Four things that every musician ought to know about marketing themselves

Music Marketing It took me years to realize that my “marketing” efforts were a waste of time.

When I was first getting started as a musician, I was really scared of how I was going to make it work.

I started asking around to anyone that would give me a moment of their time, “What should I do to start getting more gigs?”

You know what almost everyone said?

Market yourself.

Once I heard this about a zillion times, I decided to take it seriously.

In fact, I got so serious that I spent thousands of dollars and endless amounts of time reading books, taking courses, and even working with coaches.

After years of practice and study I realized that most marketing advice from your friends, colleagues, and even the gurus is often completely useless.

Here were the most common pieces of advice I heard:

“Make sure you have business cards on you at all times.”

“You need to have a website.”

“Get on social media.”

And on, and on, and on….

Can all of these ideas be useful or effective?

Of course.

The problem is that they’re all missing the most important marketing decisions that anyone can make.

Marketing for musicians is all about communicating the value of your service to customers.

Let’s talk about four things you should really be focusing your energy on if you want to effectively market yourself.

  1. Focus on a specific goal first

When I was getting started, I was desperate.

Honestly, I just wanted any paying opportunity that was music-related.

At the time it didn’t even matter to me what it was.

I never stopped to think about what I was trying to actually achieve.

As a result, I started trying to do everything.

I would spend all of my time being jealous of what other people I knew were doing instead of putting my head down and getting focused on a goal.

This is the first marketing decision you should ever make.

All of the tactics and tools in the world won’t mean anything if you don’t have a specific goal in mind.

So before you start even thinking about marketing, get focused on your goal.

Once you do that, you’re ready to…

  1.  “Get to know your Joe”

Joe (or Jill, but that doesn’t rhyme) is your customer and they’re going to be the most important person in your marketing efforts.

You can’t know know who your customer is going to be until you’ve decided on your goal.

For the sake of this example, let’s say that you’re trying to build a private teaching studio.

Ask yourself, “who is the customer?”

When I was getting started I never even thought about this.


In the case of teaching privately, your customer is likely going to be the parents of the students.

They’re probably going to be paying you, driving the student to lessons, and controlling the schedule.

You need to know everything about them that you possibly can before you do anything else.

Here are some things you’ll need to know:

  • How old are they?
  • How much money do they make?
  • Why do they want their kid to take lessons?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • How can you meet them?
  • Which parent is the decision maker?
  • What are the reasons they might not be interested in getting lessons?

Any information that is going to help you understand where they’re coming from and how to communicate with them is going to be unbelievably helpful in making any marketing decision.

By taking time to understand who they are and what problems they might have, you can begin to understand how to position your product or service.

Now that we have a goal and know who the customer is, we’re ready to actually start doing some marketing!

  1.  Pick your platform

Most people start here and just hope it works out.

They’ll hop on Twitter, Facebook, and every other social media platform just because they’re there.

Some might call this a “spray and pray” approach.

I used to do this and can tell you right now that it doesn’t work at all.

It takes up a ton of time and energy and won’t likely get you the results you’re looking for.

At this point, if you have defined a goal and taken time to understand your customer, you’re officially ready to start making some tactical decisions.

You want find the platforms and channels that will allow you to get in touch with customers.

Most people default to creating Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, and throwing together a generic website for themselves.

Don’t mistake vanity numbers such as likes, followers, etc., as indicators that it’s a great marketing channel.

You have ask yourself whether or not those are real potential customers or just your family and friends following along.

Again, all of these tools can be useful, but you have to understand where the customers are hanging out and looking for answers to the problems.

The best measuring stick is whether or not your efforts are actually getting you real results.

Focus on trying to find channels where your potential customers are hanging out and looking for solutions to the problems that your product or services can solve.

For example, if you are trying to find private students, look for places where parents might be looking for private instructors for their kids.

Maybe that means reaching out to all of the local music schools and asking if they need any additional instructors or creating a profile on sites like Thumbtack.

If you focus all of your efforts where your potential customers are actually hanging out you will be a much more effective marketer.

  1.  Networking is marketing

Actually, meeting the people who might potentially hire you is this is the fastest and most effective way to market yourself.

At the end of the day, most of your success as a musician is going to be dependent on the relationships you have with those around you.

Whether they’re the parents of students, other freelancers, or the contractors in your area, having great relationships will secure you more work than just about any other kind of marketing you could do.

Driving traffic to a website, building a following, or any other option is fairly difficult to do and takes time, but you can start expanding your network today.

Use the same process of understanding who the potential customer is from No.2 and start trying to connect with people.

Since learning all of these lessons, I went from spinning my wheels as a musician to becoming an active freelancer, the author of a book that debuted at #1 in three Amazon categories (beating out a NYT-bestseller), and became a marketing consultant.

That’s definitely not meant to brag because trust me, I’ve got a lot to learn, but by sharing these lessons, I hope they can help you become better at marketing yourself.