Music Marketing and Promotion: What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between marketing and promotion?

Marketing and promotion are often confused.  So here is a quick and easy way to understand the difference between marketing and promotion.


Marketing is about getting your target market to know who you are, what you have to offer,  why you are offering it, and why what you are offering is something they want.  Marketing is about getting your target market to know, like, and trust you.

Do they know me? In order to get your target market to know you, they have to know that you exist.  Your target market need to know about you and your music.  How do you do that? You show up where they are.  You should know where your target market hangs out, what they read, where they shop, and what events they attend. You or your street team need to have a presence where your target market is at.  You can do this by performing where your target market hangs out, posting flyers where they are at, having an online presence through your website and social media sites. Your target market can also get to know you through word of mouth.  This is common with music marketing.  Most people hear about music artists for the first time from others, from their friends.  Basically, find out where your target market hangs out and show up there!

Do they like me? Ok, so once you are in front of your target market, now you have to say something or play music that they will like.  Connect with them! Engage with them! Care about them! Have a message and a purpose that resonates with them. What does that mean?  On a personal level, tell your market why you do music.  What inspires your music? What’s the mission behind your music?  On an artistic level, create music that they will like.  Marketing is about engaging and connecting.

Do they trust me? Sometimes you will find that once your target market knows you and likes you, they will probably trust you, but that is not always the case.  During this phase of marketing, your target market is thinking: “Ok, I know who you are and I like you and I like your music, but can I trust that your album or your live show is going to be as good as you say it is?”  There is a level of trust that you have to build with your potential and current fans.  If you are an established artist, your fans have to trust that your next album is as good as your first album.  If  you are a fairly new artist, your fans have to trust that your live show performance of their favorite song will be just as good as the album version.  Marketing is about building trust.

Promotion: Getting them to act.

Promotion is about behavior modification.  It’s about influencing and persuading others to act.  If you have done a successful job in your marketing, your market will say: “I know who musician X is, I like his/her music, I think the album will be amazing.” But promotion is about getting them to take the next step, getting your market to say “I am going to buy the album now.” If you are marketing a live show, you want them to say “I want to buy tickets now”.  How do you get your target market to say this?  Create compelling offers! Offer limited time only discounts/special prices, special limited edition albums, music packages and bundles.

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#1 David on 11.04.10 at 1:54 pm

Hi, I am an independent artist who have been playing music on and off for a long time, and now I’m working on my first CD project. This information is very helpful, being that I am doing everything myself. I never looked at this in that way. Now that I understand the difference between the two, I can focus my efforts accordingly.

THANK YOU! David E. Maxwell

#2 Music Success Coach on 11.05.10 at 7:08 pm

Thanks David for leaving your comment. I am glad that my post was helpful to you. Good luck on your CD project. Let me know if there are any other topics that you would like for me to cover on this site. Stay posted to this site. I will be posting some free online music marketing tutorials later this month. If you haven’t yet, sign up for the Music Success Toolkit so you can stay notified, or you can just keep checking back on my site. Thanks!

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