Category Archives for "Tips"

September 15, 2016

5 Tips For Building Your Email List

email listYour email list is one of the most powerful online tools that an artist can have, but how do you build one if you’re just starting out or you’ve neglected it for too long? Here are 5 tips from my Social Media Promotion For Musicians book that provide an easy roadmap to a larger list.

“Just like with your social media follows and Likes, building your mailing list takes some work. In general it comes down to the following:

1. Trust in your site. If your site or social page makes people uncomfortable in any way, chances are they won’t give you their email address.

2. An incentive of some kind. Generally speaking, people don’t want to give their address out unless they’re get something in return. Don’t think about the fact that you’re getting their email address, think of what’s in it for the fan. He only may care about regular communication, but usually access to something free (a song, ticket, ebook, article) gets better results.

3. Make it easy by not asking for too much information. The more info you ask from a potential subscriber, the greater the chance that he’ll give up while subscribing. Asking for just an email address gets the greatest response, but adding a first name allows you to include a personal greeting.

4. Cross-promote across social media, business cards, banners, and anywhere else you can think of. Anywhere you get a chance to mention your email list, do so.

5. Reminders in your content. Mention your mailing list in any podcasts, blogs, or videos, because sometimes even if it’s right in front of them, a reminder is still needed.

Your email list is extremely powerful for communicating, interacting, and promoting to your fans. Put sufficient time and effort into it and you’ll be richly rewarded.”

By the way, you can join my list over on the right.

You can read more from my Social Media Promotion For Musician’s book and my other books on the excerpt section of

August 15, 2016

The New Hashtags Do’s And Don’ts

Hashtags Do's and Don'tsSocial media constantly evolves along with how we use it, especially for promotion. That means that the way something was used a few years ago might be different today, and that’s certainly the case with hashtags. Here are a few hashtag do’s and don’ts as they apply to promotional use today.

Do: Use hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Vine. These networks are built for hashtags and postings and users depend on them, especially when it comes to search.

Don’t: Use them on Facebook. Most users don’t like them in this context, and they can actually do more harm than good.

Do: Choose your hashtags carefully. Just because you create one doesn’t mean that anyone will use it. If it’s not relevant to you, your music, or your brand, it’s probably not worth using.

Don’t: Over-emphasize your brand name. Not everything has to be about your brand, music, etc.

Do: Use them in your marketing materials. If you have strong hashtags associated with your brand, be sure to include them in all your marketing materials.

Don’t: Include them past their useful time. Many hashtags don’t age well, so be prepared to change them as needed.

Do: Expect them to spark online conversation. That’s what they’re there for, to improve engagement, then be able to track it.

Don’t: Expect them to do all the work. Without great content, hashtags are useless.

Do: Use the right amount in your post. 1 or 2 on Twitter and 11 (yes, that’s right) on Instagram.

Don’t: Use numbers alone or punctuation within a hashtag. A combination of numbers and letters are okay, but numbers by themselves don’t work.

Do: Check for trends or alternatives. is a good choice.

It’s been proven that hashtags work, with posts with the correct number and kinds of tags getting up to 5 times the engagement of one without. Use them and use them well.

August 12, 2016

Here’s Why You Should Always License Your Samples

De La SoulBelieve it or not, the pioneering hip-hop group De La Soul’s music from their first 6 albums have never been available digitally. It’s never been on iTunes and it’s never been on a streaming service, and it looks like it’s not going to be in the future either. The reason? In the early days of hip-hop, the band never bothered to license any of the samples it used (as many as 60 per song), and now it’s become too expensive and time consuming for the business affairs department at Warner Music to bother with.

And that’s become another sore point for the band, since those early albums were on the small indie Tommy Boy Records, which was eventually acquired by Warners in 2002. Since then, a revolving door of executives have been unable to deal with the clearance process of material that goes back to 1989, meaning that neither the band nor the  label has received income from anything other than the physical sales.

Out of frustration, the band gave away those first 6 albums for free for one day only on Valentines Day 2014, a move that crashed the hosting service. This action drew the wrath of Warners, but it was difficult for them to get too angry, since they weren’t about to clear the samples and release the albums anyway.

This brings up two points that every artist should be aware of. First is that you always must get clearance for a sample, because the industry is getting more litigious (see the new plagiarism lawsuit against Ed Sheeran), and you will get caught if you don’t obtain a license. You could get away with it in 1989, but we’re a long way from there now. Many attorneys use the strategy of waiting for a song to be a hit before they sue in order to get more money (don’t want to do it too soon), meaning that you could put a lot of time and work into something and not see much for your effort at the end of the day. You want to be able to enjoy a hit and the money that comes with it, and not have to give most of it away because you didn’t clear the sample for a much lower fee.

The second thing is to be sure you know what’s in your contract. If it can be acquired by another entity at a later time, you may be stuck with a team that you don’t believe in, and doesn’t believe in you either. Remember, it’s called the “music business” for a reason.

Where Music Artists Go Wrong On YouTube

YouTube where music artists go wrongYouTube is capable of making people stars, and while that happens to exceptional content creators, most of them are not music artists. One of the reasons that artists don’t fall into the YouTube star category is that their general mindset is still set in the past. Here are the 4 places were artists go wrong on YouTube, which leads to far less success on the platform than they’re capable of.

  • It’s not about the views. YouTube is actually not optimized for total views, contrary to popular belief. It’s all about watch time and channel subscriptions, according to industry analyst Mark Mulligan. Most artists get most concerned about views, which takes their focus away from what really counts.
  • Major YouTube stars constantly drip content. They’re constantly posting on a schedule that their subscribers know and trust. Music artists, on the other hand, post an average of 3 videos every 18 months. The big problem is that even if these videos rack up some big numbers, the advertising revenue is lower because there’s not much inventory on the channel so the income is far lower than possible.
  • Releases are too far apart. Most artists are still on an album cycle, where they work on an album for months or years and only release singles (and therefore videos) when that album is complete. The world that we live in today has moved way past that. In order to keep an audience, constant engagement is essential and that means the release of more content in a more timely fashion, just like the native YouTube stars.
  • The video doesn’t have to be slick. If there’s one thing that we know from watching YouTube stars with huge followings is that production quality isn’t anything to get hung up on. A quick backstage video on an iPhone or impromptu acoustic jam can be far more effective than that big expensive music video. Like anything else, it still has to be entertaining, but with a little thought, a cheap video can still be very effective.

Artists and bands have a love/hate relationship with YouTube but the fact of the matter is that it’s still one of the most effective ways of getting your music out to both fans and non-fans alike, and growing an audience. That said, the techniques that worked in the past are no longer valid. Luckily, there are some very good models to look at for guidance, but few of them are from the music business.

June 6, 2016

7 Social Media Marketing Secrets No One Tells You

social media marketingsocial media marketingSocial media marketing is the lifeblood of artists and bands everywhere since, except for live performances, that’s where your audience is. The problem is that it’s easy to fall for a number of misconceptions about what it can do for you, but that soon becomes very apparent after you’ve spent some time actually doing the work involved. If that’s where you’re at, you know that it can be a big job, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed as a result. Here are 7 social media marketing secrets that you probably won’t see anywhere else that hopefully will put your mind at ease when those doubts creep in.

1. Social media has a cost. It’s easy to think that it’s free, and there are thousands of articles online that will tell you that,  but the fact is that you’re paying for it with your time. In order to do this well, you need a strategy to carry it out, and that doesn’t just fall out of the trees – it takes some real effort to create. Plus, if you really want to supercharge your marketing, you’ll find that actually paying to promote it gets much better results, which requires yet another level of strategy and effort.

2. There’s more than one way to do it. If you want some help with your social media marketing, there’s plenty of it online, both for free and paid. That said, be aware that there’s no single one way that works for everyone. In fact, you’ll find that what actually works for you is a blend of different strategies that have worked elsewhere in the past. This is especially true when it comes to the music business, which usually isn’t addressed by the many online marketing gurus out there (this is one of them).

3. Your success depends upon the number of followers you have. When it comes to social marketing, volume is everything. It’s pretty difficult to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign, for instance, unless you already have a pretty decent following to market to. Same goes for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, email lists and just about any other platform of your choosing. Success comes from having followers, and building that list takes time.

4. Social platforms aren’t as effective as your personal platforms. One of the problems with relying on a social platform is that you’re restricted by the terms and conditions of that platform, as well as its layout, format and features. These are things that you can’t change, but can be changed at any time by the platform. Plus, social followings can be deceiving. Facebook, for example, doesn’t even allow you to reach more than 3% of your followers unless you pay for it! The online presence that you can control is your website, which is still the best contact point for people to discover the real meat and potatoes about you and your music. Next is your email list and newsletter, which is still #1 when it comes to fan communication, even though the concept feels dated to many.

5. The social world is constantly changing. Don’t get too comfortable with anything that you’re doing because guaranteed it’s going to change by next year. What’s working great on one platform today is going to be outdated really soon as both the platform and its audience evolves. Maybe your audience loved Facebook 6 months ago, but today it’s on to Instagram, and in 18 months from now, who knows? You have to constantly stay up on the latest as much as you can and adapt your marketing as needed to keep up.

6. You can’t be everywhere. It would be nice to be on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Blab, Periscope, Ning, and any of the other top 50 social platforms, but the fact of the matter is that you need time to do what you do best, which is make music. It’s too easy to get burned out with the full time job that can be social marketing. And the fact that you have to constantly adapt to the various platform changes means that when it comes down to it, you’re better off to select a few where most of your fans hang out, and concentrate on those. Then at least you’ll have a fighting chance of keeping up without burning out in the process.

7. You won’t always get it right. You’ll get really good at one or two platforms, and just float along on any others that use for marketing. Don’t kick yourself – release the regrets, that’s just the way it is. Unless you can employ a team with specialists for each platform, you’re going to lag behind on some of them. Don’t beat yourself up – it’s happens to everyone.

While this post is more about the big picture outlook of social media marketing more than the nuts and bolts, it’s designed to put your mind at ease when you discover that you’re falling behind. Just take a step back and take a deep breath. If you’re doing at least some social marketing every day, you’re doing fine. If you don’t feel at least a little overwhelmed, then it’s time to worry.

May 27, 2016

5 Tips For Increasing YouTube Engagement

YouTube EngagementYouTube EngagementEven though Facebook is catching up, YouTube engagement is still a primary concern for every artist. Information is power, and some brand new data about viewership on YouTube help to maximize its usefulness as a promotional tool.

For instance, video length is one of the biggest deciding factors for engagement. Videos under one minute are watched to completion 80 percent of the time, while 2 to 3 minute clips have 60 percent retention and 5 to 10 minute videos are only completed 50 percent of the time. That said, the average time a user spends on YouTube has increased, as it’s now up to 39 minutes.

Subrat Kar, the founder of the video analytics service Vidooly, has 5 tips for increasing YouTube engagement.

1. Focus promotion on mobile viewers. 98% of millennials watch video on their smartphones, and 92% of mobile viewers share videos.

2. Post and share at an appropriate time. The peak time for viewing on the smartphone, tablet or computer is between noon and 5PM.

3. Create videos that appeal to audience passions and align with your channel’s brand. 67% of shoppers played a video with the idea of making a purchase and watched it at least 80% through. That means that a video introducing your latest merch or release can be very effective.

4. Increase shares and shelf life by embedding videos in emails. There’s a 96% increase in click through rate, 26% fewer people unsubscribe, and 19% more people open when the title contains the word “video.”

5. Collaborate with viewers and cultivate community. YouTube provides the option for crowdsources subtitles and closed captions in 60 different languages.

Remember that the average watch time for a video is 2.7 minutes. The longer a video drags on, the lower its retention, which is no surprise since the human attention span in 2015 was a mere 8.25 seconds (and 9 seconds for a goldfish).

YouTube is still the king of the mountain when it comes to video, so its best to pay attention to the latest statistics.

May 10, 2016

4 Best Practices For Social Media Marketing

Social Media MarketingIf you’re trying to boost your fan base or engagement online, then you’re probably doing at least a little social media marketing whether you like it or not. The problem is that the best practices do change over time as social media and user trends evolve, so in order to get the most out of the time you spend promoting yourself or your music, that means you have to keep up with the latest trends as well.

Here are what’s currently considered to be the45 best social media marketing practices when putting your online strategy together.

1.  Use demographics to drive quality traffic – It doesn’t do you much good if most of your social and website traffic comes from people that aren’t particularly interested in what you have to offer. That’s why it’s important that you know your demographic well so you can aim your marketing directly at them. How do you do that? By taking a hard look at your analytics. Even the free analytics that you can get from just about every social network, as well as free services like Google Analytics and Statcounter can be very helpful in this regard. If you know your audience, you can better cater to them.

 2. Find out what type of content your audience wants –  Over time you get a feel for what your audience likes by looking back at your posting history. Is your audience visual? Do they respond more to pictures or videos? Do they like to read and prefer blog posts? Do they like photos with captions? Whatever it is they like, make sure you give them enough of it, although like anything else, too much of a good thing won’t work either. Try to discover what the proper balance is between different types of content.

3. Remember your brand – If you’re marketing well then you’re creating brand awareness in everything you do, especially online. Be sure that your posts stay in line with your brand philosophy and visual qualities. Don’t know what your brand is? Check out my Brand Your Music Crash Course.

 4. Respond to positive and negative feedback – The negative comments are just as important as the positive ones. You can learn what your audience and fan base doesn’t like, and you can also learn what you’re doing wrong in engaging them. Don’t get drawn into an online flame war however, as that can be hugely counterproductive in the end. If you can’t resolve the issue in a comment or two, it’s time to let it go.

The list of best social media marketing practices can easily be twice as long as the above, but following these first 4 takes you along way towards your primary goal, which is growing your fan base and keeping them happy.

April 22, 2016

How Long Should Your Teaser Video Be?

Best teaser lengthMany artists and bands will post a teaser video of their album before it’s released, or as a brief sampler afterwards. The problem is that there’s several schools of thought on how long the teaser should be.

One school has it that shortest is best, since YouTube attention span is around 8 seconds. The second school says that you should make it as long as necessary to get the point across, even up to several minutes long.

It turns out that neither may be right. According to a study done by Think With Google, good old fashioned 30 second ads performed far better than either 15 or 60 second ones when it came to people viewing it all the way through. This allowed the viewer to get more detail about the product without the dreaded viewer fatigue.

This contradicts what happens on television, where 15 second ads are up to 75% more effective (and cheaper) than their longer counterparts. No surprise since online advertising has proven to be substantially different because of its random access nature.

The bottom line is that 30 seconds is a sweet spot in that it’s neither too long nor too short, giving you enough time to get the point across while the viewer doesn’t feel like she has to sit through too much information.

April 21, 2016

6 Best Practices For Using Facebook Live

facebook-live-logoFacebook Live looks to be a boon to artists and bands everywhere who want to reach their Facebook fans. That said, there are some best practices in using the platform, according to Facebook’s Media Blog. Here’s what they suggest:

1. Alert friends and followers in advance about plans to broadcast live, in order to build up anticipation.

2. Ensure that you have a fast enough connection to broadcast live video, preferably WiFi or 4G. Be aware that the “Go Live” button will be grayed out if the signal is not strong enough to support Facebook Live.

3. Post a description of what you are about to share before going live.

4. Ask friends and followers to sign up for notifications so that they are aware of your Facebook Live offerings.

5. Respond to comments by saying hello and mentioning the names of users who comment.

6. Stay live for longer time periods: Facebook recommends at least 10 minutes, and the feature supports broadcasts up to 90 minutes.

There are plenty of live video platforms out there, and you may be successfully using some of them already. That’s fine if you’re sure you’re reaching your fans, but keep in the mind that Facebook has more users outside the United States than in. If you want to reach those fans, consider using Facebook Live.

April 15, 2016

Keep Your Eye On These Next 3 Social Trends

3 Social Media TrendsSocial media is the lifeblood of so many artists, bands, musicians and record labels in terms of engaging and growing their fanbases. That means it’s important to stay current on the latest developments so you don’t get left behind.

With that in mind, there are 3 new trends in social media that are really heating up that you should keep an eye on, according to Kevan Lee of of the social posting tool Buffer in a post on thenextweb. Look out for the following:

1. Purchasing items directly from your News Feed.

We’re already seeing this on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest where your fan can make a purchase from within the app, which means she’s avoided linking to the multiple steps in an external shopping cart and possibly losing the sale. Facebook has also been testing a Buy button for more than a year, and is slowly rolling it out to a specific group of advertisers.

One of the downsides of News Feed purchasing in the current crop of social platforms is that you usually need to be involved with a third part app like Shopify, Stripe or Gumroad to use as a payment processor/gateway, but if you’re selling merch online already, chances are that you’re already connected.

2. Custom social networks at work.

Companies are beginning to see the advantage of having their own internal social networks. The thought being that if employees are going to be on social media during the workday anyway, the company might as well have some control over it. Facebook at Work is the first network to jump into this game with a customized work version, but expect others to follow.

There are still a lot of unknowns here, but the trend is worth watching since it could affect the timing of your posts. In other words, it might be better to wait until after 5PM when people are away from their work networks so you can catch them on their personal networks. On the other hand, a work network might be able to be penetrated by a certain type of post, which then gives you the inside track at engagement. We’ll know more as it rolls out.

3. How to reach people who aren’t checking their feeds.

Social media is more broadcast while messaging is more personal. Many people prefer messaging because there are no algorithms involved, nor are there ads. As messaging becomes more popular, the influence of social lessens, as does your ability to reach your fans who depend less on a social platform. But what would happen if you could broadcast to a group of fans over a messaging app? Whatsapp has already started something like this with a newsletter that is broadcast to a wide group of people, and Everlane for Facebook allows a broadcast over Messenger.

The upside of this is that it gives your fans another way to hear from you if you give them multiple options when subscribing. The downside is that it can definitely clutter up a service with unwanted messages.

Many of the social distribution companies are also trying to wrap their heads around this one, but the hope is (at least from me) that messaging stays private. Don’t be surprised if ads start to pop up in places that you never expected though.

(Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr)