When I first got involved in the music business, for me, marketing was an unknown entity. For many of us it was all about the music. We had managers and labels that took care of that boring and unfamiliar part of promoting us and selling our product. But as management and major labels fell by the wayside, the need to familiarize oneself with marketing became a necessity. Now that indie labels are just as prevalent as major labels, artists should learn all they can about marketing as they continue to move their careers forward.
The business dictionary defines marketing as follows:
The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. It includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P’s of marketing: Product, price, place and promotion.
(1) identification, selection and development of a product,
(2) determination of its price,
(3) selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer’s place, and
(4) development and implementation of a promotional strategy.
But in today’s world, it’s more than that, with the huge influence of social media available to build and grow a fan base; and, new retailers like Spotify and Apple Music to help sell and promote your product to a wide audience. Beyond the basics of core marketing, today’s world for artists includes consumer engagement and content promotion as key tent poles to profile your product above your competitors.
It used to be that it was devastating to have your “Album” leaked prematurely or inadvertently escape into the wide world. Now it can be a planned strategy to tease and build early audience engagement for your new music before any official marketing starts – or is it “marketing” all along?
Any serious recording artist must now consider the 4 P’s and more as they plan how to market, promote and expose their music in a coherent strategy. In fact, most music funding agencies require some sort of marketing plan or strategy. FACTOR, for example, takes an artist’s marketing plan into consideration before funding a master recording – they also have a marketing grant available for qualified artists.
Let’s examine the 4 P’s.
(1) Product – Know you have the talent, select songs that are original (or if not, right for you), and find the musicians, studio and producer that can make this your best product. It should always start with this and you should always be proud of what you’ve created.
(2) Price – Is not so much an issue with many sales coming through digital platforms like iTunes and streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music where consumer pricing is pre-determined. If you have one, make sure that your CD is available to sell at your concerts and remember: these will be your biggest fans and most ardent supporters of your music – give them no excuse to not buy your music. And, always find time to interact and talk with these fans; it will definitely be worth your time.
(3) Place – As an independent, you must have distribution, or create a label account to supply retailers. You should certainly spend some time to source out service providers that can make your content available through physical, download and streaming retailers for both national and international distribution.
(4) Promotions – The promotion team is everyone you work with, including yourself and/or management, agents, publicists and radio trackers. Your marketing tool box today should be focused on lots of digital content and social media activity, as well as the core attributes of website, music, photos and bio.
There is so much more to talk about here and although this message barely scraped the surface of this segment of the music business, it is my intention to help new artists or those who might suddenly find themselves without a label or management to understand the concepts and importance of marketing.