The Internet has revolutionized the independent music industry no matter what genre and now, more than ever, the DIY ethic of music distribution and marketing plays an essential role in reaching, maintaining and growing a targeted fan base.
Prior to the Internet all marketing was by and large known as “interruptive” marketing by the trade. This word referred to marketing strategies and tactics that “interrupted” the daily life of a consumer – Tescos style of marketing.
Digital music distribution
See above in the web site section for a more detailed breakdown but you can either digitize your content and give it away for free as MP3s on your site, pay a company like Emusu to create and manage your own download store, or do non-exclusive deals with as many download providers as you can who offer free upload and service with a %age of sale per download accounted monthly or quarterly (ie: Tune Tribe, Bandwagon, IODA, Uploader, etc).
You can also explore some of the major labels, who all have digital departments, as they may do a label deal with you to get all your content and future releases on to iTunes, Napster and some of the bigger players for a percentage in addition to the percentage taken by iTunes etc. This can have its benefits in the early stages of a label because your content does get on to iTunes etc quickly but later on, when the label has grown more, you may wish to deal directly with the big stores in which case keep the deal with the major label annual and under review.
Copyright cleared promotional photos
Digitize the photos you want to use and upload them on to the web site – some for consumer use and some for press use only. For press use only create a password protected page of the site that has a separate url (www.jazzservices.org.uk/press). Once there the journalist can input a username and password unique to them and access an entire electronic press kit (EPK) that just sits there being updated by you as and when. This can include press release, high and low resolution photos, full length review tracks, video clip interviews, band logos, album art work etc.
Video and Podcasts
Sites such as Youtube are incredibly popular. Not only can you upload your music videos for all to see and link to you can add any sort of video (within reason) so if you’re in the studio creating new music take an hour out and home video some acoustic versions of your tracks and the band mucking around so you have lots of additional video material that fans love later one.
The same goes for podcasts which are audio programmes made available for free to iPod users via the podcast site. When recording, or after, conduct an audio interview with the artist/s and play a few clips of tracks and additional acoustic noodlings and then assemble it all into a 20-45 minute audio programme that can be uploaded for free on to www.podcast.org and made available to anyone with an iPod. The trick, after it’s there, is to link it to and from your fans as you would any new piece of worthy band information.
Digital Marketing campaign
A digital marketing campaign for your release can be a free / low cost and reasonably easy exercise in the beginning for an artist.
It entails you making a list of all the online Jazz lifestyle and fanzine sites that you can find. Then do the same for similar genres (blues, folk, acoustic, rnb, swing, bluegrass, country etc). Then, when your site is ready and working, send out the CD / press release to each site for review. When the reviews come in cut and paste them into your review section, link to their sites from yours and vice versa, and then tell your fans about the reviews and ask them to do the same.
Also offer each site the same track of yours as a free download or stream on their audio player / lifestyle chart that they might have on their homepage. They love that and will promote you more by using it.
Include free digital banners or buttons with the CD / press release if you have them as some sites may include it with a review. If you do this remember to ask them to embed the url for your home page behind the button or banner so when people click on it your site comes up.
Do the same thing with other exclusive content like podcasts or video interviews.
Beyond that there are numerous digital marketing companies who will do the same thing for you and take a fee but in addition the good ones will ensure that your buttons, banners, photos, reviews, exclusives and free downloads all make the home pages of major and independent retail and lifestyle websites at the same time. This is where campaigning becomes an art form in its own right and a good example of such a company would be Hyperlaunch based in Bristol although there are several other big players.
Shop for them as you would anything else of worth to you…shortlist a few, visit, compare, request references, value price over service and see if you can agree performance benchmarks to the service promised then go for it. It’s all risk remember – just try to minimize your risk to reward ratio as much as you can at every turn.
E mailing lists and fans
Your email lists and the means to keep in contact with your fans are central to developing an audience and being attractive to promoters, record companies and agents. Nowadays the emphasis is on what’s called ‘permission marketing’ – here is a little background and explanation of what these terms mean.