’re looking to gain publicity, then off stage and outside of the studio, those are the people you want to keep happy. Websites mean we can find all the information we need in one convenient location before contacting you for a feature or an interview.
You might wonder, why bother? Won’t we just ask you questions? Of course, but a good journalist plans ahead, and it’s impossible to properly plan an interview if we have no information to go on.
That said, I’ve cancelled at least three interviews before, because along with no website, I couldn’t find a shred of information about the person online, or even verify their identity.
4. Do Media Shots
Publications these days are cutting corners every way they can to stay alive, especially indie magazines and music blogs. So the days of being flown to L.A. for a shoot, just to have one photo to include with your featured piece, are mostly over.
Many of these magazines will expect you to send a media shot of the band. You might be tempted to just grab that photo your best friend took and posted on Facebook, but unless your best friend is a photo-wiz, think again.
Remember that talk about visual branding? Magazines have an image to uphold as well, and high quality images are a big part of that. Take the time to get some professional shots of you and your band, both onstage and off.
Publish them on your website and keep a few digital copies on your computer and in the cloud, just in case a journalist requests one.
5. Hire a Booking Agent
Unless you’re an expert salesman, approaching venues on your own to book slots for your act can be intimidating. Unfortunately, many venues also take advantage of the fact that you’re an indie band without an agent, and may even refuse to pay you.
As an entertainment journalist with Indie Ville TV, I heard more than my fair share of horror stories. One musician had a knife drawn on him, and another was punched by the coke addict who ran the club his band played at.
Hire a booking agent. Let them get punched for you. You play, go home, and stay safe. But more importantly, booking agents help to ensure you get your fair pay, and good ones put you before the right audience to build your brand.
6. Hire a Publicist
It goes without saying that if you’re trying to gain publicity, you should hire a publicist. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a successful musician without one. You focus on your music, and the publicist focuses on getting you exposure in the media.
While many artists understandably hate the idea of being “branded”, this is an important part of gaining traction. This doesn’t have to mean being boxed into a certain genre to market your music. But it does mean crafting a solid identity so your look and sound is recognizable to your audience wherever you go.
Publicists also help to get more media coverage at your shows. And if you truly believe that people will love you as soon as they hear you, then you can’t go wrong with an offer like that.
If you’re serious about getting the right publicity for your music, then email us for a quote. If you think you can’t afford it, we might surprise you. And if we don’t, at least you know what you’re working toward.
What can we do for your music? We build websites, manage social media accounts, design logos and shirts, and set up photo ops.
The possibilities are endless, but they aren’t truly possible until you reach out.
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.