Being signed by a major label is not the prize card it used to be for many struggling musicians and indie artists. It's no longer the Yellow Brick Road that leads to the Land of Oz where your dreams come true so to speak. Conventional radio airplay, standard brick and mortar distribution and being signed by a major record label are no longer the only means of getting your music noticed.
Because of the massive appeal of digital distribution and the easy and fast access to the Internet available now to most people, unknown musical talent now has a real chance at real success. Additionally the indie musician is not stuck with the costs of making an entire CD. They can make a single and post it on the Internet, gaining huge success from one song.
With marketing sensibility, a little business acumen and some know how, any musician with talent can now achieve success, great success in fact on their own. Recently, while a guest on the Sirius Satellite Radio Show The Good Life, I spoke with the host who told me that his two teenage boys get most of their music off the Internet and never listen to regular radio anymore. Why? Because they can obtain music from acts they wouldn't be allowed to listen to on traditional radio. They're tired of the same old bands and singers being played over and over again. "Most don't have any talent, they're just showpieces." This isn't the first or the last time I've heard that statement from teenagers and adults alike.
For a DIY / Indie musician or singer who wants to reach a larger market (and you must have a good product) and receive more exposure for their product on the Internet, the first thing you need to do is market, guerrilla market and then market some more. How do you do that? There are many ways that I mention in my book, The Indie Guide to Music, Marketing and Money but here are a few simple suggestions:
Join in on the music fun and know how! It's time to join music boards and start in on the discussion. At the end of each of your posts make sure to put who you are and your website. Add something to the conversation, don't spam. Write helpful hints and post them on the boards, etc. If the boards don't allow tags but they do allow you to post your email address, make sure it's something with your website at the end. Have a real email address but DON'T use your main email because it will be spammed. Something like this: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get out and begin a meet and greet of your own. By that I mean, start networking at local musician meetings and songwriter / artists forums in your region. You can find them on the Internet. These meetings host artists such as yourself who get together on a regular basis to discuss the music scene and present their latest creations. It's also a wonderful place to get the pulse on gigs you can join in on and new marketing ideas.
Why not turn the tables on snail mail spammers who send postage paid? You know all that annoying spam snail mail you receive with pre-paid postage envelopes inside? Why not save the envelopes and put a little note inside that states since they were kind enough to share their information with you, you're returning the favor. Also, with any bill or any correspondence you send out that's official, include a one sheet or little card that has a blurb about you and your music (watch the weight; you don't want to add more postage). Make sure to put your website on whatever material you have.
Using modern technology can jump start your career. Start your own podcast and post it on all the podcast sites.
If you don't have the patience or money to do your own podcast, why not send your music to different podcasts. Ask permission first. Send them to your site where they can hear a sample or two and if they are receptive to playing your music on their podcast, send it along. If they use your music in their podcast you may have gained new fans and sold more CDs.
More important to your career as well as more effective than any other marketing tool is to play live. Go to a local eatery, lunch bar, dinner, Wal-Mart, Starbucks and other local shops and ask if you can put on a free concert there. Anywhere and any place that will let you play, do! Make sure to have a sign up sheet where people can sign up for your newsletter. Then create a newsletter and send it out once a month at the most. This is a form of "Buzz Marketing" also known as "Viral Marketing." At the end of the letter make sure you include your webpage of course. Tell your fan base they can pass it along to whoever they want.
With the very small list above and a lot more you can come up with, you can make headway and begin to sell more CDs. The time for the indie musician is now. Take advantage of it!