I made every textbook mistake when I first started marketing and promoting my tracks, which is why I believe I am much more effective at it now. I have adopted the motto “good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment.“ We need to learn from doing, by trial-and-error.
If I can help you avoid some of my first-timer mistakes, it would be a great success. Here are some lessons on how to promote your music. Because it’s such a broad topic, I’m restricting these lessons to outbound marketing or promotion.
1. Don’t Promote a Bad Track
Perhaps the most important lesson for upcoming producers is that you can’t have a great buzz for a bad track. It is very hard to recover from a crappy track that is over-hyped. I think I first heard this from a record label executive from L.A., but it’s kind of obvious.
I suggest getting feedback from respected people in the industry and other music enthusiasts before releasing. I personally have a promo list of 30 producers respected in the house community (it took me awhile to build these relationships). I respect their opinion and taste. If 60% of them like a track, it’s a green light to market and release the track. Why 60%? Think about it, 18 out of 30 respected taste makers from the industry liked the track. The odds of having 60% of my overall total fans liking the track and sharing it with their friends are high. My goal for each campaign is not to chase pennies and cents at the retail stores, but to grow my fanbase and share great music.
If you don’t have a network of tastemakers, I recommend checking out Soundout, it’s a great music feedback service that sends your track to other listeners, and you get feedback a few days later.
2. Market to Your Target Audience
I’ve seen a lot of producers who like to produce tracks in different genres and then market them to a totally wrong fanbase. Some people can’t tell Deep House from Tech House from Electro. Some people see it all as Techno. That’s fine if you are blanketing that fan base as your target market. But be clear what your target market is and what is the messages you want to communicate to them. For example, promoting your electro house track in a dubstep forum or your top 10 deep house beatport chart on an EDM Facebook group, is a bad idea. Don’t do this.
It’s not always easy to decide who you should market to. It took me some time to identify my target audience. Initially they were younger producers from South Africa, Germany and Sweden. Now I have expanded to the electronic music enthusiasts in DC, Baltimore and NYC (the U.S. has always been a late adopter for electronic dance music). My message is catered to them, and I’m closely interacting with them.
3. Don’t Believe the Hype
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in marketing is to get caught up in all the marketing noise made by other producers. When you’re inside the bubble and paying attention to every announcement of your nearest 3-4 producers/competitors, it’s easy to get despondent when they get their killer magazine review or are featured on every Beatport Top 10 and Traxsource Top 10. It’s okay to be competitive though. I noticed not a lot of producers are competitive with their music. I’m very competitive and I expect the same from other producers. If you’re not competitive, expect to live in a world of mediocrity.
Those of us that have been around the block tend to not get too worked up by any big announcements. They come and go. They’re mostly fleeting. Life goes on and you have tons of differentiation.
4. Your Competitors Feel the Same
One thing that upcoming producers often overlook is the impact of competitors’ marketing on their morale. Every day you read about all of the great gigs your competitors are racking up and their high profile remixes released left and right. You’re reading their press releases or blog posts. Inside your mind, everything is going to hell in a handbasket and you don’t know how you are ever going to make it.
That’s how it ALWAYS feels being an UPCOMING PRODUCER. You are still learning your craft, you don’t have enough gear, you don’t have access to great vocalists, your network of other producers to learn from is nonexistent, you have no fan base. That is EXACTLY how your competitors feel. And they’re listening to your tracks and thinking, “Shit, they have a good thing going on” or “Uh Oh, how did he get that gig?” Make sure you stay confident.
Producers who started 8-10 yrs ahead of you aren’t the competition, these are your mentors. Respect them and ask them for feedback, which the majority will offer if approached correctly.
5. Build Relationships
Many newbie producers make the mistake of thinking that they can simply approach a high profile producer to remix some of their work and gain recognition. It doesn’t work that way. High profile producers are constantly harangued by over-eager producers. Go slowly. Get to know them when you don’t need remixes. Same thing goes for club promoters or owners.
Follow them on Twitter. Respect their profession. Buy their music. Go to their shows. Ask if you can be on their promo list. Say hello to them at clubs or events. Understand how their job works. Understand that for every track they make, they need some support promoting it, and if you can’t help, you’re not likely to get inches. The more helpful you are over time, the more likely you are to get inches when you need them.
Building your fan base and support network is a marathon, not a sprint. Spread the love out. Your small wins will result in larger wins over time.
Also read Mohamed’s 6 DJ Tips where he talks about increasing studio productivity.