Social media, it’s foundation, and the advertising industry rode the digital marketing highway since before MySpace.  The implementation of old school street teams like “ISquad” and other smaller platforms enthusiastically opened the doors to create an online community space dedicated solely to the artist, their fans, and the many incentives they could offer.

I remember being the coordinator for many street teams when working for Universal Records, and having thousands of fan at my finger tips for various tasks and missions.  We were a dedicated space for each individual artist, and could literally (honestly) through our army of fans – influence online voting for “fan based video countdowns” and other such promotions.  I remember sitting in my office one night and finding out one of the band’s accounts I handled (after a week long incentive campaign to vote for a video countdown) had TWO videos from the same artist on the same countdown.  I laughed, and I felt like a cyber legend. Now days, the bar is so low for entry level or self start “social media” companies- those early days of fan relationships, marketing, and even experiencing a real-time win is few and far between.

Five years later, I met with another artist to do his digital marketing, and he sat across from me and told me about why he knew digital marketing was so important to his music.  “I belonged to a street team online way before MySpace or Facebook, and worked my ass off to get free stuff.  I noticed when I voted or did anything to help spread the word, it worked.”  Turns out, he was a kid back then, using a street team that I ran.  Now, here I was…. working for him.

The problem with marketing in the music industry is, everyone thinks they already know everything, and don’t understand when the things they think they know aren’t working.  They don’t understand the business of marketing, much less the business of music – and even when presented with credible data, they don’t stop and listen.  So let me break it down for you in a very comprehensive expose:

1. Your band is not the best, and people generally don’t care about your projects.

If you made it this far in my article, then you have potential  This is because you just took a small, but harsh, line of criticism and kept going.  Maybe there is hope for you after all.  Maybe you sat there and immediately disagreed hard headed and stubborn, and continued with your mind numbing plan for world music domination.  I was once at a client meeting with a team of people they had put together, and was the center of the conversation – but nothing I said registered.  It was like for everything I said, they pretended they already had it together, but when it came down to actually doing something, they never came through. They did however want to make sure they tested my credibility, which killed them in the long run – I started pieces of the online music digital marketing fundamentals, and so I knew the evolution.  Their concepts and ideas I had “been there done that” for most, and since no one listened – they failed.

Truth is, most people don’t care about what you are doing with your band, solo project, indie movie project, etc.  It is your job, and the job of a digital marketer to make them care though giving them answers to bigger issues through your music, movie, project, etc.  You have to make it personal.  Saying that no one cares about your music doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means you haven’t opened a welcoming door to your fans, yet.

2. Understanding Music & Basic Concepts

Exposure is more important, and is always going to get you farther, than album sales.  When I marketed my first Bluegrass album through our digital platforms, I had no idea they would bring home a Grammy.  It took some edge, a bit of “sizzle reel” brilliance, and an outreach every day of the week to achieve. It was more about what music we could share or give away than we could sell.  You are not going to release an album in a indie music capacity and make millions in 2017.  You are also putting the cart before the horse if you drop out of growing your fan base organically, eliminate clean image niches, and fall short of consistency. In short, having an album isn’t enough – you have to be able to give it to people, who in turn learn about you, and allow them ways to connect to you.  You have to work HARD to make them love you, and if you don’t do the work – you’re gonna hear crickets.

Most bands fail here, because they skip the campaign trail, and expect 9,000,000 people to flock to their pretty new web store to buy their awesome new album.  Then they start talking their inexperienced heads off talking about “we have all of this inventory, why isn’t it moving?” Well genius, it’s not moving because there is no reason for it to move.  None.  It doesn’t fulfill a need, desire, or solve a worldly conflict. It’s not the answer to any life issues or problems, and does not eliminate any struggles.  No one says “I just cannot live without _____’s music.”  You’re not ready.  Go back to your organic growth campaigns and quit being lazy.  Connect, inspire, and provide answers to people’s daily life issues.  Be the resolution.

3. Solicit Yourself.

Find every podcast, Internet radio show, or streaming event that your band is appropriate for and make sure they know who you are.  From your EPK banner ad (in exchange) to your amazing free song download area – give THEM easy tools to promote you FOR you.  Indie radio streams and podcasts are in the ears of people at work, in their cars, on the treadmill, or well… everywhere now thanks to mobile.  GET in their ears, and work your butt off doing interviews, and getting placement on their shows.  Inspire others with your unique charm and personality to change the world, and them make them want more of you.

These are the first three tips I have for you.  The rest I will explore next week with more commentary, and some links to best help you become #untouchable.  Until then, you have some work to do…. go become the reason that the WORLD becomes a better place.

Jake A. Wheat
StreetBlast Media, LLC.

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