Quality Music Alone Won’t Increase Album Sales

Internet Marketing Lessons for Musicians

Too often I find musicians who believe that focusing all their energy on crafting and performing the perfect songs will instantaneously convert listeners into fans, and propel album, merch, and concert ticket sales. In reality, growing a fanbase — one that contributes financially to your career — requires more. You have to make it easy and enticing for listeners to invest in you. One way to help with that is by capturing the power of internet marketing.

Blue Crane Music - Quality music alone won't increase album salesIt’s summer so I’ll use the analogy of sunblock. Your music is a consumer commodity, much like a bottle of sunblock available for sale in a market flooded with all sorts of sunblock. Let’s see how a listener who’s discovered your music is like a consumer who’s discovered a brand of sunblock she likes, and how she can be enticed to become an ongoing fan.

Let’s say Ashley heads out for a day of ocean kayaking with her friends. She gets to the water and realizes she is out of sunblock, so she borrows her friend’s. She LOVES it. She snaps a photo of the packaging to remember the name. Later on at home, she Googles the brand and the first hit is the company’s website. She clicks on it and navigates to the products page. There are a few types of sunblock for sale, plus a cute sunhat with their logo.

She easily selects the sunblock she liked and places an order right on the website. After purchase, a box pops up inviting her to like and follow the company on Facebook and Twitter. She does, and she shares it with her friends. Before she closes out the website windows, she notices that she can sign-up to receive emails for coupons and relevant articles on stuff like best beaches in New England. She signs up. She starts getting coupons and good information. In one of the newsletters she sees that really cool sunhat on sale, and goes for the purchase.

What are the internet marketing lessons here that not only sold the sunblock and hat, but resulted in connecting to Ashley on social media, her signing-up for the newsletter, and spreading the word to her friends? Here are the takeaways for musicians to increase album sales, merch sales, and fan engagement:keyboard-mouse

  1. Have a website address that is unique to you and is optimized to come up in search engines. You want your website to be listed FIRST, not your Soundcloud, ReverbNation, Twitter, etc. pages. Your website is the one place that you totally control the content and should be the main hub for transacting with fans. Here’s good further reading on Search Engine Optimization for musicians: http://www.shadesofsolveig.com/2014/02/04/10-seo-tips-musicians/
  2. Make sure your website looks professional and offers music for sale directly on your site. If you’re redirecting buyers to CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, or elsewhere, you will lose attention from your site and valuable social media and newsletter opportunities.
  3. Make it easy and prominently visible to sign-up for your email list. Have a sign-up box on every single page of your website, as well as having a tab on Facebook using MailChimp or another app. Or have a pop-up box to sign-up as soon as someone lands on your website.
  4. Social media links on your website is an obvious necessity, but you can put links in additional spots, like pop-ups after a purchase is made.
  5. Have interesting content on your social media. Nobody wants to follow a page that is gig plug after gig plug after gig plug. Have a diversity of photos, videos, band news and stories, and miscellaneous interesting articles to earn your likes and make fans want to share you with friends.
  6. Keep up on your email newsletters. In many cases, consumers need to see something 10 times before they make a purchase. Perhaps you are already posting a lot on social media, but don’t forget to send regular newsletters too. You’re lucky if a fan even sees a post of yours in their Facebook timeline, but with emails, it goes directly to the reader.

More important to this story than just capturing an album and merch sale thru internet marketing, is the resulting connection you’ve made with a fan, first through your website, then social media and your email list. In an era where CD and digital album sales are falling, your ongoing connection to fans becomes critical for drawing attendance to concerts, driving demand for streaming, and creating a following of people who care enough to contribute to crowd funding your projects. By building upon the initial spark of interest, your new listeners will tell their friends about you and continue the cycle of growing your fanbase. It’s a win-win when you increase album sales and connect more deeply with your fans using the above tips.

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