What Every Independent Artist Needs to Know About...
It is hard being an independent musician
This is a guide to help you in your path to greatness as an independent musician. We all know that getting signed to major recording labels is every music artists dream but that can also be a difficult task.
More often then not you have to build your own brand and namesake before the majors will begin to look at you. Here you will find steps to put your feet forward in that direction.
First Things First
Don't be good, be great!
In order to be noticed as an up and coming musician you can't just be average and expect much notice. You have to perfect your craft and be on the top of the pile. There are thousands upon thousands of other independent music hopefuls just like yourself that are trying to achieve greatness and thousands more who are already in the spot light. In order to gain recognition, the easiest way is to be better then the best. This means you also have to be better then the majors in some cases.
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Lets Talk About Marketing
Its not always what you do... Sometimes its HOW you do it...
Marketing for independent musicians can be difficult if you do not know how to do it. I'm assuming you don't have a few hundred grand to throw around like the major labels so you have to find much cheaper ways to get you name and music out to the public. There are many completely free ways to market and promote yourself to the public. The easiest way to do this is through Facebook.
Assuming you already have a personal page it only takes a few minutes of your time to create a fan page for your band. You can also link your band page to your band website and your blog. You can make you Facebook fan page your one stop shop for everything that is you on the web. Do not just create your band pages, websites, and blogs and forget about them. It is important to keep people updated. Your fans love to hear from you and find out what you are doing in the world.
If you can offer incentives for people to visit your websites. These could be things like a free song download or a signed poster from the band members for every so many visitors.
Also, when people speak, speak back. Get personal with your fans. They will never forget that.
Do your best to create a huge internet presence. Add your band to as many websites and social networks that you can find. Make it easy for people to Google you and come up with results. Do not forget about MySpace. It is still very powerful for music and marketing yourself. If there are free tools to use... USE THEM! Trust me on this... It will pay off in the long run.
If you have a website and a blog get yourself familiar with SEO. This will make it a little easier to get noticed on the web.
If you have a little cash to throw around advertise on the radio during rush hour and the night count down. These are the times when you have the most possible listeners. I implore you to try some or all of these techniques. It wont do a thing but help in the end.
The Small Things Make A Big Impact!
YouTube Is A Great Way To Market Your Songs Or Artists - Be creative in showing your talents to the world!
Are you on YouTube? If you are not get on YouTube immediately! Speak with your own voice. Showcase your videos and music. There are millions upon Millions of music videos being watched and shared from YouTube daily. You have to be a part of that phenomena.
With YouTube being the largest way to share your videos online you should not miss the opportunity to market yourself for free. Also if you post great videos there is a good chance that it can become viral and spread extremely fast. In today's world, who really needs MTV, BET, or VH1 when you have super powers like YouTube couples with the sharing possibilities of Facebook?
Exercise your creative juices. You can create full professional type videos or a simple album cover with the song playing in the background. It is your choice. I would suggest you get out your camera and showcase your ideas on video. Editing is key. A video that is horribly shot can be brilliant with proper editing. Any video can be amazing and has the potential to draw attention if it is done right.
Where Is Your Product?
Great marketing wont do any good if you don't have a packaged product
Now that you have your audience and your marketing plan, where is your product? Do you have any CD's? Are you going to be doing any digital distribution? Are your songs mastered? Do you plan on selling mixtapes?
These are questions that you will have to take a serious look at. When it comes to your final product you might want to seek at least a little professional help.
Let me start with mastering. Mastering audio is a much different animal then recording and mixing your song(s). You could give it a go and try to master your songs yourself but since you have spent hour listening, recording, and re-recording, your ears get tuned to what you have been used to hearing. Mastering should almost never be done in the same place where the song was recorded and mixed. You can find mastering studios for as cheap as $20.00 per song online and even some professional big wigs are pretty reasonable. Getting your song mastered will be a most valuable investment.
Next we'll move to CD's. CD's are now next to nothing to have manufactured professionally. There is no longer much of a need to burn your own CDR's when you can have a professional disc and cover made for less then $1.00. With digital distribution you will most likely only need CD's if you plan on in store distribution or to sell and promote at your shows. ALWAYS take merchandise to your shows by the way!
Since I just touched on digital distribution let me talk about it a little bit. There are many ways you can get this done. Digital distribution places your songs in places like iTunes, and Google Play, along with many other online music stores. Companies that do this for you are called aggregators. There are quite of few of these companies and they have a variant price range. I like to use TuneCore because of their digital store selection and pricing which is very reasonable compared to many of the others. Also if you want the opportunity to get your songs to A&Rs and producers for movies, television, and commercial you should try out Music X-Ray. They will help you find huge song royalty opportunities. There services are well worth your time.
Out With The Old, In With The New??!?
Are CD's still relevant?
What Do I Do Next?
Shop your demo!
Now that you have everything in place, now its time to make your move. Gather your press kits and start sending in your demos. With marketing in place, a huge web presence, and successful independent distribution the major record labels will be a lot more likely to take notice of your talents. The will now see how hard your have been working and will be more apt to giving you a shot. Don't just stop at one place. Send your demos and press kits to as many labels as you can afford to handle. Be careful not to put yourself into financial debt in doing so because some companies charge to take a look at your press kits. Do not be afraid of rejection. Nearly every major artist has been rejected before another label took them on and they made their piece of music history.