If I was a really talented musician with great songs, I’d be focused on building my online fan base. Since MySpace is the hot spot for musicians, that’s where I’d spend most of my time. I’d post all of my songs as audio files (“free to download and send to your friends!”), then post videos of all my live performances. I’d blog about my thought process and experiences as a musician, and I’d reach out to more popular musicians that I genuinely liked. I would also message every single person who wrote to me or added me as a friend.
Once I built up a substantial fan base that loved my music, I would offer them a free but exclusive one-hour concert via UStream. I’d send everyone a message one week in advance, thanking them and offering an invitation to my private concert (“just for you guys but you’re allowed to invite three friends!”), where I’d be taking requests through the built-in chat room and interacting with all of them live. Then I’d make sure to stay on UStream for an extra hour because I’d be having so much fun talking with everybody.
Three months later, I’d do another concert that would consist of songs I hadn’t released yet, except this time I’d limit it to 50 lucky fans. Before I selected the winners, I’d do a little research to see which of them was most likely to spread the word about the concert. How many of them have blogs? Have they written about me before? Are they “light users” or “passionate loyalists”? There would be a heavy bias for those who I thought would talk about me. I’d record the UStream concert, burn it on 50 DVDs, then mail a signed copy with a handwritten “thank you” note to everyone who watched.
Three months after that, I’d offer a unique recording of my most popular song to the first ten people who paid $100. Then I’d make a raw recording of that song ten different times, interjecting the fan’s name into the middle of their song to show that it’s truly unique and belonged to them. It’s easy to imagine how all ten people would play those songs over and over — for themselves and for their friends. They would value their recording immensely because they paid a good amount for something so unique.
From there… who knows? Assuming I was a very good musician with great songs, I’d have a loyal following and I’d probably make a decent income through live concerts and memorabilia. But money should NOT be the goal if you’re a musician. I know that sounds a bit preachy (trust me, I’m all for making money), but your goals should be to: spread your message, create great art that you’re proud of, and make meaningful connections with the people who love you. Everything you do should move you towards those three things. The money will follow on its own.
Some of the things I write about on this site might seem redundant, but I keep pushing these online marketing tactics because they’re so devastatingly effective — they just take a long time to get you huge results. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can get there. Taking the online route might not be as sexy as winning ‘American Idol,’ but then again, being in complete control of your fate has never been appealing to most people.
The tools are right in front of you, and they are free. What’s stopping you?