You might have heard me talk about James Altucher’s practice of coming up with 10 ideas every single day, and how I’ve adopted it into my own daily routine.
I believe it is a hugely beneficial habit to create, because it forces you to apply your mind to different areas of life. All too often, our beliefs go unexamined, and that’s why we tend to run with the same ideas over and over again without getting different results.
If you have to come up with 10 new ideas every single day, it will force you to think outside the box. Not that every idea you generate will be great, but at least you’ll begin to exercise your mental muscle on a daily basis.
In any case, you are here because you are looking for music marketing ideas.
So let’s get into it. Think of this like a buffet; you can take what you want, and leave what you don’t want. These are not proven methods, so you can tweak, change, experiment, or take a different approach to each of them.
Here are 10 music marketing ideas for you to try.
1. Brand Your Cases
What are some things you carry with you everywhere? If you’re regularly playing gigs, then it’s quite likely you carry your gear (like you guitar) in cases.
If you had an eye-catching logo on your cases, they could potentially double as marketing devices. If they look cool, you could also use them as props onstage.
You can use a custom banner for the same purpose, but you probably don’t carry your banner with you. On the other hand, if you’re a guitarist, and you love your instrument, you probably carry it with you everywhere you go.
Moreover, you probably frequent certain places more than others, which would mean that your brand would catch the attention of the same people on a regular basis. That’s exactly what you want to happen, because it often takes repeated views for a logo or a brand to stick in people’s minds.
This works great on a local level, but it could work pretty well as you go on tour or travel too. If you want people to remember you, you have to stick out in some way. This is just one way you could make that happen.
2. Carry a Mobile Device with Your Music on it
How many times do people ask you what kind of music you play when you tell them that you’re a musician? Probably more often that you realize.
It’s great to have a compelling 30 second elevator pitch, but you know what would be even better? To be able to play a few seconds of your music for your new friend on the spot.
Maybe give them a quick description, like the kind Derek Sivers used to recommend (“We’re like James Brown funk meets White Album era Beatles”), and then pull out your phone or tablet, and actually play your music for them.
If you have a good enough description, people might want to know more about your music anyway, but why not be more proactive? Why not get them to listen on the spot, and help them make a quick decision as to whether or not they want to buy your music or come to your next show?
If they seem to be enjoying it, you could even help them take another step with you on the spot. Have a signup app ready so they can enter their name and email and get on your mailing list right then and there.
You have to be proactive about removing the steps between them getting to your music. If they have to go home and get on their computer to look you up, they might not do it at all.
If you get them on your email list – even if they don’t stay on it for long – at least you’ve exposed them to your product, and you’ve given them the chance to take the relationship to the next level.
3. Create Compelling Live Performance Pamphlets
Have you ever noticed how people can be a little standoffish when considering whether or not to come to your live show?
A live performance is a great opportunity to turn bystanders into fans, so it serves to reason that you want to get more people out to your shows. The question is, “How?”
There’s no doubt that you can attract some attention with free giveaways, contests, sales, and the like. But what about a professionally designed pamphlet that demonstrates what it’s like to be at one of your shows?
You could show the band rocking out onstage, how much fun your fans are having, what people said about your latest performance, how people can contact you, and so forth.
This isn’t just a great tool for your fans; it’s a great tool for getting booked too. You can give a pamphlet to a venue that’s hemming and hawing about booking you, and if they see that you can really bring a crowd and entertain them, they’re going to be more likely to hire you.
People are visual, and while it’s good to have text for them to read, when it comes to selling your live show, nothing is going to be more powerful than something they can hold and look at.
Do pamphlets trump posters? I would be inclined to think so, because people can’t really take posters with them.
You could also do this with video of course, but hey, this is about music marketing ideas, not music marketing trends or clichés.
4. Make Your Own Music Magazine
You don’t have to go the traditional print route of course, as that could be a costly proposition. There are plenty of ways to distribute your content online.
If you have someone in your band that’s competent at graphic design and/or layout, or you know someone that is, you could enlist their help in developing a magazine that speaks directly to your market.
If I was doing this, I would have articles, interviews, and pictures from recent performances. I wouldn’t just have it for the sake of promoting myself; I would create a collective, and showcase numerous bands that I like.
It’s almost like a record label, but a little looser. A project like this could be a time-intensive investment, but if you can create a loyal readership, rest assured they’re going to want to follow your career and buy from you when you have something new.
After all, it’s a magazine. People are already expecting ads to be in there. If you make it easy for people to be able to order product from you (i.e. include order forms), who’s to say they won’t?
This is a great way to be a leader in your scene. Other bands and artists will love you for doing it, and you’ll be able to create a scene around many active artists instead of just you.
5. Host Networking Events
After booking many gigs and tours, you should be pretty competent at setting up events and marketing them. But who’s to say you have to play a show every single time?
You could have album listening parties, album signing parties, Christmas parties, and other types of events.
The key thing is to be sensitive to the timing of your event.
What are people thinking about around the New Year? Things like goal-setting, time management, resolutions, planning for another year, right?
So the New Year would be a perfect time for a networking event where people can get together, trade contact information and build some new partnerships for the year ahead.
See, in today’s market, you stand to benefit the most from events/products/services that others also stand to benefit from.
If you put on events and gain a reputation for it, you will become the go-to person for it. Suddenly, people are coming to you wondering when you’re putting on another one, because they had so much fun the first time around.
In addition to timeliness, I would also be thinking about scarcity. Not that you want to limit the number of opportunities for people to get together, but if you do it too often, you could run the risk of getting ignored.
It’s kind of like performing in your home town too often. People get tired of it. You need to spread yourself out a little more.
6. Develop Partnerships with Product Creators
You might remember the U2 iPod from a few years back.
Naturally, this only happened because of the relationship between Apple and U2, and because they were both huge brands in their own right.
This does not mean that it couldn’t work on a smaller scale though.
The main thing to be thinking about is who it makes sense to partner up with. You don’t want to do it with just anybody, because a bad placement is a bad placement no matter how you frame it.
Think of your band’s logo and web address on toilet seats… Actually, there might be some potential there.
Anyway, the point is that there are going to be some good opportunities and bad opportunities. You need to be a little discerning.
Cross-promotion can take many forms, but physical products that people use, re-use and keep are among the best marketing tools available, because your brand identity keeps getting reinforced.
Do you know anyone on a local level that you could partner up with? Any small companies interested in working with artists and bands?
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. If you have some leads worth pursuing, give it a try.
7. Become a Public Speaker
The advantage of getting known as a speaker is that you get to establish yourself as an expert in a particular field.
In addition to that, you can also earn money from public speaking. Wouldn’t it be nice to create another stream of income for yourself?
Really think about this for a second. You’re a musician, and you have many stories and experiences you could share with people.
You can do a bit of storytelling at a show, and it’s a good idea to do that, but people are also there to hear your music, so it’s not really the same as having a platform from which to share a message.
Public speaking is like a performance, so again, you already have some experience in this area. It’s not completely beyond the realm of comprehension that you could deliver a speech if you can play a show.
What you need to keep in mind is that you need to be focused in what you want to share, and it also has to be value-adding to others.
It can be funny, entertaining, inspirational, motivating, quirky, or maybe even all of those.
But you don’t want people going, “Great, what was the point of that?” You have to know what you’re after.
If you become a speaker, you can connect and network with more people. A lot of great opportunities could come through that, including sales, shows, partnerships, and so on.
8. Tell a Story with a Tour
One of the challenges of trying to get people interested in your tour is that oftentimes your fans will only come to see you once.
Super-fans might come to several shows just because they like you, and die-hards might even follow your entire tour, but you can rest assured they are the exception.
Of course, you want to be playing to different audiences every night. That’s the point of a tour; to make more fans.
But what if there was a way to get people invested in the entire tour. Maybe you could get them to tune in via a site like Ustream, or go to your website every day to check the latest tour date.
How would you do that? Well, you could tell a story with your tour.
You may have heard of They Might Be Giants’ Venue Songs project. Basically, every night audiences were treated to a unique song that had something to do with the specific venue the Giants were playing in.
Similarly, you could share a piece of the puzzle at every show, not revealing the big picture until the very end.
Every show, you would reveal another piece, and then another piece, until the story is complete.
Do you think this might be a great way to sell a DVD or a CD at the end of the tour? Do you think people might flock to your website to find out about the full story?
Of course, you wouldn’t reveal the story in whole on your website until the tour was over.
What you want to do is keep people engaged to the very end, and you could do this with story-specific songs, a reading of a chapter from a literal story, a physical puzzle piece given to a fan… however you want to do it.
9. Gamify Your Music
If you’re a web surfer, chances are you’ve probably heard a few things about gamification here and there.
So far, I can’t say that I’ve seen a lot of gamifying in the realm of music.
Anyway, what exactly could you do to make things interesting?
Perhaps you could have a playlist contest where the people that listen to a specific track of yours the most times during a certain time-frame have the chance to win a special giveaway.
Or maybe you could have a merch checklist, where you fans can check off the things they already have of yours, which would immediately make apparent the items they haven’t purchased from you yet.
Maybe you could have a fan club where the fan that contributes the most gets the most points, which goes towards discounts on concert tickets.
Are you starting to get the picture? There are a lot of different possibilities here.
I would be asking myself how to keep fans engaged and involved. It’s great to sell an album here and there or have a turnout at your shows, but it’s even better to keep the momentum going.
You should have things that fans can do every single day, whether it’s requesting a song on the radio or recommending you to a specific venue.
But instead of asking for their cooperation upfront, make sure they get something in return for their work. That will help you to keep fans for longer.
10. Fake Publicity Stunts
If you don’t take yourself too seriously and have a sense of humor, this one should be easy to pull off. The goal is to provoke a reaction from your fans.
For example, if you’re a metal band, you could put together a fake promo video for your next album, which is going to be a country album.
You would make sure that the dialogue gives specific reasoning as to why your band decided to take things in a new direction.
This is kind of like The Onion, or an April Fools’ joke. You make it just real enough to sound believable.
When you make people go “WHAT!?”, you inevitably leave an impression on them. They have to follow you to find out what happens next.
Then they share it with their friends, because they found it so funny and so unique.
I imagine there are some bands and projects that have actually started in this exact manner. This Is Spinal Tap definitely treads this line.
So how could you get your fans in an uproar? How could you make them question what they’re seeing? That’s what you want to do with a stunt like this.
So those are my marketing ideas. You can take them or leave them, and you can criticize them if you want to, but you can’t accuse me of not putting thought into this.
There is no guarantee that these ideas will work. They aren’t proven or tested. I just want to make sure we’re abundantly clear on that point.
At the very least, I hope I’ve opened up your eyes to the possibilities. I hope you’re starting to think about long-term engagement instead of just gaining one impression or one sale.
Are there any other outside-the-box marketing tactics you can think of? Have you tried any unusual strategies?
Let us know in the comments section below!
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.