20 quick things you should do for your music before the end of 2018

Your homework for the holidays.

If you find yourself with some downtime this December, we’d like to suggest a few simple things that can make a big difference for your music in 2019.

Make sure your music is ready for the new year.

In the video above, I talk with Michael Warner of Chartmetric and WHPH, about some “quick” things you can do for your music if you have time to spare this holiday season.

If you’d rather read a summary of this musical to-do list, here goes…

20 things you can do for your music in less than an hour

These are meant to be “quick” tasks, NOT big projects or campaigns, each taking about 1-60 minutes to complete.

1. Pimp your profiles on popular streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify

Use your Apple Music for Artists and Spotify for Artists accounts to update your profile and header photos. List all allowable social links. Add a bio, even if it’s just a couple sentences. Show that you’ve put in a little effort to establish yourself on streaming services.

2. Integrate your concert calendar with Pandora and Spotify

Make sure your concert calendar is linked up with your music on Pandora and Spotify. This is helpful to any fans who’re proactively looking for information on your streaming profiles. But an added bonus is that anyone on Spotify searching for nearby shows will see YOUR gig listed if they’ve previously engaged with your music on the platform.

3. Upload photos of yourself to your Spotify image gallery, so Spotify can give you FREE promotion

Sometimes Spotify will send emails to your followers in a certain town to alert them of an upcoming gig, along with ticket info and a link to your music on Spotify. But they can’t do that if they don’t have images to send along with the info. When you upload photos to your image gallery, you’re giving Spotify permission to use those photos to promote your music and concerts. Just be sure they’re photos of YOU, not a logo or album cover.

4. Create and launch one new print-on-demand merch item

If you use a P.O.D. service there’s no upfront out-of-pocket cost to you, and if you have your design already created (perhaps a logo you’ve already used on a t-shirt) you can create a companion merch item (a hat, a mug, etc.) in a matter of minutes. Here’s a mug I made ahead of my Black Friday sale, using an existing design, and it’s been my most popular merch item during the holiday season.

5. Make it easy for people to find you everywhere…

… by making sure, wherever allowable, that every profile has links to all your other social and web properties: Soundcloud, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, website, Spotify, etc. For instance, use your default video description settings in YouTube to make sure that every video description is automatically populated with links, calls-to-action, and more.

6. Use the one-click YouTube subscribe trick

Go HERE for details on how to create a custom URL that will not only link someone to your YouTube channel, but prompt them to subscribe at the very same time. You’re already sending people to YouTube (from your email signature, Instagram profile link, website, etc.). Why not boost your subscribers at the same time?

7. Create a mailing list if you don’t have one already

Email is still the most powerful way to drive specific action online — because subscribers are self-selecting and far more receptive to your messaging and sales offers. Don’t be squeamish about seeming “sales-y.” Email works. Use it!

8. If you DO have an email list, get rid of inactive subscribers

Perform some “list hygiene.” Your email engagement (open rates, click-through rates, responses) informs how likely your future emails are to wind up in recipients’ junk/spam/promotions folders. The worse they perform, the worse they’ll perform. The better they perform, the better they’ll perform. Maybe it’s time to jettison all those dead-weight contacts. Better to send an email to fewer people who are highly interested.

But before you dump all those people who haven’t opened an email in 6 months — or whatever criteria you use to determine their level of (dis)interest — give them a chance to hop back on the train with a re-engagement series. I created a 4-email automated re-engagement series last week in less than an hour. Whoever gets to the end of the series without opening any of the emails is automatically removed from my list.

9. Make a playlist!

You should have a playlist with ALL your original material. Put your newest stuff at the top, so they can start strong and then listen to your whole catalog. You can also make a playlist of your favorite music in your genre, influences, great songs by peers, best tunes of the year, etc. When you do, tag all the included artists on social.

10. Shoot a “thank you” video

It can be informal. Just you talking to your fans and taking the time to show your appreciation that they listen to your music. No promo stuff. Just thanks. To make sure it reaches everyone, consider boosting it on FB and IG.

11. Get ready for tax time

Don’t stress big on April 14th. Sit down and grab your receipts, go through your accounts, download invoices, etc. The sooner you start tallying all this stuff, the quicker you’ll get your return (hopefully)! Check out our tax tips for musicians for more info.

12. Sync your playlists across multiple platforms

Use a service like Soundsgood.co so the playlists you manage on one platform can be automatically populated across YouTube, Soundcloud, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and more.

13. Run a Show.co campaign

Want to boost your following on Spotify, increase subscribers on YouTube, or grow your email list? If you’re a CD Baby client you get to use Show.co — our major label music marketing tools — for FREE. Claim your account, create a campaign (in minutes), and share it with your audience. You can claim your account from within your CD Baby dashboard.

14. Grab attention on Facebook with a 3D image

If you have portrait mode on a new-ish iPhone, you can upload those photos to Facebook as 3D images. Those pictures can really look cool, crazy, or otherwise compelling at quick glance. Get creative!

15. Tell your fans about 1¢ shipping on CD Baby!

Through the holiday season, your fans can get one-cent shipping when they buy 3 or more CDs from CD Baby. Tell them! Maybe they want three copies of your latest to give to friends as gifts. Maybe they want your whole catalog. Or maybe you suggest other artists’ music in your genre as well. Copy our email template and send the news to your list.

16. Add or update a cover video on your Facebook page

Use the prime real estate right at the top of your Facebook page to put your best foot(age) forward. You can post a 20-90 second cover video (different from a “cover song” video) that plays automatically (on mute) whenever someone visits your page.

17. Audit your call-to-action at the top of your Facebook page

Is the CTA below your cover video or header image on Facebook still relevant? We tend to set those things and forget them, so maybe it’s no longer in line with your top priority. Double check! And see if you can call extra attention to that CTA with your header image or cover video.

18. Run an end-of-year sale, and target FRIENDS of your fans

You’ve missed the Black Friday frenzy, but there’s still some time before Christmas. Obviously share the news about your year-end sale with your existing fans, but one other approach to boost sales is to target your ads to the FRIENDS of your fans, letting them know their friends love such-and-such artist, so why not get some gifts from your merch store. While running your sale, send at LEAST two or three emails: one to announce the sale, one as a reminder, and one as a last-minute warning before the sale ends.

19. Refresh your playlist artwork

Does your title in the artwork match the actual title of the playlist? It should, otherwise those playlists could be downgraded in a search. If you need some help sprucing up the design? Check out Canva or ReplaceCover.com.

20. Learn a challenging cover song

This isn’t about promoting your own music, but about inspiring yourself for future songwriting. If you learn a song that poses SOME challenge (maybe a strange time-signature, or lots of chords, or chords you’re not used to playing) you’ll find some new tricks!

21. Create or update your website

Don’t have one yet? You should (for a dozen reasons). Get a website. If you do, perform an audit. Check the links. Update the bio. Add a new blog post or news item.

22. Add your Facebook pixel to your website

This is a snippet of code you install on your website so that Facebook can track your fans’ activity on your website. This allows you to get smarter with your Facebook advertising, because you know your ads can be targeted to specific segments of your audience based on their previous actions.

Well that was more than 20 quick tips, but hey, it’s the holiday season, a time of giving. So you get two bonus homework assignments; lucky you!

Got any quick things to add to our checklist? Let me know in the comments below.

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