15 Biggest Music Marketing Mistakes & How To Fix Them
Written by Omari
🔊 After promoting for over 5,577 artists, here are the 15 biggest marketing strategy mistakes we’ve seen...
Most artists take the wrong path to get to their end goal in music. (I.e. using Spotify when they should be focusing on YouTube, or vice versa.)
Here are the topics we’ll go over: Live shows, merchandise, picking the wrong single, TV and film placements, & streaming revenue.
Let’s dive in!
Live Show Strategy Mistakes:
- Promoting to a broader audience than necessary
- Using Spotify as your primary tool
Listen, we sell Spotify promotion, so you can trust that we have your best interest here when we tell you Spotify isn’t your best option when planning live shows as an indie artist. Here’s why:
- If someone likes your music on Spotify they’re typically going to add it to their library and that’s it. It usually takes someone hearing 3 or 4 songs from you they REALLY like until they hit the follow button on your Spotify profile.
- Even when they follow you on Spotify there’s no way for you to directly contact them on Spotify without paying for a Spotify audio ad.
- There’s no way for you to tell the listener you want them to follow you on Spotify. It’s a decision that must be completely generated within the listener’s mind.
- Even when you get featured on a playlist on Spotify where people can discover your music, there’s no ability to efficiently target the location of the listeners. If you live in Atlanta and notice that Denver is generating most of your listeners, it’s much harder and less cost effective to go to Denver to do live shows (not to mention there’s not an efficient way to get the word out to your Denver audience unless they decide to follow you on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or email list)
- As an indie artist you likely have limited resources. It’s much easier to get to venues in your state or region to maximize your R.O.I. when planning live shows. Thus, targeting those areas would be your best option with YouTube.
Live Show Strategy Fixes:
- With our Youtube promotion, we can target by location and niche genre. We’ve run hundreds and hundreds of highly customized ads on Youtube and know how to set them up to get the most engagement from the right audience.
- We recommend having a detailed description, pinned comment, video cards, and end screens to maximize the potential of your YouTube promotion. The information you put in the pinned comment and description should point people towards the actions you want them to take. We find that telling a brief story of why you made the song or why it's important to you, followed by the action you want listeners to take is best when promoting music on YouTube.
- You don’t need to make a music video for every song. You can have a mix of album cover artwork videos, lyric videos, live show or cover videos, and music videos. Only about 1 out of every 15 videos needs to be an official music video.
- Make your live shows an event! Here is one idea: if you make R&B, Jazz, or Singer-Songwriter music for example, come up with a date night theme! Have flowers, chocolate fountains with fruit for dipping, and desserts to sell as merchandise as well as your regular t-shirts, bags, hats, etc. Just adapt this train of thought to your genre if don’t make music that’s suitable for a date night.
- Remember that no one needs your merchandise. Everybody already has enough shirts. They’re going to buy your merchandise and come to your show because they like you, and they like the theme of your event. Tell your story on stage and express the reason and message behind your merchandise before you hop over to the merch table, and be personable and friendly with your audience.
Merchandise Selling Mistakes:
- Creating merchandise that people can’t identify with. If you’re selling shirts that just have your name on it, that’s not something people are going to get really excited about, even if the design is nice.
- Not having a store available online.
- Not sharing your story when selling merchandise.
Merchandise Selling Fixes:
- A couple of these are mentioned in the live show strategy fixes because the two are tied together.
- Even when selling online, you need to post either a description or video on the product page explaining the story behind the merchandise. People are going to buy based off your story.
Picking The Wrong Single Mistakes:
- Always using free feedback to find out your lead single. Look, sometimes if you don’t take a large enough sample size you’re going to get inaccurate results. For instance, you can post your stuff for free on social media and get 7 out of 10 comments that say they like a particular song, but when you promote that same song to a much larger audience, they don’t give you the same feedback.
Picking The Right Single Fixes:
- We regularly tell artists to spend a small amount on promoting a few different songs from their catalog rather than spending a large amount on one. Then gauge the results of the promotion and see which song is performing best.
- This is where Spotify is most useful. People hit the like button a lot more on Spotify than YouTube. If you test out a few different lower level promotions over a few songs, you’ll have a better understanding of which one to promote as your top single.
TV & Film Placement Mistakes:
- The biggest mistake here would be that artists don’t even consider this revenue source.
- They don’t form relationships with music supervisors or anyone else in the company they’re pitching to. These supervisors get hundreds and thousands of submissions. Talent alone will not get you the most placements.
- Artists don’t build any catalog of smaller films or shows before pitching to larger ones.
TV & Film Placement Fixes:
- There likely is much less barrier to entry with smaller indie films and tv shows or YouTube channels. Reach out to these people first and build a catalog.
- Make the people feel like you made this song especially for their project.
- Follow up with people and be the biggest fan of their films and projects going forward. Comment on all their social media posts concerning the film and be the first to share and promote their work.
Streaming Revenue Mistakes:
- Thinking that streaming revenue will be the bulk of your income when doing music full-time
- Thinking you’ll make all your money back through streaming revenue alone when paying for promotion
Streaming Revenue Fixes:
- Your streaming numbers on Spotify are mostly used as leverage for booking live shows, finding out which single is best to promote, and playing the Spotify algorithms. To be honest, venues and labels look at stats on Spotify more than they should, but it is what it is.
- Essentially, the streaming revenue rates should only be considered when we’re talking about millions of streams on each of your song. If your music isn’t there yet, the bulk of your focus should not be on streaming rates. It should be on either live shows, merchandise, tv and film placements, songwriting fees, session work, affiliate income, and sponsors.
Your end goal is about maximizing R.O.I. and finding out how to reach the people who will like your music the most. Look at which of these sources of revenue matter to you the most and adapt your personal strategy to fit them.
Most artists make the bulk of their revenue from live shows, merchandise, TV & Film placements, and sponsors. Streaming revenue is a piece of the puzzle, but not the majority.
Whether you need Spotify, Youtube, SoundCloud, or Instagram promotion, we’ve got you covered.
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