How to market yourself in the music business

Please welcome a new contributor to HTWB, Milton Keynes (England) based film maker and thought leader Farai Chirimuuta. Here Farai shares his advice on marketing for up and coming musicians – gained from his extensive experience of making music videos and guiding performers through this competitive and often cut-throat industry.

How to market yourself in the music business

First and foremost, it is essential to have branding sorted.

Aspiring musical artists of the modern climate, serious about pursuing a musical career, have so much more to consider before getting signed by record labels than in previous generations.

Nowadays, it’s a common expectation made by record labels that there is already a pre-built fan base in place as a result of an independent marketing campaign, often using music videos and social media to help to generate increased interest.

Success in the music business means using the internet

This has made the modern musician much more than a musician alone. Managing your own brand is now the trend, and that is reflected in a much more independent approach to their careers. For the first time, with special assistance from sources like the internet, it has become much easier to get recognition before getting signed.

The benefit this brings for the musical artists of this generation speaks for itself.

There is a stronger brand awareness than ever before, and individuals can perform much better at negotiating contracts with record labels and get better deals as a result.

They also get a lot more creative control of their own image through things like music video production. Putting videos online can actually create quite a lot of success for artists without them needing to be signed, as long as they are shrewd enough in their approach and have enough talent to turn ears.

Just like any other business, in music branding is key

So what does today’s artist need to do once they have the tracks written, recorded and mastered? First and foremost, it is essential to have branding sorted. A logo for your artist name helps to make your work recognisable every time it is seen. It doesn’t have to be the most amazing artwork ever seen, but something that is unique and stands out as a signature makes it your own, so it’s essential to be aware of.

A website helps you to direct people to your work better than anything else.

Again, it doesn’t have to be the most stunning website ever produced, and creativity behind it is actually not the most important thing. It just needs to communicate as well as possible what you do, and show links to your music, bio, etc. See online for examples from some of your favourite artists. As an extension to this of course, it’s easy to push your tracks on social media sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc.

Good quality images are important

You’ll need to have photos done, and it becomes important to have designs for album/mixtape artwork also. There is no right way to get photos done, and much of the time, simple works best.

Posing on location or in front of a simple backdrop is more than good enough, but it is recommended where possible you get a decent photographer (look for testimonials from previous clients) and preferably a make-up artist.

And of course, the music business demands a striking, original video

Look around for film production companies to take care of the music videos. There are many out there, and you will have the benefit of choice when you shop around.

Look for someone with a creative eye that has a style that best fits what you are looking to create. You’ll find some could be better at making music vids for some genres than others, and the process can be very different depending on who you’re working with, from pre-production to post-production.

When considering how to do your music video, being unique is the key to being as effective as possible.  

It’s good to know what’s being done, so see what everyone else is doing, study it, and then completely forget it and come up with something that’s yours. You’ll be surprised what you could achieve with a small budget, and the right film companies are very resourceful.

A good way to make a music video flow is to make it cut to different scenes in time with the beat of the track. If you’re involved in producing your own videos, this simple videography trick works wonders.

5 top tips on marketing yourself in the music business:

1.Studio diaries are an easy way to promote upcoming releases, as well as regular blogs that can feature on your website and other social networks.

2.Most of the time (there are always exceptions), it helps to have an identifiable theme running through your media outlets. Say for example, your colour scheme should show up the same on websites, leaflets, merchandise, logos etc. to give a distinctive signature which you can change around whenever you like.

3.Know who your audience is. When you have an idea of who your music is aimed at, make sure that you are addressing them in your marketing.

4.You get what you pay for, generally, but there are companies out there that can do very well without breaking the bank.

5.Know the law and your rights. Your music is your intellectual property and it is important to know how to protect it, and what the law says about it.

How to market yourself in the music business

Farai Chirimuuta

Any questions?

Farai Chirimuuta is a director of 3rd Lens Productions. You can contact him on farai@3rdlens.com

Also see him on Facebook here, and on LinkedIn here.

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