music marketing

Tailor your music marketing campaigns for different types of media

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To boost the effectiveness of your marketing, you need to understand the four different types of media channels. Each requires a different approach and, in this article, we explain how to use the first two to get the message out about your music.

Once you have your music, a killer online and live show, and a release calendar to organize all of it, you’re ready to promote everything you do, grow your audience, and boost the money you make with music. Your next step is to create a promotion campaign, and the best campaigns consider how to effectively use the four different types of media channels. Each type of media channel requires a different approach, so when you tailor your marketing campaign to a specific channel, you can maximize your exposure. In this two-part article, we’ll explain the differences and show you how to use them to your advantage.

Promotion and publicity

Your campaign starts with your release calendar, which will determine what you’re releasing — or what event you’re holding — and when. To be most effective, you’ll use promotion techniques for those media channels where you fully control the message, and publicity techniques when you want to influence others to talk about you and your message.

Create effective messages by having a call to action. This means that every message should have a goal to get the reader to do something, such as to stream your latest release, purchase a ticket, buy merch, follow you on Spotify or social media, or whatever it is that you want them to do.

Of the four types of media channels, the three you have control over are: owned, shared, and paid media. The last type, earned media, relies on your efforts to influence the owners or gatekeepers of these channels to publicize and talk about you. They’ll only include your call to action if you can get them to talk about it.

Between the two, getting publicity gives your message more credibility with your potential audience. After all, people already expect you to use your communication channels to promote yourself and say your music is awesome. But when Pitchfork says it, potential fans pay attention.

That doesn’t mean promotion isn’t useful. A well-written Reddit post or clever ad is entirely in your control and might catch people’s attention. Plus, Pitchfork is not likely to promote your latest merch or other events beyond the music review. Your fans, however, want to hear about everything you’re up to and the only way to do that is to communicate it through your promotion channels: your website, newsletter, and social media. Also, the two techniques mix and match well. You can amp up the reach of a great music review (PR) by providing quotes or a link to it in your marketing.

This article will start by covering the easiest channels to use: owned and shared media. In the next article, we’ll tackle techniques to use for the more advanced channels: paid and earned media.

Owned media

Owned media channels are all the non-social-media presences you’ve set up on the web that act as outposts for fans to discover you. They’re also your most powerful broadcast communication channels since you control them completely and they act as a direct connection to your fans. Examples of owned media include your website, online profiles, mailing list/newsletter, podcast, blog, streaming channels and playlists, audio content hosts (like SoundCloud), patronage and crowdfunding presences, and your online music business materials like your bio, fact sheet, press kit, booking kit, press releases, etc.

Because of this, these presences should be the first place you market and promote yourself. Obviously, there’s a lot to structuring your owned media, but here are the top three things you need to do.

1. Announce everything you release. Since you control these media and communication channels, you should use them to announce everything you release. Don’t worry about overwhelming your fans; as we covered in our post about your release calendar, releasing something each week or so isn’t too much for people to keep up with, and, if you’ve done a good job making your releases entertaining, your fans will want to hear about each release.

2. Automate, automate, automate. Using your owned channels shouldn’t overwhelm you. The key to avoiding this is to pre-schedule your posts when you plan the dates of your releases. You can pre-write web pages, blog entries, newsletter topics, and patronage posts since most owned media platforms let you easily schedule things in advance for release. For example, you can schedule blog posts, videos, and even web pages to publish on a certain date and time.

3. Include a “conversion” in each message. Because all of your promotional messages should get the reader to take action, you can build in the online actions as conversions by including buttons, links, widgets that allow fans to easily purchase merch, and more. By having your calls-to-action be links, it’s simple for you to influence the person to do what you want them to do. Even if you are just informing them of some recent news about your music, always include a call to action asking them to follow you on social media or sign up for your newsletter.

Shared media

Making Money With MusicYou are better off thinking of your social media as shared media because the goal is to get your followers to amplify everything you are promoting. Examples of these platforms include networking sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other services which are designed for user-generated content and reposting. They also include your video channel (YouTube) and streaming video channels (Periscope, Twitch, Facebook Live, YouTube Live) because these videos and streams can be reshared by fans. Shared media isn’t meant to be a one-way broadcast and audiences expect to engage with you on your shared media presences.

1. To be genuine, share and interact with fans besides announcing your releases. If all you do is promote, promote, promote on your shared media, your fans and followers may end up muting or unfollowing you. To avoid this, make promotional announcements a smaller percentage of your overall posts. To make sure your social media isn’t seen as spam, be sure to reshare, post links, give shout-outs to others, share photos or memes, and share your thoughts. Most importantly, engage with fans. Once you promote yourself to the world as an artist, you’re on stage and become more than just another person on the Internet.

2. Automate and auto-repost. Many shared media sites allow you to automatically repost things from your owned media or other shared media. For example, when you post a new YouTube video, the video platform or a third-party automation tool such as HootSuite can automatically share the link of the new video and post it as a new tweet on Twitter. You can also configure these automation tools to watch a particular feed for updates and automatically post about it. This means that each release should post to as many social media channels as possible without you needing to worry about manually posting on each one. Just monitor your social media feeds and be ready to interact with people who respond to you.

3. Encourage subscriptions and reshares. One simple way to to grow your subscriber base and increase re-shares of your posts is to simply ask your followers to subscribe and share your posts. Research data shows that by simply asking people to take the action, you will make it more likely. All of this can boost your reach.

— — —

There’s a lot to this topic of marketing; the six tips above are just a great place to start. It’s also the reason why marketing, promotion, and publicity cover multiple chapters of our book, Making Money With Music. Once you’re ready for more, it’s worth it to learn more since effective marketing can both grow your audience and boost your marketing messages.


Authors of the critically-acclaimed modern classic, The Indie Band Survival Guide, Billboard Magazine called Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan “the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” Their latest book, Making Money With Music (Macmillan) and free Making Money With Music Newsletter, help all musicians — from startups to pros — build a sustainable music business so you can make money in today’s tech-driven music environment.

How to make more money with music, vol. 1

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