DIY Self Promotion
An list of doable, viable ideas about how to promote yourself in entertainment or any field for that matter!!!
DIY Artist Promotion – The New Normal
The definition of a CATCH 22: finding oneself in a paradoxical situation where solving one part of a problem creates another problem which in turn leads back to the original problem. From a promotional perspective, most new artists find themselves living in a Catch 22 existence; you need a core audience to attract managers, record deals, music publishers, bookers, agents and corporate sponsors but you cannot develop a core audience unless you have them. What’s a creative type to do? This situation continues to be the rule as opposed exception for an artist who has decided to take serious steps towards success in the Music Industry. You are an artist – a creative individual who lives to create art but must do so in order to live. Here is another Catch 22 train wreck that plagues most artists. You need to build a core audience to get a deal but you need the exposure a deal brings to get a core audience. The artist is thus faced with this discouraging road block to their success.
There was a time when an artist hooked up with promotional and developmental professionals to display their talent to radio stations, publicists, live performance venues, record companies, even potential managers and agents. It was a costly process in both time and money with little or no guarantee of success. So the industry smartened up: why develop the artist themselves when they can let someone else do it? Only when the risk of losing profits has been satisfactorily minimized will the big corporations step in and bring it home to optimize the profit potential with little or no investment of their own. Today’s industry looks for artists who have achieved a certain level of development before even considering getting in involved in them. They will invest in artists who have a following or a core audience illustrated by a track record of “likes” on social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The artist must show the proper signs, indicators that suggest viability and proof that a promotional foundation has been laid on their end first. It’s hard work but someone has to do it, so there is no other alternative than DIY.
While a small number of artists are fortunate enough to have investors who are willing to bankroll their career and hire developmental and marketing teams, the majority of artists are faced with the prospect of doing it themselves, which in artist-speak means, “giving up on the dream. “ Creating great product is not enough: it must be heard, the artist must be seen, mailing lists must grow, press clips must be collected, performances must be booked and Industry attention must be nurtured. The artist must create a demand for their art and build from there.
The question is how?.
Artists do not have the time, the money, the knowledge, or the tenacity to self promote. They do not have any type of business sense. They are lazy, spoiled, and focus solely on their art and do not waste time on promoting it. Excuses like those are thrown back and forth, but, I say, that is a crock. It may not be what they want to do, but if they realize how vital it is to their success, to their dream, they do it. The bitter but honest truth: an artist’s success is all about dedication and hard work, and if an artist does not have the drive to do whatever it takes, no amount of talent is going to bring success.
Yes, I know: when do you find the time to write, to practice and rehearse, to kick back and relax, to eat? The answer is you make time: you create a plan and a schedule to provide for all the things that are essential to your success and your survival. If it takes 70 hours a week, then so be it. It is all about budgeting your time wisely, sectioning out the right amount of time needed to devote yourself to developing your art and the time needed to self-promote and get your work out there. Here are ways to jump start the process and get the ball rolling, or at the very least attract an investor, an “art angel,” who is willing to pay others to pick up the promotional ball and tab and run with it.
You have to define your target market: where do they live, what do they like to do, what music are they listening to, what movies do they see, and what do they do with their leisure time? When you narrow down your target audience you then have to find a way to get in contact with them: blog posts, email blasts, Facebook and Twitter posts, personal shows, or digital downloads of your work. Whether it is online, in person or via snail mail, you have to reach out and give your potential audience a sample of what you do best. You have to hit them hard, penetrate deep to leave a lasting impression and maintain consistent contact in order to cultivate your appeal. You cannot be frugal here: you have to give product away, spoil them with freebies in order to amaze them with your wit, tenacity, and talent. You have to pull them in and keep them close and make them want to be a part of your launch as an artist, make them feel that they are integral to your early success. Present high-quality content that elicits a reaction and then ask them to take action by downloading one of your songs, like you on Facebook, or vote on your next single. Just do something, anything, to get them involved and on your side.
If you are using social networking, create a “group” to build followers and make sure your personal profile is complete. By all means, if you are serious about your career, you should create a band profile and description of your music. Keep your audience constantly in the loop about where you are and what you’re doing with your art by sending updates and invites to gigs. Link all discussions back to your website, Facebook page, or blog to keep your fans talking about you. To keep that list of fans growing, utilize every method offered to you such as E-zines or newsletters. Do not go overboard on this though; keep them informed on what is most important in your budding music career and try not to add to the growing pile in their spam folders. Just as importantly when getting in touch with your audience, perhaps even more so, is to be sure to personalize each connection you establish and make everyone of your fans feel important to your growth as an artist. Always be consistent and concise in describing, or “branding” your work. When you brand something, you must tell a consistent story that is unique and offers up your “one of a kind” persona. Allow them the opportunity to make contact with you outside the social network mainframe, show your audience you can be personal and eager to meet them.
Never stop pushing your art. Create a number of different “touch points;” places where you and your product intersect with potential fans. Use everything that is at your disposal from personal websites and blog posts to podcasts and YouTube videos, and keep them all going all at once. Pump out playlists featuring your music and similar product; maybe using a theme or utilize some other type of hook that will draw attention to you and your band. The themes can be outrageous in nature, even in poor taste in order to you draw attention and show how you are different from everyone else out there. Dare to be different but don’t be rude or insulting or condescending when you do it; speak the language that is applicable for your target audience but stay within the boundaries of acceptable behavior for the type of product you are promoting. Collaborative playlists are gaining in popularity too; add one of your songs, send the playlist to someone on your email list and have them add one and so on and so on to get them involved. The more you have the more chance you have of turning a stranger into a loyal, adoring fan.
Networking is an important key to success; swap fan lists and email databases with other bands if their fans are into your type of art. Tie in local businesses as well; have them host an event where you can play your music, give them a free set every now and then. At these events, have all the tools you would need in a marketing “gig” bag: photos, a biography, music samples, a press release, and contact information. Have them ready to hand out and make sure the information is consistent with all the other touch points you have created. Make a name for yourself through merchandise: stickers, posters, tees, lighters, whatever comes to mind and leave them wherever you go.
It is never a bad idea to get help either. Every artist needs help at some point or another and it is nothing to be ashamed of. If you are having trouble promoting your work, find a friend who aspires to be a professional writing and have him or her showcase their talent along with yours. Visit the Journalism and English departments of a college near you – maybe someone will be loitering in the halls for you to approach. Use an auto-responder service (dirt cheap, sometimes free) to manage email addresses and allow people to “opt” out of the newsletter if they choose to.
Yes, this all sounds like it is hard work, but is it really that hard when it is all for the pursuit of your artistic dream? Careers don’t come easy and it takes dedication to see them fulfilled. You don’t have to leave your house or office to do most of your promoting either; you can make it a game and enjoy yourself. There are so many ways to develop and promote yourself – it is only your imagination that limits you. Pick one method that works best for you and concentrate on it. If it works, do it again but bigger and better the next time around; If it doesn’t work, toss it out and try something else. Marketing is fluid so you are going to be shuffling and re-shuffling your deck of tricks until you find your pace.
Just do it until you can find someone else who wants to do it for you and is capable of doing it because they know that you are serious and committed to your work, willing to do whatever it takes to get yourself out there.
By Camille M. Barbone
Camille is a music industry professional with over 20 years of experience. She has worked for major labels such as Sony and Universal, Warner Chappell and other major publishers, owned two state of the art recording studios, developed and managed high profile artists such as Madonna, produced major concerts and provided music for major motion pictures such as Scream, Steven Spielberg Productions and Cinepix Films. She has conducted numerous seminars, panels and workshops at SXSW, the New Music Seminar and other industry conferences. She has been featured in many books and has appeared on many news and talk shows. Camille consults via her company, C.Barbone & Associates and is the Principal of Creative Career Coach, a service that provides guidance and structure to those aspiring to successful careers in the Entertainment Industry. Contact Camille at email@example.com.