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It’s Your Gyrl, Ms. Carmen aka Platinum Voice PR bringing another relevant topic to you!


Promotional strategies for independent musicians

In some music business schools, they still give assignments that go like this:
“Assume you have one million dollars. Make up a marketing plan to promote a band.”
Here’s a more realistic assignment:
“Pick any band you find on the web. You have zero dollars. Now go promote them.”
Although most bands would like to have a budget that would allow them to promote their latest album on TV, radio, and
billboards, they more likely have just enough to print up posters for the next gig. And yet, indie musicians can get the kind of
attention that can build a real fan base and help make a career in music with the right songs and the right promotional approach.
Here are ten effective strategies to get you and your music noticed. The good news is they’re easy on the pocketbook and can be acted on today. All they take is a bit of time and some thought about how to get your music directly in front of the people that are most likely to be your new fans.
You have one thing to figure out before you get started, though. It’s the one thing that every band must know: Who is the
audience for your music; What are their ages? Where do they hang out? What do they do? What are their interests? Who are
they? The better you know your target audience, the easier these strategies are to implement, and the greater the return on your

Once know your audience, dig in.
Ten Effective Strategies
1. The Standing-Out Strategy
2. The Piggybacking Strategy
3. The Agent Strategy
4. The Multitasking Strategy
5. The Long-Haul Strategy
6. The Street Team Strategy
7. The Engage Your Audience Strategy
8. The Keep On Truckin’ Strategy
9. The Alternative Gig Strategy
10. The Stay-Tuned Strategy

1. The Standing-Out Strategy
The first thing that jumps to mind for most musicians when they think promotion is to get their album reviewed by a music
publication and played on the radio.
You don’t have to start there. Publications and media that cater solely to music are probably the hardest place to get your music
noticed. Plus, they won’t write about you or play your music until there’s something interesting to find when they do a search on
your name – which is the first thing they’ll do.
The competition for attention in music publications and sites is overwhelming. For instance, National Public Radio’s “All Songs
Considered” receives 200 to 300 CDs a week. Out of that, only eight get featured – and those are sandwiched in between other
songs, and played just once. The same is true with music reviews. Although they are good for getting quotes for your press kit, it
probably won’t get you many new fans, since it’s just one music review in a pile of music reviews.
Instead of focusing on music publications and media, think in terms of audiences. Put your music where it will stand out from the crowd. Consider one of the biggest sellers in the early days of CD Baby: an album about sailing. Instead of following the crowd
and sending the album to a music magazine, the band instead cleverly sent their album to a sailing magazine.

The sailing magazine, which wasn’t used to receiving music, much less an entire album dedicated to exactly what the magazine
was about, ended up reviewing the CD. The band’s CD didn’t have to compete against stacks and stacks of other CDs to get
noticed. And because the magazine had a large audience and the CD got a great review, sales shot through the roof.
The great thing about the standing-out strategy is there is room for everyone. While your music has a style or genre, just
targeting the people that like that kind of music represents only one, highly competitive channel for your music. By putting your
music where there usually isn’t any, you can get noticed.

2. The Piggybacking Strategy
The quickest way to get the word out there is to piggyback on something that people already know about. One of the best known forms of piggybacking is listing out the bands you sound like on your website, CD Baby page, and press correspondences. This gives new listeners a clue as to what to expect by drawing on what they already know. Of course, another popular piggybacking
tactic is to cover a well-known song. Often, these covers become your initial best-sellers. But they also act as a gateway. If
listeners like your version, they’ll likely check out your original material.
But piggybacking on other bands or cover songs isn’t the only way to employ this technique: you can piggyback on anything that
already has an audience.
For example, our own band, Beatnik Turtle, wrote a song called “Star Wars (A Movie Like No Other).” It summarized the entire
original Star Wars trilogy in a single song. Around the same time, released a video mashup tool, so we decided to
make a video for the song. The video ended up getting played over 15,000 times thanks to the active community at that site. That popularity led to it getting picked up by (now Comedy Central: Studios) which in turn led to it being aired on SpikeTV to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of “Star Wars”.
Current events and popular culture provide opportunities for piggybacking as well. When a topic is hot, a large number of
people will be searching for information about it. For instance, when the Monty Python musical, “Spamalot”, debuted, The
Brobdingnagian Bards, a Celtic Renaissance musical duo posted a blog entry about “Spamalot” and how they covered one of
Monty Python’s songs. The post got a ton of hits from people searching on the new musical, got them noticed by new fans, and
resulted in sales.
But piggybacking isn’t always about how to get publicity. It can be for a good cause as well. Grant Baciocco of Throwing Toasters
put together two compilation charity albums called Laughter Is a Powerful Weapon, with music donated by himself and many
other well-known comedy artists. The money from one album went to the Twin Towers Orphans Fund and the other went to the
Red Cross for Katrina victims. This compilation not only raised money to charities but also helped cross-promote many of the
musicians’ fans to one another.
3. The Agent Strategy
Most bands start out promoting and representing themselves because they start out small. But it’s human nature to take an artist more seriously when someone else promotes or acts on their behalf. In fact, it’s been shown to be true in various psychological and sociological studies. Even if you’re just starting out, find someone to represent you and you might just have more successes. It doesn’t have to be a professional – it can even be a friend of family member.
Having an agent is even more useful during negotiations, because they can be as tough as you want them to be. If you negotiate
for yourself and you give the other side a particularly hard time, they might start to dislike you, rather than your agent.
4. The Multitasking Strategy
The musicians that have the most success don’t just rely on one project for their income. Most of them work on many things
beyond playing live, selling albums, and selling merchandise. For instance:
• Jonathan Coulton participates in the Popular Science magazine podcast at and licenses his music.
• Brad Turcotte of Brad Sucks maintains multiple websites including and also licenses his music.
• Pomplamoose licenses their music to to companies such as Toyota and Hyundai for use in commercials.
• Grant Baciocco of Throwing Toasters writes and produces the multiple-award-winning podcast “The Radio Adventures of
Dr. Floyd,” does voice-over and acting work, and produces a podcast for the Jim Henson Company, among other projects.
• George Hrab is a drummer in a popular cover band that plays at weddings and corporate events, writes and produces his
Geologic Podcast, and has written a book.
• The members of Beatnik Turtle have day jobs, run, and write books like The Indie Band Survival Guide and guides like this one.
5. The Long-Haul Strategy
While major labels had to focus on making one-hit-wonders because of their business model, that was never the best situation
for the musician. Furthermore, it’s not even similar to the way that most businesses work – they build their name over the long term, and eventually get consistent income over time. A musician looking to make money with music is no different.

For example, in 2001, Brad Turcotte of the band Brad Sucks released his first album online as a downloadable set of MP3s. The
money he made from this allowed him to do a run of CDs, which got him another surge of new fans. Later, he released the source
tracks to his music, this time making new fans among people who enjoy remixing songs. After he packaged the best remixes into
another CD, he got a new surge of fans who loved both the remixes and the original material. By the time he released his second album, it not only did well in its own right, it generated interest in his previous albums.

6. The Street Team Strategy
Today’s artists are more connected with their fans than ever. In these days of social networks, word of mouth is many times more
powerful than it’s ever been. Every fan you have is connected to many more people, and sometimes, all you have to do is ask in
order to get their help in spreading the word.
In the past, a street team was all about putting fliers in coffee shops, but today, with the web, they can distribute your music to
new fans, get the word out about your shows through their social networks, or even get people to sign up to your mailing lists.
The key to a successful street team is to be explicit in asking what it is you want them to do. Then, be sure to give them the tools
that they need to be successful. And of course, reward them for their help. If you need some practical advice on how to create and manage a street team, see for step-by-step instructions.

7. The Engage Your Audience Strategy

No marketing plan today can skip social networking as a method to build a fan base. Think about it: each of your fans has
hundreds of followers on Facebook and Twitter. If they start talking about your shows or your music, your fan base will grow. But you need to be active online and give them a reason to talk about you. But most musicians want to spend time making music – not constantly checking their social networks, so here’s a helpful strategy to automate your use of social networking and start bringing fans to you. First, use social media dashboard and syndication tools like so when you post a photo, video, or blog, your update will go everywhere that you have a presence.Next, use tools like to email you when your band name or Twitter ID is talked about anywhere in a social network. Also use Google Alerts to email you when your band, albums, or website are talked about anywhere on the web. For a how-to, see “How To Get Automatic Alerts When Your Band Is Mentioned Online.” If you do this right, you will only need to post content once, and it will get sent to all of your web presences; and any responses from fans will come right back to your email.

You will be almost psychic about staying on top of every mention, and can respond and engage with them with minimal effort.
Then, just remember to snap pictures or video with your phone when you’re backstage, or at the studio, and share little pieces of
your musical life. Give your fans reasons to talk about you, and your fan base can grow out of what you do naturally as a musician while you spend your time on your music, rather than social networking.

8. The Keep On Truckin’ Strategy
It’s easy to forget that playing live does more than just give you income and drive album sales. If you use it right, it’s also one of
the best ways to build a buzz, get publicity, and grow your fan base. In fact, when asked how they find out about new bands, music journalists Jim DeRogatis (Chicago Sun-Times, co-host of NPR’s “Sound Opinions”) and Todd Martens (Billboard magazine, The Los Angeles Times) gave the same answer: live shows. This shouldn’t be a surprise: music writers pay attention to bands playing in the larger venues in town because the bigger stages don’t take chances on bands without a following. It’s the most reliable way to filter through the huge number of new artists that appear every year.If you haven’t yet, it’s time to put together formal marketing materials for gigs. Create a one-page bio (for your live music experience), band photo, music samples (especially live samples), live video, and a show history to give an idea of your experience.

In the past, the strategy for touring went like this: start in your hometown, build a local following, and then tour in concentric
circles from your base. But today, with the web, you instantly have a global audience. If you use your web and social presence
effectively, you’ll create fans in places outside your hometown. The new strategy for playing live is to find where your fans are
and then determine if it’s cost effective to go to them. Tools like can map out where your Twitter followers are
located and free services like allow your fans to ask that you play in their area.
But once you are touring and playing live shows, don’t forget the PR angle to playing live. To get the most PR out of your shows,
put journalists and bloggers on your guest list, and invite them to come see your band. Also, remember any time you tour, you
create PR opportunities in every town you play in. For example, reach out to local radio (especially college radio), newspapers,
and blogs each time you tour, as that gives them a reason to write about you as well as a deadline. If your tour is planned in
advance, you can reach out to them a few months ahead of time to coördinate the campaigns which gives them a better
chance of fitting your story in when you arrive in their town.
And once you get going, remember that each show is a potential press release, and each article written about your band can be
sent to other journalists that you are targeting. After the third forwarded article, journalists that ignored you before might start
wondering what they’re missing, and come out to see you to take advantage of the guest list spot you offered them.
9. The Alternative Gig Strategy
Keep your eyes open for other places to play to help build your fan base and expose your music to new audiences.
For example, gigs aren’t limited to just playing the usual music venues. For instance, there’s an exciting “house concert”
movement where people host shows in their own homes. This is more than a gig opportunity, it’s a way to get fans directly
involved with promoting your music. To explore this idea, reach out to your fans to see who might be interested in hosting a show,
or try sites like HouseConcerts, Concerts In Your Home, or Slowbizz.
If you decide to do a house concert, work out sound amplification and setup expectations ahead of time. Also, ask for a minimum
payment or play for a flat fee. Your take shouldn’t have to depend on your host’s ability to bring in an audience. Some musicians
even tour by planning house concerts on the way up and the way back from major shows. This provides extra income, and can
even provide crash space. It also gives you a chance to promote your music in a very personal way.
Another example of an alternative gig is to perform live online. Once you put your music on the web, the next step is to try to
gain a worldwide fan base. Many will want to see you live, even if you can’t tour where they live. The best part about these shows
is that they can be easily shared on social media, and gives your fans a reason to talk about you. Also, each online show can be
recorded, giving you new material to use to promote in the future.
To put on a show online, try broadcasting your live show through a streaming service like UStream or LiveStream. As long as you
have a webcam or camera-enabled smart phone or tablet, all you need to do is logon, point, and shoot. Treat these like any other
gig: put them on your show calendar, and promote them to your fans so they know to tune in. For more intimate shows, you can
also use group video calling services like Skype or Google Hangouts since these services usually limit the amount of viewers that can join in. Small online concerts like these are not only an online way to mimic the intimacy of a house concert, they’re also a great way to reward your die-hard fans, supporters, and street team. Plus, they’re especially great at helping you connect with
your fans – no matter where in the world they live.
10. The Stay-Tuned Strategy
Before radio DJs head into the commercials, they announce what they’re going to play after the break. This keeps people tuned in.
You can adopt the same technique. Always talk about your next project when you talk about your band, whether you’re talking to
the press, your fans (your blog, Twitter, Facebook), or other musicians.
Here’s why:
• Your fans will keep tabs on you until that next project is released.
• The press might ask questions about your upcoming projects and write future stories.
• It gets people involved: If you don’t announce what you have planned, you might miss out on a fan that can help.
• It keeps your own band members motivated and working toward the same goals

There are no rules to this new music business, so experiment with different techniques, projects, and ideas to see what works
best for you and your music. When you find something that works, keep it up. The key thing to remember – and the thing that many musicians forget – is that a lot of what you do naturally as a musician can also be used to help promote your work, grow
your fan base, attract publicity, and get your music noticed.

Source:Randy Chertkow 

You never know where I may be bringing you the events of Chicago, so make sure you follow this blog and Follow me on Twitter, @PlatinumVoicePR! If you need your name and craft to buzz out here, go to  Until next time, See ya later Babies!


(PlatinumVoicePR is the source for the events and has no legal bindings with associated parties)



  1. Pingback: How to Write an Artist Biography: A Bio Made Simple « This is #ChicagoMusic!

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