Test your music products before you go to market

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Getting feedback before committing your time and money can help you put music products on the market that actually appeal to your potential fans

Test your music productsTesting and feedback should be part of the process of getting your music products into releasable form. Testing material on your most likely fans – and making necessary improvements and decisions before committing your time and money to the recording, manufacturing, distributing, and promoting – can help you make decisions that will be the difference between success and failure.

Without market research, you could easily spend hundreds (or thousands) of your hard-earned dollars recording music that’s unmarketable to music supervisors, labels, radio stations, and even your own target fans! Assuming that you are more than just a hobbyist and want to earn money from your music, make no mistake, testing and feedback increases your chances for success. Creating in a vacuum and simply hoping that people will love it is like shooting in the dark.

Develop and demo your products and services
The first step in the testing and feedback process is to get your music (or other products) into presentable form so you can test them on your target audience. This could mean simply putting together a pitch to present your ideas conceptually, or creating an “inexpensive” demo/prototype. Whatever approach you take, just be willing to pay some dues. Don’t rush the process. If needed, you might even enlist the professional advice of consultants, co-writers, and others to set you on track. This is crucial. Great marketing campaigns start with great songs first and foremost.

Test your products/services on your most likely fans
Once you’ve invested the necessary effort to get your products and services into presentable form, it’s time to craft a variety of simple survey questions. Your questions might include: “How would you describe our style of music?” or “Of these three, which t-shirt design is your favorites?” or “On a scale of one to five, do you think this song should be included on my forthcoming debut EP.” Whatever it is you want to test, just make your questions precise so that you collect the most accurate and unbiased results.

Use the Internet
To distribute your questions to your target audience, it’s simple to present them online using free services like Survey Monkey or Zoomerang, embed these surveys on your websites, and post hyperlinks on your social networks. You can also scour the Internet for relevant websites (such as those of bands that have a similar sound as yours), engage these fans in a two-way conversation to form a bond, and then invite them to give you feedback. Just be sure to impose a survey deadline to ensure that you get immediate results, and offer a free song download or some other prize to give people more of an incentive.

Conduct your tests live
If testing your products and services on the Internet seems a little impersonal, you can always present them before a controlled live audience in your rehearsal space or house concert. Gather a sample audience of your most likely fans (e.g., people who may conveniently be part of your gym, student body, workplace, etc.), distribute your questions on small index cards, and perform your material live while your audience provides feedback. If surveys seem a little too uncool, you could have someone conduct random interviews outside the event as people are leaving. Again, just be sure to offer an incentive to those who participate in your research (beer and pizza work great).

Good things come from hard work
While testing and feedback is often overlooked by artists who are anxious to get their material produced or just fearful of rejection, it is a crucial stage in the marketing process that cannot be neglected. I know this all sounds like work, but it can be done. I should know, I’ve done it myself! So get motivated and get to work. Research is the breakfast of champions.

Test dummy image via ShutterStock.com.

Music Marketing for the DIY MusicianWant to learn more about testing and feedback? Bobby Borg, renowned drummer, teacher, consultant, and Disc Makers contributor, is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Limited Budget (September 2014, Hal Leonard). The book is available on the Hal Leonard website, Amazon.com, or at BobbyBorg.com.

The contents of this post are © 2014 by Bobby Borg BobbyBorg.com. All rights reserved. Not to be posted, printed, or used in any other way without proper attribution to Bobby Borg and Disc Makers.

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3 thoughts on “Test your music products before you go to market

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