The hardest part of DIY music marketing is not really the promotion of a new album. What’s even harder is staying on top of everyone’s minds during the long, often dry period that stretches from one record release to the next. Let’s discuss a few things you can do in order not to vanish.
In most parts of the indie circuit and underground market niches an album is considered “hot” for a total of three months. Or roughly 90 days. During that period your album will get reviews, airplay (or “net-play”), you will be doing interviews and people in your market niche will be talking about it. After three months attention and sales normally take a dive.
A professional marketing campaign, also called a release plan, usually covers two months. That’s a two-month runup towards the release, followed by the three hot months mentioned earlier. That amounts to a total of five months during which you and your album will get publicity.
While in terms of sales these two plus three months are critical and should get your full and undivided attention, there is another period you should never ignore: the gap. Mind the gap. Unlike a record label artists are not able to churn out a new full-length record every five months. An album packed with good music takes time to write, record, mix and master; not to mention the artwork and a possible video shoot.
Most musicians who release a new album every year go with a circle that spans over twelve months. Subtract the two months for the release campaign and the three-month hot phase – and it will leave you with seven months during which you will practically be off the radar. And that is the critical period you will want to overcome and get the best out of.
If you have the chance to play live even after your latest album’s hot phase you can use that to your advantage. Not only will you have something to do other than twiddling your thumbs, you will also have food for the media (tour dates) and, of course, for your fans. You can feed the latter with information using your newsletter, your social media channels and social media groups.
But what if you are a pure studio act? Then staying on top of the game will be even more of a challenge.
Make the News
Share the news, but stick to things that really are newsworthy. Could you land a placement for one of your songs in a film or a TV show? Tell the world. Especially, tell the media. A new music video is something worth considering to stir sales even after the hot phase has cooled down. Tell everyone about it, the media too.
Entertain your Fans
A newsletter – or mailing list – is still thee number one direct marketing tool. Sending your news out every other week is great. However, it will be even greater if your fans actually read them. Too many newsletters remain unopened and unread. Why?
Maybe because they are boring. Most artists only share their latest news with their fans, and an upcoming gig in Los Angeles might not really be of interest to a fan who lives in New York, or even Europe. Besides, sooner or later you will be running out of news, at least temporarily.
That’s when an entertaining newsletter is worth its letters in gold (how’s that for a metaphor?). Address your fans’ likes and concerns. Talk about the scene. Share other bands’ news. Promote important events within your niche. Recommend CDs, books, films and more as long as they suit your audience (the niche of [your genre here] maniacs). Whether you turn your newsletter into some kind of exclusive magazine or tell the joke of the week, it will give your readers something interesting and worth reading. Worth reading regularly.
The same is true and works for social media. Of course, your newsletter subscribers should always get the premium treatment, while your social media following will have to do with less – but you can give them the option to become a subscriber. Add that link at the bottom of your posts.
What’s it all good for? You will want to stay in touch with your fans as closely as you can, so that they will keep reading your emails and your social media posts until you finally announce your next album release – and that’s when you will want your fans to pay attention and listen !!!
Touch base with the Media
Staying in touch with your media contacts can be a bit tricky at times. After all, sending the occasional “Stopping by to say hi” email is a bit cheesy. But what about asking a media contact for advice? Or her opinion? Or giving the guy a slap on the shoulder for a good recent interview?
Many media guys also have profiles on social media platforms. Connect and leave a comment once in a while or even talk shop. Show them that you are still there.
What’s it all good for? You will want them to remember you both as a professional and a nice person, especially once it’s time again to promote another record.
You see, the time that passes between two album releases is a period you shouldn’t let just slip by. Take action to stay interesting so that people of all kinds will notice you, look at you and – most importantly – listen to you. Keep them in line for the next time. And the time after that. And after that…
Here’s to your success – Julian Angel
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