band promoting album at a live show

band promoting album at a live showThis post was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek of New Artist Model.

You’ve worked long and hard on your new album, but all that work is for nothing if no one knows about it! That’s where promotion comes in. The key with album promotion is to start early and to be really active. Just changing your Facebook cover photo to the album cover and announcing the release the day of isn’t going to cut it. You need to build up hype over time and keep on going even after the album drops.

The fact of the matter is you don’t need the marketing department of a record label to launch an album campaign of your own. With all the tools available on the internet, you can spread the word for little cost, or even for free. In fact, the creative campaigns executed by agile indie musicians tend to be more effective than the one-size-fits-all strategies employed by big labels. Here’s four cool creative strategies you can use for your next album release.

How Independent Musicians Can Market Their Music

1. Engage Your Fans

For the most part, as an indie artist you need to make things happen on your own, and that includes marketing. But, you actually have a whole team of marketers out there just waiting to spread the news – your fans! While you can’t email them a plan and expect them to finish appointed tasks, you can, and should, build a strategy that incentivizes them to share.

Start crowdfunding.

One of the best ways to get fans talking is involvement. If people feel they have contributed something meaningful to a project they are more likely to share with their friends. This could be as simple as asking fans for photographs to use in your single’s music video. Crowdfunding platforms let you offer fans cool rewards like using their name in a song, allowing them to write a line of lyrics, or personally thanking them in the album booklet.

Offer contests.

Contests are another great way to get fans sharing. Make sure you offer something really awesome, like a live webinar/Google Hangout concert and Q&A in which you’ll be exclusively premiering a new song. Ask fans to share something, like your single, via social media to be entered in the contest. You’ll be getting the word out while also incentivizing the winners to talk about their awesome experience.

2. Promote Your Album Live

These days, album releases are becoming more and more digital. You don’t need to worry about getting your album in the big stores and then going to signings on the day of release. Instead, you just have to press the upload button, send out a few tweets, and call it a day. However, just because you can release entirely online doesn’t mean you should. The person-to-person experience is still extremely important in the music industry.

Premiere unreleased music.

I know recording an album can be a little chaotic as you scramble to get everything done on time, but this is exactly when you want to start playing some gigs. Let your fans know that you’ll be premiering a new song at your shows. Not only will this bring people out and get them excited for the album, you’ll also have a chance to tweak the songs based on your audience’s reaction. If it doesn’t sound quite how you wanted when played loud, you can still make some changes! You could even schedule four shows in the month leading up to the release and tell your fans that you’ll play the entire album at one of them. This way, if they really want to hear the new songs early, they’ll have to come to every show.

Throw an album release party.

We all know the live show can be used to build up local hype around your album after the release. It’s pretty common practice to have an album release show or party and then set off on a tour, but you need to be thinking about how you can take this strategy to the next level and deliver something that will really get your fans excited while simultaneously spreading the word about your album. Doing a mini house concert tour in your local area is a great way to give your biggest fans something extra special. You could even run some cool contests or sell two CDs for the price of one to incentivize sharing.

3. Create Content

The last thing you want to do is start working on your next album and disappear for a few months. After months of silence, when you finally come out with an announcement your fans may not be listening or looking out for your content.

Get social.

Social media is one of the easiest ways to stay on your fans’ radars. Post Twitter updates about the recording process, pictures from the studio, or short teaser Vines. If you have a blog configured on your website, keep the content flowing! Share stories from the studio or your inspiration behind the album or certain songs. You want to get your fans coming to your website on a regular basis leading up to the album release. That way, they’ll be able to purchase the album and maybe even some merch when it drops.

Share your process online.

You could even go a little deeper and open up the door to show your fans the writing process. A lot of people find the creative world of musicians really interesting. Post short videos of rough songs you’re working on or photos of short lyrical ideas. Ask for your fans’ opinions and talk to them about your inspirations. Not only will they follow your interesting content, you’ll also be able to forge a more human connection.

4. Get Music Press

If you want to reach out to an audience beyond your active fan base, bloggers are the way to go, and placement on a blog is totally within your reach as an indie artist if you have a strategy in mind. The best part about blogs is that they tend to have a dedicated following that really trusts the blogger’s opinion. On top of that, their following is usually very niche specific. This means you’re guaranteed an audience that already likes the type of music you play.

Get reviewed by music blogs.

Do some research and find blogs that cover musicians in your genre and at a similar career level to you. Next, you’ll want to send out an email. You can usually find the blogger’s contact information pretty easily with a little digging through the website. Make the subject line clear and the email personal, short, and to the point. Share an interesting story about your album with a link to your music, but don’t send them a long, drawn-out life story. Remember, the point is to intrigue them enough to check out your music – the music should do the talking.

Make their readers check you out.

If you want to convert the blogger’s followers into fans, try offering them an exclusive first-look at your single or a free download for their users. If they get one song and like it, they are more likely to go and buy the rest of the album.

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.