Why Your Current Self-Promotion Strategy Isn’t Working (Part 1)

Written by Michael Eastwood Founder & CEO of Mastermind Promotion

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Why Your Current Self-Promotion Strategy Isn’t Working (Part 1)

Setting up solo in the music business is both brave and admirable. Over the past 20 years or so, technological advances have made the DIY artist and music promotion approach more plausible than ever before.

The only problem being that while it may be a plausible prospect, most of those taking part don’t really know a great deal about what they’re doing.

For most, the presumption is one whereby flocking to social media and throwing a few videos on YouTube should really be all it takes to get things off the ground. In reality, it’s not quite as easy as this.

We often make comparisons between new artists and new businesses as the two are extremely similar in many ways.

Just as those looking to set a new business for the first time tend to underestimate how difficult and complicated it can be, the same also goes for bands and musicians looking to manage their own promotion.

The truth is, while it’s perfectly possible to succeed as a musician via the self-promotion strategy, underestimating what is involved is a sure-fire recipe for failure.

Which is why over the course of the next two posts, we’ll be looking at a few of the possible reasons why your current self-promotion strategy simply isn’t delivering the required results.

Michael & Dead Prez at BBC Radio 1Xtra

Michael Eastwood & Dead Prez at BBC Radio 1Xtra

1) You're a Name on the Pile

The fact that there are so many outstanding services out there for musicians to submit their music to in the hopes of hitting pay dirt is great.

From radio promoters to magazines, blogs, festivals, industry professionals and so on, firing out digital submissions (often at a cost) is a pretty standard part of the process. If your submission is chosen and highlighted, jackpot. If it isn’t, you’re wasting money and time.

The problem is that you basically just throw your submission into a huge virtual bag with thousands of others and wait patiently to see if anything happens. Which it might, but statistically speaking, it probably won’t.

Rather than allowing yourself to become another name on the pile, focus more about getting creative with your own promotional techniques. Instead of slipping your music into music authorities the paid route, think about concentrating on making them want you.

2) You’re too focused on social media

As already mentioned, it’s relatively common for those looking to go down the self-promotion avenue to make a beeline for social media. Just to set the record straight, social media has incredible value, unrivalled power and can have the most significant effect on your successes in the music industry. However, it is most certainly not the be all and end all, nor should it be viewed as anything of the sort.

Investing a good amount of time in social media is important, but it’s just as important to remember that not everyone you’d like to reach out to bothers with it. The social media landscape these days is so incredibly vast that simply disappearing in the background is far too easy for you to throw all of your eggs into this particular basket. Social media represents an important element of the promotion process, but nevertheless is only one element of it.

3) You’re automating things

While the appeal and value of automated marketing robots appear relatively obvious, it’s usually in your best interests to stay away from them altogether. Take for example Musicsubmit – all you need to do is pay them a small amount of money to have them send your music and a message to X number of industry professionals, radio hosts and journalists. Such services are very cheap and promise to accomplish in any instance what would otherwise take you a fair while to do yourself.

So what’s the downside? Well, quite simply the fact that the overwhelming majority of those working in the industry can spot these kinds of automated promos and messages a mile away. And when they do, it tends to stink of taking the easy way out and not having bothered to do the important work your band deserves. How many of these emails can you expect replies from? Or even to be opened? The answer…few to none.

4) You’re not giving enough away

Just as soon as a new artist decides they’re going to start using their music to pay the bills, they start working out how much they can charge for it. Perhaps a nominal fee to begin with, before going on to hike things up when they hit the big time. Of course, you need to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head while getting up and running if you intend to go solo. But at the same time, one of the most important rules when it comes to establishing your name in the first place is to give, give and give some more.

Think of it this way – those that are already willing to pay for your music are in the bag. A done deal. So you don’t really need to focus too much on these guys right now. Instead, you should be focusing on those who either don’t know who you are or aren’t quite yet willing to pay for what you do. You might not feel great about giving away your hard work for free, but trying to turn a profit before you’ve even made your first steps is only ever going to cause you problems.

Stay tuned for the second part of our guide, coming soon…