Direct Marketing for Musicians (Part 1)

Direct marketing is probably the most effective way to create awareness for products and services. Even to musicians this method is being regularly recommended since it is (initially) cost-effective and delivers high conversion rates. Despite all the advantages, though, the question remains: Where can you find contacts to reach with direct marketing? 

The two best direct marketing tools are eMail, that is your own newsletter, and snail mail. The fact that you can notify your fans about concerts and album releases via newsletter or good old post cards (all the rage again) is no longer a secret. What’s critical is finding fans and getting them to hand over their contact information to receive your ‘advertising’. So where do you take it?

Even the free mp3 you give your fan in exchange for their eMail address is no longer spezial – although it still works well as an incentive. But let us go another step back in the process and find out how to actually direct fans to your website or your newsletter sign-up form. In order to do just that you will have to reach potential new fans – and that’s a basic task in all kinds of marketing.

One way is to lead your existing social media contacts to your newsletter form to intensify the connection. Not all of them will follow, but that’s a good point to weed out the bandwagon folks.

Recruiting strangers, however, will be far more difficult. A news release in blogs and webzines that promotes a free mp3 will hardly cause any reaction anymore. So the best – and very classic – way to reach new fans is via your music. Which again means creating awareness with your music, convincing people with your music so you can easily lead them to your website where they will find a newsletter sign-up option (hey, if you got ‘em that far, you better sell ‘em your latest album – but let’s continue with direct marketing).


So how can this kind of “fan attraction“ work? Your music video is one easy tool if you point at your newsletter (and the free mp3) in the video’s description and annotations.

Another very effective way to draw awareness is album reviews, interviews and concert reviews in relevant webzines, blogs and magazines as well as radio features. For that to happen you will need to work closely with the media on a personal level.

Most of my subscribers have signed-up only after they had actually bought a CD. Advertising your newsletter and more merchandize in your CD booklet performs miracles. Any time a fan places a direct order through your website she leaves her contact information. Indie distributor CD Baby, for example, provides you with contact details of your buyers if they haven’t expressly opted out during their purchase.

At the end there is a cycle: get contact information to advertise music – sell music to get contact information. This cycle needs to be broken and entered somewhere.

We will talk more about “working your fans” via direct marketing in part 2.

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About MusicBizMadness

Julian Angel is a chart-noted songwriter and film musician with Hollywood credits. He has successfully released six (physical) records by himself. MusicBiz Madness started as a business conference in Germany and keeps sharing hands-on advice for musicians and people in the music industry.
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