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Marketing Yourself as an Independent Musician

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For this Musician's Series instalment we have put together advice for marketing yourself as an independent musician.

The rise in the independent music scene has created opportunities for many up-and-coming artists to get their work out to the public, without the help of big-name record labels. However, just because it’s now possible to release work independently doesn’t guarantee it will be an instant success.

You could be the next Prince, in terms of talent, but if you don’t have a comprehensive marketing campaign set up, then it’s very likely that your music won’t be seen and heard by the people it needs to be. Unfortunately, independent artists don’t have the luxury of a professional promotion team backing them, so it’s good to know a few tried and tested methods to get your work out there. 

Target Your Local Scene

Whether you’re just starting out or are an established musician, making a splash on your local music scene is one of the best ways to get your work heard by potential new fans. Think about it: local gigs will make up a vast amount of your workload, so having a strong hometown fan base is essential. Similarly, you’re infinitely more likely to sell an album to people you play to regularly rather than someone whose local venue you’ve turned up in once.

It’s important to note that targeting your local scene doesn’t just mean booking gigs; it’s about getting to know all of the regulars. Try to build up a network of promoters, musicians, venue owners and organizers because, through word of mouth, these people are guaranteed to further your career.

Get On the Festival Circuit

If you're just starting out, it can be nearly impossible to arrange a full tour due to the lack of funds and relevant contacts. However, the festival circuit offers a great opportunity for independent artists to promote themselves further afield.

It’s easy to apply to play at festivals by contacting them directly. Most organizers have a section for artists or specific contact details on their website. However, before you send any emails, it’s important to ensure you have a comprehensive electronic press kit (EPK). This should comprise of press releases, images and music samples. There are plenty of software available that can help you create one if you haven't already.

When choosing which festivals to target, it’s worth starting locally. However, many of the larger festivals also have up-and-coming artists stages, so if you have already succeeded in creating a local buzz, then these are great options to apply for.

Online Marketing

By far the best platform for independent artists to market themselves is the internet. With so much of our modern world online, it’s easier than ever for musicians to reach audiences all over the globe.

First, having a website is essential, as is creates a central hub where all your others pages can lead back to. From here you can also link to places where your work can be bought and heard, such as Bandcamp, Soundcloud or the big name distributors, such as Spotify and iTunes. There are also many specifically dedicated resources to help independent musicians in every step of their online marketing campaign.

Alongside this, blogging has proven to be an extremely useful way to drum up interest in your music, particularly when you haven’t had many recent or upcoming releases. By posting regularly around topics related to your work, you can remain active in the music scene and continue to market yourself globally.

Creating A Reputation

Another incredibly important element that musicians face when promoting themselves is developing a marketable persona. Identifying your audience and the sort of artist you want to be is essential for targeting the right kinds of gigs, distribution websites and marketing platforms.

This is particularly poignant when talking about social media. How you act when you post online as an artist defines the kind of reputation you create. While harsh tweets in a moment of anger can be excused on personal profiles, it’s not really the sort of thing that you want to be related to your professional self—or maybe it is! Either way, it’s important to be mindful of the image you’re portraying.

Tell the World

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, if you want to promote yourself successfully as an independent artist, then you're going to have to put in the work. Contact anyone you can think of - radio show, local newspapers, old classmates, family members - and send them press packs to help spread the word. Get out to as many gigs as you can and talk the people there about what you do. Spend time flyering or handing out demo CD’s when you have big events or music releases coming up.

It can be easy to feel like you’re being overzealous, but the more you talk about your work, the more likely it is that word will spread and the right people will come to hear about you. It’s important to remember that, more often than not, no one is going to come searching for your music, so you have to find a way to get it to them.

Creating an online marketing campaign may seem overwhelming if you don't have much experience in the area, but it's an essential pursuit. These essential elements are a great place to start and are sure to propel your career in the right direction. If you have any experiences of the tips mentioned that you'd like to share or just your own advice, be sure to contact us on our Twitter or Facebook page.

About the Author: Cassie is an entertainment blogger for Culture Coverage and a marketing expert. She's worked in many different fields within the music industry and now shares all of the knowledge she's gained through her blog posts.

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