Music Promotion: A Persistent and Sustainable Approach

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I remember back in the day when I played my first show with my first real band. We were really excited about the whole thing and eager to promote it. This was well before MySpace or Twitter or Facebook and at the time the obvious way to promote was to put up flyers. And put them up we did. We made tons of them. We made some really big ones too. Getting them in very visible or creative places was a source of pride. The theory was that if 0.01% of people who saw the flyer came to the show then we could pack the venue by making sure that 50,000 people saw the flyer.

The attendance at our first few shows was decent, so we continued with the plan. After trying this for a short while though, we just didn’t see any correlation between the flyers we put up and the attendance. The people who came to the shows were friends and their guests or people who had found out about us by word of mouth. We lost our enthusiasm for plastering the town with our propaganda.

This was always kind of a fuzzy topic for me for a long time. It never really clicked for me until I read something by marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson. He stated that after exhaustive tests experts found that on average it take 9 exposures to a product for someone to make a purchase. Suddenly this started to make a lot more sense for me. It’s something that I guess I knew on some level, but until that moment it was an abstract understanding of something that still frustrated me somewhat.

The truth is that virtually no one will act on your band’s marketing until they’ve had a number of exposures. Higher quality exposures can generate quicker sales, like if someone sees you as the opening act at a live performance, but advertisement requires repetition to work. I’ve seen artists make mistakes in this area at great cost to them.

It’s generally a very bad idea to purchase expensive advertising without the funds to launch a sustained campaign. You can’t spend a bunch of money on a full page add in a magazine and expect to get results, unless you can afford to continue targeting those same people over time.

As a web designer I saw the traffic statistics of a client’s website after an expensive national television commercial. The add was specifically designed to drive traffic to the site. The results of the first add? Well, let’s just say you could buy the same amount of traffic from Google pay-per-click advertising for the cost of a good meal. Ouch.

So what this means for you is that in order to be successful in your marketing you want to be persistent and consistent and promote in ways that you can sustain. Expect that people may have to hear about you from someone, see a flyer, see that their friend added you on Facebook, and then hear about you again before they decide to listen to your music. Then they may become a fan on Facebook, see one of your videos and think to themselves “I really should go see these guys”. Then they may see a post on Facebook and think about going to the show that you’re promoting. They may miss that show, but a month later their friend says something about your next show and they end up going.

That’s just one example of how it might go down, but the point is that it’s a process. You need to generate as many exposures as you can for your target audience and you should expect your marketing to take some time to produce results. If you don’t reach your potential fans enough times then you can be sure that very little will happen. What I wish I would’ve known with my first band was that 0.0% of all people who saw my flyer only once would actually go to a show, but if we had stayed with it and continued using other avenues of promotion as well then we could have gotten much better results in the long run.

Article by Scott James of The Independent Rockstar Blog.

5 thoughts on “Music Promotion: A Persistent and Sustainable Approach

  1. Agreed, They say the human brain needs to hear the same thing over and over again , atleast 14 times befor it remebers what it heard… Funny. Exposure is key in our bizz. Mik adn I have alwas supported you and the band as often as we can make it to see you guys perform. We love it! It’s always a great time.
    So we have to find other avenues for advertising to pack the room!!! I mean pack!!!!
    Nice article Scott. I look forward to reading more of them! Get in your car and come down for a visit.

  2. Makes so much sense, if no-one’s heard of you, a flyer isn’t gonna make them want to see you. unless they’ve heard about you before in some other way. Basically, it all matters.

    Thanks again Scott

  3. To further develop on TV advertising, i heard that over 40% of those that use it as an ad stream will never receive more than about 8% return from it. It’s not a dying trade, it’s dead…

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