8-Step Guide to Social Marketing Your Digital Audio Career, Part 1

This is the first of a two-part article which is meant as a social marketing primer aimed at all of you working in the digital audio world. There’s a lot of talk about social media these days and there are several sites that offer great ways to interact with others and share what you do with friends, family, acquaintances, but also, with potential business partners, customers and clients.

The digital audio business has changed and I’ve already discussed how the Internet changed how we perceive digital audio creation and how we value this creation. But it also made it much easier to get your work known across a much wider area. How successful we are at using these new social media tools depends on many variables, but one of those variables is the thought process that goes into your marketing.

By definition, marketing is the action of promoting and selling products or services. You’re selling audio products and services. We’ll start by defining your marketing objectives through a marketing strategy and setting up realistic goals. I’ll provide some questions that should help you determine who your target audience is. Finally, we’ll look at ways to craft the story you want to tell through your social media marketing efforts and how you can tell it through the different existing platforms.

Get Your Priorities Straight!

Priorities are important because you can’t do everything at once and you’ll need to decide where you want to spend your time and efforts. It sounds simple enough, but if you’re an independent artist, musician, band or professional, many responsibilities fall on your plate. Your first instinct will be to say “I need to take care of everything.” In a larger production company, there’s a department or resource for most of key tasks: sales, production, promotion, marketing, creative, strategy, etc. When you are an army of one, there’s just so much you can do. Since this blog is written with music composers in mind, your priority should always be your music. People might hire you because of your connections, your smile, your price, but if they like your music, the chances they’ll hire you again increases.

The more music (read “experience in writing it”) you have, the better you become at it, the easier it gets and the more professional you become. It’s a simple logic to follow and I’m not the first one to mention it. Too often, we loose that focus and get overwhelmed by everything else. By doing so, we loose perspective and get our priorities crossed.

That being said, seeing the steps included in this marketing primer through, requires time and effort. That is why marketing companies have flourished over the past 50 years. If you have someone to help you out with this, it might be worth having a discussion or some kind of trade.

Develop a Marketing Strategy

If you’re reading this article, chances are, you’re trying to find a way to market yourself more efficiently. A common mistake is to start working on a website, business card, letterhead or something else before you have a strategy in place. A strategy answers the “why” question, not the “how,” so you should know what your goal is and understand that this is what you wish to achieve in the end. Why you do marketing campaign will help determine the best approach and subsequently, how to build it: which tools to use and that sort of thing.

Start by asking yourself why are you taking on this marketing effort? This should provide you with simple answers, like:

  • I want to increase the number of people who know my music/me (from a business perspective, not necessarily know about your personal life).
  • I want to promote tour dates.
  • I want to maximize the number of visits to my website when my new album comes out.
  • I want to support my offline efforts (cold calling companies, visiting contacts, etc) with online content.

Of course, these are just examples, but you should get the picture.

Setting up Realistic Goals For Your Campaign

Next, you should set realistic goals for your efforts and these goals should be measurable. If you can’t measure a goal, how will you know if it has been successful or not? If you’re trying to increase the number of people who know your music and want to increase that number by x new followers each month, this will provide you with a metric that you can track. In return, tracking will allow you to measure success. If you’re promoting tour dates, you’ll want to measure this in some way, so you can set a threshold against which you measure that success. This particular example is easier if you already have some information on previous tours, but if you don’t, now’s a good time to start thinking about how you are going to measure that success.

Targeting Your Audience

Targeting your audience sounds simple enough, but it will play a big role in your strategy and the subsequent tactics (the “how”), so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Let’s say you write music for film, video, television, your target market would be the people signing contracts with composers in a film, video or television production company. If you like or create a specific type of music, do you know that this audience buys it? If not, maybe you’re targeting the wrong audience? Maybe your mom, boyfriend/girlfriend, and close friends like what you do, but that’s not your audience because they are biased and they are not the reason why you are doing this exercise.

If you write punk rock, LinkedIn might not be the best place to target your audience to publicize tour dates or the release of your latest album, but a well targeted campaign aimed at record executives on LinkedIn might work in your favor. That being said, we’re not ready yet to discuss tactics (the “how”), but I wanted to provide you with some sense of relationship between your marketing campaign and the value of establishing who your target audience is for the kind of music you write and want to promote.

Targeting your audience will also help you determine the geography of your efforts and the languages you’ll need to work with. In the former case, your efforts might only make sense in a local environment like your home town or state/province. If that’s the case, the tools (tactics) you’ll choose might want to address this.

 Identify Your Competition

Chances are you’re probably not the only one doing what you do in your neck of the woods. They say humans aren’t creating anything new; they just transform what already exists, thus making it their own. Music and business certainly doesn’t escape this reality. It’s not to say you can’t be creative, but you might want to see what others do and learn from it. This should help identify what sets you apart. It also took a long time to invent the wheel, so there’s no point in re-inventing it…unless you are an inventor, of course. Look at what they are doing well, where they could improve. What you like and don’t like. What seems to work and what’s missing.

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