Some music industry gurus out there say that “musicians shouldn’t spend their time learning how to be marketing experts, instead they should be dedicating as much time as possible to writing music – the marketing should then be outsourced to someone who enjoys it”.
While I agree with this on a certain level, I disagree on another. Here’s why.
I like the attitude of ‘doing everything it takes’ to succeed. I believe that you don’t need to compromise your time writing music to make time for learning about music promotion, you just need to compromise all the time you spend doing nothing, or worse yet, worthless things.
I want to share five tips that I personally use to stay productive with my music ventures and keep up to date with constantly learning about music marketing whilst constantly maintaining my projects like The Musician’s Guide and my day job.
The first trick is to identify all of the time that you are ‘wasting’ every single day, and fill them with something useful – learning about music marketing. If you took all the time you spend walking places, commuting, waiting for people, watching TV and working unproductively and then just replaced all of that with useful time spent learning about promoting music then you are essentially learning knowledge at no expense to your songwriting time.
Tip 1. Listen to Audio Books whilst commuting – I recently discovered this one and it’s amazing. I spend on average 1 hours and 30 minutes commuting around Oxfordshire each day, that’s 30 hours a month that I wasted listening to arrogant radio presenters and the occasional commercial pop song, but now I’m spending an extra 30 hours learning about new marketing practices. I recently bought Linchpin by Seth Godin and Made to Stick by Chip Heath on audiobook CD and both have been so interesting and helped me learn a lot of new things without compromising my evening time.
Tip 2. Read blogs on the run – I rarely sit down at my computer and read blogs, instead I log on to Hootsuite on my phone, see what’s popular amongst my Twitter feed and read the latest music marketing blog posts in the mobile browser when I’m walking to the gym at lunch, or walking to and from my car or waiting for someone to arrive.
Tip 3. Analyse what other musicians are doing well – As you become more aware of marketing practices you will start to notice how other artists are marketing themselves and what they’re doing well and not very well. Sometimes you will see bands do some really great marketing that you would have never have thought about. Take The Hoosiers for example using SEO to reduce illegal downloading. Amazing idea! I guess the key point here is that as a musician you will no doubt be meeting lots of other artists at gigs and on the internet anyway, talk to them about their music promotion and learn what’s working for them, then figure out if you can replicate any of it for your music.
Tip 4. Write a blog from a smartphone – I’ve already discussed why blogs are beneficial to musicians on this blog, and Jon @ MicControl left a great comment, which I’ve copied in below. If you have a smartphone like an iPhone, Blackberry, or HTC then you should be able to either download a WordPress app or use the standard mobile internet browser to write blogs from your phone. I have written several of the blog posts on The Musician’s Guide whilst sitting on trains on my phone! It’s a great way to kill that wasted time with something productive.
The blogging community is quite open and welcoming, and if you do put the time into blogging, it can teach you all the proper etiquette as to how you should be representing yourself through other avenues of social media. Unfortunately, many artists are in the business of promotion, not networking and only working on sites like Facebook and Twitter creates a lot of negative outlook towards these musicians who are creating ‘spam’. But with a blog… it forces musicians to think in terms of content and value, which WILL carry over to FB and Twitter once they get the hang of it.
– Jon Ostrow, MicControl
Tip 5. Work harder / smarter – I like to alternate between working harder (staying up late to learn about some new marketing information and as Gary Vaynerchuk would say – hustlin’) and working smarter (turning emails off, using a stop timer to do fifteen minute blocks of work at a time) – if you can increase your productivity to get 4 hours work in 2 hours then that’s 2 hours extra to spend on learning about music promotion.
I hope this has helped and perhaps given a second side to a very compelling argument. Feel free to let me know what you think and which side of the fence you sit on with this debate in the comments below.
Image Credit: Nikonvscanon