​Guess what I'm tired of hearing?

And it drives me nuts because it comes from people who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

It’s this:

Musicians that think they don’t need a website.

And they’re usually the same people that like to add that you don’t need a mailing list.

They don’t know what they’re talking about.

And, because of this thinking, it’s likely that they’ll never succeed in building a career or becoming a full-time musician.

But, want to know a secret?

And, it’s a fact…..

Any musician who is creating great music is able to build the career that they want if they just acquire the knowledge, skills and opportunity that the internet has unleashed - and actually use them!


It doesn’t matter where you are right now and it doesn’t matter what type or scale of career you think you should be working towards.

If you build the foundation of a system that can drive the growth of your fanbase you will be able to make money from music.

That means being able to do what you love to do for a living!

You can be a successful hobbyist musician, or you can be a lifelong DIY musician and you can ditch your day job and, if it’s your dream, even get a record deal - although you’ll never need one.

Can this really be true?

It’s happening right now for countless artists who have embraced this new reality.

Unfortunately, most musicians are still blind to it and ignore the simple path that is in front of them.

Check this out:

The digital age freed up the means of production and distribution some time ago, breaking the stranglehold on getting your music recorded and available to the world - something that had previously been reserved to record labels.

Now that you can record and produce to a world class level at home (maybe even just on the phone in your pocket!), that barrier is removed.

You are also now able to get your music distributed to every corner of the globe in a heartbeat - there’s worldwide digital and physical distribution just a click away and the battle to get your release racked in a record store is just another distant memory.

The only problem left?

Discovery.

All You Need Is To Be Discovered!

This is the critical thing you need to understand - that’s been solved too!

The internet age has now given every musician control over this as well - you can now be in charge of your own discovery.

And it’s the final piece of the puzzle.

You can now build a system that enables you to find and focus on your ideal fans, force them to discover you and your music (whilst they will feel that they discovered you naturally), and then bond with them and turn them into buyers and super fans.

Your band website and fan email list is the engine that powers this system.

Bear with me, because I’m going to show you exactly how you can do that and place this engine at the heart of your career.

This diagram shows how a DIY musician can build an engaged and supportive fanbase. We’ll look at the stages later in this post, so stick with me and we’ll come back to it.

DIY musician fan funnel

But, before we get to that, let’s look at what happens if you don’t have a website and email list to underpin your music marketing efforts.

How To Fail In Music​

Imagine this.

You’ve beavered away for a year or more on a new record.

You get set to release it, but then you realise that you have no website and no mailing list of fans who you’ve engaged with in depth over the course of the making of your record.

But, hey, it’ll be OK as you’ve got a few thousand Facebook fans and a good chunk of Twitter followers.

News flash:

This is not going to end well!

You post to Facebook that your album is out and ask people to buy it on iTunes. Your Mom does and maybe a few friends.

A couple of months later, it’s all over and you get a cheque for $14.37 from Tunecore.

You give up - this music thing just ain’t gonna work out.

band website income

​​Royalty insight supplied by Yojance  https://yojance.online/

https://yojance.online/

But, it’s not just you and it’s not really your fault.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that you didn't work out who your tribe was and you didn’t seek them out.

The problem is that you didn’t tell the story of your musical journey.

The problem is that you didn’t set a goal and devise a plan to get there.

The problem is that you didn’t build a community around your tribe and the culture that they already embrace.

The problem is that you don’t have a group of fans who’ve followed your progress and who are invested in your success.

The problem is that Facebook won’t show your post about your new album to all your followers so only a few hundred saw it....at best.

The problem is that you don’t have a place to call your own where you can control the environment for the people interested in what you do.

​​The problem is that you did too little, too late.

The problem began because you don’t have a musician website and you don’t have a fan email list - you don’t have the engine you need for fanbase growth.

And that means that you didn’t build a relationship with an audience that was ready to support your release and your career.

The ‘Old’ Music Business

Rewind - let me go back a step.

I’ll agree that it is possible for you to have success as a musician and artist without a website and without a mailing list.

On one hand, you'll need the level of luck that makes the chance of buying a winning lottery ticket look commonplace, and a route to success that will probably be a TV talent show or some other media circus that gives you a platform.

And, even then, the odds of you having a long term career are slim to none - partly because you don’t ‘pay your dues’ in that reality TV lottery, but also because the rapid success from the instant over-exposure means there’s no diehard fanbase built up over years to stick with you in the long term.

On the other hand, your path can still come from a major record label that’s going to invest millions of dollars into launching your career and it remains true that mainstream radio (now backed by streaming playlists) can still make you ‘blow up’’.

It’s ridiculous for me to deny that those deals don’t still happen, because we all know that they do.

There are globally successful artists that seem to come from nowhere. Where it looks as if all the heavy lifting has been done by a label and management team and this superstar appears fully formed.

Look:

It’s never like that.

These pop icons we see astride the top of the charts have travelled a long hard road, although it may seem that they have often done so outside of the path this article says you must take.

No matter how these superstars made the connection that gave them the break that started their route to success, they almost always had to generate a significant ‘buzz’ before they attracted the attention that got them that deal.

Hustling to connect with world-class writers and producers, honing your craft in secret, grasping at chances to network your way to a place at the table, knocking down the door of a truly powerful manager or exec - all of that is something that you could do.

And it just might work.

By all means, hustle like crazy while also following the proven strategy I’m setting out here - who knows you could just get lucky!

But, face facts.

You shouldn't be in the ‘hope’ business!

We’re heading towards Eight Billion people on this planet and a whole chunk of them are trying to compete with you for that kind of a break.

Even if we say that there’s only a few million people aiming for that kind of deal at any given time, how many artists get that kind of deal and support?

It's a handful.

Your chances are worse than slim.

That’s the ‘old’ music business.

And it’s a terrible plan for you.

The ‘New’ Music Business


What if that isn’t what you want for your music career anyway?

Because, make no bones about it, that Old Music Business deal is all about the business and they are all about making money from you and your music.

That music business is not about your art, your talent and your place in history.

It’s only about the Major Label bottom line.

There is another whole world that does care about what you do, the music you want to make, how you want to present it, how you want it to be judged and how you want to be remembered.

There is nothing wrong with ‘settling’ for a music career that makes all the money you could possibly need, that allows you to be a full-time musician and that gives you the freedom to create whatever music you want to make.

It’s a weird anomaly of the music business that people are judged as failing by some of their peers and their friends and family unless they make it to the very top.

We don’t judge each other in the same way if we choose to be a doctor, a lawyer, a trucker or a fireman.

We don’t denigrate the success of the chef who ‘only’ makes it to be a respected cook in their home town.

It’s ludicrous.

You can define your music success.

It should be what you want it to be.

But you also don’t have to settle for anything less than the goal for which you aim.

You might just want to make music for fun. For you and a few close friends and family.

Go ahead.

That’s cool.

You might love your day job but long to play a handful of sell out shows with your band every year, or maybe just release an album now and again.

You might have a family and kids and wish you’d ‘made it’ before they came along. You can’t go on the road but you still make music in the basement. You might long to sell that music and make a living from it.

It’s not too late.

You can.

You might want to be a fully fledged DIY musician. A term that’s now widely understood and a true path to musical and financial fulfillment that’s well proven.

And, yes, you might even want to pursue that record deal and become globally successful.

And that’s fine too (but if you follow the advice here you should realise that you truly won’t ever need to do an ‘Old’ Music Business deal!).

But, of course, following this strategy is the most likely way to get to that mainstream success because the Old Music Business is only interested today in those who have shown that they have built something themselves.

Here’s the truth.

Whatever you want to achieve in music, the ‘New’ Music Business is the way to do it.

It is, without any doubt, your best shot.

Two Rules of the ‘New’ Music Business

There are only two things that you have to accept.

It’s critical that I admit, and you understand, that the first rule of the New Music Business is that there is no ‘one way’ to build your own successful career.

You can get to your goal on any number of paths.

For some it’ll be relentless gigging and for others it will be some way of leveraging YouTube - let alone the myriad ways smart artists will devise to engineer a route to the success they need.

But, get this:

Just because you can and should work out how you can build your career in your unique way, that’s very different from saying that you shouldn’t trust a proven strategy.

And that’s where the second rule comes in.

The New Music Business is all about building a fanbase yourself.

​Not waiting for fans to come to you through a lucky break from radio play or a press review that you can’t control.

Not trusting to luck and hope and wishing that something (anything!) might kickstart your career.

Not failing to have a strategy and a plan at all!

The opposite.


It’s this:

Taking the responsibility for finding your fans and turning them into your supporters is how you take control of your career - that’s where you force them to discover you.

And, the long time proven strategy that enables every musician to do that is by driving potential fans to a website where you can add them to a fan email list.

In fact, that’s the mechanics of the strategy and that’s why a band website and fan email list are critical to your success.

But that isn’t the strategy itself.

The strategy itself is the engagement of those fans and fostering them into a community that becomes your fanbase.

And there are changes to your mindset and your marketing and promotion tactics that you’ll need to embrace in order to succeed with this strategy.

All the while, do not allow yourself to forget that this is the only strategy any musician needs in order to build the career that they deserve.

The two examples I just gave of playing a lot of shows or busting your ass on YouTube (and any other ways to reach fans that you can think of) will be easier to build on and deliver better results if you put your efforts on a solid foundation of a band website and fan email list.

As I admitted, the Old Music Business deals do still exist, but even if that is your aim, your chances of getting one of those will be greatly increased if you take charge of your fanbase yourself.

If you don’t, then the most likely result is that you’ll keep spinning your wheels and not giving your music a chance to succeed.

It’s up to you - of course.

You can keep doing what you’re doing and wait to be discovered (i.e. live in hope, but with no plan).

Or, you can get a plan, find an audience, build a fanbase and get a successful music career.

Perfect Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance​

There’s a bunch of versions of that statement above and I don’t know if my version is the definitive quote, but it’s easy to remember and it’s a lesson that took me years to learn.

Every. Single. Time. That I messed up a record release it was because I didn’t have the plan for the release worked out and all the moving parts in place.

Every. Single. Time. That I had a plan in place, we delivered a successful release!

And, it will be the same for you and your career.

This is another way of saying you need to get a plan.

That plan starts with a goal.

Until you’ve decided what the success of your music career looks like and means to you, you cannot even begin to expect any success.

You’ll no doubt have heard the old adage that, “you can’t hit a moving target”.

Obvious, right?

But also critical!

So this is where you start, with a goal.

Your goal.

What does music success mean to you right now?

You can have multiple goals.

Short term, medium and long term. Six months, one year, five years.

However it makes sense for you to make it stack up in your head.

But they should be S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Like the graphic says, making each goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound you make it something you can now aim at and can build a plan to get you there.

​A SMART goal is not, “I want to be a superstar”, since it’s not a single specific result, has no time frame and is probably not attainable, although it might just meet the other two criteria.

Conversely, “I will release an album and sell 1,000 copies on CD within the next 12 months” is a great SMART goal for your ‘Year One’ of your focussed career in the New Music Business.

It is specific, so it can be measured, it is definitely achievable, it’s relevant and has a time limit to set you some urgency to get on with it.

That goal could well be framed within a longer term goal such as, ”I will have 25,000 fans on my email list and crowdfund my second album from that fanbase and make a $50,000 profit with a single email to them in less than three years.”

Again, that  meets all the SMART goal criteria and, again, is totally realistic for a DIY musician.

Imagine this.

A further goal for your five year mark could realistically be, ”My third album release will generate a profit of $250,000 and support a sell out nationwide tour of 1000 capacity venues within 5 years.”

Dream it. Plan it. Do it.

So how is having a website and a fan email list going to make all this happen?

Your Music Success Foundation​

Before I share with you the band website and fan email system, you need to take another step back and make yourself ready.

In order to be able to do the things that you’ve set as your goals, you have to become the person that can do them.

New age nonsense or mindset, knowledge and skills training?

It’s the latter.

Your band website and fan email list are the tools of a smart self driven artist who understands that the obligation to market and promote their career is on their own shoulders.

You have no choice but to learn how to be a marketer.

That’s what you will have to become.

But you will also have to become the artist that your fans want to follow.

Fans don’t follow musicians because of a few songs or because of a great voice. That has an integral part to play for sure (and you cannot escape the need to be exceptional!), but the relationship is built on the fan buying into what the artist is about and feeling a connection.

As an artist you have a sense of your place in music and you have things that you stand for and that you stand against - that’s part of your story.

That doesn’t mean you create distance between you and your fans, nor does it mean being impersonal.

In fact, the New Music Business requires you to be a lot more personal in your interaction with your fans.

What it means is that you act and present yourself as an artist. As the artist that your fans expect you to be.

It begins with great music, but it’s about so much more.

The 8 Pillars Of Your Music Success Foundation

Here’s where you get everything straight and create the foundation for your music success.

These are the things that you have to get right, that you need as your music success foundation, before you start implementing any strategy to build your fanbase - before you build your band website and fan email list and before you switch on the engine for your fanbase growth.

[19/10/2017, 19:49:28] Ian Clifford: Sunil just popped up and said he's off for Diwali
[19/10/2017, 19:49:30] travski: are you in the backend?
[19/10/2017, 19:49:33] Ian Clifford: no
[19/10/2017, 19:49:36] travski: ok
[19/10/2017, 19:49:41] Ian Clifford: I'm off
[19/10/2017, 19:49:43] Ian Clifford: laterz
[19/10/2017, 19:49:50] travski: im out all day tomoz
[19/10/2017, 19:49:55] Ian Clifford: Oh yeah
[19/10/2017, 19:50:04] Ian Clifford: Call mike now
[19/10/2017, 19:50:08] travski: all sorted
[19/10/2017, 19:50:08] Ian Clifford: just make sure he's set
[19/10/2017, 19:50:12] travski: i have
[19/10/2017, 19:50:12] Ian Clifford: WhatsApp message
[19/10/2017, 19:50:16] travski: all done
[19/10/2017, 19:50:18] Ian Clifford: he knows where it is and what time
[19/10/2017, 19:50:21] travski: yes
[19/10/2017, 19:50:24] Ian Clifford: Call started
[19/10/2017, 19:51:23] Ian Clifford: https://www.facebook.com/damokeyes/
[19/10/2017, 19:56:19] Ian Clifford: https://www.facebook.com/damokeyes/
[19/10/2017, 20:05:24] Ian Clifford: The 8 Pillars Of Your Music Success Foundation
music maketing foundation

1. You Must Have Great Music​

I wrote about how you can tell if your music is good enough in a post a long time ago.

The advice hasn’t changed.

‘Good enough’ isn’t good enough.

Your music has to be amazing.

How do you know if it’s amazing?

Because it gets an emotional reaction.

Simple as that.

If people hear your music and immediately try to share it with their friends and want to take ownership of their new music discovery then what you’re doing is great!

If you get non-committal reactions, then you almost certainly aren’t.

OK, it might be that the people you’re playing your music to simply don’t ‘get it’ so you need to make sure that you’re playing it to people who understand your genre, but that should be obvious.

What if your music isn’t ready?

is my music good enough

You can still work through the other steps of creating a foundation for your music success but you must also concentrate your efforts on developing your craft.

Write more songs, record more tracks, identify your weakness and work to improve.

Try and find help or collaborators that can up your game.

Don’t give up.

Not everybody who is reading this is ready.

Everybody who reads this can become ready.

Understanding the other elements that an artist needs to build as a foundation can actually help you improve the music itself.

Better insight about your niche, developing a coherent brand and building community may all help you look inward at your art with more clarity and purpose and you might find the greatness of your music as you develop.

This is also true:

You cannot expect to build the career you want unless your music is great but you can take the last steps to making great music in front of the people who will become your fans.

They can come on that journey with you.

But, make no mistake, in the end, great music is the bassline.

The starting point.

Without it you cannot have the career you want.

There’s a great quote about music that I’ve heard repeated by various people but this version is attributable to Ari Herstand:

​“Until people hear your music, music is the last thing that matters and once they hear it, it’s the only thing that matters.”

2. Telling Your Story As A Musician​

You might have heard this before and not given it enough thought:

People don’t fall in love with an artist on the strength of the music alone - even if it’s great.

They might love a particular song and begin to engage with the artist because of the first great music they hear from them, but committed and engaged fans are built because they connect with your story.

Sure, your music has to be great - that’s a given.

But when your music comes with a story it has so much more power.

So, what the hell does that mean?

What is a musician's’ story?

The story is the thing you tell your friends when you explain why they should listen to a new artist you’ve just fallen in love with.

All humans have been telling stories since we learned to talk. It’s natural and it’s how we give context to everything that we talk about.

You will be able to find your story.

Here’s a few to make you think.

Although it’s now been told in so many variations, the story of Elvis was always intertwined with the tale of his discovery when he went to the Memphis Recording Service to record a demo for his mother. Later events such as meeting Colonel Tom Parker, the Army draft and the Comeback Special all built on earlier chapters.

The Beatles story is wrapped up in the legend of their time learning their craft in Hamburg and emerging as a perfectly honed live unit with the interplay of two great songwriters.

You immediately had a feel for what they would be like and why you needed to check them out.

Much more recently, Macklemore came complete with a story of struggles with addiction, fighting against huge adversity and failure and then eventually building a unique path to success outside the mainstream music industry.

Or how about The Weeknd?

Some guy you’ve never heard of drops three free albums in the space of a few months. Drake tweets about him and nobody can find out any more about the shadowy persona behind this pile of great music.

All of these, are great stories.

You might try and convince yourself that Adele, Beyonce, Coldplay and lots of mainstream pop artists don’t have a story - but they do.

All of them.

In some cases you’ll have to dig deeper to find it as the story that helped them at the start sometimes gets eclipsed by stellar success, but it's always there.

And you need one too!

What is it that will compel people to tell their friends about you and explain why they must listen to your music?

Start with ‘Who, What and Why’.

Who are you, what do you do and why do you do it?

Ask the same of all your music - what is it about, who is it for and why is it like it is?

Often this will be enough to form the bare bones of your story all by itself.

But, your story also needs to be emotional, novel and memorable.

It should have tragedy and triumph and it should also fit within the culture of you genre.

story for your music

It can challenge a paradigm within that culture (for example you might be a folk act who use electric instruments) but it should not be such a challenge that it will cause a disconnect with your target audience.

The story that you build for you and your music should also create an instant picture of your music in the mind of the people who hear others talking about you - just from the story, before they hear any of the music.

So, a story that you are a singer songwriter who has played across the country and now have a debut album release - is not a story.

Whereas, the fact that you learned Bluegrass from your Grandpa by crouching at his feet on his stoop as he taught you the rhythm and chords when you were only knee high - that’s the start of a story!

If you wrote the album about him just after he passed away, played that same guitar on it and recorded it in that same cabin - now I’m getting really interested.

Plus, I can kinda hear the record in my head before I’ve heard a note.

If what I hear matches the picture conjured up by the story, I am going to love it all the more!

It’s worth remembering that many stories you heard about great bands turned out to not be entirely true.

A little mystery and a little embellishment is fine, as long as you can back it up.

Your story will likely also illustrate what you stand for and what you stand against. We all take a stand on something in our life and it’s probable that your music and your story will naturally have this element.

That doesn’t mean you have to take a position on something as controversial as politics. It just means making it clear what things affect the decisions you take, having a set of principles and knowing your own boundaries

Remember that Press and Radio care about the one thing that they can write about.

So do your future fans!

What makes you different? What makes you special?

Give them that in your story.

3. Define Your Niche​

This is the third pillar of the foundation of your music success, but perhaps the most important advice that any musician can take on board.

Your talent is not enough.

Great music is not enough - as I’ve said several times already, that’s just the bassline starting position.

You need to have thought about your story too, before you got to this stage, but understanding how you fit into a niche will inform everything else you do.

Why You Must Pick A Niche

It is completely natural to think that you should try to appeal to everyone.

That by trying to reach everyone, some people will somehow get to hear about you and they will become your fans.

Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that!

There is simply too much noise and, without the resources of a major label, it is impossible to get heard by everyone.

Sure, that’s how pop artists with a major label deal break through - mass exposure to all and sundry through massive mainstream media exposure and million dollar marketing spends, but you don’t have that leverage.

And, by trying to appeal to everyone, in fact, you end up appealing to no-one!

success as niche musician

Why does 'niche marketing' work?

Think about how businesses work and how they ‘niche down’ to find a place where they can stand out and excel.

Established behemoths like Coca-Cola, Google, Disney, McDonalds, Ikea, Fedex, Lego, Hoover and Netflix primarily focus on one thing, and they then do it extremely well.

Indeed, some of those do that one thing so well that their brand name becomes a verb that we use to describe their niche activity, even if we don’t use their service or product.

Most of us will say that we’ll ‘hoover’ our house when we mean we’ll use the vacuum cleaner.

Or we may say we’ll ‘fedex’ a package when, in fact, we might use UPS!

These businesses have defined their niche so well that we know exactly what they do and why we would use them.

Let’s look at an example.

Netflix is a great case in point since it dominates a sub-niche (or, if you like, a ‘micro-niche’) - we all know exactly what it does and now it’s starting to make waves in other niches that are related to and support its core business.

You could define Netflix as being in Entertainment > Home Entertainment > Streaming Home Entertainment > Video Streaming Home Entertainment

They dominate Video Streaming Home Entertainment!

That series of niches shows how they have positioned themselves and niched down into a sub-niche and micro-niche.

And, of course, they also switched from ‘Home DVD Rental’ (in which they had their own unique ‘twist’ because they posted you DVD’s - how quaint!) and pretty much created and were first in that specific micro-niche of Video Streaming Home Entertainment.

But now they are also making waves in other sub-niches of Entertainment - making their own TV shows and movies and taking on cable providers.

The point is that they started and continue to be the big fish in the niche they set out to target.

They then spread from there.

Another example that I really like is a growing hair salon chain in the US called ‘Drybar’.

I like it as a further example as their sub-niche or micro-niche clearly illustrates the appeal and power of doing something very specific rather than general.

Drybar is a hair salon chain that only offers a blow dry service to women that is commonly called a ‘blowout’.

They are very successful and expanding very fast.

You could define Drybar as being in Beauty > Hair and Beauty > Haircare > Hair Salon > Blowout Hair Salon.

All of a sudden, by focusing on that micro-niche of just being a ‘Blowout Hair Salon’ they totally avoid comparison and competition with every other hair salon in the US.

Their service is (as I’m told!) excellent and what they offer is super clear to their target audience.

Very quickly, if you’re looking for a place that excels at the ‘blowout’ and Drybar have a location in your town, that is where you will go.

The other local hair salons are out of the picture!

As they put it themselves, they are, “Blowing and Growing!”

They have targeted a very small specific sub-niche or micro-niche and have created a position for themselves where they stand alone, above the noise, and become the natural choice when people look for their service.

In other words they are the proverbial ‘big fish in a small pond’.

musician big fish small pond

This is why you, as a musician, band, or artist, need to define your niche.

Instead of competing with all the other fish in a vast sea, you need to find your own pond, avoid all the other fish and you’ll be swimming free.

This clearly makes you a lot easier to find and you also avoid being eaten by all the sharks!

And, sure, Coca-Cola now makes other soft drinks as well as Coke and Google now has other services as well as Google Search and Disney now has theme parks as well as animated movies - but that just further proves my point.

All these businesses drilled right down and became brilliant at one thing, dominated it and became the ‘go to’ brand for what they do.

Later, they expanded out of their sub niche or micro-niche, and began to attract customers from wider niches.

So, you might think that your music can appeal to everyone - that you just ‘have great songs, man’.

Well, you might have incredible music, but that alone isn’t going to help you build a fanbase, and that’s not what the example of these businesses teaches you.

The truth is that you and your music fit into a niche.

In fact, into a sub-niche or what I’ve been referring to above as a ‘micro-niche’.

Another way of looking at it as a musician is that you need to identify the ‘tribe’ of people to whom your music appeals and you can do so by working out what demographic and psychographic that group of people fit.

You need to understand where you fit and what that tribe is like so that you can market and promote your music directly to them.

You’re not going to break through with mainstream radio and press because you simply cannot afford that without the backing of a major label.

Instead, you need to identify and target the core group of people that will already be primed to like the genre and style of music that you make.

Do not think of this as narrowing your audience or limiting your success.

It’s the opposite.

This niche is where you build your foundation.

If and when you conquer this niche you can move up the rungs of the ladder and conquer those wider niches and your whole genre as well - just like the businesses that start in a niche have been able to do.

But, if you don’t focus on this smaller sub-niche first you can’t dominate and you’re almost guaranteed to be condemned to fail as you’re drowned out by all the noise of all the bands competing with a scatter gun approach across a broad and ill-defined genre.

How To Define Your Niche​

The trick is to make sure that you don’t make up some crazy non-existent idea of a niche within your genre and think that will make sense to your potential fans.

That would be dumb.

Spotify uses nearly 1500 sub-genres (or sub-niches) to break down music by style, genre and niche.

They also have some super weird micro-niches.

Oddly, they don’t really publicise this genre list but you can find it by referencing the incredible resource at Every Noise.

We’ll be coming back to that later, but it’s basically an effort to delve deeper into and make sense of what they call the ‘music genre space’ as tracked by Spotify.

Remember that what you need to do, just like those businesses, is identify a sub-niche or micro-niche where you and your music naturally fit.

So that doesn’t mean making up your own niche.

You could, (if you were an idiot!) try and reference yourself as ‘Acoustic Folk Vegan Bluegrass Punk Disco’.

Like I said - that would be stupid.

Partly because I can’t imagine such a thing, but more so because your music genuinely cannot be a mish mash of incompatible styles.

You’ll find, as you try to work out where you fit, that you will slot into a sub-niche of a genre and, perhaps (but not necessarily) you’ll have your own extra angle or twist on what has gone before that will make you truly unique.

You don’t need to be completely unique and, in fact, that’s not what you should necessarily aim for, but, instead you should be looking to find the smallest already referenced sub-niche or micro-niche that exists into which you can fit.

How do you know if the micro-niche you fit in exists?

Let me list the ways!

But first, a couple of quick guidelines.

Firstly, all niches sit within a genre.

The genres are the biggies - rock, pop, hip-hop, electronic and so on.

It’s important to realise that there is no one correct set of genres.

Endless different books, magazine or websites will set out different genres and sub-genres and niches and sub-niches.

Take all of these as a guide and work out your own route to your particular sub-niche or micro-niche.

For example some would argue that metal is a genre all it’s own whilst others would say it’s a sub-genre (or sub-niche) of rock.

It doesn’t really matter since what you need to focus on is going as far down the ‘niche funnel’ as is necessary to find a place that you can call home, stand out in, dominate and later grow from.

Clearly, if you are a ‘drone metal’ band (whatever that actually is!) you’ll excel in that scene, but over time, you’ll pick up fans who like the wider genre of ‘doom metal’, as well as the genre of ‘heavy metal’ and even fans who like the whole ‘rock genre’, but don’t identify with your original micro-niche of ‘drone metal’ in any way!

heavy metal micro-niche

​Credit ‘3-Chord Dorks’ - http://www.3chorddorks.com/

And, secondly, you could, but do not need to, add your own twist to your sub-niche to make an even more specific micro-niche.

That might be something to do with your location (‘British drone metal’) or a little twist (not too much though!) that you’ve added and which is likely to borrow from a somewhat related sub-genre or sub-niche.

So, following that metal example, you could be a drone metal band who also borrows stylistically from another offshoot of metal such as Gothic metal - making your near unique twist that you are Gothic drone metal.

Don’t take this as a definitive niche definition, but Black Sabbath might just fit that description of Gothic Drone metal - particularly when they started out, but they clearly rose up the ‘niche ladder’ over their career to appeal to generic heavy metal and even mainstream rock fans.

Whenever I talk about defining your niche to musicians I always end up talking about Goth music, simply because for me (probably due to my age and teenage listening!) it’s very easy to visualise.

So let’s touch on my favourite illustrative niche!

A Goth band might decide that their micro-niche within Goth is something called ‘Neoclassical Darkwave’ - that’s a real micro-niche that people identify with and follow.

They might get to that by running down the niche funnel through sub-genres from Rock > Gothic Rock (Goth) > Darkwave > Neoclassical Darkwave.

You can imagine that this micro-niche is taking elements from Goth but is also darker and more sorrowful with a bit of classical influence - and you’d be close enough. It’s also, take it from me, often characterised by ethereal female vocals.

If you take a look at this really helpful breakdown of Goth genres and culture you’ll find that there’s a healthy number of bands working in this narrow micro-niche and by focusing your band on this sub-genre (if that’s your thing) you will undoubtedly find it easier to be heard and build your success.

Another example that I like is the ‘gypsy punk’ band, Gogol Bordello. Most people have heard of them even though it might only be from their hit song, ‘Start wearing purple’.

Although there are other bands in this micro-niche, Gogol Bordello encapsulate everything that you’d expect that niche to be about, and almost all of it in that one song!

They get to this micro-niche by way of Romani influences (that’s the twist) from Rock > Punk Rock > Melodic Punk > Gypsy Punk.

Again, by diving deep into a tightly focused micro-genre, they step away from all the other derivatives of ‘melodic punk’ and allow themselves to stand out whilst appealing to a specific demographic.

We’ll come back to these niche artist examples in some of the later sections, but how do you actually find the micro-niche in which you fit?

Resources that will reveal your micro-niche​

So back to the list of how you can work out what niche you’re in and whether it really exists.

1. In the ‘metal’ example above I added links to Wikipedia where there are endless definitions of music genres, sub-genres and so on.

That’s a great place to start - take a look at their top level genre page here and work your way down through the sub-links to sub-genres that you think apply to you.

Make some notes about which sub-genres (sub-niches) you can see that you have some commonality with.

ist of music niches

2. Bandcamp has a great headline list of genres that you are forced to make your music fit into when you set up a bandcamp page.

When you start off with an artist profile you have to pick one of the 27 genres that they specify as your ‘headline’ genre and this controls where your music will be placed in ‘Bandcamp Discover’.

You can then delve deeper within Bandcamp Discover. If you click on a main genre you’ll see the sub-genres that bandcamp themselves acknowledge.

But you can then go deeper by looking at the ‘tags’ that artists have used to identify themselves into even smaller micro-niches.

This is a great place to hunt around and you can also approach it from the angle of looking at what genre bands who you think are similar to you have placed themselves in.

bandcamp niches

If you’re making any kind of electronic music, you can do something similar by visiting beatport’s charts area where they list charts for their main genres and then you can click through to sub-genres from there.

Here you’d easily be able to work out that a valid micro-niche for an artist such as Jamie Jones would be Electronic Music > House > Deep House > Tropical House

3. Ask your fans!

This could be a revelation, but the people who already like you and your music will have an opinion (and probably a pretty strong opinion) of what you are.

Don’t ask them what genre or niche they think you fit in - they’ll think you’re weird!

Instead, ask them to describe your music.

They might start off telling you who you sound like - that’s brilliant information to have as they may compare you to artists that you wouldn't have thought of and knowing that can be very useful when it comes to your social media activity and targeting fans for your future discovery efforts.

Keep a list of those bands they’re telling you that you are like and refer back to it.

Of course, you can also go and work out how you would define the micro-niche for each of those bands yourself and see how and whether you can fit there.

But, also, ask them to describe your music without using comparisons to other artists.

Ask your fans to tell you what type of music they think you make.

See if there are common words or descriptions that crop up regularly and use this to hone your micro-niche definition.

4. Apple Music has a complete list of genres that they use when you have your music listed on their digital store or streaming service.

You can find that here.

It’s not as comprehensive as some of the lists you’ll find but, if you already have a deal with a digital distributor (such as CDBaby, Tunecore or similar) they will have requirements for genre definitions that you have to adhere to when you submit your music for listing. Ask them for their complete list.

5. Use EveryNoise.

EveryNoise is probably my favourite resource for delving deep into music sub-niches and micro-niches and for really digging out the secret little corners of the world of music and finding the bands that live there!

It is a tool that exists to allow you to navigate the genres that Spotify use to list your music, but you don’t need to be on Spotify to use this as a research tool.

There’s two basic ways to use EveryNoise.

The first way is to visit the homepage of the site. This lists all the genres that they know Spotify use, listed down the page in popularity order.

You can find that page here.

But, here’s the gold:

As you scroll down that list, you can click on any sub-genre and the site will re-order the genres in a new order that places that sub-niche at the top with the nearest related other sub-niches listed in order below it, and, it will show you a Spotify playlist of tracks and artists that Spotify has placed in that micro-niche.

Make sure that you do this!

You’ll get a goldmine of ideas about your place in the world of micro-niches and sub-genres but you’ll also get a killer truck load of information about the artists and bands that you’re sharing your micro-niche with - and that is invaluable as you later target people who you want to drive to discover you and your music.

The second way to use EveryNoise is to use this ‘genre map’.

This blows my mind!

You start with a map of all the genres known to EveryNoise as a ‘scatter map’.

You can click on any genre to hear a sample of an artist in that genre and then you can click through to each sub-genre and micro-niche to see which bands fit into that genre.

This is therefore an artist led approach to looking deeper into sub-niches, but, as I’ve said above, you can learn a huge amount from seeing which bands sit in a smaller niche and can then dig through the other tools listed to make sense of what that means for you and your music.

Be warned - you can spend hours in the genre map, but that’s no bad thing!

music genre map

click to enlarge

6. Use Music Map.

Music Map is very similar to EveryNoise, but it focuses on the relationship between artists.

So, if you know an artist that is in your micro-niche you can enter their name and search in Music Map and find all artists that are considered similar or related.

This can obviously help you in finding out more about the bands in your sub-genre and gives you other bands to talk about in your community and who you can research for branding purposes, as we’ll see later.

However, critically, this is another great place to build up the lists of bands that you can use as targeting for your advertising when you have everything in your foundation locked down.

music map music niche research

click to enlarge

7. There are some other great music genre lists at AllMusic here, and at Music Genre Lists here.

And I’m sure you can find more!

Don’t lose sight of the aim here.

The thing that you need to do is work out a tightly defined micro-niche into which you and your music fits so that you can stand out in a place where people are looking for music just like yours.

You can also build up a huge list of similar and related artists that is going to be very useful in other stages of building your music success foundation but also for when you need to start using Facebook advertising.

Check that your micro-niche exists!​

When you’ve got a micro-niche definition that you think both fits and makes sense in the real world, you should check to see whether there really are people looking for music in that micro-niche.

In other words, does that genre really exist?

There’s a bunch of ways that you can do this and, in fact, this doesn’t really need to be a final step in this exercise. It’s more like you’ll do all the things above and this at the same time.

At whatever stage you do them, these are the additional things you should do to make sure you haven’t invented some bonkers oddity of a micro-niche that doesn’t really exist.

Firstly, type the micro-niche you’ve come up with into Google and see if the ‘Google suggest’ feature agrees with you.

google suggest music niche

You might need to play around with the order of your words a few times to make sure that what you’ve come up with exists or not, but if Google is happy to show you results that match your micro-niche definition, then you’re probably good to go.

In the example above, Strahan, a brilliant acoustic folk artist from New Zealand, uses all those terms to describe himself and his music.

I have no idea if he tried to define his micro-niche in such a tight and focused small niche or whether he’s come by it accidentally.

I’ve used it as an example because there’s that ‘angle’ or ‘twist’ that really tells you a bit more about him - the word ‘psalmist’.

I love that, as I didn’t really know what it meant but it piqued my interest.

Sure enough, as I searched and looked into it I found that there are a few folk artists who reference the term, but only a handful.

So, it’s a valid micro-niche and one that he can stand out in.

You can do the same check by searching inside YouTube to see if there are videos (or tags) that match the definition of your micro-niche

On top of that your micro-niche is valid if there are Facebook Groups or Facebook Pages where people discuss it in detail, so look for those.

Are there forums online, are there festivals that just serve this sub-genre or are there even old school fanzines?

I think, by now, that you’ve got the point!

I know this section has been a mammoth one, but that just reflects how seriously you should take this.

You have to be ‘the big fish in a small pond’ and you need to understand exactly where that pond is and which other artists are in it.

Not only will this help you understand the culture of the tribe that you must appeal to but it will also help you place your band within that community in a way that makes sense to those already there.

Of course, you’ll also uncover critical knowledge about the other acts in your micro-niche (and the niches around it and above it on a notional ‘niche ladder’) which will be invaluable in helping you come up with content to use on social media and when using advertising to drive your discovery.

Before you get to that though, you need to use this new found genre and niche insight to inform your brand and branding.

4. Understanding Your Brand

There’s a reason why your brand and your branding is the next thing that you need to nail down.

Your brand and how you present it (that being your ‘branding’) is the fourth pillar of your music success foundation.

You can think of your brand aligned with your great music, your story and your micro-niche as the four corners that hold up the whole proposition for a fan - and they all help create the unique essence of you which you will shape into your brand.

What Is Your Brand?​

Your brand isn’t your image, your photos, your artwork or logo.

That’s all part of your branding, and we’re going to look at the difference between the two in a moment.

You should get a clear understanding of your brand before you work on those elements of your branding, although each can inform the other as you work on nailing both down.

Nonetheless the more you can define your brand before you start choosing imagery, photos, fonts and colours that you’ll use in your branding, the more coherent your overall strategy will be.

So how exactly do you define your brand?

Your brand is what your fan thinks of when they think of you and your music - it’s the total package.

It’s who you are, what your music is like, what you stand for and how you want to be seen - your values and your vision.

That means it’s all the facts that a fan knows about you but it’s also the thoughts they have and the emotion that they feel when they think about you and your story.

It can be thought of as a promise you make to your fans about the experience you will deliver to them.

It’s very important to be aware that your brand is intangible and only exists as a perception in the minds of people when they think about you.

Your branding, on the other hand, is tangible, physical and visible. Your fans see it and it is controlled by you to present your brand in the way you wish to be perceived.

That branding encompasses everything you do - the music, artwork, logo, videos, photos, fonts, staging, stage sets, your style, look and so on.

There’s a great collection of definitions of what both ‘brand’ and branding’ mean in this article that you’ll probably find very helpful.

The explanations of what a brand really is from that post that I find most helpful (paraphrased to apply to music by me) are:


“Brand is the known identity of an artist in terms of what they offer but also the essence of what they stand for in terms of emotional, non tangible concerns.” - Donna Antonucci


“A brand is the essence of one’s own unique story. This is as true for personal branding as it is for business branding. The key, though, is reaching down and pulling out the authentic, unique “you”. Otherwise, your brand will just be a facade.” - Paul Biedermann – re:DESIGN


“A brand is a shorthand marketing message that creates emotional bonds with fans. Brands are composed of intangible elements related to its specific promise, personality, and positioning and tangible components having identifiable representation including logos, graphics, colors and sounds. A brand creates perceived value for fans through its personality in a way that makes it stand out from other similar products.” - Heidi Cohen


Relax - they may come across as too wordy and perhaps even unhelpful, but they also give you some idea of what you need to think of when you’re defining your brand.

Those definitions were all written for businesses and paraphrased by me, but the concepts are exactly the same for you as a musician.

The words that I picked up on in those quotes are ‘essence’, ‘emotion’ and ‘authentic’.

So your brand is you.

It’s the whole thing - you and your music.

And it’s also what comes to mind and how they feel when people think about you.

It’s the image of you and feelings about you that your fans have in their head.

brand strategy for musicians

The brand inside your fan’s mind​


One way to avoid the risk of coming across as an inauthentic or ineffective brand, is to ask others what they think about you.

You can ask your fans what instantly comes to mind when they think of you.

Have them choose some adjectives which they would use to describe you. Group together those adjectives and choose the ones you connect with the most and that you feel encapsulate what you’re truly about.

Some will rather helpfully say, ‘you’ or ‘your music’, but others will start to give you insights about what you mean to them.

And, usually, these statements will relate to the micro-niche you’ve identified and the culture that the people who are part of the community around that sub-genre are likely to be interested in.

What makes up your brand?​

The sentiments that you might get back from your fans will help.

But what else do you need to look at for your brand?

Well, as I said earlier, it’s informed by your music, your story and the micro-niche you’ve identified.

Both your music and the image you project shape your brand. These can be influenced by genre (or niche) as we looked at, but also, when it comes to your music, by production values as well as their inherent quality - there will be a marked difference in the perception of your brand if you opt for ‘lo-fi’ rather than ‘high gloss’ in everything you do.

Most of all, what matters about your brand is what happens inside the mind of your fan when they react to your music, image, principles, actions, your story and every manifestation of your art.

It should encompass your message, making it clear what you’re about but also what makes you unique so that your fans connect with you emotionally.

That’s your brand.

Your Brand Statement​

In business, a brand will often help present itself by working out a brand statement that puts everything they want to say about their brand into one or two sentences.

This might also be referred to as your U.S.P. - your unique selling proposition.

If you think that all sounds a bit corporate, just bear with me.

You'll probably also have heard the expression ‘Elevator Pitch’, which is often mentioned as a way for musicians to define themselves in a phrase that can be blurted out in a short 10-second elevator ride.

They are all pretty much the same thing, although an Elevator pitch will be delivered by you talking about yourself but it will have the same features as a brand statement that you might usually write in the ‘third person’.

Working out how to express who and what you are (your brand) is incredibly useful when it comes to lining up all your marketing and promotion and keeping it all coherent, and having a brand statement or U.S.P. helps, a lot!

There’s many ways to explain what a brand statement should be, but, for musicians, it will end up being a short and clear description of your brand and will take into account all four pillars that we’ve looked at so far, plus, of course, the idea of the brand we’ve just covered.

It needs to say who you are, what you do and what makes you distinctive.

There’s a clear connection between this U.S.P and your story, since so much of the reason why fans will connect with you is based on what your story makes them feel.

One trick that can be helpful is to think of your brand statement as being something you could hear someone saying to their friend who has never heard of you when they try and explain (or justify) why they should listen to you.

That means no flowery or boring words.

More like a sentence or two that could be the answer to the question, ‘Tell me what that band are like again?’.

And write your answer in normal everyday language so you could hear yourself saying it.

Here’s a great example from Entrepreneur magazine that illustrates the difference between clear everyday language and corporate nonsense speak!

Let’s use Santa Claus as an example, because why not.

Here’s one way of presenting Santa’s brand:

Santa Claus is the CEO of a non-profit organization that gives gifts to children globally. With decades of experience in supply chain management and manufacturing technology, Claus has helped turn Christmas into the modern celebration that it is today.

Booooring.

Here’s another way:

Santa Claus is the jolly, grandfatherly figure behind the single biggest gift-giving operation in the world. Known for his spectacular flying reindeer and wacky chimney delivery system, Claus has become a loved cultural icon who’s turned Christmas into the modern celebration that is today.


For an artist, you might go even more everyday.

​‘’Eminem was a kid from a tough neighbourhood who never knew his father and had an unstable childhood. He took up rapping at 14 to escape his turbulent life and after years of hardship was eventually discovered by Dr Dre, broke the mould by being the first credible white hip hop artist and became the overnight sensation and biggest selling rapper of the 2000’s.”

However you approach this, you need to make sure that you are short on hyperbole and as authentic as possible.

Your brand must represent the whole you and your music. It needs to fit with your story and must be in line with the expectations and culture of the micro-niche you have identified.

There’s no doubt that getting the way that you think about your brand and how you present it is probably the hardest of all the steps you need to complete before building your fanbase engine.

But it’s a key step because you’ll use it in your biography, on your band website and in your advertising to attract fans and it is what will come to define you.

But, if understanding your brand and creating a brand statement can be tricky, making sure that your branding is consistent is thankfully way more simple.

Use Consistent Branding​


Consistent branding is all the elements of how you will present your brand to your fans.

I know from years of working with musicians that they usually find the idea of branding far easier to grasp than they do the idea of their brand!

That’s odd because they are two sides of the same coin.

Although it’s true that you should define your brand first, if you really struggle with finding the authentic brand for you, it’s acceptable to move on to the branding and then go back to work on your brand when you have the look and feel of your branding in place.

If doing it that way around helps you uncover the elements that make you unique, then go ahead.

What is your branding?

Your branding is all the elements of you and your work that you present to your fans.

The way that you package your music, your brand and your culture that you create across all your online and offline presence

It needs to be consistent in all your music, your artist imagery, your image itself, your photos, your bio, your logo, your artwork for sleeves, posters and stickers, the colours you use, your website and all your online presence on social media.

It must all fit together.

Marketers would say that everything must be consistent, coherent and congruent!

Basically it’s all got to make sense as a whole, place you in a culture that your tribe will understand and not jar with their preconceptions.

Another way of thinking of it is that you need to present an image that ties up with what they expect a successful artist in that niche to do.

That means that a Goth band should not use pastel colours and soft imagery. They would be expected to use the dark, gothic imagery, fonts and language that you’d see other artists in that niche using.

Just remember that it all has to be consistent and let your fans understand who you are as an artist and it all has to work with your story.

Uncovering the right branding for you​

Lots of the work that you’ve done already will help you know what elements your branding should have.

You’ve identified the micro-niche in which you fit and, along the way (if you didn’t already) you’ll have identified lots of bands in your sub-genre (especially using tools such as EveryNoise).

Now all you need to do is dig deep into your sub-genre and look for common themes in artwork, imagery, logos, fonts and colours.

Start looking at the genre as a whole and the specific bands you know in your niche on sites like Amazon, iTunes and bandcamp - where you can see their album sleeves and where you can click through to look at websites, social media and videos.

Take note of how they dress and how they style their videos, any common imagery, fonts, terminology or elements.

bandcamp discover branding

Most importantly look at as much as you can, including bands that you’ve never heard of and work out what are common elements, but, especially, what are the elements of the branding that you like that you want to use to inform your branding.

You’re going to be living with it so you might as well like it, right?

If you’re lucky you might actually find leads to graphic designers who work in that micro-niche in particular whom you can approach for your logo and album sleeve art.

You are probably already very aware of the themes that your sub-genre uses in their branding, but a little research will make you an expert and ensure that you fit the paradigm that your fans expect.

Once you have the insight that you need for your branding, ensure that you use it across all your online and offline presence.

This is the easiest thing to do.

Just take some part of your imagery - either a band photo or an album sleeve - and use it (reworked to the right proportions and scale and with elements thoughtfully repositioned) as a header on your website, a banner for your Facebook Page or Group, your Twitter profile, your YouTube background and so on.

And, make sure that wherever you have a profile image (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) you use the same image - most likely a great photo of you or your band (or your logo).

This might sound ludicrously obvious but I have lost count of the number of artists who don’t even get this right!

Whenever it feels appropriate use your branding elements in what you do online and offline.

This means flyers for gigs as much as it means self-promotional posts on online platforms.

Remember too that each fan will only see a snapshot of your approach.

They won’t read everything on your band website, they won’t see every Facebook or Instagram post, read every review or look at every tweet, so a small snapshot has to deliver the essence of your story and your branding.

Your potential fan has to understand innately who you are and that you fit in the micro-niche that they love.

Your consistent branding has to tie everything together. Your story has to be in line with the music and the image that it creates within the fan’s mind. And the branding has to be congruent with that as well!

Define who you are. Relate your music, imagery and brand to a tight narrow demographic of people who already love all the bands that you sound like, who are already into everything about the scene in which you fit.

In the end, you have to ensure that all your branding reflects who you are and your music.

Wherever a fan sees some part of your career, whether that is in your artwork or photos, or in a post to social media (as we’ll see), or in a piece of your music, they need to innately understand that it comes from the same artist - the same brand.

And they need to also understand how that branding fits with their own perception of the micro-niche you’re in and the culture that surrounds it.

The consistency in your branding will build trust with your existing fans and brand awareness in those who are just beginning to discover you.

This then ties in with how you place yourself at the centre of the culture and community of your small corner of your genre - your micro-niche.

5. Understand Your Culture And Community​

Think about this for a moment.

How does it feel when somebody says something and you realise instantly that the view they have or the thing that they described is ‘totally your thing’.

It’s as if they’ve read your mind and knew that you would relate to what they were saying with no hesitation.

Well, that's why you’ve just spent an age reading this far and why you’re beginning to understand the importance of knowing your micro-niche, your story and your brand.

The culture of the tribe in your micro-niche will be very specific. It will take elements from the sub-niches around it, but it will have its own peculiarities.

Get this:

Knowing where you fit into the galaxy of music and knowing how to present your brand to a small sub-set of music fans - in a way they will instantly understand - removes all barriers to your acceptance by people who love the genre of music you make.

It places you squarely at the heart of the community that already exists around the culture of that niche.

And, if you behave and present yourself in a way that is consistent with what the members of that community expect of their tribe then you will engage them and win them over easily.

You are still free to carve out your own corner of this micro-niche with your own little twist on the culture, and that might be a smart move to shine a spotlight on your differences, but stay true to the culture of your community at the core of what you do.

So, what does that mean?

Well, let’s look at the Goth genre seeing as I’ve already mentioned it earlier.

Although I will undoubtedly fill this example with cliché (my apologies if you’re a diehard Goth and disagree with me!), bear with me as it illustrates the point I want you to grasp.

If you’re a Neoclassical darkwave Goth band (which was the micro-niche example I used above), you’ve identified yourselves with that sub-genre or micro-niche.

Your music, story and branding should have been informed by the usual style, look and behaviour of artists in that micro-niche.

Now, all you have to do is meet the expectations of that community with your art, with your music and with all the branding that goes with it.

You embrace everything that you know about that culture, you ensure that your branding fits within it and, when you come to dealing with social media (as we’ll see) you both share stuff that resonates with that culture and community and you use your knowledge of it to build your version of that culture and community around you and your music.

You can embrace the culture by understanding what the demographic of that community likes to discuss and engage with.

A great way to do that is to make sure that you understand the persona of an ‘average’ fan in that niche.

Simply by identifying the micro-niche in which you fit and matching your branding and story to that tribe you will already have a very good handle on the culture in which you’ve placed your band.

But, you can dig deeper by looking at this persona - often called, in business, a ‘customer avatar’, but for our needs, let’s call this a ‘fan persona’.

All you need to know is that you’re looking to identify what this persona is and therefore uncover other things that resonate with them.

You should think about their demographic - that’s things like age, gender, location, marital and parental status, typical job, income and education.

You should also think about their psychographic - that’s interests, opinions, attitudes, goals, values and behaviour.

You should also be able to identify other shared traits in your tribe - what books and authors they like, the films and TV they watch, what magazines they read, what brands they trust, any events they habitually attend and any sports or public figures they follow.

In business this search can go deeper still and end up with creating a series of typical personas with differing takes on the overall characteristics of the tribe, and it will also look at other factors that motivate people’s actions.

I think that’s a little too far for the average musician to go, but do spend a little time thinking about the range of interests different people may have.

In other words don’t apply the whole persona wholesale to your potential audience. There will, of course, be a range of viewpoints within the micro-niche depending on age, gender and location. You don’t need to make an alternative fan persona for each, but do let it influence what you do.

culture and community for musicians

It should be clear that knowing this about a typical fan in your sub-genre has a value in shaping all your branding and messaging, but also is enormously helpful when you come to spend money advertising to your micro-niche to control your discovery.

A lot of advertising platforms, especially Facebook, use behavioural targeting to allow you to run ads to people based on their demographics and interests.

Knowing that the majority of your fans are, for example, over 40, predominantly male, from the US, married with kids and like some specific bands but also watch horror movies, generally don’t follow team sports, and love the British town of Whitby (that’s a Goth thing, folks!) is all going to be very useful for you as you build your place in that culture.

The Power Of Facebook Audience Insights!​

A quick detour that will really help you understand the culture and community around your micro-niche - as well as uncovering untold bands and other interests for when you come to advertise.

Facebook has a section in their Ad Manager called ‘Audience Insights’.

You don’t need to run any Facebook Ads in order to use the Audience Insights tool.

But, even a cursory glance is going to tell you what other bands your fans love plus some of their non-musical interests (very useful for what’s coming up next) plus a whole load of stuff about their location and all sorts of other stuff!

Their help page on what it can do is worth a look here.

Just open up Audience Insights and select ‘Everyone on Facebook’.

I usually also delete the pre-selected ‘United States’ in the Location box on the left hand menu.

Then all you do is enter one of the bands that you know are in your micro-niche and start looking at what Facebook’s tool tells you.

It will list ‘Categories’ and Page Likes in the initial results where you’ll find lots of other bands that you may not have realised your tribe also likes, but you’ll also see a whole bunch of other information such as authors, magazines and TV shows that your fans also love.

All very useful information for when you are interacting with your community.

You should also explore the other tabs so that you learn more about the demographics of your tribe and where they are (Location tab).

A Goth band fronted by a female singer who think that their audience love Siouxsie and the Banshees could use that as their initial search term and would see the results below.

Focus On Your Culture And Community​


Community is what binds your tribe together.

The people that follow the sub-genre or micro-niche where your music fits will share many of the traits, demographics and behaviours that you’ll have identified.

So now you can use your music, imagery, photos and all your messaging to speak to them in a way to which they innately relate.

Much of this will be obvious in the way that you style your look, design your artwork and the subject matter of your music , which in turn goes back to the consistent branding you’ve looked at.

But, it is also critical in all your messaging - whether that’s on social media, your website or in your email marketing.

The concept of ‘Culture and Community’ works for you both as a place to position yourself but also as an idea for you to build.

To position yourself within that community you can both contribute to and take from the culture and community that your tribe already belongs to by being active within it and presenting yourself as a relevant artist for those fans of that micro-niche.

That is partly done on social media, on Facebook Pages and Groups that your community frequents, but it’s also part of traditional and niche media (podcasts, forums, radio shows and so on).

It also means interacting with other significant figures in your community by interacting with them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - sharing and retweeting their posts and simply behaving towards them like a normal human - strangely difficult for some musicians!

When the tribe for your micro-niche starts to interact with you on platforms that you control (your social media, your website and your email list) you should continue to place yourself in their minds within the culture and community that already exists for your micro-niche.

However, once this happens, then you also allow the idea of building your culture and your community around you and your music to take hold.

As you’ll see below, in practice this means that you use your social media presence as a place where you build that culture and community around you.

Your fans from your micro-niche might start following you because they loved some music that they heard but you can deepen their engagement by letting them become part of an active culture and community that you are at the heart of but that also feeds from the community and culture that they already know and love.

Of course, there will be some people who are obsessive and fit neatly into the boxes you draw for your micro-niche, but there will be many - probably the majority - who float in and out of those boxes now and again.

Most of us aren’t exclusively tied to one set of interests and values and even those interests and values themselves can be seen across different demographics and, when we talk about music, across interest in genres.

Just because someone might love Gogol Bordello (and wearing purple) and loves being part of that gypsy punk world, it doesn’t mean that they can’t also love 70’s disco and have a presence in that community.

The fact is that this doesn’t matter to you and your place in the community around your sub-genre other than to let yourself do something that isn't strictly within its confines from time to time.

So, if you’re my notional Darkwave Goth act, just step out of that culture and community now and again and do something that crosses over somewhere else.

It shows your tribe that you’re real and, like them, you have other interests too!

Make no mistake about this.

This is some next level thinking!

Fully appreciating the culture of the micro-niche or sub-genre that you’ve chosen as your home base and behaving consistently as a part of that community in your presentation and behaviour and building a community around you is another step in building your solid foundation for music success.

Not least, it allows you to master social media in a way that almost every artist fails to do.

6. Master Social Media​

Social media isn’t difficult to ‘do’.

These days we are all experts at some of it, but when it comes to marketing and promoting music using social media, a huge number of musicians totally lose the plot and turn into spambots!

Guess what?

That is not how you should be running your social media efforts.

Here’s a secret!

You shouldn’t be using your social media to solely talk about you and your music.

You’ve just spent a lot of time in building an in-depth understanding of you, your brand, your niche and the culture and community that goes with it.

As I touched on above, if you use your social media to embrace that culture and community using what you’ve learnt, then you will be massively more successful in your efforts to market and promote yourself on social media.

What does that actually mean?

Well, it’s earth shatteringly simple.

Most musicians use social media to shout about what they are doing, to demand or beg for attention, which is characterised by only ever posting about your music being released or asking people to like your Facebook Page or telling people about how great you are.

This is infantile, boring and ineffective!

Just because you see established superstars doing little more on social media than doling out release and tour information, that does not mean it’s the way for a DIY musician to go about it.

Those artists with years of fanbase building and huge media reach have the luxury of simply using their social media as communication channels.

Obviously, you need to use them for that when appropriate (but you’ll also have a very powerful private asset in your fan email list), but you also need to take a far more inclusive and community based approach.

Instead you must spend most of your time on social just talking about the culture and community that you know your tribe love!

Be Social on Social Media!​

You’ve identified all the shared interests of your tribe and you are part of that community so simply give them what they want.

That can be music (YouTube, Spotify or Facebook Video links) from other artists in your micro-niche or wider sub-niche, links to news or blog posts that are related to your niche, memes, open questions about a part of your shared culture, thoughts on something relevant to your community, video clips of the movies or TV you now know your tribe watch - practically anything that you know fits in with the culture of your tribe.

Use all types of media and mix up what you post, so video, photos, GIF’s, little text posts, questions, polls - anything that works!

Clearly many social media platforms are very visual so photos and video are crucial.

But also don’t just be ‘one-way’ in your communication - share from within your niche community, respond to comments, reply to tweets and retweet.

Don’t ignore the people interacting with you - be present!

Macro and Micro content for social media​

I also often explain to musicians that they can think in terms of ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ when coming up with ideas of what to post, just because it broadens your thinking about what might make ‘good content’.

Macro would be something wide-reaching, perhaps global or otherwise large in scale or wide in the sense of being of interest to people beyond your community as well as having relevance within it. That could therefore be a comment or link on a big issue of the day and how it applies to people in your niche.

Perhaps that would be the release of a blockbuster movie that you know your tribe is eagerly awaiting, a new album by an established fan favourite, or even some political event.

Micro could be thought of as being small in the sense of being a little thing, a quick post of no major significance or it could be in the sense of being local or very tightly focused to only a small section of your community.

That might be a post about a local shop that you noticed sells something that people into the culture of your micro-niche would covet, but may also be a meme image that only a few of your fans will ‘get’.

What should you post on social media?​

Back to the Goth example.

If you’re that Goth band, spend most of your time just posting things that your community (and you) are into - start with the obvious and share the music of other bands in that community.

Then move on and post film posters for a Twilight movie and talk about how you watched it last night.

Maybe find a GIF or a short clip on YouTube of your favourite moment in the movie to share.

And when you do, try asking a question to get a stronger reaction - ‘Wolf or Vampire?’ (If you know, you know!).

Shelley novels, horror movies, gothic clothing and jewellery - all of those are fair game to spark engagement and discussion.

You could post some photos from the most recent Whitby Goth Weekend (whether you went or not!) and talk about how great it must’ve been.

If you’re in that Darkwave sub-genre of Goth that we identified earlier, post some stuff about Opera and relate it back to how you know that influences some bands in your community.

You can even try pushing the boundaries.

Here’s an off-the-cuff idea - post a picture of the opera singer from the Tintin books and ask whether people think she’d cut it in a Darkwave band!

tintin darkwave meme

Trying something like that might engage your fans and get a great reaction.

But, it might flop!

Some things that you expect to resonate with your community will actually fall flat, and vice versa, something you just throw up quickly might shock you and begin to ‘go viral’ (a phrase I hate in this context, but you know what I mean!).

You have to experiment and see what your audience of fans reacts to on different platforms.

As long as what you post makes sense to your community, share it.

If you’re an electronic music producer and DJ making house music, talk about studio gear, clubs you’ve been to, Ibiza and ‘the season’, and great new tracks in your sub-genre that you’ve just discovered.

But also talk about the other things you know your demographic are into.

For a young house music artist that could be streetwear, experiential travel, anti-establishment memes and whatever you’ve identified your fan persona likes.

The Stanton Warriors (big in the Bass sub-genre and dominating their niche, by the way!) are a great example to look at.

Their Stanton Warriors Facebook Page has lots of DJ tour and record release announcements, but they are also absolutely in tune with their tribe and community.

They post other music they love, links to stories about club culture or the oddities of modern life, relevant images, questions, DJ and clubbing memes, some occasional serious political commentary on club culture and a whole mish-mash of stuff.

I can remember when their career was on the ropes and when they embraced this way of focusing on their tribe and sharing their culture with their Facebook community they found a new fanbase and got their careers back on track.

They built a whole new culture and community around themselves on Facebook and this pulled in hordes of new fans who now avidly support them.

Another thing that you can learn from them is the way that they use a lot of video, often repurposing funny clips with their music added.

They also love a meme and a bit of nostalgia - both also great tips when you’re looking for ways to talk to your community in their voice.

In short, take a look at their Facebook Page and you’ll see what I mean - you know they must be doing it right when a recurring theme is photos from fans of the tattoos of their logo that their community keep having done!

In essence, this is just about being social on social media - engaging with and being part of your culture and community.

Inform, Educate, Entertain, Inspire

There’s plenty of maxims about how to do a better job of interacting on social media and many come from the business world.

But this one is one that I think really helps musicians understand this whole approach and how to get to grips with not just posting about themselves!

You can read a good marketing explanation of this way to test your content here.

The concept is that it’s hard to stand out amongst the noise of social media so what you post has to have value to your audience that makes it worth their while checking it out.

Established musicians get the luxury of taking this with a pinch of salt as their fans will often just lap up announcements about new music and shows.

However, we’ve discussed how the aspiring and working musician needs to give value to their community by embracing the culture around it and talking to their community about things they want to hear about.

The aim therefore is to try to ensure that everything you share on social media fits one or more of these tests for your audience so that it engages and connects.


social media marketing for musicians

Anything you share should:

  • Inform - Let your community know about something they weren’t aware of before
  • Educate - Teach your audience about or how to do something specific
  • Entertain - Simply amuse your fans with something funny
  • Inspire - Move people with something personal and emotional

Some of that might sound a little weird for musicians, but it shouldn’t really.

Rather, the oddity is that so much of what you can share that is about the culture and community of your music and micro-niche will naturally do one or more of these things.

Sure, the idea of ‘educating’ your fans might sound odd at first, but just get round it by not thinking that you’re a teacher.

Simply think a little sideways - off the top of my head, my perennial hypothetical Goth band could share Gothic makeup tutorials from YouTube, or some TripAdvisor reviews of where to stay in Whitby for the Goth Weekend!

The rest of the tests are relatively straightforward to implement both when sharing cultural content and posts that are directly about your music.

Culture And Community Rules Edge Rank

Here’s the thing:

If you do this right, social media will start to work for you.

When your fans from your micro-niche start liking, commenting and sharing the things you post to social media, your engagement will increase.

Facebook, and Instagram (and lately Twitter to a much smaller degree) no longer show everything you post to all your followers.

They use algorithms, which in the case of Facebook is called ‘Edge Rank’.

(Twitter does still show all your tweets to your followers but, because it’s real time, most will miss them so you want to try to end up in the ‘In case you missed it’ section - which is powered by the algorithm.)

Edge Rank and the ways that the other platforms prioritise what they show to your followers are mainly based on how likely your fans are to want to see what you’ve posted and how quickly people react to it as soon as you post.

So, if you regularly post engaging stuff that your community already loves, and if people start to like and share it immediately it’s more likely to be shown to more of your followers.

facebook edge rank explained

Knowing and playing to this is how you master the free traffic you can get from social media.

And it’s the ‘Culture and Community’ content that gets this kind of love from the algorithm - whilst also showing your audience that you’re one of them.

Double win!

So, post the right stuff at the right time on the right platform and you’ll get the best reaction from your community.

That means that your content will start to be shown to your community’s friends more often - we all know how that works when we see what our friends are commenting on or sharing.

And, of course, a fan will sometimes share your music but they are far more likely to share a funny meme that they identify with (because you know what they like!) or a clip from a favourite movie.

Their friends, who are likely to share those interests, are then far more likely to come back and check you out on social media to see where this content is coming from.

If you’ve done everything else right these new visitors should immediately sense a place where they can be part of the community you’re creating.

By understanding the culture of your niche you can share facets of that culture with your fanbase and foster a sense of community amongst your fans and between them and you and your music.

You build a sentiment and a reality that your music and your brand sit right within the culture that they love, and even that you are a leader within that culture and the community around it.

Be social on social media and it will reward you.

The 80/20 Rule For Social Media​


So, when do you get to actually talk about you and your music and do some promotion and marketing?

Well, just weave it in when it’s natural to do so.

You’ve probably heard about the ‘80/20 Rule’ or Pareto principle.

If not, here’s the sketch:

The Pareto principle states that 80% of your success comes from 20% of your activity.

The argument then being that you should concentrate your efforts on the 20% that delivers results.

In a perversion of that rule you will see social media experts consistently use that 80/20 split as a rule of thumb for for the type of content you should post and share on social media.

Here's the rule as set out on Social Media Today:

​“There's no secret formula to successfully engaging with your audience on social media, but applying 'The 80/20 Rule' should always be a big part of your social media strategy. It simply comes down to this: use just 20% of your content to promote your brand, and dedicate 80% to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations.”

That’s saying what we’ve just covered in depth.

Your community do not want to be subjected to a barrage of sales pitches asking them to buy your music every day.

But you can still make them, otherwise what would be the point?

The accepted ratio is that you make 80% of your social media posts about things that you know your fans love - the culture and community stuff.

The other 20% can then be self-promotional - links to your music, your videos, ‘calls to action’ to ask your fans to buy music or merchandise or tickets.

Of course, and as you’ll learn later, you should occasionally point your social media followers to your Squeeze Page and get them on to your fan email list.

Ideally you will make your promotional posts as engaging as possible.

Use a lot of video, including Facebook Live and Instagram Live when making your self promotional posts.

These platforms love video and love to show it to your followers so the more you use it the better your reach will be.

Plus, since people love video, it makes sense to use it in your promotional posts.

You’ll do well to make ‘on brand’ square video clips of your forthcoming music that feature your consistent branding and use them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as native video. Stick the full landscape video on YouTube where its format will do best.

Document. Don’t Create​

Just to give you one more thing to think about, a slice of that 80% ‘Culture and Community’ stuff can actually still be about you.

The 80/20 social media rule is a great one to stick by, but when you’re a musician or any kind of entertainer, you get a special break.

The fact remains that no matter how much you’re told that you have to engage and build community, your fans do love you for your music and for what you do.

So, your special break in that rule is that you also get to show them what it’s like to be you. To show them how your life fits into the life of a working musician.

I am not saying that you can forget all that ‘Culture and Community’ stuff that I have explained in such a long-winded fashion.

You still have to do that.

But you can and should also be showing your fans your life behind the scenes. And I’d reckon of that 80%, you can cut out 20% for this ‘Behind the scenes’ content.

Meaning that the social media rule for musicians is now something more like 60/20/20!

musician 80 20 rule

Gary Vaynerchuk explains this brilliantly in this post here.

It’s a simple concept and needs little explanation.

Just show your fans what you’re up to. Largely unfiltered and no production values required.

You have a camera and video camera with you all day every day.

Whenever you’re doing something that references your life as a working musician and you know will appeal to the culture of your community, whip out your phone and post to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter.

Even better, get in the habit of firing up Facebook Live or Instagram Live.

The opportunities for a musician or band to do this are so many more than for a business.

Every rehearsal, writing session, recording session, mastering session, video shoot, band meeting and soundcheck are golden opportunities.

Sure, nobody wants to see you pack the van live twice a day every day, so mix it up.

But if a musician can’t find interesting things to take photos and videos of on a regular basis then you’re not being a very active working musician…..

Take that ‘documentary’ content and mix it in with your ‘Culture and community’ content and your promotional posts and you’ll have a very potent mix.

What Social Media Should Musicians Use?​

As you saw in the section on ‘Culture and Community’ above, the community aspect works both sides of the fence.

You work to position yourself in the community that already exists for your micro-niche by contributing to it.

But you also build a new community, or a new offshoot of that existing community, that revolves specifically around you and your music.

The natural place for this community is in the social media platforms that encourage a two way or a ‘one to many’ interaction - primarily Facebook and Twitter, but also true of Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat and other smaller or more musician specific platforms such as Soundcloud.

Don’t be on all socials pushing a bland message if you can’t do them right. Being everywhere doesn’t mean everyone can find you, it’s more likely that you’ll just post crap messaging about your music and expect to be discovered.

Far better to concentrate on the ones that matter most to your niche, but understand how to talk to people who love your niche about the things that influence them culturally in the best way for each platform.

Here’s where you need to be on Social Media.

Facebook


You have no choice but to be on Facebook and to build a thriving Facebook Page using the strategy outlined above.

Facebook just broke the 2 Billion Monthly Users barrier and keeps growing.

More than that, it’s very close to hitting 80% of adults in the First World.

Simply put, these are your potential fans and you need to be in front of them.

Facebook will let you reach some of them for free but this is also why Facebook is the number one advertising platform that musicians need to embrace to control their own discovery.

The recent focus on video on Facebook, and now live streaming, prove that this social media cornerstone will give you every chance to reach your audience.

The only choice you have to make is whether you need to have just a Facebook Page (you have to have that, and not just your personal profile) but whether you should consider running a Facebook Group as well.

Facebook Groups are inherently about community and there’s a growing trend for DIY musicians to have a Facebook Group as well as a Page exactly because they engender that sense of community so powerfully.

There are also beneficial in that reach, whilst still restricted, is generally assumed to be better in a Group than on a Page although that is largely because Group members visit the Group far more often than casual fans will visit your Page.

By no means should you think that you have to set up a Facebook Group, but it’s worth knowing that it’s working well for many musicians as an addition (or even a primary alternative) to their Page.

My advice is to nail the way you run your Page first and add a Group if you can handle the extra commitment being present will require.

Also striking in that graph above is how huge Facebook Messenger is.

You can’t have a presence on Facebook Messenger in the same way as you can with a Facebook Page or Group since it’s a medium for messaging.

But, as you’ll see in the later posts in this series, Facebook Messenger is just starting to become an alternative (or, more accurately, an additional method) way for people to collect contact information and build a list - so a Messenger list rather than an email list.

We strongly recommend that an email list remain your primary aim for your listbuilding but, again, there’s no doubt that some musicians are beginning to see success building a ‘permission marketing’ list using Facebook Messenger.

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet and remains the number one streaming platform for music even though its official streaming service has failed to take off significantly.

On top of that, for ‘music search’, it is number one.

YouTube is the place that many people turn to in order to check out your music so, at the very least, all your commercially available (i.e. released) music should be on YouTube in one way or another.

Of course there is a place for official music videos, but nobody is suggesting that you have to make an official video for every song on every album.

What you can do is make what we call a ‘static’ video for every track. These can just be an image of the sleeve artwork for the track with the music playing. Introducing a little bit of motion and some titles using a basic video editor such as iMovie is worth the minimal time and effort.

There’s a whole bunch of reasons why having every track you’ve released on YouTube on your own channel is beneficial in addition to just enabling discovery, including revenue generation (negligible but you never know) to controlling your presence.

And, although Facebook is massively favouring video in its algorithm and you are encouraged to upload all your music there as well, that doesn’t mean you should ignore YouTube - it’s simply too big!

There’s another whole book of tips and strategies that we could deliver on YouTube, but for now, just start a channel and upload all your music!

Instagram

Instagram is the fastest growing platform in all demographics and we’d go as far as to say that a musician looking to build a fanbase cannot afford to ignore it.

Stealing Snapchat’s thunder with Instagram Stories and Instagram Live mean that Instagram is perfect for any artist in any genre to follow the ‘Document - Don’t create’ strategy we mentioned above.

We’d consider Instagram essential for every musician.

Twitter

Twitter’s dying right?

Umm, no!

Although you’ll hear that it’s on its last legs, Twitter remains a very strong contender for most important social media platform for musicians.

The simplistic strategy of targeted following of people in your culture and community, and then engaging with them, remains the number one free strategy for building a fanbase for you and your music using free social media traffic.

Yes, it’s a ballache.

Yes, it’s time consuming and frustrating.

But, it is scalable and repeatable and if you do it right, it will work for you, and ...it’s free!

That makes it the number one place for the impoverished musician to start building their social media fanbase.

Obviously, do not ignore Facebook, but when you have more time than money, start with Twittter.

We’ve written a lot about Twitter for musicians in the past.

The golden nuggets you need to know are:


  • Write a clear Bio and link from there to your Squeeze Page
  • Start following people and rely on the follow back etiquette
  • Target the fan persona you’ve identified - look for profiles and lists that relate to your micro-niche and fans of similar artists
  • Engage with the culture and community in real time - involvement & engagement are the key
  • 10-20 times per day is fine - mix up niche culture tweets with retweets and self-promotion
  • Be more personal than when on Facebook - put your life in the context of being a musician - the ‘Document. Don’t create’ method

Soundcloud

Whilst I can’t see Twitter folding, Soundcloud might be facing a dark future.

And, if you look at that graph above you might think ‘why bother?’ if it’s so small compared to the others.

I might be inclined to agree.

But the mantra for social media is often to be where your fans are and there’s no doubt that for some genres of music the fans are on Soundcloud.

That monthly user figure of 76 million is also a little misleading, since there are actually 175 million listening versus 10 million music creators uploading.

The positive spin is to say that these are real music fans and they may discover you on the platform and become fans.

Whilst it’s true that can happen it’s a very difficult platform to thrive on since the recent changes to their algorithm, groups and commercial streaming.

That said, you can still drive listeners to your website, other social media and, most importantly, your musician Squeeze Page and you may pick up a few fans.

There are also experts who have a host of strategies that will help you have the best possible chance of using Soundcloud as a source of targeted free traffic.

Our best advice would be that if your community looks for music on Soundcloud (mostly electronic music) then you should be there. For other genres, it’s optional and getting less essential by the day.

Master Free Traffic First​


You’ll need a very good reason to not have a presence on the first four of those social media platforms.

If you have some funds to apply to building your fanbase on Facebook then avoiding Twitter might make sense, but if cash is tight, Twitter might be your best bet.

When you start to spread your music and message and take part in the culture and community of your micro-niche on social media you will see some results.

If you take on board everything that this post has covered and if you follow this band website series through, you will begin to be able to use free traffic from your social media to build your fan mailing list.

That is the first step in building your fanbase and using this system as the engine for its growth.

It makes no sense to move on to driving your discovery by using paid traffic, which largely means Facebook advertising, unless and until all of the music success foundation elements in this post are in place and you are adept at engaging your fans and driving traffic to your band website to grow your fanbase.

When you are having some success with your free strategy on social media and when your band website and fan email capture system are in place, then you can begin to think about using paid traffic.

We’ll touch on the approach to paid traffic at the end of this post, but first let’s look at the two remaining parts of the music success foundation.

​7. Use Niche Media To Spread Your Message​

Although the free traffic that you can amass from a focused social media strategy is the key to dialling in your marketing strategy (because you need to get free traffic to convert to fans before moving on to paid traffic) you can try to amplify your efforts by targeting other media.

That means generally having a plan to target outlets that will give you a shot.

You will not get covered by Pitchfork as a start up DIY musician.

But, you might get covered by a music blog that covers just your local area or the niche you’re in.

Equally your local paper and even local TV and radio stations are possible targets for coverage if you have a compelling story and are having some local success that you can leverage.

This is also true of websites, blogs and podcasts that cover a lifestyle or interest that you happen to align with, irrespective of the micro-niche of your music.

So, if you are a Goth band, but you’re also all firemen, there will be niche blogs and podcasts, Facebook Groups and Pages and Reddit communities for firemen that might feature you - and it’s a lot easier to get a result when you’re the only band of firemen pitching a music story to a firefighter blog than when you’re one of fifty Goth bands pitching to a Goth blog.

Not enough musicians try this angle - even though it often pans out.

It’s important to realise that any niche media coverage can be leveraged to get more coverage elsewhere and that you can, if you’re lucky and committed, steer a story that gets you initial niche exposure up a chain of media to get some significant coverage.

But, let’s be clear, this is not easy and it is very time consuming and often leads nowhere.

Social Media should deliver a guaranteed return on your time investment, especially if you follow a committed plan of action (we all know that sticking with a well thought out Twitter strategy for example will deliver results), whereas targeting niche media will have a less guaranteed return.

That’s at least in part because all media outlets no matter how niche they are cannot target your audience as exactly as you can with your own targeted marketing efforts (free or paid).

Even if you do get coverage, which requires a huge amount of effort and hustle, you are at the mercy of the reach of that media outlet and whether people actually bother to read and listen.

And then, even if they do, they may simply not be a sufficiently targeted audience so most won’t start the journey to becoming a fan.

Since that’s the case, you’re better off seeing these efforts as an add-on that may work.

And, of course, wherever possible you should be trying to ensure that any traffic you get from any success in these efforts is sent back to your foundation and engine and people who find you through the media actually have a chance to be turned into an engaged fan.

A further issue with niche (or mainstream) media is that even if you do get featured you may end up horribly disappointed.

The long term scalable and repeatable strategy of building your own fanbase relies on being able to identify potential fans, draw them in and then engage them inside a community they feel at home in.

Press, radio and TV, even when niche oriented, are far less laser focused and as such are less likely to bring the targeted fans you need.

By all means get out there and pitch to niche media that you know is focused on your micro-niche. The more focused it is the more likely you are to get some success. And, of course, the more success you’re having with your own fanbase building methods the more likely niche media will be to take notice of you.

Just don’t make this your number one tactic.

There’s a reason it’s at number seven in this post and why all the methods you can control come ahead of it.

It’s an add on that might get you a break, but it’s an add on that becomes more and more effective the more of a head of steam you start to build with your other far more predictable efforts.

Even though I’ve said all that I know you’re going to give it a try, so here’s the basics on what we know.

Right back at the start of this post we talked about having a goal and a plan.

If you are going to target niche media, work out what you’re trying to achieve and by when.

Pick your targets and get down to some serious time-consuming research.

Do not, under any circumstances, pay a PR company to do this for you!

​At least, not until you have some level of attention from your other efforts. PR on its own is very unlikely to drive your success and therefore it’s not worth paying for help unless there is already some significant fanbase activity around your band.

If you have that cash, save it for when you are ready to run Facebook advertising - I guarantee it’ll be more profitable.

niche media for musicians

But if it's you and your time, then get into spreadsheet mode and hustle up the right people that might just have a platform (a blog, a podcast, a local radio show, a local paper and so on) that might give you some coverage.

As with so many of the steps in building your foundation, ask your community where they hear about music in your micro-niche - what blogs do they read and trust?

You never know, some of them may well have relationships with places that can feature you, or even run them themselves.

Your earlier research efforts will have started this process off and now you just need to dig deep and uncover contact details.

When you have a goal, a plan and a spreadsheet, just start reaching out with your story and your music. Your branding and your social media should all be on point so if anyone checks you out you should look worth their effort.

The truth is that your response rate is likely to be horribly poor - until you're making enough noise to attract niche media to you without this effort. When they hear that there’s a new act making waves they’ll come looking for you.

Until then, get a copy of the Indie Bible that lists pretty much every media outlet, get this directory of music blogs and become familiar with how you can identify promising blogs by digging through The Hype Machine.

There are also possibilities in some mainstream media and, although we’ll advise you that your time is far better spent building the fanbase and buzz that will potentially attract mainstream media attention than seeking it out, you cannot stop musicians hustling!

At a minimum we recommend every artist submitting their music to BBC Introducing here and to NPR here.

If you’re making any kind of electronic music you can expect a better result than those in any other genres when looking for support from niche media.

There’s an entire ecosystem of blogs (Hype Machine is heavily weighted to electronic music), YouTube Promoter Channels, specialist radio and podcasts that exist to promote great electronic music.

Combine that truism with the cross promotion opportunities that inherently exist in dance music and you may find your niche media promotion efforts do bring attention and fanbase growth.

Nonetheless, tackle this yourself rather than using a PR (until you have real traction or a label is paying) and still apply all of the other advice in this post as well.

8. Always Be Launching​

Here’s the last element to master in creating your music success foundation.

There’s been a lot to take in and we’re only just going to begin talking about actually using a system to grow your fanbase and actually sell your music!

The idea of ‘always launching’ is another thing that musicians can steal from direct response marketers and digitally smart mainstream businesses.

There are two parts to it.

One is the idea that each new fan you attract can experience your music as ‘fresh and new’.

Because it is fresh and new to them.

So, in effect, you're launching your music to each new fan as they discover you.

You attract potential fans through your great music, your story, your niche marketing, your understanding of your tribe’s culture and community, your mastery of social media and your lucky breaks in niche media and you use your band website and fan email list system to launch a part of your catalogue to them.

We cover exactly how you do this in the rest of this band website series and we look at the funnel that begins this process a little more below.

The fundamental step is that you exchange an album or other collection of music and some exclusive ‘extras’ in return for the right to contact your new fan in the future so that you can build a relationship with them - usually, but not exclusively, by email.

There’s lots on how this is done in the later posts, but the concept you need to grasp at this stage is that you can be in a state of perpetually launching an existing (old) album to a never ending sequence of new fans - all the time and on autopilot.

Even better, each of these new fans can then be encouraged to discover all your music in your catalogue over time by you introducing it to them using your email list system and your social media outlets.

Many of them will end up buying everything you have ever made!

So, instead of being on a treadmill of having to create and launch an album each time you seek to expand your fanbase, you use your existing catalogue to reach out to new fans all the time.

There’s been a lot of talk about this over the last few years with the concept of ‘the long tail’, and how you can succeed by carving out a place in a niche market.

It’s true that the long tail didn’t kill off blockbuster hits and superstar musicians (which the theory suggested might happen) but the part of the thinking that suggested that there was enough demand in the long tail to enable the careers of thousands from much smaller scale ‘micro hits’ has definitely turned out to be the case.

It’s also been written about in detail by a marketing expert called Ryan Holiday in his work on the ‘perennial seller’.

What he proves, and it’s what I’ve seen with the catalogue of our clients, is that it is your catalogue that carries you through.

Take a look at the bestselling rock albums of 2015 here, and see how many were first released years ago, but they chug along and make money for the labels of these old rockers.

When you add in the streaming revenue that comes from every Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music user listening to the music they grew up with day in and day out you’ll soon realise that a key secret in the music industry is that catalogue is where the money is.

And, if you own your masters as a DIY musician and receive 100% of the money from every sale or stream (rather than the perhaps 15% you’d get if you were signed to a label) you can see that having a lot of music available for streaming and sale makes a lot of sense!

Although you don’t have to get into the album release sequence as a way to expand your reach, you can and should be making music (or other art - videos, events, merchandise, even perhaps ‘happenings’!) as often as you can manage.

That way you will expand the library of music (and related products) that your fans have available to them.

perpetual launch for your music

And that’s the second part of the idea of the perpetual launch.

If you’ve grown a fanbase using the band website and fan email list strategies in this series, and engaged with those fans using your email list and by connecting through social media, then you will have an immediate audience ready to listen to and buy your music every time you release.

I wrote about how a DIY Musician can be ‘always on’ a while ago.

It had become obvious that established pop artists were abandoning the album and tour release cycle and favouring constantly releasing singles to remain in the public eye.

As a DIY musician you can do the same thing.

Release as much outstanding music as you can and don’t leave the marketplace. Stay in front of your fans.

Even better - if you simply can’t keep up a constant flow of new music, you can make your social media or band website activity a ‘release’ to launch and talk about.

Posting an in-depth post to your website, shooting a cover video for YouTube, doing a Facebook Live chat or performance, doing a series on Instagram of ‘behind the scenes’ photos - all of these can substitute for the launch of new music and engage your community of fans.

That said, don’t be afraid to release music as regularly as you can and, being DIY, you can set the pricing and format.

If you want to sell a two track EP on 10” vinyl limited to 50 signed copies and then release it to Spotify a month later (because you know your fans will eat that up) - go for it!

In your perpetual launch strategy you are outside the rules of the Old Music Business.

Legendary guitarist and DIY rock artist Buckethead is an extreme example of how much material your audience can consume.

He’s released over 300 albums in his career to date, with 24 released in 2016 alone.

He’s developed a particular model that suits him and his fans and I’m not suggesting that you should perhaps go quite as far as he has, but it does serve to show that being prolific and ‘being in the marketplace every day is important’.

So, it turns out that longevity matters. Having your entire catalogue or library available and being exposed to an unstoppable flow of new fans will underpin your DIY musician career with sales.

The perpetual launch begins with launching one part of your catalogue to each new fan using the band website and fan email list method.

You are building a repeatable and scalable approach where you can attract new fans and launch your music to them – because it’s new to them!

Forget about trying to chart in a specific week when you release. That would be nice, sure, but think instead about giving your growing fanbase what they want.

You can work on harnessing that tribe to power you to a chart position later in your career - if you even care about those milestones by then!

But first you need to pull all of this music success foundation together.

How To Build Your Music Success Foundation​


Let’s remind ourselves of the eight elements that you need to have in place as your music success foundation.

You’ve just read a huge amount of detail about these eight pillars on which you can build and secure your career.

I wouldn’t have gone on for such a lengthy amount of time if I didn’t think each and every part of it was critically important!

You need to shift your thinking to understand what is possible for every musician.

And you have to believe that getting this in your head and applying it to you, your music and your career is the plan that you need to follow.

This is the foundation of your music success – the great music, engaging story, targeted fans in a micro-niche, consistent branding, culture and community, engaging social media and the perpetual launch – that is what you build your sustainable, scalable, repeatable career on.

Once you’ve made that mindset shift and worked through those steps what’s next?

Well, that’s easy.

You build your music marketing engine.

And that engine is your band website and your fan email list.

You’ll use your branding insight that you’ve developed to ensure that what you build will resonate with your ideal fans, who you know already love the great music you’re making for that specific micro-niche.

Simply follow the steps set out in the rest of the posts in this band webiste series and you’ll have the core of your music marketing engine set up in no time.

Anyone can follow our instructions and build the Squeeze Page and fan email system in less than an afternoon.

There is no excuse for not building a system that will collect the email addresses of your perfect fans.

What you have here is a blueprint on how to build a fanbase that will allow you to have the music career that you want.

It’s a plan for you to achieve your goals and it replaces fruitless ‘hope’ marketing with incremental growth, increasing sales and continuous development.

As soon as you have an engaged fanbase behind you all your marketing and promotion becomes part of your planning. You’ll know before you release anything new that your fanbase will be ready and eager to hear it, buy it and support you.

You marketing won’t be based on luck, it will be simple, effortless and devastatingly effective.

The best time to start building the fanbase that will support your entire career was yesterday.

The next best time is now!

A Music Discovery Funnel For Every Musician​


Finally we get back to that first diagram that you saw at the very beginning of this post.

music fan funnel

This post started with the promise that every musician can build a fanbase that will underwrite your entire career and that you can do this by controlling the discovery of your music by targeting and engaging the ideal fan.

The strategy that allows you to do this is the music success foundation outlined in this post and the method you’ll use is your band website and fan email list.

That’s why your band website is at the very top of this funnel.

When you’re starting to build your fanbase using this knowledge and system your band website is probably not going to be where your fans first discover you.

But it is where you need to send them.

In fact, more specifically, you need to send them to a Squeeze Page on your band website where you can exchange their email address for your music.

The exact process for this is shown in the fourth and fifth posts of this series where you can watch us build them in ‘over the shoulder’ video training.

When you have your band website ready, the most likely methods for the initial discovery of your music (when you have no money to invest in advertising) is through social media, live shows, niche media (if you’re lucky) and word of mouth.

Building Your Fanbase For Free​

There’s no getting away from the fact that social media is where you’ll have to focus your efforts when you are trying to drive your discovery with just ‘sweat equity’.

You might find it very tough to make significant headway, but putting in the ‘hard yards’ without resorting to advertising will teach you some valuable lessons.

And it cannot be denied that there are countless artists who build this foundation and drive all their discovery using free methods.

Various YouTube strategies, Twitter growth methods, Facebook Live performances, committed touring efforts, collaborating with other artists, remixing and doing ‘features’ and many other ways of getting attention without spending a dime on advertising can and do drive fanbase growth for many artists.

I very strongly recommend picking up the New Music Business bible - Ari Herstand’s ‘How To Make It In The New Music Business’ - which is excellent on every aspect of the hustle required to make it this way.

It’s excellent and I wish I had written it!

But, like me, he’ll urge you to make very effort you can to get every potential fan to your band website and on to your fan mailing list!

You’ve gained a huge insight into how you can use social media (the right way) to do this by focusing on culture and community in this post, so start with that and master it.

Engage And Convert Your Fanbase​

Once your fans have discovered your music, you must engage them with more content.

We looked at that above.

Some of it will be music, but much of it will be cultural content that will build your community around you and engage your fans.

Some will be more interested than others and will take actions.

These actions are small ‘conversions’.

A conversion is simply when a fan changes from being one thing to another by taking an action.

Marketers like to measure conversions and create all sorts of clever methodology to encourage fans to move ‘down the funnel’ and go from being a casual fan to a fan that buys your music and merchandise, and eventually into one of your super fans.

All it means in non-marketing speak is that someone who likes you on Facebook or follows you on Spotify is more engaged than a fan who looks you up on YouTube and listens now and again (but doesn’t subscribe).

The critical phase of conversion happens when your fan spends money on you and your music.

That could be buying a download direct from your website or from iTunes or bandcamp (other stores are available!) or it might be buying a T-Shirt or coming to a show.

You’ll probably be surprised at how many of your fans will want to buy physical albums - CD and vinyl still sell very strongly when you have a direct connection with your fanbase.

It doesn’t matter what a fan buys.

What matters is that that person is now a buyer.

Not only are they giving you money to support your career but a buyer is far more likely to justify their support by raving about you to their friends.

And word of mouth recommendation is the best recommendation you can get!

Of course, word of mouth these days also means sharing on social media. Any kind of endorsement of your music from a fan to your friends will drive further discovery.

Yet another reason why all the music success foundation steps are so important to optimise your chances of organic discovery.

Why Selling Your Music Matters!​

You can’t drive people to the bottom of your funnel unless you have something to sell.

In almost all cases this will mean having albums that your fans can buy and preferably that they can buy direct from you.

Obviously, if there’s nothing to buy you can’t convert people into buyers and you miss the chance to create your super fans.

Super fans are those people that will keep buying your music until they have everything that you’ve ever put on sale and they’ll look for other ways to support you.

This is the box set collector or the person that wants to support you on Patreon.

These fans are hugely important to the career of the DIY musician but can only exist if you have music and merchandise on sale.

As soon as you have something to sell you can also properly implement the perpetual launch concept that we looked at as part of your foundation.

In order to exchange some music for your potential fan’s email, clearly you need some music to give away (we look at this a lot in the post explaining the whole fan email list set up).

You can, in fact, sell exactly the same music and a proportion of your fans will buy something that you’ve already given them for free!

Sure, it will probably have to be in a physical format if you’ve given them a free download, but that same music can be the exclusive music package which you use for the perpetual launch to very fan - when you exchange it for email.

But, it can also become the first product that you sell.

If you can expand your catalogue and have several releases to sell and add some items of merchandise and if you create special bundled offers (for example a T-Shirt and both your albums) then you start to have a funnel of products.

As your fans discover you and are converted into buyers you can sequentially offer them more music and merchandise for sale and they will gladly pay the higher prices for your bundles if they are in the process of becoming a more committed fan.

At this stage of building out your music marketing engine you need to be able to sell music and merchandise from your own band website to retain the maximum profit.

We suggest looking at Gumroad which is a very simple to use system for selling your own music and merchandise. We think it’s the easiest way to operate a store on your band website with individual offers and bundles for sale.

It’s also usually worth having a store on bandcamp since it’s so effective for music discovery on its own if you start getting any significant sales - and you can simply link to that as your store and still retain almost all the profit from your sales.

In fact, we recommend that you consider using both.

Clearly you can’t really hope to build a career unless you have music on sale.

And, as we saw, the more catalogue you have the better.

Not everyone will buy from you direct so having your music on iTunes and Spotify makes sense for those fans who prefer to listen and buy on those platforms, but you should do whatever you can to get your fans to buy direct from you wherever possible.

There is one more fundamental reason why having music on sale (and having it on sale direct) can have seriously beneficial effects on your career.

Paid Traffic And Controlling Your Discovery​

Back at the top of the funnel, it says ‘Paid Traffic (Facebook Ads)’ as the last suggestion for ‘Discovery’.

This whole post would have been a charade if I didn’t face up to this truth.

Everything in this post is true.

It’s all fact.

You need to think this way, you need to do this and you can make it work just by sheer hard work.

And, if you don't have the funds and you don’t have the albums or merchandise to sell yet, you don’t really have a choice.

You need to slave away and grow your fanbase until you have something to use for your perpetual launch and something to sell (which can be one and the same!)

But, equally you can set the whole thing on fire if you pour some money on to this music marketing engine.


I’ve mentioned in several places throughout this post that you may end up advertising your music, and, more specifically, using Facebook advertising to promote your discovery.

That’s because it is the single best tool that DIY musicians have ever had at their disposal.

Trust me.

Get this other stuff locked down first and don't even think about trying this until you have music on sale.

Why?

Because it’s going to cost you money.

And, at the very least, you’ll want to be able to make sure that your music is getting an emotional reaction, people are signing up to your mailing list and that they will buy your albums - all from organically growing your fanbase.

In other words, you need to be sure that your music marketing engine converts potential fans into buyers before you should spend any money on advertising of any sort.

If that isn’t happening then you’ll just end up throwing your money away because something wasn’t right in your music success foundation.

And, sorry to tell you this, it will usually be that your music just isn't cutting it.

But…..

...if it is working with traffic from social media or when you collect emails at your live shows and if you have something to sell, then get stuck into Facebook advertising.

This post and this series isn’t about how to run Facebook advertising for musicians, although we do it all day every day for clients.

That’s how we know this works in a way that you probably won’t believe when you get to this stage yourself.

This entire band website series is about getting you to build the foundation for your music success and convincing you to get your band website and fan email list system in place.

It’s also about helping you get your mindset, goals and plans all lined up and working.

Without those, you cannot build a fanbase as a DIY musician.

But, you need to know that when you have got all that squared away, you will be able to light a match, stick it under your properly built foundation and let your engine go into overdrive.

That is when you’ll be able to take all this preparation and planning and it’s where the scalable and repeatable fanbase growth and fully sustainable career becomes a reality.

Facebook Advertising For Musicians - Made Simple​

So that you can’t accuse me of dodging the issue and because it will convince you that all this effort will be worthwhile, I’ll give you the skinny on why Facebook advertising will work for you and give you the basic steps you’ll need to take.

Facebook Ads work for all musicians because they use behavioral targeting.

That means that you can run ads about your music and place them right in front of the exact people that you know will like your music.

You’ll know who they are because you understand innately the micro-niche to whom you appeal and where your music fits.

You'll also know that the branding you’ll use in your ads will be congruent with what those people you target will expect and it will speak to them in their language.

If you’ve followed the rest of this band website series and built a Squeeze Page that converts your fans and gets them onto your fan email list, you’ll also know that when you spend money on an ad on Facebook and send people to your Squeeze Page it will do its job!

And lastly, if you have a perpetual launch that works and your fans from social media or live shows already buy the music you have on sale, you’ll know that if you send the right people into your DIY musician funnel from a Facebook ad, some of them will end up buying your music and your merchandise.

And that is the secret of Facebook Ads for musicians.

If you know that you can spend money on an ad and some of the people who see it will end up becoming a buyer and some will become super fans (because of all this preparation you did) then you can spend as much money as you can get your hands on using Facebook Ads and your fanbase will just grow on autopilot.

You’ll know that money in equals music sales at the other end and you get a lifelong dedicated fanbase into the bargain.

​Here’s an important caveat.

The margin on music is tight.

If you try to sell digital downloads as your only offer to your fans, you will find it very hard to make Facebook advertising work.

You need to be able to get a percentage of your fans to spend way more than one dollar with you for a track download.

Even $10 for an album will usually be hard to make profitable.

That’s because it may cost you $1 to get a new fan on to your mailing list and if less than 1 in 10 of those buy your $10 offer you’ll lose money.

Sure, your mailing list will be growing and you’ll have a chance that those fans will buy from you in the future, but the initial advertising phase will be making a loss.

However, if you spend $1 to be discovered by a new fan and 1 in 25 of them buys, on average, some kind of bundle that you offer for $30 (say two albums on CD plus a poster or a T-Shirt and CD bundle) then your Facebook advertising all of a sudden posts a positive ROI (‘return on investment’).

That’s why you need catalogue (of both music and merchandise) and the ability to offer new fans an opportunity to buy that will return more money to you than you spend on advertising.

Then you can do it all day every day.

There are enormous lengths we could go to in drilling down into this concept but trust me that this illustrative example below is realistic.

In the graphic we show a $20 Facebook ad spend generating 10 new fans and 1 sale per 10 fans.

In our experience, the cost of acquiring a new fan email sign-up from a Facebook ad should be nearer or less than $1. And the conversion for a sale of some sort ought generally to be around 1 in 10, although the conversion rate for more expensive packages will slip lower than that to perhaps 1 in 20.

Your particular success with Facebook ads will depend on your music, your targeting, your copy in ads and your efforts in refining your ads and your offers.

All of these can be improved over time until you can confidently predict that, for example, every $20 you spend will add 20 fans, one of whom will buy a $10 CD, one will buy a $25 bundle and, say, 1 in 50 buys a $50 ‘super’ bundle.

The Musician Facebook Ad

Facebook will allow you to place your ads in front of audiences on whom they have huge amounts of data.

At its most simple this means that you can target the fan persona you identified earlier and fans of the other bands in your sub-genre specifically.

So, you know your micro-niche.

Luckily, you already have that covered!

Go back to the work you did figuring that out and look at the bands you uncovered who are also in your sub-genre.

Stick them back in EveryNoise and the Music Map and start writing lists of bands that you can use for targeting on Facebook.

We looked earlier at the tool in Facebook called ‘Audience Insights’ into which you can put these band names and it’ll throw back another whole load of bands that you might never have heard of, but Facebook knows that the people who like the bands that you know are in your micro-niche, like these bands that are new to you.

Stick all these bands into a Spotify search or a Pandora radio station and see who else comes up as ‘Similar Artists’.

This might not feel like rocket science but you’re going to end up with a huge list of very targeted bands that your potential fans love.

Not only will you reveal more bands whose fans you can target, but you’ll also uncover other interests common to your community (as we saw earlier).

Most of these bands and common interests will be available to you as ‘Interest’ targeting when you come to make a Facebook Ad.

Really obscure bands might not be available as targeting options, but if they were shown in Audience Insights they should be - and, you’ll almost certainly have better success targeting your ads at the fans of the more niche artists rather than the leading artists in your genre.

And, that’s all you do.

You create a Facebook ad aimed at these fans of other bands and you ask them to check out your music.

You link the ad to your Squeeze Page and you set it running.

Then you let the Squeeze Page add your potential fan to your fan mailing list and you engage with the fan via email and eventually ask them to become a buyer and super fan - we cover that in this post and this one.

We have consistently found Facebook advertising to be the easiest type of ads to master and the most effective for musicians - a truly revolutionary way to control your discovery.

Instagram Ads are really part of that (they are controlled by the same Facebook Ad Manager tool) and will end up being something you’ll probably experiment with.

YouTube and Google Display work together to create some extremely powerful ways to target new and existing fans for discovery and for selling music, merchandise and tickets.

That’s why the word ‘retargeting’ features in the diagram.

Retargeting (or ‘remarketing’) is something that you have definitely experienced as a consumer.

It’s how advertisers can follow you around the internet and show you relevant ads based on what you’ve looked at before. It’s done by identifying you on one site and then showing you ads later on other sites and platforms.

You see it when you get an ad on Facebook or any site at all (often magazine or news sites) for a product you looked at on a retailer's site a few days (or even minutes) earlier.

That’s retargeting.

And, musicians can use this very effectively indeed.

You can learn about how to create effective Facebook Ads and how to use retargeting from thousands of excellent sources when you need to do it.

I had to mention it since it is one technique that you’ll find yourself using when you have put this entire system in place.

Don’t worry about it now and don’t waste time going off to learn about it until you need it.

For now, just notice how all the free social traffic and all the other sources of free organic traffic in the diagram are driven to your band website and your Squeeze Page.

That’s what you have to build now and perfect and then the paid traffic from advertising and retargeting can be mastered later.

How To Build Your Music Marketing Engine​

Let me recap a few things one last time, before you get stuck in and build your band website and fan email system - your music marketing engine.

This whole post (which is a small book if we’re honest!) has been about getting you set up for success in your music career.

Your primary goal is to find a way to build a fanbase that loves your music enough so that you can make your music a sustainable career.

We’ve said many times that career could be full-time with at least a middle class income (totally achievable, by the way) or it could be that you just want to be a hobbyist or anything in between.

Your goal should not be getting a record deal, getting signed, having a hit or whatever – that may come later and I accept that some artists do still network, toil in obscurity and then get a deal and launch with massive label support.

But the chances of that happening for you are miniscule.

And, even if that is going to happen for you, you can build your own sustainable career whilst working toward that goal.

Your primary goal therefore has to be getting to the point where your music and your career reach the goal you set for them.

That can only happen when you know how to make, promote and market your music and your band in a way that is proven to get you there.

The music success foundation lays out the elements you need to have in place to support you.

Make great music that touches people. Figure out where your music has a natural fit and what fans in that sub-genre want. Work out the ways to reach these people and send them into a funnel where they can learn about you and your music, engage with your story and learn to love what you do.

Entertain and connect with the fans you find with behaviour that is normal in that scene for people who follow that sound. Share similar music, memes, insights, news plus funny and thoughtful stuff.

Send the people in this community to your Squeeze Page and nurture them with a series of emails.

You’ll end up with a growing core of fans who already understand exactly who you are, what you’re about and where your music fits.

Then, whenever you release music your fanbase will be ready and waiting to hear it and buy it.

You’ll have your own captive audience.

Give your fans what they want. Understand your micro-niche and sell them the things that they ask for, whether that is physical CD’s and vinyl, merchandise, house concerts or world tours!

We teach you in this series exactly how to build this system using your band website and a fan email list.

Email remains the best way to directly interact with your fanbase for the foreseeable future.

It may be joined by Facebook Messenger or some kind of messaging app or chat bot in the relatively near future. And you might well consider using that as well - it can do no harm!

But, whatever it is, you’ll need to send all your potential fans to a place where you can capture their contact information (their email) and then nurture the relationship with them through email marketing.

Luckily, that’s exactly what the next steps in this series will teach you.

Follow along, build the system that we show you and you will transform your opportunities, your fanbase and your career.

We’ve created this series of posts to teach how we do all this using our preferred tools. We use these platforms and tools as they are the best combination of ease of use, affordability and flexibility - and we know they work. They are what we use for all of our clients.

​Don’t forget that you can also download the full checklist to keep on hand as you go through all these steps (which also covers the set-up of the email list and squeeze page).

Download the accompanying course checklist by clicking below:

CLICK TO GET THE FREE COURSE CHECKLIST NOW

CLICK TO GET THE FREE COURSE CHECKLIST NOW

You can go back to the hub page for all the posts for the whole system here but if you’re reading these posts in order then click below to go to the next step.

Get started and get this built!

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10 Key Steps You Must Take To Succeed In The Music Business!

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Ian

Ian Clifford is the owner of Illicit Media, a music management and consulting company. He is also the owner of Make It In Music, an online site that is the ultimate resource for aspiring musicians offering advice, tips, and insight on all the skills needed by modern artists to succeed in the rapidly changing music industry.

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