How to define a successful music release you ask? Is it one that builds a new and wider audience? Is it one that actually sells? The release of a new EP, album or even a track is the ultimate opportunity for artists to develop their audience and engage with them; and if all is done well, this will all translate into sales. Therefore, if there is one thing musicians should pay particular attention to, besides making good music, is how to properly market it. Getting their product out there, showing and telling people it exists and proving to them it’s worth buying, is crucial. Therefore, a well-managed marketing plan is absolutely key.
Brian Shafton from RBC Records writes in his article - Social Media Is Key To Building An Artist's Career - for Hypebot, “there really is no blanket marketing plan; everything needs to be customized. But the one essential theme throughout for every artist is definitely the social networks".
When it comes to a music release, distribution companies have understood that in the current media jungle, artists need advice on marketing their releases. Whether a musician uses a DIY distribution platform, or has signed a distribution deal, many companies will now offer Digital Marketing services as part of their package. They work with the artist or label to plan, coordinate and structure their social media activities ahead of the release date, looking to increase engagement and compliment other aspects of the campaign, with the aim to increase sales.
The sheer amount of music on offer nowadays means it’s become so important for artists to create demand by pushing their release; this way it makes it easy for either a fan or a new listener to purchase it in one click through the key platforms - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud, etc. Tools like SmartURL make pushing buy links to iTunes easier and more manageable, and are now commonly used by distribution companies. In addition, SmartURL links are short and clean (URL’s that are shorter have a higher click through rate) and will redirect traffic based on territory and also track the performance of the click-rate.
Trade marketing is the process in which releases are pitched to stores and streaming platforms for editorial coverage. To reach this stage, knocking at the door of a distribution company is almost the only solution: they have a crucial understanding of the release process, what the stores expect and what you can expect from the stores. Whether it’s from the top retailers like iTunes, Spotify and Amazon or smaller local stores, a dedicated trade marketing team can provide access and coverage on all of them - the last thing you want is your audience not being able to find you on a store. The possibilities are countless: having an appealing artist page on Deezer, creating playlists on Spotify, securing a banner on 7 Digital, setting up a Beatport Exclusive release, creating a pre-order on iTunes or becoming their Single of The Week with a full artist page takeover; all this can significantly impact your sales figures.
Distribution companies’ wide retail network and regular contact with digital retailers ensure that they’re aware of the constantly updated features and opportunities for your music to get exposure – as long as you’ve done the work on your social platforms and built an engaged audience first. Furthermore, gaining visibility with digital retailers who see good sales potential in your music puts you in good stead to being offered more coverage in the future.
Understanding this process and the value of a strong marketing plan prior, during and after the release is essential to a successful campaign. Combining both a well-executed digital marketing and social media strategy, along with a comprehensive trade marketing plan allows greater visibility across the whole online sphere, and a digital distributor is the sure-fire route to achieve this success.
This article has been written by Gabrielle Nicot from Believe Digital – a leading digital distributor and services provider for independent artists & labels.