Marketing Basics For Musicians

This week I have been revising some of my study notes from my time at KEA in Copenhagen. The best thing to come from this is to remind myself of some marketing models we were taught and to see how I applied them to what I was doing in my spare time, which was helping to run events at Bolsjefabrikken and Rumkraft.

I’ve also been able to use my marketing tool kit to develop strategies, campaigns and generally improve my marketing efforts and save some valuable time. Not everything we learned during my diploma is going to be useful in terms small business and some of it is way too heavy for a micro-business, especially someone who really just wants to be creative. However, there are most certainly a few models and concepts that might assist a musician to set goals, develop a strategy and build a strong ‘brand’.

I’ve wanted to share a few tid-bits for a while now but I’d like to make it super simple and low-fuss (for myself – and for you too) as there’s no point to me re-writing articles that already exist and we both really would rather be making stuff instead.

The best I feel that can offer at this stage is a list of topics which might be of use to you as a musician – models and exercises you can teach yourself from the many articles you will find on the internet. Maybe one day it would be great to work on a team to make a proper website – so if you are someone who can make that happen, please get in touch…

But for now, let’s get started:

    I’ll add to this post over time, but the first and possibly one of the most valuable things I keep going back to is a SWOT analysis, which you can then use to form some TOWS strategies. This is a really good way to take a look at where you are at and indentify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Once you’ve established this you can then use your lists to develop strategies that take advantage of the pros and combat the cons.
    This is the who, what, when, where and how of you and your ‘brand’/project. Taking some time to consider what your core values are will help you to draft a mission and vision statement that will better communicate your ideas and your ethics to others. This allows your audience to better understand what you want to do and how you intend to do it.
    This is an evolution of the 4P, marketing mix model of McCarthy which substitutes ‘Product, Price, Place and Promotion’ for: Customer, Cost (to satisfy), Convenience and Communication. What do your fans want? What does it cost them to satisfy their needs? How can you make the enjoyment of what you do most convenient for your target group? How will you communicate your values, ideas and activities?
    There’s no point trying to sell your style/sound to everybody, so this is where you can employ the ‘S.T.P.’ process to narrow your sights to potential customers who might be interested in what you do. Fortunately these days we have Social Media ‘insights’ to help us get a clearer picture of who our consumers are, and taking the time to consider who is listening and who cares can be powerful when it comes to the language, imagery and channels you choose to communicate your ideas. ‘Positioning’ can set you aside from the multitude of others out there and allow you to create a unique space for you (and your ‘brand’) to inhabit.
  5. S.M.A.R.T. GOALS
    At some stage you’ll have some objectives that are important to your growth as a business or artist. It makes the best sense to set goals that are realistic, relevant and measurable. We can apply this acronym in the following example: Specific – “I want to add 100 organic followers AKA ‘real fans’ on my Instagram account in the next month.”, Measurable – You can use data provided by Instagram to assess your following. Achievable – 100 followers seems like a reasonable target to aim for. Realistic – You probably have the time and resources available to make this happen. It’s also relevant to your growth. Timely – You have set a time period of one month to achieve your goal.
    Most musicians starting out would unknowingly adopt a ‘cost leadership strategy’ by playing free gigs, giving away free downloads and trying to cut costs to make this all possible. But it’s not the only way to position yourself and ‘compete’ with others out there. Of course you may argue that music is not a competition (and indeed it need not be), but as an artist you are in fact competing for the attention of potential audiences and a finite number of listeners. Porter’s generic strategies may offer you a means of positioning yourself in a way best suits your objectives and gives you advantage over the many alternatives which from a music industry perspective also includes other forms of entertainment.
    One of the main, possibly boring activities that a ‘marketer’ will be called on to do is researching the market. This helps to understand who the consumer is and what they want. Taking the time to do this preparation also minimises financial risk and increases your chances of success in marketing a new product or service. Now whilst this seems a little over the top for an independent musician, you can still apply elements of this process to what you do. Whilst youou probably won’t go as far as creating surveys or setting up focus-groups, there is some stuff that you can do to improve your chances of successfully marketing yourself and your products (music, merch, shows, etc). You already have powerful tools available to you via Instagram, Facebook, WordPress, etc. which you can analyse. This information might assist you in designing your content; understanding what parts of your story are most compelling; and having some knowledge of who your followers are, where they live and when they are online most often. Doing ‘pre-orders’ on your Bandcamp site might give you some indication of how much interest there is in a potential product. You can also use your social media profiles to ask questions and uncover some valuable insights into what your following are thinking and feeling. These are just a few examples of how you might collect some data to help you make decisions and save yourself some time and money. Something you probably have limited supply of!
    This concept is essentially creating a harmony between your communications efforts which include: Advertising, Sales Promotions, Direct Marketing, Public Relations and Personal Selling. Modern marketing also involves the use of Social Media and you may find yourself incorporating some or all of these things in your social campaigns. It is said that complete integration of these things is not achievable yet it does make sense to at least attempt to create campaigns and undertake activities which support each other. As a musician you may not be engaging in all of these aspects of marketing but if you give some thought to your activities, you may draw some associations with some of these things. Most artists will advertise themselves in some form, they may offer special discounts on merchandise, they could have a mailing list, they probably are involved in some kind of events, may do interviews with the media and have direct contact with their fans via online messaging and platforms like Bandcamp. Integrated marketing means using all of these things in a synergistic way so that they support and compliment each other.
    This is a marketing model by Phillip Kotler which outlines three levels to a product or service in the consumer’s mind: core product, actual product and augmented product. I’ve also seen models that include a fourth layer: potential. The Total Product Concept model can be helpful for positioning yourself away from your competition, communicating the emotional and rational benefits to the customer; and considering what potential there is for you and your brand’s products and services. If you have done the SWOT/TOWS analysis at the beginning, you may already have thought about the potential of your offering/s.
    In the future I will write some posts that offer examples of how you might use these models in the context of the music industry but for now I hope that this is enough to motivate you to zoom out and get a bird’s eye view of what you are making, sharing and selling.

Come back next week for another topic to learn. – Brendan

Real Analog Noise

On Saturday I was in the keyboard shop at work and decided that I’d set up a soundcard to the iMac and record some analog synths. We have quite a few nice vintage pieces so I chose a few with noise generators to capture some white noise samples.

This pack has samples from five different vintage synths which should be useful when layering with snares or to use as source material for electronic hi-hats, etc. Whatever you do with them I am sure you can get some quality sounds from these basic waveforms.


Teaching myself music theory.

My boss went away for a holiday to Florida for three weeks so I picked up a few extra shifts at work which helped me pay off my lay-bys but I’ve missed some time to myself. Naturally musicians who work in music shops get tempted easily by the constant flow of new gear coming into the store. I am no exception. At least my studio is getting better equipped for these free days…

Today I have been tending to my household obligations and what-not, listening to some Jungle mixes from Echo Chamber label owner, LQ (continued from a Jungle rinse out yesterday at work) and also adding some new stuff to my ‘music theory folder’ at the local library.

I’ve bought a few guitar-focused music theory books (from Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace) and have compiled some diagrams into a folder as an easy reference when practicing scales (in standard tuning). I am enjoying this process very much after fumbling my way around a guitar for many years.

Two books I have bought which I recommend so far are:
‘Music Theory’ by Tom Kolb (Hal Leonard)
‘Chord Tone Soloing’ by Barrett Tagliarino (Hal Leonard)

Today I also had a ‘Big Mud’ by Tym Guitars arrive in the mail thanks to Patrick from Key Out (from Sydney) who I am helping with pre-production for his/their new album. The muff-style fuzz is a welcomed addition to my arsenal of effects and I used it to practice some arpeggios this afternoon. So far I have enjoyed Patrick’s guitar playing and I look forward to hearing the band’s progress.

If you are interested in having me help you with your music project as a collaborator, mentor or consultant please get in touch as this is stuff that I enjoy to do.

My ‘music theory folder’ and some pedals.

Building a modest mic-kit.

It’s been almost two years back in Melbourne and I’ve collected guitars, an amp and effects pedals. Slowly building up a studio again, kinda from scratch. The next logical step was to find a way to record myself.

I already have an OK firewire sound-card and Logic Pro X plus plenty of great audio plugins. I did some research about cab simulation technology (by the likes of Two Notes) and amp modelling (Fractal Audio, Line 6, Kemper, etc) but that is a very expensive way to get some audio onto my laptop.

Something felt right about choosing an analog route and it’s been a much cheaper way to document my guitar playing. I bought an sE 2200a IIC from a mate first of all, plus a mic stand for recording vocals. Then I found a secondhand Shure SM57 in great condition at Music Swop Shop and bought a small boom stand for it so I could record my amp.

I decided that I also wanted to try my hand at recording acoustic guitar so I did some Googling and found some articles on recording acoustic guitar in stereo. At first I used both the mics I owned (with an addition small boom stand) but today I picked up a new sE7 from Manny’s which I got on sale for a great price. I’ve just done a quick test with my guitarlele to see how it sounds and I have a long way to go to getting a decent sound with it, but it’s fun to have a go.

Rick Beato has a good combo amp micing video that I watched last night and I am keen to experiment with that. Rick sparked my interest in getting a Sennheiser MD421 which is now on my shopping list. I really enjoy the videos on his YouTube channel.

I think it will be super nice to have a small mic-kit in my home/bedroom studio. It seems that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have some useful mics around to play with.

sE7 and sE2200a II C with Anuenue Guitarlele

101 ‘Dry’ vinyl snares pack

Here’s a pack of snares taken from vinyl records that have a ‘dry’, paper-like sound that aren’t wet with reverb or room sound that make good material for layering.

I have two other packs coming with deeper sounding snares and also a ‘tight’, snappier pack. Please DONATE when you download my sample packs as it helps me to continue to procure these useful tools for you.

16-24bit WAV at 44.1kHz. Some would have been sampled through an Akai MPC2000XL and others directly into Ableton or Logic.

Happy producing.


30 rimshot samples from vinyl

Thanks to Alex Sleeper I was able to get Bandcamp to allow me to include ZIP file downloads on my account which will make delivering sample packs much easier now. All you need to do is write to them and ask nicely.

Today I added 30 rimshot samples that I recorded from vinyl records which should be useful for a bunch of genres including dub, reggae, dubstep, RnB, hip-hop and also good for layering to add some snap or click to your snare.

I hope you get some use out of these sounds and the other vinyl percussion I have posted on my Baddums Bandcamp page.

Happy producing!


20 random vinyl kicks

I wanted to get my vinyl snares mega-pack out today but there’s a lot of other stuff that I had to prioritise instead. There was a folder of loose vinyl kicks on my hard-drive so I thought I’d share these to tide you over.

Just like the dirty snares pack, you can use these samples to layer with a synth-kick sample to make a grittier kick sound. I use the Bazzism plugin for making kick-drums but there’s plenty out there, including Big Kick and Punchbox (to name just a few).

This reminds me of a masterclass from the Sound On Sound website which is an oldie from 2012 but explains the technique.


20 free dirty snare samples

Most of these drum samples were recorded using my old Akai MPC2000XL and all of them come from my days of record collecting and sample digging. Most have been converted to Mono and are 16bit, 44.1kHz WAV files.

This pack is great for adding a layer of ‘dirt’ to your snare sound as they are very frequency-rich. Just filter/EQ them and shape with an envelope to your needs.

Here’s an article from Attack Magazine for those of you who are new to layering snares. They have a great website with many electronic music production tips.


53 free analog synth-bass samples

Inject a little analog flavour into your digital music production with these raw, single-oscillator waveforms recorded from real hardware synthesizers.

Load them into your favourite sampler, sculpt with a filter and an envelope and tweak to taste. Double them up and de-tune for a sinister Reese bass. Add LFO for classic wubs.

‘Klippeklistredag’ means ‘cut and paste day’ in Danish. At Christmas in Denmark it’s a tradition to make your own Christmas decorations. In December 2015, Copenhagen-based electronic music school, Rumkraft had their own version of this where the guys invited everyone to come along and try out a bunch of equipment, collect samples and enjoy the ‘hygge’ vibes with mulled wine, coffee and snacks. I had a really nice time and these are the sounds I recorded.