Principles of Marketing Your Indie Music for Better Results

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Indie Music Marketing Concepts Promotion Companies Don’t Tell You About

As the CEO of RadioFacts , I have dealt with all kinds of clients trying to push their brand to radio for radio play.. From established major label artists to indie music artists. Quite often the majors know exactly what they are doing when they submit music to radio but the independent record labels often make costly mistakes. They are often not prepared and they depend on the wrong people for music marketing and music promotion services. Indeed it’s about bringing the people on board who have the established relationships so if you don’t know anybody it’s almost impossible to walk get your music to music distribution companies and on the radio effectively. 

The artists often want to bring people on board that they know and can trust, but if they don’t have the experience, this won’t work either.  Most creative people are not great business people or what I like to call “implementers.” So creatives must depend on others for marketing concepts to be as effective as possible. Here I offer some tips from my experience working in the music industry for many years, especially to the indie music folks who want to get their music in front of the right people. Click Next above or below for next segment

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Principles of Marketing: Be Prepared for the opportunity.

There are many if not MOST opportunities that will only knock once… and NEVER again. The best way to be prepared for an opportunity?  WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT, EXPECT IT.  Be bold in your approach, ask questions and make sure you know as much as possible to take you to the next level of success. You see it all the time especially in sports and it happens to artists too, poor planning leads to a dismal and financially flawed future if you want it to last do the work NOW so that you can make sure there is no turning back.  Click “Next” for the next advice”

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Know who you are dealing with Before You Submit Music

There are people who USED to be in or are NEW to the industry with “marketing promotion services” that will tell you that they went to high school with Jesus and ate lunch at the same table as President Lincoln. The industry is very progressive NOT regressive. But at the same time music promotion service companies are usually run by people over 40 to get radio airplay. It’s all about relationships. So if someone under 40 approaches you about promoting your record to radio do your due diligence

On the other end of the spectrum, once someone falls off they are usually pretty much off the radar. So that’s the first warning sign. If someone approaches you and tells you who they USED to work for. BEWARE. Make sure that you do your research before you submit music to someone to work for you. Know that people think of themselves FIRST when it comes to business. How is this going to benefit me, the BEST business deals in my experience is where it is a win/win situation which is my philosophy.  

Understand, the BEST price is not always the best DEAL. There is no such thing as free music promotion and there is no such thing as cheap music promotion… UNLESS you do it yourself on the socials or you do soundcloud promotion which can be very time consuming but effective.

You want the best PERSON…FIRST. Make absolutely sure you have several sources that you can bounce information and questions about the person you are looking to hire. You can find most radio program directors on Facebook and many of them will respond if you send them a DM about a name and ask if they know them and you are thinking about using the to work a record for you. You can also ask them for CURRENTLY WORKING marketing references.

Quite often many of our indie music clients from the states and abroad will ask us about a particular independent promoter, for example. I’ve been in the game well over 30 years and I have never HEARD of some of these people online claiming they can get radio play for indie music. I know most of the real players.

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Principles of Marketing: Music Promotion Services

The music business is actually NOT about hype, contrary to popular belief. Hype is a huge turn off and red flag for BS. The greatest advice I can give to aspiring musicians is BEWARE the man or woman who uses Hype as a way to lure you in to use their music promotion services. 

We don’t care about the next Beyonce or Megan Thee Stallion we already have the original s. Note that those who talk the most to convince you quite often usually do the least.  You want to look for the person who has a very cavalier presence as if he or she can take the account or leave it. You know when you come across the right person and when you smell sh*t. The greatest industry people are those that you have usually been referred to by other WORKING industry people.

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Marketing Concepts: Get to Know Someone at your Local Radio Station

Radio program directors are often very busy and burdened by heavy workloads but they could be your BEST ally to get into the music industry if you can get to know them. DJs (mix show DJs NOT radio announcers) usually also have a lot of power and influence.  

An idea is to make a way to get to know either a PD or a DJ at your local radio station or even club (make sure you can stomach the club business scene, it’s not for the weak). Go see if they need interns (they usually do, black stations love to for people to work for free).

Don’t go in talking about your goals, that will get you kicked out. Look at it like college and go in and earn the degree in your field, the music industry. Be ready to learn how the industry works and do the work. It is how I started in the industry and I got sidetracked into doing radio for years when I actually wanted to be an artist. You would be amazed at the contacts you can develop in just a few months.  

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Music Distribution: Watch How You Promote

I was watching a video of The Breakfast Club Radio Show when a well-known rapper was on the show stating that he had paid to be on the show. He was joking but the hosts made SURE the audience KNEW it was a joke.  There are three words that are industry krypton “pay for play.” When if comes to radio play, do business wisely.  

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Surround yourself with the right people

Uncle Caught-a-Case and Auntie EBT are not business people and they should not be doing business for you if they don’t understand it. It is understandable that you want to be around people you trust but keep in mind that family will often turn at against you in the WORST way in certain situations … beware.  

If it sounds too good to be true… IT USUALLY IS

If you are an independent artist and an independent promoter who’s last project was an MC Hammer record tells you he can get you on major market radio stations with radio play on your first project. RUN…. don’t just run, I mean run till you get to the freeway then RUN to the next STATE. In all honesty as a new artist who is not on a major label, your radio airplay is going to be limited.  Click “Next” for the next advice”

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Submit Music to Create a Buzz

Just make sure it’s with the right people. For example, RadioFacts is the leading urban radio and music industry site. We deliver the most news, email blasts and a podcast about the industry along with updating our site daily with the best rankings and if our clients don’t ask we show it to them anyway because these are things you need to know.

If you are going to spend money on a campaign realize you want the MOST exposure. There are a LOT of small so-called industry sites that don’t put in the work and will take your money and not reach the target they claim they reach. I have sent clients to other sites to buy ads if I can’t help them but do your homework. Look at the sites Alexa.com rankings.

Anything above a 500,000 is going to offer you VERY limited exposure. Anything BELOW that is much better.  Also, can they do a report of how many impressions your campaign got at the end of the campaign?  This is the information that you need.  We do it for our clients per ad and they love it.  Click “Next” for the next advice”

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Indie Music: Beware of the Money Mongers

As stated above, there are people out there who will take all your money and bring you zilch results. Once they have paid their rent they are out looking for the next person to screw. Compare prices AND services. Ask them what was the last project they worked and CHECK IT OUT. Again, If it was something from more than 2 years ago… move on.

A great promoter is CONSTANTLY working on NEW projects. That’s not to say some great promoters have not worked in a few years but I have never seen an industry that is more out-of-sight-out-of-mind. If you are not working, you are forgotten about in less than a week. You don’t have time to weight the pros and cons of someone who was working and is working. I would always go for the one who IS working.  

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Independent Record Labels: It’s all in the Presentation

Just because everybody else doesn’t care about the way they present themselves doesn’t mean you should do the same. As a matter of fact, it may work to your advantage to be the opposite of what everybody else is.

 Today’s musician MUST also be an entrepreneur that means you have to be able to walk into a room with great confidence and esteem and you need to understand how the industry works  which is why I stated earlier to find a way to work in the industry locally so that you can be around the wealth of information others are often not privy to.  

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Take someone out to lunch or meet them in their surroundings

If you want someone to help you then you need to go to them. Even if it’s a quick meeting at McDonald’s make sure you go out of your way to go to one close to them or ask them where they want to meet if you have a chance to get a meeting. Getting a PD or a DJ on the phone is a challenge in itself but getting them to meet you? That’s damn near unheard of. If you get the opportunity, respect for one’s tenure in the industry goes a long way. We work in an environment where everyone is coming to you for something, what can you BRING to the table? if you do get a meeting make sure you are prepared. Don’t get too friendly or familiar with the person  Click “Next” for the next advice”

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Never put Established artists Down

Nobody gives a loaded baby diaper what you think about Lil’ Wayne or the current state of Hip Hop. That’s NOT going to get you the gig, your project is, but in order for a real industry person to even listen to it, they have to feel good about you. You are your own walking resume. Why would someone trust a person who says negative s*it about other artists.

Understand business people know that what you do to others behind their backs is what you will do to them behind theirs so avoid the negative banter. Know that the artist that you are talking about has arrived and you are still knocking on the door and they are where you are trying to go …You would be SHOCKED at how the person that you are talking about could be the person to introduce you or work on your next project. Click “Next” for the next advice”

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Don’t Over Hype

Tell the person what you have, don’t build it up or put it down, let THEM be the judge. Ask them what they think of it and how much you would appreciate their opinion. That will go much further in the long run. The first meeting if for them to get to know YOU not your project.



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