Indie Music Marketing: Where the Music Industry Went Wrong Part 1: Why Indie Musicians are struggling to sell their music

There are three reasons why local, indie musicians are not achieving the levels of success they desire in the music industry. In this post, I will give a short overview of these three reasons and the role the music industry has played. If you are an indie artist and you are struggling to sell your music, if you are struggling to get promotion and publicity, then it is probably because of at least one of these three reasons.

Three Reasons why Most Indie Musicians are struggling to sell their music:
Reason # 1. Indie Musicians have forgotten or are not aware of, the true value and power of music.

Reason # 2. Indie Musicians do not communicate the value of their music or they do so poorly. This reason aims at how musicians market and promote their music. This reason also explains why most musicians are not able to network effectively at industry events and get the attention of music executives and the press. I will discuss this reason in a later blog post.

Reason # 3. Indie Musicians do not deliver the value of their music to their fans. This is all about distribution, how your music is delivered, received, and experienced by your fans. This is about how your fans experience your brand. I’ll discuss this reason later in another post.

In this post, I will discuss reason #1. Most indie musicians consider themselves entrepreneurs. They take great pride in marketing and selling their own music. They see themselves as business owners, as they should. However, most indie musicians have not made the mindshift change that is needed to begin thinking and behaving like an entrepreneur, as a business owner. That is, most musicians fail to ask themselves the question that every entrepreneur must ask to be successful: What is the value of the work that I do or the product I make? In other words, what problem does my music solve for my target audience? If you can answer that question, then you have the mind of a music entrepreneur.

So what is the real reason why the music industry is in the state that it is in today? The music industry has cheapened the value of music and reduced the value of music to entertainment, to a catchy beat or hook, to packaging. These are all features and not benefits. All marketers know that in order to effectively market your product, you have to focus on the benefits that your product delivers to the consumer. You shouldn’t focus on the features. The value of your product is not in the features but in the benefits. The value of your music is not in your hook or your beat but it’s in how people receive your hook. It’s in how your hook/beat/lyrics solves the problems of others. I will talk about this more in my next post.

The music industry and musicians themselves have also reduced the value of music by denying the powerful impact and influence, both good and bad, that music has on its listeners. We have heard musicians refute the influence of music and their ability to influence their fans. How many times have you heard an artist, especially a hip hop artist say that he/she is not a role model? I argue that in doing so, musicians are ignoring the power of the music that they make and therefore, the value of the product they are selling. They are also turning down an opportunity to connect with their fans in a powerful, influential way. Mike Masnick, founder of Floor64 and TechDirt.com says that the business model musicians need to adopt can be best represented by the formula, cwf+rtb = $$. Cwf= connect with fans and rtb= reason to buy. I agree. Musicians need to connect with their fans and give them a reason to buy in order to have success now in the music industry. In order for musicians to connect with their fans and give them a reason to buy, musicians first need to understand the value that music has in the lives of their fans and in society.

Music is more than entertainment for fans. Music has more value and more power. When musicians begin to realize this and focus on the real value and power of their music, they will build a successful business model that allows them to connect with their fans and give their fans a reason to buy.

People do not just want to be entertained. It is true that people buy music to be entertained, but real music entrepreneurs dig deeper to find out the real motivation behind why people buy music. A real music entrepreneur asks these questions: Why do people want to be entertained? Why do people want to be entertained with music? When a music entrepreneur can answer those questions, then he or she will know the value of music and can give people a reason to buy it.

So why do people listen to music? Why do people want to be entertained? There are many reasons. One reason, people use entertainment as escapism. People turn to music to get their minds off of the struggles they face everyday. People also listen to music because it helps them deal with their struggles and problems. People listen to music when they are happy, they listen to music when they are sad. Listening to music is an emotional experience for so many people. People love the way music makes them feel. Music helps people express and deal with their emotions. Music helps people to relax and deal with stress. People also use music to change an atmosphere, to create an environment, a mood. Music has the power to change our moods. Music inspires, motivates. Music is so much more than entertainment and a catchy hook.

If you don’t understand the value that your music has in the lives of fans, media, press, and venue owners, then you will have a hard time marketing, promoting and selling your music. If you don’t know the problems and challenges that these people have, then you are not a music entrepreneur. If you don’t know the problem that your music solves for these people, then you are not a music entrepreneur.  If you have not created music that solves their problems, then you are not a music entrepreneur.

Over the next few weeks, I will continue the “where the music industry went wrong” series.  I will continue to discuss the value of music and how this can help musicians market and promote their music. I will give you action steps that you can apply right now to discover the value of the music you create. I will also talk about how indie musicians need to communicate the value of their music.

Let me know your comments so far. Do you agree with me? disagree? Leave me a comment.

Want more free music marketing tips and strategies? Get the free Music Success Toolkit featuring 6 free resources to help you sell more music, get more fans, and get more music exposure.  Toolkit contains: (1) Free report: “Top 8 Music Marketing Mistakes That’s Stopping You From Selling Your Music“, (2)  6 FREE easy ways to find the demographics of your target market with little work!, (3) 10 free street team marketing videos, and MORE! Get the free music marketing toolkit here: Music Success

Why Vision is Essential for Marketing Your Music

On Monday, I discussed why vision is the most important factor in achieving long-term success in the music industry and I gave you five reasons why  vision is important for your music career.  On Tuesday, I talked about four action steps you can take to get a vision for your music carer.  If you have not checked out these two blog posts, you can check them out here: How to Get Successful in the Music Industry Faster, A Vision for Your Music Career: A How-to Guide.

Today, I will discuss why having a vision for your music career can help you get your music into the hands of the people who will buy it.  Vision gives you direction as a music artist by providing you with the ability to imagine the type of artist you want to be and the music you want to create.  Your vision of where you want to be 5-10 years from now should include the people most responsible for your success in the music industry, your fans! Vision will help you identify the fans you need to get you where you want to go in the music industry.  Vision can help you create a marketing plan that will identify these ideal fans.

4 Reasons why vision is essential for marketing your music:

1.  Vision helps you pick your ideal music audience

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say my vision is to become a national R&B recording artist with female fans between the ages of 20-25.  This is a great vision because it is specific.  See Tuesday’s blog post for how to write a great vision statement: How to Write a Vision Statement for Your Music Career.

This vision statement identifies my target audience (female fans between the ages of 20-25).  Since my vision is to become a national R&B recording artist, my ideal music audience is female fans located in the United States.  My audience is not females between the ages of 20-25 residing in foreign countries.  My audience is also not limited to the state that I reside in.  Do you see how my vision has clarified my marketing plan? My vision has helped me decide who I am going to market to and what states I am going to market in.  Too many artists want to answer these specific marketing questions without first determining the broader vision of their music career.

2. Vision provides you with a clear marketing plan to reach your ideal music audience.

Back to my example, since I have developed a clear vision of the artist I want to be, a national R&B recording artist with female fans between the ages of 20-25, I can now develop an effective marketing plan to reach my target audience.  I can now ask these questions: where do females between the ages of 20-25 shop? What magazines, newspapers, and books do they read? What television shows do they watch? What type of music do they listen to?  What type of R&B songs do they like and enjoy?  In my example, my vision helped me pick the target audience for my music and it helped me develop a plan to get my music in front of them. Vision can help you do the same for your music career.

3.  Vision helps you increase music sales.

Ok, so we have seen how vision can help you pick the best audience for your music.  Vision also helps you figure out the path you need to take to create the music they enjoy and will want to buy. Once you have identified your ideal audience, you can now figure out what music they are currently buying.  What music artists do they listen to? What music do they like? You should know what kind of music your target audience enjoys and make that music.  Simple, right? It really is.  If you know the demographics of your target audience and you know where you can find them, then now you know exactly how to put your music in front of them. So now you have the right music in front of the right audience and this my friend is where music purchases are made.

4.  Vision helps you create long-term success in the music industry.

Let’s recap. Vision helps you pick the ideal audience for your music.  Vision provides you with a clear marketing plan to get your music in front of the right audience.  So vision gets your music in front of an audience who will buy your music and thus increases your music sales and income.  This leaves us with the final and most important reason for why vision is essential for marketing your music.  Vision helps you create long-term success in the music industry because it helps you establish a long-term relationship with your target audience.  Vision clarifies your marketing plan by establishing the type of artist you are, identifying the ideal audience for the music you make, and revealing how to get your music in front of that ideal audience.  Therefore, vision helps you deliver the type of music your ideal audience wants to hear and wants to buy.  You will develop a long-term relationship with them because you are now consistently giving your audience what they need.

Music artists who have been successful in developing a long-term career in the music industry understand that consistently meeting the needs of their fans is a key to long-term success in the industry; vision can help you achieve that!

A Vision for Your Music Career: A How-to Guide

Yesterday’s blog post discussed how important vision is for achieving long term success in the music industry.  If you missed yesterday’s post, check it out here: How to Get Successful in the Music Industry Faster.

Today I’m going to give you 4 practical, action steps you need to take to start your path to success in the music industry.

Four Action Steps:

1) Think big!

I want you to imagine the type of artist you want to be. Paint a mental picture of the type of music career you want.  Don’t think about your limitations.  Don’t focus on where you’re at now.  Don’t focus on your starting location but focus on your destination.  I don’t want you to think about a lack of start-up money or the lack of industry connections you may have.  Think about where you want to be 5-10 years from now.

2) Be specific! What exactly do you want to see happen? Your vision should be detailed.  Here are some questions to guide your thinking:

If you are a music artist, in 5-10 years:

  • How many albums and/or mixtapes are you releasing each year?
  • How many albums are you selling a year?
  • Are you touring? Where? locally? regionally? nationally? internationally?
  • How many people are coming to your shows?

3) Set a date for completion. Set a deadline.  When are you getting there? When will you see the success that you are envisioning? Your deadline can be 5-10 years from now.  You should set your vision for at least three years into the future.

4) Write it down. Don’t just think about your vision.  Write it down.  Your written vision is going to be your motivation to keep going in the music industry when people tell you to quit.  It will help remind you of why you are doing what you are doing.  It will help you stay true to who you are as an artist and where you want to go.

How to Write Your Vision:

Here is a simple, easy fill in the blank form that you can use to write your own vision statement for your music career in 5 minutes:

______________ (number of years), ____________ (your name/name of your business) will become a successful ___________ (description of your music genre or description of your music business: include if it will be local, regional, national or international) by providing ____________ (description of your products and services) to __________ (description of your fans or customers).

Here’s an example vision statement for a music artist:

Five years from now, Angela Carter, will become a successful national R&B recording artist by providing classic soul music to men and women between the ages of 25-45 who are desperately waiting for the return of real R&B.

Here’s an example of a vision statement if you are a music business owner:

Five years from now, Kingdom Records will become a successful Christian record label by providing production, A&R, and marketing services to its Christian recording artists.

These are just examples to get you started.

Leave me a comment on this blog with your vision statement.

Vision Week: How to Get Successful in the Music Industry Faster

Hear me talk about Vision Week and today\’s blog post: \”How to get Successful in the Music Industry Faster \”

This is Vision Week on the Music Success blog.  During this week we’ll discuss the most important factor in achieving long-term success in the music industry: Vision.

You want to be successful in the music industry.  You say you want to be a successful music artist or music entrepreneur. I have an important question to ask you: what does that success look like to you?

When you see yourself as a successful music artist or music business owner, what do you see? What is your vision?

Why vision is the most important factor in achieving long-term success:

Vision helps you answer ALL of the questions you have as an artist and music entrepreneur: How do I market my music? What clubs should I play in? What record labels should I send my demo to? How should I promote my music? Who should I market my music to? What type of music business should I start?  Figuring out your vision first helps you answer these specific questions.

5 Reasons why you need a vision for your music career:

1) Vision gives you direction.

Have you ever rode in a car with someone who had no clue where they were going? It can be frustrating and stressful, right?  You are in the driver’s seat of your music career. Where are you taking your career? Where is your career going? Vision gives you the ability to know where you are going in your music career.  It makes your goal of becoming a successful artist more attainable.  You will have more focus, less stress and less confusion because you will know the type of artist you need to be and the kind of music you need to create to get the success you want in the music industry.

Vision can help you hand pick a personal success team (i.e. your manager, lawyer, agent) who is best for the career YOU want to have! It can help you assemble a team that can get you where YOU want to go and not where other people want you to go.

2) Vision stops you from wasting time and MONEY!

Let’s go back to our car analogy.  A driver who is lost and has no sense of direction, can waste time and burn gas by driving in circles.  Gas costs money! Not knowing what direction you want your music career to go in, costs too.  It costs time and money.  When you know the end destination for your career, when you have a vision of where you are trying to go, you can determine the best and most direct route to get there, saving you time and money.

3) Vision helps you get success in the music industry faster.

Having a vision for your music career can help you get success faster by giving you a strategy, a route to success. It can help you figure out the type of people you need to get connected with to help you get to where you are trying to go.

4) Vision helps you determine a plan to get to where YOU want to be.

There is a quote that says, if you don’t plan, then someone else will plan for you.  Finding your own personal vision for your career leads you down the path to a life that will be most fulfilling to you.  You will be fulfilling the dreams that you had for yourself and not the dreams that someone else had for you.  You will be happier because you are being the artist that you want to be and that you planned to be.  You are making the music that you wanted to make and living the life you wanted to live.

5) Vision gives you a way to measure your success.

Vision let’s you know how far away you are from success. Back to our driver analogy, if a driver doesn’t know where he is going, how will he know how far away he is from his destination.  Imagine the driver stopping at the nearest gas station and asking the gas station attendant to help him get to where he is trying to go.  The gas station attendant asks the driver, “Where are you trying to go?” The driver responds, “I don’t know, but I’ll know it when I get there.” How can the gas station attendant help the driver if the driver has not taken the time to figure out where he is trying to go? Where are you trying to go in the music industry? How will you know how far away from success you are? Having a clear vision can help you keep track of how far you have to go to success. For example, if my vision is to become a platinum selling recording artist, then I have a measurable way to track my success. I can keep track of how many records I sell.  Is your vision of success in the industry clear and measurable?

What is vision?

Vision is a long-term view or mental picture of the music career that you want to have.  A vision statement for your music career defines and describes where your career is going; it sets the destination.  It states the type of artist you want to become in the future.  It is a forward-looking statement.  It defines what success in the music industry looks like for you and your career.

A vision statement answers these questions:

What will your music career look like 5-10 years from now?

What will you be considered the best at?

What would it look like if you were successful as a music artist or music entrepreneur?

I’m excited to hear what your vision is. Leave me a comment and let me know what your vision is for your music career.

Tomorrow: How to get a vision for your career. Practical tips to help you start defining your success as an artist.

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