Six music promotion mistakes to avoid

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Whether it’s failing to present a consistent brand, not pushing sales, or counting exclusively on social media marketing, these music promotion mistakes can derail your music career

music promotion mistakes to avoid

Are you having trouble getting the word out about your products and services and getting to that next level of your music career? Are you making mistakes that are costing you time, money, and even your own fans? What follows are six career killing mistakes that every musician should avoid.

1. Failure to communicate a consistent brand. Many artists fail to understand that literally everything – their name, logo, slogan, mascot, attitude, and sponsorships – affects the image that fans will form in their minds about them. If there is any confusion that is created (e.g., the title of the record or song doesn’t match the overall vibe of the band, the colors and fonts of the website don’t convey a consistent attitude, and your videos and photos make you look like a pop artist when you’re really into metal), the fans might get confused and not know what to think. Just remember that it is difficult for your fans to believe in something that is not clearly defined. Confusion equals disengaged fans, which equals lost sales. Be sure your marketing is consistent.

2. Failure to utilize a marketing mix of strategies (offline and online). Many musicians believe that promotion is all about the Internet and fail to understand that there are nine other strategies they can add to their music marketing mix: publicity, advertising, word-of-mouth, radio promotion, sponsorships, sales promotions, direct marketing, face-to-face selling, and guerrilla street marketing. As a result of this oversight, they don’t adequately reach their customers, increase awareness, and make sales. While it is true that many of your fans and potential buyers spend a lot of their time online, they also spend their time offline and respond well to a variety of other media. Just remember that the more places that you can deliver your message, the better.

3. Failure to be social on social media. Many artists forget to practice the same etiquette that exists offline, online. They invite fans who live in Los Angeles to gigs in New York. They send impersonal messages to people they don’t know and say, “Yo, check out my song!” They send friend requests without having a profile picture (they use that creepy default head). Careless promotion equals lost awareness and sales. Remember, to succeed in the music business, you must be more personal with your fans. After all, it’s called “social” networking for a reason.

4. Failure to push sales. Many artists feel that pushing sales at their live show is sleazy and cheap, or they’re shy about tooting their own horn and letting people know they exist. As a result, they fail to maximize profits and fan awareness. Just remember, every person who walks through the door is a potential sale and a potential walking advertisement wearing your T-shirts and hats. Look, if you’ve got something great to offer and you can enrich others’ lives with your work, there is nothing wrong with asking politely for the sale.

5. Failure to promote the benefits. Most musicians tend to promote the features of their products and services (what the product is), rather than promote the benefits (why fans should care). As a result, they fail to communicate a powerful message that rises above the competition. It’s not enough to tell people that you’re a DJ playing at the Standard Hotel on Saturday night at 9:00 PM. You must also communicate what’s in it for the fans: the mood you’ll put them in if they attend the event, the type of crowd with which they can mix and mingle, the ambience of the room, and the free parking and drink specials. Just remember, when you’re a young artist just starting out, it is important to stress the benefits!

6. Failure to execute face-to-face. Many artists network at the right conferences (SXSW, Taxi Road Rally, ASCAP’s I Create Music Expo), but ineffectively go in for the kill. They ramble on about their music careers when meeting people instead of eloquently presenting a 30-second elevator pitch that describes what they do and why people should care. They make excuses about their songs and recordings (“It’s not mixed yet,” “I haven’t recorded the vocals yet,” and “I’m going to re-do the drum track when I get home”) instead of coming to the event prepared. Even worse, they drink/party way too much, often embarrassing themselves, instead of focusing on business first. And finally, they hand out their press materials (CDs USB flash drives, etc.) to anyone with pockets instead of singling out their target audience. These are costly mistakes that will get you nowhere! So before your next convention, get your act together. You’ll get so much more bang for your networking buck!

Borg on music promotion mistakesA renowned drummer, teacher, consultant, and Disc Makers contributor, Bobby Borg 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,, or at

The contents of this post are © 2014 by Bobby, Borg 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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5 thoughts on “Six music promotion mistakes to avoid

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