by Robert Flis / September 29, 2020
2020 has been an insanely challenging year for musicians. The COVID-19 pandemic has made live gigs and touring next to impossible, making an already tough industry even harder to navigate. Fortunately, all hope is not lost. With the halt of live shows, a strong online presence has become all the more important for musicians, and there are many strategies out there that bands and artists can use right now to improve their visibility and get measurable results. We attended a webinar hosted by Indie Week called “Effective PR and Publicity Strategies for 2020”, featuring speakers Eric Alper (Eric Alper Public Relations), Sarah Lutz (Looters) and Darryl Hurs (Indie Week / CD Baby). This article summarizes some key points from the conversation.
The Harsh Reality
From the rise of social media and streaming platforms to the evolution of traditional media outlets like radio and TV, the world of public relations has changed so much in recent years. With those changes, the speed at which we consume media has only increased and this has left musicians facing a harsh truth: If you are not releasing music regularly, you will be forgotten. Fortunately, our current social media platforms give all artists the tools they need to share their stories and reach vast amounts of fans across the world. It’s never been easier to find your niche and reach an audience that loves the same kind of music you do. However, they won’t come looking for you - you need to go out and find them yourself!
Using The Right Tools
There are a number of effective strategies that bands can use in 2020 to help them reach their audience. Working with influencers is something a lot of musicians don’t realize they can do – or if they do, they don’t believe that results will follow – but influencer marketing has become its own branch of PR, one that publicists are regularly leveraging in 2020. There are many influencers and fans out there willing to share your music, it’s just about making that initial connection. Collaborations and cross-promotions with other artists are another great way to tap into another fan base. Use vlogs to tell people how you got your sound in the studio, how you came up with the title of your song, or about your writing process. Treat every song like a story and tell it to your audience. If you keep engaging with them, then they will start to engage more and more with you. That said, as the media landscape changes, mistakes are inevitably made by PR companies and their clients. Now more than ever, it’s important to remain sensitive to issues that are happening in the world. Context is important when posting publicly so that your audience doesn’t have to interpret where you stand on certain issues. It’s important to realize that what you’re sharing with the world each time you post online is your story, whether that’s through your music, behind the scenes content or personal stuff. You’re using these platforms to create a dialogue. Anyone can follow or like one of your song, but they will truly LOVE you only when they know who you are as a person.
Having The Right Strategy
Just posting isn’t enough, however. To be successful on social media you need to implement well thought-out campaigns that target the right people with the right content. It starts with being realistic about where you are in your career and how you are planning to grow. Many artists fail to make an impact on social media because they are not putting in the marketing dollars to boost their posts so they can reach the right people and get a decent amount of engagement. The beginning stages are when it’s most crucial to invest in marketing because without any organic reach it’s extremely hard to build any sort of following. In order to make people really care about your music, you need to work at it every day. When it comes to planning your music releases, it’s crucial to release the right song at the right time. Normally, people have 7 seconds to decide whether they want to continue listening to a song or not. That’s an extremely short amount of time to hook the listener, so the opening of your songs are arguably the most important part. Songs are also becoming shorter – most average around 3:30, so if you write a song that’s over 4 minutes it’s advisable to make a radio edit version. Releasing regularly is also key. Spotify algorithms like it when artists release a lot of content. Having a pre-release strategy is another key element of promoting your music. You can’t go to the media with something that came out 4 months ago and expect them to promote it. You need to have new content or contact them prior to release. Having different versions of your song will also help you release more content and build your audience. Consider releasing a radio edit, instrumental and acoustic version of each of your songs.
When it comes down to it, artists have to realize that they’re running a small business with their music. As a musician, you’re selling yourself, so you need to have a plan and treat your career like the business that it is. 2020 may be forcing bands and artists to put the brakes on their live shows, but it’s also forcing them to implement strategies and best practices that will inevitably have lasting benefits on their careers.
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