Last week I was interviewed on Ariel Publicity’s New Media Maker Panel about why music should be free. It’s classic New Rockstar Philosophy stuff, but I thought I’d post all my answers because they bee so good.
- What marketing techniques can artists use to leverage free music to build a bigger (& more loyal) fan base?
I hope everyone says that getting fans on the email list is the most important part of any marketing technique. ABGE. Always Be Gathering Emails; for a songs via Bandcamp, for early ticket sales via Topspin, for new videos via private YouTubes, whatever, this way you can always reach your fans.That’s part 1. Part 2 is engaging them with cool content and walking that ‘oh so fine’ line between consistent content and pestering. All audiences will be different so it’s okay to experiment.
- If artists are not making money from their recordings, where can they make money from?
Everything else. Embrace yourself, make out with your ego, do it tastefully and you’ll be rewarded. Wavves sells weed grinders as merch because he smokes a lot of weed. Make bookmarks if you’re an avid reader, abstract paintings + poetry if you dig that, anything. As merch for the next show I’m promoting I’ll be selling vegan cookie mix, and seed bombs because my audience are down with being awesome. There are a thousand ways to monetize your artistry. Be creative and be under budget.
- What is the biggest mistake, or most common mistake, that you’ve seen emerging artists make when giving away free music?
Keep track of your emails. It sounds obvious but occasionally after a show when you’re throwing around CD’s you may forget where you stored that paper/napkin/back of a set list/ that you have with all of the precious emails.
Also, send out an email as soon as you can once you’ve received the email. Make sure they remember whom you are. Offer them a digital copy of your record or inform them of any upcoming news and get them to opt into your list for real this time, online.
- Is there a limit to the amount of music an artist should be giving away for free?
Digital music is infinite. Get them hooked with the digital stuff then get them to pay for the real deal. As long as you’re in contact with them via email I think the more you give the more you get.
- Where should artists be giving the music away? Does driving traffic to any single place make more sense then sharing the wealth?
It depends what stage of your career you’re at. A service like Bandcamp is great for starters, then you could merge to create your own thing or use a service like Topspin.
I think it’s less about “sharing the wealth” and more about what your audience uses. Try everything you think will work in the beginning and see what works. Then stick to that so you don’t waste too much time. But more importantly it’s always a good idea to have all of your emails in one place/list. MailChimp is good for 2000 emails for free, and then it’s a small but worthwhile fee after that.
Organization is key to all of this stuff.