6 most important things you MUST do before releasing your music online

Let’s suppose you are an unsigned artist. You have the next “Hit” all-recorded and prepared for launch and all the enthusiasm to go with your first big release. You just want to get it out as soon as possible, and the whole world is waiting to hear from you. Yes! That’s the spirit! Keep it up – but first, let’s make sure you are in a position where you can protect yourself and your work, as well as get the necessary remuneration for all those hours spent rehearsing and writing! You know what they say – better safe than sorry. And ultimately, there are money to be made out of music if your material is good. You just need to be smart about it. Below is a relevant summary of the most important things you have to do – becoming, basically, your own legal and online marketing “departments”.

    1. Register for copyright

First things first: It’s your work, and you should treat is as such. Before you give it out to the whole world, make sure you protect it, and if anyone else needs or uses it for commercial  purposes, you will earn your fair share. While there are many “well-known” ways of doing this, amongst the most popular being posting a copy of your song/album through special post (dated and stamped) to your adress and leaving it unopened, safely stored, these “old” methods don’t have any value in court and are very unsafe. Usually each country has bodies for copyright, however many methods of subscribing to them, such as writing your music (on paper) and submitting might not be your most preferred way of dealing with this. However, there are also international bodies such as Songrite (http://www.songrite.co.uk) which enable you to submit your works digitally, paying a one-time fee which includes copyright for all elements of a single (for example), such as Art Cover, Lyrics, Melody, Band Name and so on. It is advisable to do this with at least two weeks before the launch date, to make sure you have time to complete all registration stages and all members that deserve copyright have the chance to do so too.

    2. Register with a Royalties Collection Authority

You want the whole world to hear your music – but how will you know they did and evaluate your performance? And moreover, how will you get remunerated if, for example, your music becomes a real success, streamed all over the globe, on TV, radio and is being reproduced in covers or live performances? Unless you have a royalties collection authority to supervise this, chances are you won’t. Each country has an institution to look after this, however in the UK, PRS for Music is the biggest one. It is also one of the most well-known globally and it helps you collect royalties from audio, video, live performances and basically any kind and shape your music might appear anywhere in the world. No worries, if you go with them you don’t need to register with anything else even if your music is played on a different continent! They are really well connected to smaller bodies in each country, so are a safe bet. The joining fee is 100£ per artist, but if you’re committed to this path is a step you will have to make – it will surely pay off in the long run! For this, it is advisable to start the registration up to a month prior first release, as after online you will have to also sign and physically post a copy of the contract and depending on the amount of applicants, this can take longer. After you are approved to join the community, you will have to register your music there as well. Be patient – if you want to go “pro”, play the pro’s game!

Tip: Another organisation you can look up is MCPS, which is a PRS partner, but they act more focused on online.

    3. Register with a Digital Music Aggregator

Ever entered Spotify and searched for the “Submit your music” button? What about iTunes? Yes, that’s true! There isn’t one! Unless you are signed with a label that can plan your launch on all distribution channels for a special date, all at once, you will have to submit your music through aggregators. These are platforms which offer you distribution support on all major online streaming and retail platforms, such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, iTunes, Tidal and many more. They can offer you digital mastering and promo support as well, and they can even collect royalties for you! It’s up to you the way you want to do the royalties collection, but we suggest to do it separately with an organisation such as the ones mentioned at point 2.

1462833530598.pngAmong the most well-known companies that offer these services are CD Baby, TunecoreEMU Bands or Record Union. Check them out, and see which fits your needs best! We recommend launching your single/album on these only after the above stages are finished. From the moment you submit your music, it will take 2-14 days for it to appear on all the distributor websites, mostly because it has to pass multiple checking stages. You will be able toy see it on Spotify (for example) in about 5 days, while iTunes can take up to two weeks. Check them continuously and see when they get through. On each of these platforms, you will either have to pay a submission fee or revenue-share.

Another interesting bit of these is the reporting – so you can see how your track is being distributed and streamed or bought on major platforms. Pretty cool, huh?

On the side, make sure you publish your songs on Soundcloud and platforms such as Bandcamp as well. The latter allows you to also choose giving the track out for free on a donation-based basis (up to 200 free downloads per month), so could get you good exposure for new potential fans just discovering you. Youtube is also a good monetisation platform and essential in music videos sharing. Before enabling monetisation though, it is advisable to complete the above registration steps and read through all the Youtube documentation. You can upload your music there then only with a cover photo. But obviously, the better produced the video, the more views you will get!

Tip: going back to Spotify, they will automatically create you an artist account. In order to retrieve it, the page will have to gain more than 250 followers, only then you will be able to claim the ownership. Make sure you get all your fans on board for it! More info on the Spotify Artist pages. A good guide can be found here.

    4. Put together a “team”- and be ready to manage it!g6qi3cs4

You already know you won’t be doing all this by yourself! Apart from the recording
team you have presumably already worked with, you will also need people to handle: Photography, Video, Promotional materials design, Printing services, Social media Marketing, PR, Concert bookings, Accounting, Rehearsal Bookings, Studio Bookings and so on. It’s almost like a mini-business you are running here. Do you know who is going to do what? Before even getting started, make sure you establish who within the band will take on specific responsibilities, and you have a team of people you know are going to be there for you when needed. It’s always hard in the beginning, but make sure you go for win-win situations in every case. If someone offers to help you with Photo and video, make sure you promote and credit them accordingly as well! The rule is this: No matter how small you start, if your work is good be prepared for the possibility of it going big. Ultimately, you never know which cards you will be playing right and your song gets in the charts. Then, you have to make sure you can handle!

One more point: Things will get messy at times, timelines will not always be respected and little inconveniences will always occur. Make sure, if you decide to take the lead, to be willing (and able) to deal with these when they come up. Problem solving and team management skills, make sure you’ve got them with you at all times!

    5. Produce a media portfolio in advance

This is really important. Not only it is essential in branding and helping you position yourself as a respectable artist, but also shows devotement and helps you keep your engagement high as well as build a fan-base (in the beginning). You will need band pictures, album/single art pictures, maybe a lyric video and – why not (if possible) a videoclip. On the side, you can prepare all sorts of materials – pictures and videos from recordings, photo shootings, maybe even a short launch “documentary”. Limits are only defined here by your imagination! The key is to know exactly how you want to use all the material that you get, and how you want to brand the band and its members prior launch, so the “story” behind is being created before the actual release. You wouldn’t want your new fans to enter your pages and find only two posts on your page, consisting of low-quality media, would you?

    6. Establish a cross-channel social media strategy

Ok, this might sound fancy but don’t lose your enthusiasm just yet! You probably already are present with your personal profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Google+. Perfect! now you have to make sure your band is as well! Create a Facebook band page, a new Twitter account, an Instagram (business) profile, maybe a new Snapchat profile and a Gmail address. You will need the latter for communication and setting up the remaining accounts anyway. Don’t forget to set up a new Paypal account as well – you will need it for monetary online transactions. At this stage, opening a new band bank account can also be a good option, depending on what you decide within the few of you would be best.

A quick and effective thing you can do is inter-link Facebook Instagram and Twitter through the “Linked Accounts” option on Instagram, so some of the posts can be shared on all three at once. However, don’t forget each of these platforms has a certain purpose, so make sure you have tailored posts as well. Use Twitter for short messages and news – maybe even directly engage with and respond to fans, media and labels. Facebook is more like your website. you HAVE to be there and mix pictures with text, call to actions and videos. Instagram is more for media, so put on here your best videos and photos, use hash tags intelligently and follow all the right people. tag, engage and be active. It will pay off!

Soundcloud, Google+ and Youtube, as well as many other platforms you can have an account on, are considered as part of social media as well. “Cross-channel” refers to the activity, presence and message you spread on all of them. Make sure you are consistent on important messages so you can stick to your branding, have scheduled post so you can build an audience and maintain engagement, and most importantly: be present where your fans are! You want to create a story even before your product is launched, so when it is, there are things that can educate and inform them about who you are and why they should like you (apart from your great music!). Also, if a label is interested in you – do they have enough reasons testifying your commitment to this path and why they should invest in you?

 

And…that was it! Congratulations, now you probably know more than 80% of independent unreleased artists out there! Obviously, each of these fields can go in much more depth, and going through point 6 there are numerous marketing and PR strategies that can be build. An article you might find interesting can also be found here. However, these are the main must-have points you have to tick in order to prepare yourself for an international online launch. Many times, the promotions will determine how far your tracks will reach, but nevertheless these will cover you for both worst and best-case scenarios. Good luck!

Marketiu is Europe’s “freshest” Arts & Entertainment Digital Marketing and PR Agency, headquartered in London and on a mission to help artists an venues thrive and keep art expression at its highest standards. 

We also deal with Digital Marketing/PR consultancy for SME and private seminars/trainings on Marketing Strategy.

Think we can help you? We’d be glad to!

For enquiries: marketiuonline@gmail.com

Andrei Tiu (Marketiu Founder, CMO; Founder & Manager of four music bands. newest being Naked Canvases): andreitiumusic@gmail.com

4 Things to do Online for setting your business on a rising profit curve

Many times, small and medium sized businesses find themselves falling behind the competition or being stuck in a place with not much growth potential. While sometimes this may be caused by the actual product being sold and its inferior quality or service in the market, there seems to be one more factor recurring for many businesses I had the pleasure to work with – their lack on knowledge or presence online. Equally, there are constantly artists creating marvellous pieces and not being able to showcase them to the right audience or gain the exposure they would deserve, often being only few steps from their escalation to success.

Whether you are the owner of a corner coffee shop, indie music label, small creative agency or local hair salon, this article will reveal valuable steps you can take right away for bringing your business up-to-date online. We’ll keep things brief and straight forward, as I would like to give you as much time as quickly as possible to take these steps and see the value in your account.

1. Get social

Because you are small, you still have the opportunity to be more personal to your audience. In a world full of options and automation in customer relationship management, this can be your most valuable asset in customer acquisition and retention: virality, recommendations, references – these all sound like music to the ears of a business owner. How do we make them apply to our business?

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience: Where do they spend most time online? What platforms to they usually use? Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest? Identify these, and become present. Give them the chance to be in touch with you more often and create multiple touch points between your brand and your audience. Ultimately, this will be a factor keeping your dialogue ongoing and build brand loyalty. Also, you will get exposure to look-alike audience, and will allow you to create content relevant to your public, stay personal and share it on the right channels.

2. Build a database

Direct marketing is becoming more and more popular online, and because of the fast-moving technology we are now able easier than ever before to collect data and use it in highly targeted and customised communications.

You might have heard of “Omni-channel Marketing” or “Advanced targeting” in the top industry talks, seminars and awards ceremonies and weren’t sure what they actually meant – the idea is not that complicated. Essentially, technology now allows you to target your customers with the right message at the right time, on the right channel, customised for each person, without having to put too much effort into it. While this can work very easily for small business with databases up to 10.000 customers using free providers such as MailChimp (for basic communications), there are also highly advanced technologies out there that enable you to create automated programs programmes for databases up to 10+ million customers (such as the Related Marketing Cloud provided by Related Digital). The idea is to keep in touch with your customers, track their individual interaction with your brand online and use this for improving your messages and ways of communication. Direct marketing is also a great way of selling, so you can easily incorporate a call-to-action, discount or follow-up on a customer. Look into it, having a good database is becoming essential!

3. Invest in your presence

Too many small companies are afraid to invest into marketing the amount of money they should in order to raise their business. While in many cases this fear can come as a result from lack of knowledge and confidence in the decisions made, it’s a critical mistake in business development.

Think about it this way: If you knew for sure investing £100 will get you back at least 150£ value not only cash but also brand resonance and market share, would you do it? Probably yes. If you are an investor as well, you would probably be willing to borrow money with a 5% interest to buy shares you knew will grow between 8-12% in the next year (say it’s a small innovative company in a growing industry). The point is, marketing is no different in this perspective.

You have to invest in order to see the returns increase, and you can never remain behind from this perspective, mainly if your competition already does it. Executed properly, online marketing will never lose you money, and it can have a dramatic positive impact on your business. If you have never done it before and you don’t have money to hire an agency, a good starting point would be taking a weekend out and laying the foundations.

You can start off with the Google Digital Garage course and proceed with medium length Google Adwords and Social Media marketing tutorials on Youtube. These will give you a bit of understanding about the importance of Online and you will get a better clarity over where to seek advice next. Nevertheless, keep in mind that as little as £200 invested wisely and on a constant basis can make a massive shift into your audience reach figures and your monthly turnover. As a final point here, you will also show you’re serious about your business and you understand the market trends, necessities and especially your customers (and how they engage with your brand). Believe it or not, it goes a long way!

4. Reach out for help

You’re not alone out there. And because of this, other entrepreneurs or artists as yourself wanted to give back to your community and created organisations and pages that promote good businesses, musicians or art creators. You will especially be able to reach these via Instagram and Twitter, but Facebook is also a great medium for sharing content – and if your campaign or message is good, you stand a chance for it to become viral – Yay! Massive exposure and PR free! The question occurring is now: how to you reach these organisations and find these accounts?

Let’s have a brief look individually, channel by channel:

Twitter: Choose your best content or page you want to drive traffic to. Maybe find a relevant picture as well. Use websites like bitly to shorten your link to the page and create a short and to-the-point message. Make sure it catches the attention. For the remaining space characters-wise, decide which hash tags are most relevant to the topic and place them after your message + link.

Pro tip: If you have already found the accounts that might be able to share or have audience relevant to you, tag them in your post. From here on, you can hope for the best – but you have a good chance to get retweeted and get your message shared.

Facebook: Besides friends and your present audience, you always have the groups. Make sure, again, the content you share is valuable and not spam, and share it there! Usually if you target groups strategically, you stand a good chance of engaging new audience and you never know who can prove to be coming in your help! Remember, here is a pool of people interested in your “kind of stuff” so play your cards right. You want this to contribute positively to your brand image.

Instagram: As a basic, hashtags can go a long way. Make sure first and foremost your picture/video is high quality and your account looks presentable. Hashtags will drive traffic towards your media, and even though in general share rates are small, you can gain valuable new audience.

Pro tip: If you choose to turn your account from Personal to Business, you also have access to insights and integration with Facebook and Twitter (and potentially other platforms such and Tumblr in you are present there as well)

 

While social media is a vast territory and you will find very valuable insights and road maps to build a great audience and engage beautifully in the new product due to be released with Marketiu, only doing the four above mentioned steps can have a great impact on our business. If you choose to follow point 3. more thoroughly and invest in multiple online marketing means – AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,while creating a brand strategy, you are very likely to be surprised by the power of it. You can also get in touch for additional advice with myself via Linkedin or Marketiu and we will be happy to provide you with a marketing audit and consultancy/training in finding what’s most suitable for you (as an artist) or your business.

Good luck, enjoy and (most importantly) have fun!

Andrei Tiu is an online marketing and PR specialist, musician and international award-winning student entrepreneur. His passion for music performance, having 8 years of experience on and off stage, is blended with his applied expertise in marketing and PR in three European countries in order to help musicians and SME’s bring up their online branding in today’s digital era.

For business enquiries:

andreimtiu1@gmail.com

For music enquiries:

andreimtiu@yahoo.com

Keep in touch:

andreitiu.com

linkedin.com/in/andreitiu

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Three top things to consider when launching your music band online

Here we go! Our very first post – let’s get the ball running.

Either it is a band, a business or a new project you are preparing a launch for, there is one single general rule to consider – ultimately, it is a new product, targeted to a certain market.

We can see new products being launched every day, and businesses being set up with a rate of over 80% failing within the first few years. Why? It may be argued in many ways and from a hundred perspectives, but one aspect will always remain standing: There was a problem, somewhere along the way, with branding, marketing and dialogue with its customers.

While this article is the first one of a series aimed at introducing the launch of a marketing product I have recently started to work on, I wanted to address each of these three points briefly in order to build towards a frame of better understanding around how music and marketing are strongly inter-related.

  1. Branding a new music band

When you hear the name of Bruno Mars, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? That’s right – the curly, funny guy dancing on “Uptown Funk” or “Locked Out of Heaven”. What about Arctic Monkeys? Yes, those kids from England singing “Are U Mine” and transposing teenage thoughts and stories into sometimes more-explicit-than-usual lyrics. You got the point. There is a reason why these bands and artists got us thinking about them this way – they planned it out and stuck to the plan. Ultimately, the band is a product – is something that people buy into. Yes, it is also a family for the artist and a means of expression, but is also a commercial presence, no matter the “market” – or category of fans / genre of music. This is a very critical thing to understand, because by knowing how you would like the band and its members to be seen by the public – and very important, WHICH is this public you would like it to appeal to – you will be able to guide actions better towards building a reputation and create a brand around you project. What would you like your fans to think about when they hear you band’s name? What feeling you want them to associate with you? What would you like a venue manager to associate the band’s name with when discussing a new gig? All these are questions to be asked before launching, in order to make sure the next step – marketing – is being executed properly. Have good quality images. Dress well on stage. Think about a show, not only a music performance. Have a high quality recording. Step away from “average”.

2. Marketing as a way of thinking

Ok, so now you have all the things in place and are preparing for your first release of materials. An important thing to identify before any action being taken is the scale to which you want to communicate with your audience, the bank of promotional material and content you have available as well as the way you will design your campaigns. I will take the example of a regular unsigned band, using own funds and without any management behind it.

The first thing to understand is that marketing has to always support, enhance and communicate the brand values established, through the channels you know your audience is being engaged best. It has to be personal, and has to be integrated through more platforms. The more your fans hear about you and encounter your name in different places, the more they will remember you. We are living in an era where if you are not “Google”-able, you basically do not exist. A very big mistake that new bands do as a failure to adapt to the dynamic music industry is failing to be present and active on social media. As reported by multiple artists and management labels, this is becoming the medium in which fans are most easily reachable as it is informal, mostly free and allows dialogue (building the personal connection) – plus they can always be found here several hours every day.

If you are really committed and you have a budget in place – plus your playlist / bookings calendar looks good, you might also want to consider investing in a well-designed website, Facebook Ads, Instagram or Twitter promotion.

Additionally, don’t forget PR can take you a long way and can earn you considerable amounts of “free” exposure. Get creative, help somebody, create partnerships with brands already established. And don’t forget about your friends owning blogs – if they’re in any way related to entertainment, you have an additional pool of possible fans there!

Next steps – prepare the launch. Advertise on all social media channels. Tell your friends. Make a nice video. Or two. Showcase your preparations. Schedule your content. Engage your audience. If you do something you think your fans would like to be involved in, share it right away! Use Facebook Live and Twitter Periscope. Reward your audience. Be someone labels would like to get involved with, and fans would like to have a good time along with. No management would like to take risks in signing a new band that doesn’t show commitment and professionalism, and no listener will want to come to a boring show. Be genuine AND smart. They won’t know you unless you tell and show them who you are.

Tip: While you’re doing all these, remember, your mind-set should be that of creating a relationship between the band and new fans though every communication you put out. Don’t think about marketing the band. Rather, think about how you can stay in touch better, let them know you and involve them in your life as a band.

3. Dialogue – Talk, listen, talk again

Buzz buzz buzz. You want everyone to know you’re up to big things, and that’s great! But make sure you also listen to what they have to say. Always track your progress, how you engage with your audience, see what posts and communications performed best. And, most importantly, listen to the feedback – mainly from knowledgeable people. As for any other product hitting its launching stage, it’s important to be adaptable and admit you might not always be right – even the “artist ego” tells you the opposite.

A very important key in your communication is to keep it constant. Ask questions, give answers and let your fans know they have a word to say in your life as a band. Keep it consistent and create new content that can educate or bring value. Don’t spam your followers, but rather make sure you schedule posts regularly that can contribute to their lives.

Bringing it all together

Have fun, but be smart about it. Creating a new band is a fun, demanding and exciting process, and every one of us wants to be in the “Hall of Fame”. But what will set you aside from the other thousands of artists and bands out there will be, hand in hand with the quality of your music, the kind of person you become in the process and the way you brand and market your band. Stick to it and follow through, and it will surely work – and most importantly, don’t postpone! In this moment, think about something you can do that can enable you to start or better this process, and start now. “Get the ball rolling”, as things won’t happen overnight – the sooner you start, the more time you have to improve, make changes and develop.

Good Luck!

For business enquiries:

andreimtiu1@gmail.com

For music enquiries:

andreimtiu@yahoo.com

Keep in touch:

andreitiu.comlinkedin.com/in/andreitiu