7 marketing mistakes bands make before the album release


Imagine having the perfect album release; free from marketing mistakes that ruin your plans.

Back to reality.

The fact is – most bands fail at this crucial step in the process of releasing an album.

Why?

You agree that you want your marketing strategy to be as good as possible?

This is easier than it sounds. There are fundamentals laws of marketing that you cannot violate to make this work.

Listen:

We are going to go over the 7 most common marketing mistakes bands make when releasing an album.

Plus 7 strategies how to avoid them. So that you can nail your launch and reach as many fans as possible.

The new age of music marketing

A picture of a cassette tape as an old marketing media

Marketing used to be a race of the budgets.

The company that had the biggest budget could scream the loudest.

The louder they screamed, the more people they could reach.

This reach would make a percentage of these potential customers buy what these companies were selling.

The times have changed:

For several decades, the TV was the place to be.

Magazines and newspapers were the strongholds of any successful b[r]and.

As an instinct, these forms of media still resonates in our heads as a viable choice for marketing music.

Here is why that’s unlikely to work:

There is a saying that goes – “If you are targeting everybody, you are marketing to nobody.”

If you were to spend all your hard earned cash, time, and energy trying to get media coverage, you are most likely wasting your time.

Especially if your music is heavily niched.

Don’t get me wrong!

Getting media coverage is great…

….but.

It cannot be the end goal.

These platforms should work as an igniter tactic for your marketing strategy.

As a means to point the attention in the right direction.

Otherwise…

…This could quickly turn in to one of the deadly marketing mistakes.

Marketing mistakes; your music is not for everyone

a picture of a CD disc on a white table

Since your music isn’t for everyone, it would be wasteful to market it as if it was.

If you are pouring all your energy into getting noticed and picked up by the big media outlets, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Here is a bad example:

If you strive to end up on the cover of a well-known magazine, you are marketing to everyone.

You will probably agree that it would feel fantastic to see your band on the cover, but ask yourself this:

Would it benefit your band as a brand?

The answer is; unlikely.

Here is why it won’t work.

The dream is to sit on the cover, get discovered, have everyone that has seen the magazine buy the album.

Reality check: when was the last time you saw someone’s face on TV, on a magazine cover or on a billboard, only to immediately go and buy everything they have released..?

Exactly.

The difference between what is good and what feels good is that one will work as an effective marketing strategy, while the other one will only stroke the ego.

For you to successfully release and market your album, you must understand the fundamentals of reaching your target audience.

On the right platforms.

You will save your time, money, and energy by focusing on the right strategies, rather than trying to travel back in time to when TV commercials would grow your business.

Since you don’t want to outbid the biggest brands on the planet to get your name on the silver screen, you want to double down on more dynamic strategies.

Without wasting your money.

The permission strategy

A business man reaching out his hand to allow permission marketing to take place

Before you release an album, you must know to whom and where you are going to release it.

You must be sure of how to handle your fans once they come rushing to see your pages, websites, and social media accounts.

One of the most common marketing mistakes bands make is that they do not have a plan for receiving new fans.

Imagine; opening a bar. You have planned and strategically worked out the premiere marketing tactics to draw maximum attention to your new business.

It worked – the whole street is full of people dying to visit your place of business.

The only problem is…

…you forgot the buy chairs, tables, hire staff, get the beer, and the kitchen is nowhere to be found.

The customers arrive, but they are soon leaving. One by one.

Why?

Because you spent so much time marketing your business, that you forgot to have a place for them to meet and enjoy what you have created.

This is what happens if you strive to be seen by everyone, all the time, no matter what.

The exposure will mean nothing if there is no strategy behind it.

You must have a place of business to lead your new fans. A place where they can enjoy themselves, and keep returning to.

In reality; this would be your social media accounts. These accounts must, however, lead to yet another place of business.

A place where you keep your permission assets.

Marketing with permission assets

In 1999, the marketing genius Seth Godin introduced a concept called Permission Marketing.

The basic idea of this beautiful concept is that mass marketing no longer works.

Instead, you want to focus solely on those who are interested in what you have to offer.

People who give you permission to talk to them.

This strategy will give you two benefits:

  • 1 – you will only talk to people who want to learn more about your music
  • 2 – you have access to your audience directly from your computer

You can do this by increasing your followers on social media, but you want to convert them to one of your platforms as soon as possible for this strategy to work.

There is a risk of running a business through social media:

You have no control over Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

If these platforms decide to block your account, shut down their business or force you to pay to get through to your audience, you are essentially screwed.

For this reason, you want to start building your own platform as soon as possible.

A platform is the most crucial career asset you could ever have.

Here is how you do it.

Start an email list for your fans

A person writing an email list for metal music by hand

One asset that you will always have control over is an email list.

If you can court attention on social media, but lead your fans to convert and give you their permission to talk to them through an email list, you will win.

One of the biggest marketing mistakes bands make is that they have no way of communicating directly with their fans.

These bands rely on record companies, managers or even social media to do their work.

In this economic model, you are going to have to develop your own permission assets to stay on top of your game.

You can do this by using services like ConvertKit, MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.

If you have an email list, you will have direct contact with your fans.

24 hours of the day. Every day of the week. For the rest of your life.

There is, however, one question that keeps popping up when discussing this strategy.

How can an email list be a sufficient means of growing a music business?

Enter 1,000 True Fans.

1,000 True Fans

Back in 2008, Kevin Kelly wrote a short piece called 1,000 True Fans.

This concept was something Kelly had been kicking around in his head for years before writing the essay.

The idea is basically that; all you need is a thousand true fans. A devoted audience who will follow you wherever you go.

These people will buy everything you release. The remastered version, the anniversary edition, the new album.

Your 1,000 True Fans will drive across the country to see you perform. They will do whatever it takes, and this will ultimately lead to you making a living out of doing what you love.

Play music.

The best strategy for getting to 1,000 True Fans is to start an email list. Today!

A word of caution!

As with anything worthwhile, this marketing plan is going to take some time, but…

…just like Seth Godin said in his article, First, ten;

“Your idea spreads. Your business grows. Not as fast as you want, but faster than you could ever imagine.”

You have got time to spend, but none to waste.

For you to be prepared to meet your new fans once your marketing strategy is ignited, you must build an email list.

Have patience, make sure it follows a pattern and avoid these 7 marketing mistakes before releasing an album.

  • Get your fans’ permission to talk to them.
  • Drive this conversation through an email list, not on social media platforms.
  • Build a platform where you can market your creative work directly to your fans.
  • Have patience and do the work every single day.

1 – Releasing it tomorrow

A picture of a turntable, headphones, and a mac computer

The most common of the 7 marketing mistakes bands make is this:

They release the album 24 hours after they’ve completed it.

The excitement and joy you feel when you receive your final master reel is nothing less than mind-blowing.

As it should be.

You cannot wait to share it with the world, so you decide to release it the next day.

There is a HUGE problem with this.

Listen:

No one is going know your album exists. No one.

Most of the time, the engineers, and producers who worked on the album are oblivious to this unstrategic album release.

That says a lot.

Again; will this eagerness benefit your band as a brand or merely satisfy unrestrained emotions?

The truth is:

It will only hurt your art.

Imagine going for an eight-mile walk, but at the four-mile mark, you stop.

You take one giant step, and then expect to make the last four miles with that small step.

Not very likely to happen.

That is precisely what “Oh, well. We’ll just release it now” does to your career. It cuts its short, eliminating all chances of reach and success in the process.

You want to plan your album release and have a solid timetable for everything that is going to happen in the next couple of months.

One more thing:

This kind of restlessness will cause a few other problems too.

A more in-depth analysis of the album release

When the album is done, your work as a creator is also finished.

You do not have to write, arrange or compose music for the album anymore.

That’s perfect.

This frees up time and energy that can be used for marketing process.

Entertain this thought:

You want to go out and promote this album by playing gigs, appearing on podcasts, and gaining exposure on the media platforms that fit your brand.

To do this, you must plan accordingly.

You might be ready to roll, but the podcast hosts, booking agents, and venue owners are still unaware of you and your album.

They are most likely entirely booked up till 6 to 12 months from now.

How are you going to fit your marketing into their schedule if you only have 24 hours to both plan, book, and appear on these platforms before your album hits the ground?

Your best shot at a successful album launch is if you can detach yourself emotionally from your album, and put on your thinking hat instead.

Here is the solution.

Do your research to avoid marketing mistakes

Find podcasts you could appear on, choose your social media platforms, and find blogs to be featured on.

If you can find 10x or 100x the amount of information you need for a successful launch, you throw away 90% of it and be left with pure marketing gold.

The less you can make your marketing strategy a guessing game, the better your chances of winning will become, thus avoiding simple marketing mistakes.

Here is a simple structure you can follow:

  • Set a starting date and a release date [deadline].
  • Gather all the marketing information you need – where, how, and why should you be seen?
  • Arrange your information on the timeline – when will it happen and how is each step related to each other?
  • Double check your plan – is everything in place and ready to be executed?
  • Let the Dominos fall – follow your plan to the detail, and you will have a better chance of reaching a broader audience.

You will begin to see patterns and understand what to throw away, and what to keep once you have gathered enough information.

Then it will be easier to survive this next step.

Friends will rush you into making marketing mistakes

People and friends will make you rush your decisions.

They want to hear the album. Right now. Put it online already.

Without a plan, this is a detriment to your music career.

Your friends, family, and co-workers will most likely not understand the marketing process.

If you think about it, all the albums that drop during one year seem to come out of nowhere and just black out the sun with their overwhelming presence.

This is the result of a marketing job well done.

A well-performed marketing strategy will create the illusion that the album came out of nowhere and took over the world.

The truth is; that is was planned several months in advance.

Engineered to the bone.

That is why your parents, friends, and colleagues will push you into making rash decisions.

The best antidote is to have a plan.

If you have planned your album release without any simple marketing mistakes, you will know when to say Yes, but also when not to listen and say No.

Only you know what needs to be done, and only you understand what is best for your music.

Never let the opinions of others color your work. Develop a grand strategy and keep straight ahead.

This will keep you from releasing your album too early and having to live through the pain of committing marketing mistakes during your release.

Robert Greene said it best The 33 Strategies of War:

“Grand strategy is the art of looking beyond the present battle and calculating ahead. Focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it.”

2 – Build it, and they will come

A pile of LP records

Word of mouth is what all marketing strategies are built to attain.

You want your music to be so great that your fans, and their friends, just cannot ignore it.

The results?

Your fans will tell their friends, who in exchange will tell their friends further down the line.

This word of mouth chain will ultimately make your work sell better next year than it did the year before.

There is a problem with this:

It doesn’t matter how alluring the treasure is, if no one is looking for it, no one is going to find it.

You may have created the work of your life, but if no one knows it exists, they will not be able to enjoy it and spread it.

One of the biggest marketing mistakes bands make is that they think having the album is enough. Build it, and they will come, as in the movie Field of Dreams.

The only obstacle to this plan is…

…they won’t come.

Think of it like this:

The three-step process

Making an album go from idea to having an impact on the lives of others is a three-step process.

  • You have got to write, record, edit your album.
  • Then, you must nail the packaging process with the album cover, name, and design details.
  • Finally, you then have to come up with and execute a marketing strategy to reach your target audience.

If you stop at the end of the first step, you are essentially missing out on 2/3 of the whole process.

So, what’s the solution to this problem?

Build it, and ask them to come.

Let your fans find your target audience

As you will see in #3 Measure once, cut twice of the marketing mistakes, there are strategies for making your music stand a better chance of becoming work that lasts.

One of them is asking your fans, friends, and family to come to you.

If you have built it; written, and recorded the best music you could possibly create, there is a high chance that your art will take on a life of its own.

A simple truth of human nature:

People want to share quality music and art.

According to Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked How To Build Habit-Forming Products, three variable rewards make people want to consume and share.

The three variable rewards

  • Tribeour brains are hardwired to seeking out rewards that make us feel accepted in a group or tribe. Things that make us feel valuable, attractive, and approved.
  • Huntthe survival mechanism that searches for food or any other reward that is crucial for our survival can make us consume and share content. This reward model increases the release of dopamine in the brain, which increases the dopamine receptors, making us crave it, even more, the next time around. The following new discovery is what the “Hunt” makes us search for. Translation: ever heard an immensely good song that makes you want to go crazy? Yes. That’s it.
  • Selfthis reward has to do with personal gratifications and sensory stimulations. You reward yourself and share things that make you look competent, reach toward mastery, and completion. If you find a song that you think is really good, you want to share it with your friends. Why? Because it will make you look competent because you found the song and your tribe (combo) made you feel important for discovering this fantastic tune.

If you can show your finished work to 10 friends, they will share it with 10 more friends. Why? Because it will make them look good, and they feel good about sharing fantastic music.

The best part is:

You do not have to target a specific audience. Your friends will think of a person who would love to hear your music.

For each step of this word of mouth chain, the audience gets more and more concentrated, and for every person who gets to hear your music, your true fan base will grow.

…but.

None of this will happen if you don’t share it in the first place.

Spend more time marketing than creating

The best marketing strategy you could possibly have is a great product, music album or book.

Having the best strategy doesn’t mean you don’t have to work your fingers to the bone.

You want to spend at least the same amount of time you did writing, recording, and finishing your album on marketing it.

You should be spending 3 times the amount of time that you created something marketing it.” – Amy Schmittauer

Yes! Build, create, and actualize your music, but spend as much time, energy, and effort marketing it.

Only then can you benefit from the habit loops, laws of human nature, and have an impact on the lives of others.

The first step is to ask people to listen, and possibly share your music. The next steps will occur naturally, as long as your work hard for them to appear.

Build it, ask people to come, and they will bring 10 more people if what you have built is valuable work.

3 – Measure once, cut twice

A picture of a saw sawing through wood

The more research you do in advance, the less of a guessing game the marketing becomes.

This measuring includes the music, the packaging, and the marketing strategy.

A lot of music creators don’t want anyone to interfere with their writing process.

Their music is their art, and it should be kept that way.

Absolutely.

The first rule of creating work that matters is to “scratch your own itch,” as the author Tim Ferris would say.

Once you have created the initial work that fulfills you as a creator, you want to start measuring and tinkering with your music.

The amazing band’s worst album

We all know at least one band that impacted on our lives, and forever changed the way we see the world.

Perhaps it was one of their songs, an entire album, or several releases in a row…but then it happened.

This band got so full of themselves and the success of their previous release that they (and probably a couple of suits) decided to replicate the formula.

The results were catastrophic.

Why?

This band created a new album for success, not for the fans.

They made the cut without measuring why they were cutting, and for whom the cut should be made.

They didn’t write the songs with their fans in mind, and they forgot to test and measure along the process.

There are a few questions that you can answer to avoid making the same mistake, and disappointing fans to the degree of them abandoning you.

The four questions for avoiding marketing mistakes

During any creative endeavor, you must be able to ask yourself what you are doing.

Perhaps more important is to answer the question what you are not doing.

If your music has a specific genre attached to it, your fans will also be very genre specific.

What that means is that your music will be for your target audience, and not for the fans of another genre.

Sure. There are gray areas, and the lines always get blurred out. If your work is done with a purpose, everyone will enjoy it.

The point of this exercise is to have a specific group of people in mind during the creative processes.

For this strategy to work, you must avoid simple marketing mistakes by asking yourself these four questions:

  • What am I doing?
  • Who am I doing it for?
  • What am I not doing?
  • Who am I not doing it for?

If you can answer these following questions with clear, short, and distinct sentences, you are well on your way to creating work that matters.

Both for you, and your true fans.

Next, you must measure your process so that your work fits the plan.

How to measure while writing

You have a desire to create music. Songs that fulfill you as an artist, and art that will have an impact on the lives of others.

For this chain of actions to be played to perfection, you must measure before you cut.

What does this mean?

Imagine; if you have decided to get a new haircut. You have a few options available, but your style is pretty much the same.

Before you go to the hairdresser, you ask a reliable source for quick advice. Which of the three haircuts would fit you the best?

After asking one to three friends or family members, you have enough feedback to know that your decision is going to make you happy while being appealing to those around you.

  • You had an idea, you asked for feedback, and you went through with your plan.

The results came back amazing.

You could do this without asking, but that would leave too much to chance.

This is precisely what you must do when you are writing music with a purpose to affect other people.

You can do this with the music itself, with the album cover, and the names of the songs or the album title.

Preferably all of them in a strategic pattern.

You want to leak out information tactically, snippets of songs, and different album covers to people whom you trust and respect.

These people could be friends, professionals in your line of work or your fans. (More on this in #7 Being afraid of strategic criticism).

A valuable asset for avoiding marketing mistakes

Headphones and a mobile phone on a white table

One of the biggest marketing mistakes bands make is that they do not measure their process.

A valuable asset through all of the steps are the fans, people, and friends close to you.

Do you remember how you the amount of research you do decreases the risk of guessing your way through the album release?

This is the research.

When the political consultant Frank Luntz was doing research for his book, Words That Work, he polled a focus-group asking them to rate the name suggestions for this project.

The original name for the book was “Killer Words,” but the focus-group mistook it for a book on the confessions of murderers…or worse.

He quickly changed the name according to the feedback he had received, and the book turned out to be a great success.

This is the power of measuring before committing to making the cut.

Remember, Frank Luntz’s profession is to know which words work, why, and how.

Still, he asked focus-groups and changed his book title based on the feedback he received.

For your music to have the impact you desire, you must do the same.

Here are a few tactics you can use to implement this strategy into your marketing plan.

How to measure your process – demo songs

Leak out demo versions of your songs – I heard of a writer that said; “you do not sit down and write until you know the last sentence.” This is an extreme example, but there is some truth is that statement.

It would be a waste of time and resources to record an entire album in oblivion. For your album to utterly crush your competition, you must be confident that the songs on the album will work for your target audience.

This can be done by leaking out demo versions of the songs you intend to put on the album. It doesn’t have to be full versions.

It could be snippets that are 30-45 seconds. Judge the initial reactions of your focus-group, and decide if you need to make small adjustments, if the song is perfect or if you need to throw it away completely.

What you will end up with is an A-list of songs that you have tested, improved, and measured before you make the cut and record them in their final form.

Not only have you decreased the guessing game that would waste valuable time in the studio, but you also know what songs will work and you can focus 100% on recording your best performances ever.

Measure feedback – the artwork and the title

The same strategy goes for the artwork and the album title.

You might have a clear idea of what you want the album title to be, and how the cover should look.

If you want an edge and avoid simple marketing mistakes, you must measure this process as well.

Pick your best ideas for the album title, and kick them around with the right people of your choosing.

Poll your fans or put the different album titles in undercover scenarios where you can receive feedback without revealing that you are trying out different album titles.

This could be Facebook conversations, questions on your fan page or polling bars. Anything that could give you a decent amount of feedback is perfect.

You should do this with the album cover as well.

Pick three different album artworks and three divided groups of people. Show the groups one album cover each.

Group A sees Album cover A, and so on.

Measure their responses and pick the artwork that got the best feedback together with the album title you chose based on the previous feedback.

All of these little pieces of information will eventually turn into a strategically planned marketing blueprint that will minimize the risks of failure and maximize the chances of success.

You can do this with everything in the creative process. It will save you valuable time, money, and increase the likelihood of your album crushing it once it hits its market.

By doing this, you will not only create an album that fulfills you artistically. You will also create something that speaks to your fans.

With this measurement technique, you will most likely never release an album that will disappoint your followers.

Remember – you must aim to hit the target. Measure twice, cut once.

4 – Thinking marketing isn’t creative

A phone with music playing on it

Here is one of the biggest marketing mistakes all bands make.

They think that the marketing part of the process isn’t creative or something they can do themselves.

Let’s break it down one more time.

A complete album release consists of three steps.

  • An amazing album (written, recorded, mixed, and mastered)
  • An album packaging that is measured with feedback
  • An executable marketing strategy

During this entire process, you can never stop.

The chain never ends

Once you have started, you must excel at each and every part of the process.

For this to happen, and for your album to explode on the market, you must prepare yourself for seeing the marketing as something creative.

Marketing is something you do after the album is done to give it a little boost.

That’s what amateurs think. Since you are a pro, you know better.

The marketing process should be at least as creative as the writing and recording of the album were.

Imagine; all the shows you can plan to appear on, the active campaigns to court attention, and all the crazy stunts you can pull off to create a compelling spectacle.

Doing marketing is like reliving the writing process of the album.

You gather your ideas, you put them in a strategic order, and then you execute them.

Your creativity and thinking that will come in handy on this leg of the journey.

Being afraid of or not wanting to get involved with marketing as a band is a sign of fear and insufficient marketing skills.

Learn more to win more

You do not have to become a marketing guru with the skills of an almighty God to have a successful album release.

Far from it.

What you have to know is the difference between what marketing music the new way is, and what it is not.

The truth is:

Marketing is mostly a mindset.

You can learn all the skills, go through hundreds of books, but if your mind isn’t right in the process, the results will suffer the consequences.

Therefore, your primary goal when marketing your album should be to develop the mindset of a marketer.

If you do this, you will pick up the tools, speed, and knowledge along the way.

You will get chances to test your ideas, strategies, and tactics in real situations.

These situations will force you to act, and be smart, yet creative, with your marketing.

The whole process starts with:

  • Not seeing marketing as something you add at the end.
  • Start seeing marketing as 1/3 of the creative process of every album release
  • Developing a marketers mindset
  • Getting your hands dirty as soon as humanly possible

Since the marketing starts with having the best album you can possibly record, you should also start thinking about how you can get people to support, and share your album.

Do this the very moment you enter the studio, not when the album is done.

If you have done your homework, everything that happens after entering the studio should be anything else but a guessing game.

You should have the plan laid out in front of you.

A blueprint for the research you’ve done, and for the marketing mindset, you have developed.

Black hat vs. white hat strategies

You could let your creativity flow by implementing White Hat stunts in your marketing plan.

This could be reaching out to a podcast, blog or an influencer who writes about what you do. Genre-specific.

You can present your idea, tell them why you like what they do, and how your music would be a great fit for their program.

That could work.

Or.

You could also go with the more sinister approach and use the Black Hat.

Invent something controversial that your band or you possibly have done, spread the rumors to a podcast you know is very emotionally charged, and go on the show to wreak havoc on the whole situation.

You don’t even have to appear. Make them talk about you, and the thing you “did.”

A word of warning, however.

This kind of solution always tends to backfire in one way or another. It is still wise to go with the more long-term approach by appealing to the self-interest of others in a positive light.

You know your art

The point is that you can get very creative during this process.

Marketing is not just something you do at the very end. Your marketing plan is an extension of your album and must be treated as such.

Make a list of 200 shows, podcasts, and people you would love to get in contact with regarding your album.

If 10 of these 200 say Yes, you have a waterproof marketing strategy ahead of you.

Do you remember how you can over-gather information, cut away 90%, and still end up with pure marketing gold?

No one knows your music as well as you do. Learn how to assume control of every part of the process to get your art to where it belongs and to where you imagined it would go.

Be creative. Don’t disregard the marketing strategy. Execute according to how you imagined it, and your album will end up where it needs to be.

5 – Starting the marketing too late

A woman using her phone to avoid marketing mistakes while the computer shows the clock

The single greatest misconception of all marketing mistakes is this one:

Bands start their marketing campaign too late.

We have been told that marketing is something you apply once your product is finished.

You create your product, and you hand it off to someone to do the marketing for you.

The hurtful truth is:

It doesn’t matter if you give your music to the biggest and most badass marketing guru out there.

Your album won’t fly as far as it would if you had planned your marketing from the start.

Think of it as a birthday present.

Your friend Anna is having her birthday in two weeks, and you want to give her a present.

You think about her, what she likes, and what she doesn’t enjoy.

After a couple of days, you come up with the perfect gift based on her personality, your friendship, and what she genuinely likes.

You go out, and you buy this gift for her. A gift that you thought about, carefully chose with Anna in mind.

Then, you wrap it and package it in a way that you know she will appreciate.

Anna receives her gift.

She gets excited about the packaging, opens it, and bursts into tears because you did your research.

You gave her the perfect birthday gift, and you made her feel special and loved.

This outcome is the result of creating a product with an end goal in mind.

You created a product that is for Anna, not for Mark.

By doing this, you were able to make decisions along the way, making your idea the perfect gift for your friend.

You were also able to say; “No, this won’t do. I must come up with a better plan”.

Why?

Think of your target audience

It’s because you had a person, target audience, in mind before you even went out shopping.

Or in your case, began writing the album.

If you didn’t think of your friend, Anna, it would be the same as giving 50$ to a stranger with a note saying; buy something for my female friend.

The results?

Your gift wouldn’t have a mentionable impact, you would be disappointed when you gift was poorly received, and the friendship would most definitely suffer from this.

For your music to have the impact you want it to have, you must start your marketing long before you finish the album.

By starting the marketing earlier, you can make correct decisions along the way.

You will be able to make music that is artistically fulfilling for you but also translates well to your target audience.

Your fans.

It might seem like an overstatement, but you will be far better off by start writing your marketing strategy before you start writing the music for your album.

The runner’s dilemma – one of the marketing mistakes

A runner warming up for an outside run

Imagine; if you were a runner.

You go out, and you buy the most expensive shoes.

A watch with a heart rate monitor, GPS tracker, and the most comfortable running clothes you can find.

Your enthusiasm costs you roughly 1,000$.

You are ready to run.

The alarm goes off at 5 am. You get up and head out to the tracks.

There is only one problem.

You have no freaking idea where you should run.

If you have no idea on where you should go, you cannot expect the gear to think for you.

You would be better off by having a plan, knowing exactly where to run, and just go out in your pajamas.

In this case, the route or track is your marketing strategy, and the expensive gear is your finished album.

If you only follow your passion, you will end up with a selfish product or summer shoes when the winter running season has arrived.

You must create music that is true to you. Music that speaks to you, and must leave your body or else you will go crazy.

In this process, however, you must think of those who will be receiving your music in the end.

Your target audience.

Start your marketing before or at the same time as you start writing your album.

This way of thinking will minimize the risks of you making an album that no one will enjoy.

A best-seller is not something that occurs randomly; it’s engineered.

You create meaningful art, optimized for those who you would like it to influence.

You figure out where you want to go, which track you want to run, THEN, you buy the gear or make the product.

Never start your marketing too late, it could mean the difference between winning and losing.

6 – Not spending time planning the music

A man playing a guitar

Another one of the most common marketing mistakes bands make is that they do not spend time planning their music.

Most bands have an idea, they will go and record it, and call it a day.

In this day and age, it is easy to record an album.

You can buy a home studio for a couple of hundred dollars.

Everyone can record an album, which ultimately makes the competition harder.

No, it just means that more people can record an album.

This scenario also means that you can get away with more sloppy recordings because no one is there to tell you to up your game.

You must think of it like this; everyone can record an album, but not everyone is going to. Nor is everyone going to make a great album that will cut through the noise.

Never let the fact that anyone can do it stop you from pursuing your primal inclinations.

This just means that you must write, market, and record your music better than everyone else.

For this reason, you must have the guts to spend time on your music.

The serendipity strategy

You may argue that some of your favorite bands wrote, recorded, and perfected their most famous tracks within minutes of starting the process.

Even though that is true, there is more going on behind the scenes than you first imagined.

First off; people will benefit financially if you believe that everything they do is magical and that they wrote their hit songs on their way to get coffee.

Secondly; most of these songs you are thinking of came together at the end of a recording session.

Enter Black Sabbath

One of Black Sabbath’s most famous songs is Paranoid.

This song was written at the end of a recording session because they needed a filler for the album.

The guitarist, Tony Iommi, came up with the intro riff, and the other guys only tagged along.

After a few minutes, the song was written, recorded, and done.

Simple enough.

“The song “Paranoid” was written as an afterthought. We basically needed a 3-minute filler for the album, and Tony came up with the riff. I quickly did the lyrics, and Ozzy was reading them as he was singing.” – Geezer Butler, Guitar World magazine, March 2004

Let’s have a closer look.

Yes, Black Sabbath did write and record Paranoid in a matter of minutes in the recording studio.

This was, however, at the end of a recording session.

There are eight songs on that album, which they recorded in a couple of days.

They were already warmed up, high on energy, and on fire when they needed to write and record one more song.

Black Sabbath had already planned everything, been playing together since forever, and just rode on the wave of well-planned creativity.

The microphones were there, the engineers had dialed in the sound, and the band had already been fine-tuning their gear to perfection.

The playing field was set. What could go wrong?

Saying that Paranoid was written in the heat of the moment is to be correct, but leaving out the crucial details that the circumstances were engineered is equally incorrect.

Never rush your decisions

A girl not wanting to rush her plans in the subway in front of a train

As we discussed earlier, your friends will tend to rush you. They want to hear the music. You must record it now, release it tomorrow.

No one knows your music as well as you do.

You know how it should sound, and where it needs to go.

Never rush your decisions when you want to create a best-seller.

Not rushing means picking the right studio, carefully writing your songs, and arrangements, but also choosing the right kind of gear.

What guitar amp should you use? What string gauge is perfect for this part of the song?

Have you thought about the snare heads? What drum samples would fit this song?

Try different rooms, elements, and setups for different songs.

Think of it like this;

One carefully placed microphone won’t have an enormous impact on your album, but if you put every microphone with a goal in mind, you will draw a line between the pros and the amateurs right there on the spot. You have the power to stand on each side by planning or not planning your music well.

As Ryan Holiday explained so well in his book, Perennial Seller – The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts, Adele took two more years to write the music for her album 25.

The producer, Rick Rubin, said that the songs were not good enough. The songs needed more work, and he advised Adele to spend more time on the music to make it better and be true to her voice.

“Adele was anxious to be finished with the new album and move forward with life,” says Rubin. “I stressed the most important thing was to be true to her voice, even if that took longer and was more work… In the new material I heard, it was clear she wasn’t the primary writer — many of the songs sounded like they might be on a different pop artist’s album. It’s not just her voice singing any song that makes it special.” – Rolling Stone, November 2015

That is the reason that she was 27 when the album hit the stores. Have you seen the views on Hello on YouTube?

Never rush your decisions. Take your time when creating the work of your life. It will be worth it.

You only have to nail that one perfect take once, so don’t be afraid to do it again, and again, and again, until it’s right where you want it. Where it needs to be.

You know your music the best. Never forget that. Let it take the time, but show up working every day, and you will reach your goal by avoiding the simple marketing mistakes.

7 – Being afraid of strategic criticism

Two people talking about strategic planning for avoiding marketing mistakes

The final chapter of the 7 most common marketing mistakes band make before releasing an album is being afraid of strategic criticism.

As we discussed earlier, you want to measure your music before you hit the publish button.

To do this, you must be open to criticism.

You must let others take your music apart. Chew it, spit it out, and look at it with their judging eyes.

To survive this, you cannot identify yourself with your art.

As the mastermind author, Steven Pressfield writes in his absolute must-read The War of Art, the amateur identifies herself with her art.

She is her paintings, her songs, and her book.

Thinking this way is a detriment to your success.

You are not your music. The music came alive through your hands, but your music is not an extension of your personality.

In The War of War, Pressfield writes that you are not the one who creates your art either.

Pressfield attributes our successful creative endeavors to what he calls The Muse.

The Muse shows up when we sit down to do the work.

You are not waiting to get inspired, you become inspired once you sit down to do the work. Every day.

Then, and only then, will The Muse show up and guide you through the creative process.

What you will end up with is work that matters, and has the potential to change the lives of others.

For your music to have the impact you would like it to have, that you know it can have, you must be able to withstand intense criticism.

You must distance yourself from your music. Gain an objective point of view and see what parts could use some improvements.

As Adele did when Rick Rubin told her the music needed some more work, you must absorb the valuable criticism, and get right back to work.

Your art is not your identity

Far too many people overidentify themselves with their art.

They call themselves, artists, musicians, painters, and writers.

Even though this might sound like the most natural way to go, it will ultimately ruin you as a creator.

If you identify yourself as a songwriter, you will also take every form of criticism, useful or not, as a personal insult.

Nothing could be more harmful to your career than this.

Taking strategic criticism personally is also one of the most common marketing mistakes because it makes it impossible for you to better your product, perfect your packaging, and ultimately execute the best marketing strategy, you could come up with.

The way to prevent this detrimental situation from ever occurring is the operate under different circumstances.

You are merely delivering the art. The art is not you.

Doing the work is enough of a reward for you.

By operating with this system, you will be more susceptible to strategic criticism, and therefore more likely to create the work of your life.

You must be able to hear that your album cover just isn’t cutting it.

Your songs are not good enough, they need some more work.

The marketing plan you tried to come up with 27 minutes before the launch is not going fix it.

Here, the only difference between a successful album or an egotistical release, also known as a complete failure, is you and your attitude towards strategic criticism.

You must understand that you have done your best. Now, it’s time for others to evaluate your music. So that you can take it back to the drawing board and make it better.

What is more important than making the absolute best music that you could ever make?

You must begin with the end in mind, not get caught up in your own personal ideals, and make the changes necessary for your music to reach the level it deserves to operate on.

Your art deserves it.

Don’t let yourself stand in the way of your own success.

Different kinds of criticism

Now that you are aware of the healthiest relationship you can have with your music, you must also be mindful of the two different kinds of criticism that you can meet.

You can receive valuable criticism that, when applied correctly, will make your music better…

…but.

You can also be facing the form of criticism known as “complete and utter bullshit.”

The difference is that if someone who you trust tells you that there is something wrong with your music, it is just not cutting it, you can be sure that you have some more work to do.

If a person, however, tells you exactly which part is wrong, and what you should do to make it better, you are most likely dealing with complete and utter bullshit.

There are shades of gray, but in general terms, these are the signs of valuable criticism, and nonsense comments on your work.

Do avoid marketing mistakes by creating the best damn music you possibly can, you must be aware of the two different kinds of criticism.

Give your rough work to people who you trust, and to people who you know can evaluate your music correctly.

Take the feedback, analyze it, and get back to work.

Only when you know that your music is where it needs to be, according to the marketing plan you started during the early stages of the process, you can begin the launch.

If you follow these steps, the chances of you hitting your target are high.

Why?

It’s because you have engineered your creative process.

You have created meaningful music with your audience in mind.

Nothing can be a better marketing strategy than having an album that is carefully crafted by you, with your fans in mind, while simultaneously knowing which crowd it is not for.

If you can combine all of these elements into one constant force of energy, you will not pass by unnoticed.

You and your art will have an impact on the lives of others, and stand the test of time.

Your launch will be successful, and you will have done your work.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The next step in the process

A man playing a rock guitar in front of several metal amps

Once you have ignited your launch, you cannot stop.

As we discussed in previous chapters, your work as a music writer is done once the album is finished.

When your launch has started, you must get back to work.

You must start the process all over again by writing new music.

View the album launch as a way of getting invaluable amounts of feedback, so that your next album can be better still.

You do not want to copy your previous successes or in any way use it as a format to write your music.

Still, you must take note on what worked and what did not.

Learn what your fans love, and what they don’t enjoy as much.

Use this feedback as a tool for research, and get back to work.

Don’t fight the last war

Never fight the last war. You cannot ride the wave of your previous album’s success.

Start with a blank canvas. How can you seduce your audience once again?

If you begin with the mindset that you have never had any success, you must start all over, and your work is what is most important, you will always be on top of your game.

Start every day fresh as if you haven’t accomplished anything. Yesterday is gone. Now, it’s time to work.

Remember; marketing is a mindset.

Develop the marketer’s mindset, and you will be able to create work that matters, by avoiding simple marketing mistakes.

You will create work that will stand the test of time.

Work that lasts.

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