With the end of 2018 looming and 2019 on the horizon, it’s time for reflection.
If you felt like your fan connection or marketing strategies were just a little bit weak in 2018 and you want to up your game, check out these seven tips for getting your music to new audiences, all while captivating the hearts of current fans.
1. Run a giveaway
Everyone loves free stuff! Even better when the free goods are merch from one of their favorite bands. Throw together a bundle of your best merch, maybe even a couple limited-edition bracelets or stickers you have from a previous promotion, and offer it to the fan who comes up with the best caption to one of your silly photos or creates the best fan art.
2. Throw a special concert
Finding unique spots to play your next show, is one of those fun challenges I encourage taking on regularly. It’s great to play your favorite go-to venue, or the clubs around town, but some of the best shows I’ve seen have been at completely unconventional spots, like an intimate acoustic show at an art gallery, or a rock show at Six Flags.
Putting on a show that your fans don’t expect, in a location outside your norm is a great way to draw attention to your band, and keep people interested.
3. Play a game
Sometimes I think that as adults we forget to be a little playful. Take this opportunity to unleash your inner kid and have a little bit of fun with your fans by engaging them in a game.
This can be as elaborate as a digital or city-wide scavenger hunt to win an awesome prize (tickets to your album release, special house show, exclusive merch, etc.) or as low-key as teasing a new song or video and having your fans guess what it is.
The idea here is just to engage your fans in a way that promotes fun and connection. When your fans feel involved and are having fun, the music promotes itself.
4. Experiment with different content
One of the unavoidable pieces of any marketing strategy is experimenting with what works, which also means finding out what doesn’t. When it comes to marketing yourself both online and offline, the rules are no different for artists.
Offline, experiment with what works at your shows:
- what songs get the best response
- how the audience reacts when you throw in certain anecdotes
- what merch is getting the most attention at your table
- what table layout garners the most sales, etc.
Online, you can experiment with what content is getting the most reactions. Is it photos of the band in shenanigan mode? Or is it videos of your last show?
Again, inject some playfulness into this. The more you experiment, the quicker you can understand what your audience best responds to.
5. Partner with other bands and brands
I’m a huge fan of collaboration, which is why no list of marketing tactics would be complete without including partnering with bands and brands in your local scene and beyond.
One tried and true technique is a split EP, but think outside the box. The goal is to get in front of new fans who have no idea who you are, so you want to give them a good (and accurate) first impression.
Think about what your brand is all about and then seek out other bands that exude that, as well as brands that support that and start to explore possible partnerships.
6. Involve your fans
Throughout this article, we’ve put a heavy focus on including your fans in the process, and for good reason! As much as you may fear that being too personal or vulnerable will only turn fans off, the truth is the more involved they are, the more connected they’re likely to feel. So give them ways to get involved.
Beyond running contests, think about how to include fans in some of the more day-to-day things. For instance, asking them their opinion on two potential single covers, a few different merch designs, or what song they want to see more of in your live set.
Talk to your fans. They’ll tell you what they want, and they’ll love that you cared enough to ask.
7. Create a podcast
Now here’s a great way to step outside your comfort zone, have some fun, and get in front of a completely new audience. It’s also something I honestly don’t see many (really any) bands doing, and I can’t understand why.
First of all, the podcast shouldn’t be about your band. It can (and probably should) be in some way tied to the music industry, but if it’s all about your band, it’s probably going to be pretty boring to those that aren’t already fans of your music, and that’s who we want to target! (You can trust your current fans will already tune in.)
Again, think about your brand, think about what you care about, and then create a podcast about it. Maybe it’s a 15-minute weekly recap of all the music news you care about and your thoughts on it. Maybe you’re a band that is heavily involved in politics so it’s a 30-minute recap of the week in politics and your take. Or perhaps it’s a 45-minute weekly case study on a band you love and how they changed your life with the opportunity to invite guest hosts and guest bands on. (Collaboration opportunities!)
There are so many cool ways to do this, and they all involve garnering new fans while reigniting the spark with old ones.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more, as well as the Director of Community and Events for Music Launch Co. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.