Brian Hazard is a recording artist with sixteen years of experience promoting his eight Color Theory albums. His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion. Brian is also the head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.
Let’s be clear about one thing from the start: you’re not going to make that £500 back in sales.
The success of your campaign should be measured by the number of new subscribers to your mailing list. You do have a mailing list, right? And your own web site? If yourbandname.com isn’t available and you’re just getting started, come up with a new band name! While it’s important to have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and arguably a MySpace profile, those should all serve to direct traffic back to your site – not the other way around.
Once your mailing list/web site foundation is in place, let’s start spending that money!
It may be the best song you’ve ever written, but is it a hit? Is it powerful enough to inspire listeners to share it with their friends? To hand over their email address? To open their wallets? What we need is an honest opinion from people who have nothing to lose from being honest.
We begin, and possibly end, our journey at SoundOut. For about £30, they compile the results of 80 reviews into an easy-to-read PDF report. While I have some reservations about the usefulness of the data, it’s the fastest way I know of to get an unbiased opinion from a large sample of listeners.
For now, you only need to focus on one number in the report: Market Potential. If it’s less than 50%, your campaign is over. Either come up with a better song, or use listener feedback to make this one stronger. Look for common themes in the comments and head back to the drawing board.
If you’ve got several songs ready to roll but aren’t sure which one to push, try running a focus group on Jango, then order SoundOut reports on the top performers.
God knows we’re not in this for the money. Most of us just want to be heard. Jango Airplay is the most cost-effective way to make that happen.
Jango Airplay plays your music alongside big name acts of your choosing on internet radio site Jango.com, boasting 7 million listeners. Over the past year and a half, my band Color Theory has been played nearly 150,000 times to fans of Depeche Mode, The Postal Service, and Owl City. Dozens of Jango listeners bought albums, friended me on Facebook, and followed me on Twitter. In other words, Jango listeners are real people who may become real fans.
Your SoundOut report should provide some clues as to what artists to target. Your Jango stats and comments will narrow it down even further. Continue to refine your targeting and you’ll know exactly what major label acts you sound like.
Facebook Ads are dirt cheap. I’m currently paying $0.06 per click, and $0.12 per 1000 impressions, on a budget of $2 per day. The specifics of creating your ad campaign are beyond the scope of this article, but there’s a great primer right here on this site. Basically, you’re going draw in new fans using the major label artists you’ve been compared to. For example, here’s my ad:
Clicking on it takes users to a custom landing tab created in Static FMBL (it sounds harder than it is), which talks a little about a-ha and encourages them to download songs from the Band Profile tab, courtesy of ReverbNation’s My Band application. They can download the first few songs straight off, but the last four require them to subscribe to my mailing list, which is, as you’ll remember, the whole point.
While Jango and Facebook both allow and even encourage you to run your campaigns on auto-pilot, you’ll get the most bang for your buck by consistently refining your approach.
At Jango, experiment with different targets and mass messages. At the very least, offer your fans a free download of the song if they subscribe to your mailing list. I take it a step further and encourage them to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. My $200/month campaign results in 3-5 shared email addresses and 1-2 (that I know of) Facebook friend adds per day from Jango listeners.
At Facebook, hone your pitch to razor sharpness. Run multiple adds and weed out the ones that don’t work. Encourage and participate in the conversation on your wall and direct traffic back to your web site, where you should be offering free song downloads to your mailing list subscribers. If you’ve set up a ReverbNation profile for Facebook, you’ll want to use their “Exclusive Downloads (Pro)” widget on your site, as I do here.
Most importantly, nurture your fans by communicating with them on a regular and consistent basis. Don’t even think about selling anything until you’ve got at least 1000 subscribers. Keep your web site updated with fresh and interesting content, and use your mailing list and social networking profiles to direct traffic there. The money may follow, or it may not, but your fans are your biggest asset.
Tomorrow I’ll be posting up David Huffman’s great answer to the question ‘How would you spend £500 on marketing a song release?’, which explores some of the methods of building an online fanbase offline (in the real world!)
Who’s Dave Huffman?
Dave is another great blogger and musician whose posts on the Indie Launch Pad are never short of being plain awesome. I recommend checking out this interview on live show marketing tricks I previously had with him on The Musicians Guide, following him on Twitter, and of course, checking out the interview tomorrow!