I’m going to use the platform of “The Thinking Drummer” to write about music marketing, something I’ve stayed away from in the past. But the truth is, all of us drummers, and all of us musician types need to know about marketing (and that’s a BIG understatement). I get asked about it a lot, and I know a little something about it, having built BANG! The Drum School from scratch and from previously working at Sony Music for 12 years (yes, really, I did that, although I don’t write about it much). OK, enough about me; let’s talk marketing.
I’ve noticed that a lot of bands and musicians spend the majority of their marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. Many do not have a website. Let me repeat this. I’m seeing a lot of musicians who use social media for their marketing and do not have a website. This is a huge mistake and very risky.
Sure, you should spend time marketing through social media. But, don’t put all of your energy there. If you do, it’s as if you are a farmer and you plant all your crops on someone else’s land. If you did that, the land owner could simply decide not to rent the land to you, putting you out of business! The land owner could also change the rules on you; telling you what chemicals you were allowed to use on the land while growing your crops. Or, the land owner could change the price you pay for using the land. You see where I’m going? You have no real control over your destiny when you don’t own the land yourself.
Remember when you had to have a profile on MySpace? Yup. Now it’s irrelevant. You probably benefitted from using MySpace at its peak, but now it’s toast. The point is, some of the social networks you focus on now are eventually going to go bye-bye. I can’t tell you which ones, and it certainly seems unlikely that Facebook is going anywhere anytime soon, but why would you put the future of your band squarely in Facebook’s hands, and Facebook’s hands only?
When the social media networks change their rules (and they have), who knows how that will impact what you’re doing? For example, on Facebook, there was a time, long ago, when you could reach a lot of people for free. Those days are long gone! The fact is that only a small number of those who “like” your page will ever see your content in their feeds and in order to change that, you have to pay cold hard cash (ie “Boost” your posts).
Facebook changed the rules such that your organic reach potential on the platform has decreased in a very significant way. So what should you do?
The center of your band’s online marketing world should be your website. I’m frankly shocked that many bands with significant followings actually don’t have one. Your website is your hub. It’s where you can create the exact look you want, and present your music and information and imaging exactly the way you want. You can’t do that on any of the social networks. Create content that brings people to your website. Blog. Use the social media outlets to draw them to you. How did you find this article? Many of you found it on Facebook. See how this works?
Your website belongs to you and if you want to have total control over it, don’t use Squarespace or Wix or WordPress.com. Make a website and have it hosted independently of these other businesses. What if Squarespace or Wix go out of business? Then you’ll have that same Myspace problem again. You want total control of your website.
The other key to all of this–and this is really important–is your email list. Your email list is your most important marketing asset. You control it and you own it. You DIRECTLY contact your fans and tell them where and when your next show is or when your album is coming out. You can sell merch via your email list. Your website and your email list are way more important than Facebook!
If you are an indie artist and building your band’s career from the ground up, then you will want to take control and ownership of these important assets yourself. Don’t plant your crops on someone else’s land, get your website and email list in order. You won’t regret it.