June 05, 2014

5 Mistakes Artists Make In Promoting Their Music

Making it in the music industry as an artist often involves a lot of selling of yourself and your music. There are however right and wrong ways to go about doing that. Here are 5 of the most common mistakes artists make when it comes to promoting their music and trying to get the attention of music industry executives.

1) Reaching out to the Wrong People
The easiest way to waste your time and annoy someone in one move is by targeting the wrong people in your promotional efforts. You need to have at least a cursory understanding of the music industry and understand who is responsible for what. Don't send an email to a manager asking if they will be your agent (bonus points if you know it's actually against the law for them to do that in some states). Don't write to a publisher asking for a manager. And don't expect a talent buyer to get your song on the radio. If you can't take your career seriously enough to do the research required to understand who you are writing to and what they do, then they won't take you seriously either. For example,  while my site is about the music industry, I don't actually write about or promote music. Still, I get a surprising number of emails from artists hoping I will feature them. It doesn't matter how great their music is, it's never going to happen and they are wasting their time. Don't make that same mistake.

2) Grammar and Editing Issues
If you send an email, letter, press release, Facebook message, or anything else to someone in the music industry you need to make sure your grammar and spelling are correct. Don't use slang. Don't be too informal and start with things like "hey man." Don't use text-style abbreviations like idk. Keep your messages short and to the point and take out anything that's unnecessary. You don't need to sound like you're capable of writing a novel but you do need to sound professional and like you have good communication skills.

3) Lack of Contact Information
It's surprising how often musicians will send in a demo without including their email, phone number, social media links, or anything. Contact information should be on every single piece of material you send (like both the CD case and the CD itself). Make it easy for people to find out more information and get in touch with you if they do like what they hear.

4) Promoting With a (Metaphorical) Megaphone
It's common in major cities to see musicians on a random street corner handing out CDs. Most people aren't actually interested though. Instead, think about the kind of places your fans might like to go or visit online and think of ways to reach them there without spamming. That, essentially, is what target marketing is. Don't be so bold as to assume that everyone is going to like your music - even The Beatles can't say everyone likes them. This means that should NOT mix fans and friends. Just because someone knows you it doesn't mean they want to be on your email list to hear about every new song you write or show you play. If you think someone might like to stay updated on your music career ask them, don't just decide to include them in every Facebook event and email blast.

5) Over-hyping
Do not write about how amazing you are. Don't try to convince anyone you're the next Adele, how dope your beats are, or how incredible your songs are.  Let your music and accomplishments speak for themselves. Anything else is a waste of time and just makes you look like an amateur."Well," you say, "I don't have any accomplishments yet." You should work on that before you contact anyone in the music industry looking for help because they won't waste their time trying to help musicians who aren't willing to put in the work and help themselves. You wouldn't apply for a job without a resume, don't expect to get a record deal, agent, manager, etc. without some sort of musical accomplishments. This isn't to suggest you need to go on a major tour or win American Idol. However, you should have some things worth sharing that prove that people are interested in your music and you should rely on those things to sell get someone interested in listening to your music and then let the music speak for itself.
Examples of musical accomplishments worth mentioning:
  • Notable artists you've worked with- on tour, as a songwriter, as a session musician, collaborator, etc.
  • TV shows, Internet videos, movies, games, that have included your song
  • Venues you have played and how many tickets you can sell
  • Magazines, websites, blogs, or newspapers that have written about you
  • TV shows, festivals, radio stations you have performed on 
  • Radio stations that have played your music
  • Online statistics from social networks
  • Youtube views
  • Music sales
There are of course more things that can be added to this list but these are just examples to get you started.  It does not mean they need to be huge accomplishments, it could just mean winning a local open mic night or playing to 20 people at your local coffee shop, but keep in mind that a local indie record label will have different expectations than those of Britney Spears's manager. The only reasons it is ever appropriate to include the name of another artist in your message is when you have a) worked with them directly b) are comparing your sound, but not talent to theirs (for example don't say we're the next Maroon 5, do say your sound is like Maroon 5 meets Coldplay) or c) you toured with them.
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