Best Practices in Promoting Professional Musicians

Promoting professional musicians and increasing their fan base is not a simple task. Whether designing a DIY promotional campaign for your own band’s album release or starting a promotion company with a roster of artists, promotion is perhaps the most important aspect of “breaking” a band — essential for success in that band’s career and your own. Although traditional promotional media like posters, radio interviews, TV show spots, and newspaper or magazine advertisements still have some effect, successful promotion campaigns increasingly focus on innovative new concepts for connecting to fans.

The most obvious example of modern promotion is using social media and online videos to connect with potential fans. But simply having an online presence will not lead to stardom. Advanced graduate study programs like the Frost School of Music’s online Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries emphasize emerging, innovative promotion and marketing strategies in their curricula. Being creative and staying on the edge of modern promotion techniques is the key to success in the music industry.

Why Has Music Promotion Changed so Drastically?

There are many answers to this question, but they can be distilled into a few key points. In the digital age, modern technology makes it affordable for anyone with a minimal amount of equipment to record and release their own music. In addition, through music and video streaming services, consumers can listen to music at very little cost and be exposed to a much broader range of music than through other avenues.

Although this change in how people consume music has led to a decline in music industry revenue, it is also responsible for the emergence of successful indie labels and small companies focused on artist promotion and marketing. And, with digital access to the global marketplace and free social media platforms, many DIY artists self-promote. The flexibility and creative mindset of such companies and artists allow them to react quickly to new trends. And, being uniquely positioned for rapid market analysis, experimentation, feedback and strategy adjustment, the indie and DIY side of the music industry often drives new trends and innovations in music promotion.

What Are the Most Important Parts of a Music Promotion Campaign?

An essential aspect of a successful promotion campaign consists of understanding your product, your target audience, and the most effective methods of connecting the two.

While this may seem like a simple approach, you need to tailor each campaign to the artist being promoted. Is it a studio album release, a new music video or a live performance? What is the existing fan base, and in what markets are you trying to expand that fan base? How do those audiences consume music? Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, YouTube or CDs? How does that audience get exposed to music beyond the above platforms? Facebook, radio, indie music blogs, magazines or even word of mouth?

What Are Some Examples of Innovative Promotion Techniques?

Again, successful promotion depends, in part, on what you are promoting and who you are promoting it to. Pop artists like Kendrick Lamar get widespread promotion through both traditional and non-traditional avenues because they have mainstream appeal. You might hear a review of Lamar’s last album on NPR. But you might also see video advertisements for the album embedded in music blogs and web magazines. And, of course, promotion on social media platforms is now an important tool for mainstream promotion, given that the target population is well-versed in social media.

On the other hand, emerging indie artists often need to be more creative with promotion to build their audience. Bands offer free tickets to fans who share their events on Facebook. Or an artist might ask for artwork submissions from fans for a new album. Even simply responding directly to fans who comment on band posts on social media can create that personal connection. Building direct involvement, investment and loyalty in fans makes them want to share the music — when they promote it to all of their friends, it exponentially increases organic promotion reach.

Touring is essential for developing new markets and promoting new albums, but it can be expensive in the beginning. Again, creativity is necessary for sustainable touring. Nive and the Deer Children are a prime example of using creativity to sustain promotional efforts. The band’s eight members hail from Greenland, the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Germany and Sweden. They tour all over the globe, which gets very expensive. So the band explores all avenues of tour income, from applying for government arts grants to setting up daytime workshops with music schools. In addition to making tours affordable, all avenues of income development act as secondary creative promotion for the band, developing new fans and press opportunities.

In a saturated and constantly changing music industry, professional musicians and promoters need to be proactive in their approach to building a fan base and pursuing success. The above examples constitute a small sample of modern promotional techniques. With a creative approach and knowledge of industry trends, music professionals can devise countless ways to promote music effectively.

Learn more about the Frost MBEI online program.


Interview With Nive Nielsen of Nive and the Deer Children

Mashable: 10 Best Practices for Bands on Facebook

Entrepreneur: 3 Creative Marketing Strategies Inspired by the Music Industry’s Collapse

LA Weekly: How Did a Secret Concert Series With Mostly Unknown Bands Get So Popular?

The Guardian: Secret Gigs Place the Next Big Thing Right Into Your Front Room

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