Top Music Business Mistakes (#3) – Poor Planning
#1 – Waiting
#3 – Poor Planning
There are two main areas in which musicians seem to flounder the most without implementing a proper plan. Probably not coincidentally they are two of the most important events in a musician’s life: music releases and touring.
With regard to music releases, I am always surprised to hear how many people will start looking for a promotion and marketing strategy after their album, single or E.P. has been released. While it is never too late for someone to start such efforts, it is probably a good idea to start thinking of such things the minute you enter the studio or even the minute you start writing the next release if possible. Websites and social media accounts have ceased being billboards and have become like 24 hour news channels. With this in mind it is important to collect as much content (photos, videos, rough mixes, etc.) from the writing and recording process as possible.
“Why?” You might ask. Because, simply put, there are only so many ways you can say to the people who you hope will care about your music that you have a new record coming out. If you’ve collected no material about the making of your latest product, you will not have nearly as many interesting ways to hype your release. Saying, “New record coming next week” is not nearly as providing documentation of the process.
Another rookie mistake is rushing a product to market. I often watch artists record an album, mix and master it, and schedule a release so they can get it out to market as quickly as humanly possible.
I totally get it! You are excited and you have made sacrifices to create your latest work and you are anxious for the world to hear it. Resist this at all costs. If possible, have your music in the hands of those who can expose it to more people than you can before you release it (journalists, music supervisors, bloggers, morning TV shows, local radio, podcasters, promoters or even your most successful friends in music for a testimonial about your work). Make sure that you have all of your marketing and promotional materials in hand to the best of your ability: a bio; an EPK; compelling live footage; press clips; artwork; a video (even if it is just the album artwork synced up with your single). Make sure you have events lined up: a record release party; a listening party; a live stream; a house party; some kind of album giveaway; a tie in with a local retail store or anything that gets people talking and anything that exposes your music to new people.
The longer you promote a record, the better chances it has of doing something. Try your best to line up several months worth of marketing and promotional ideas if possible. One of the most obvious of these is-
Think about touring for a second. You have a new release or you finally got transportation to take your act on the road. What is your plan?
Most of the good agents I know tell me that barring very exceptional gigs it is generally not worth touring in any market unless you can revisit that market every 3-4 months to maintain and build a following. What this means for most on a budget is concentric circles around your hometown. It is much easier to do several three-day weekends or pull the occasional sick day on a regional build than it is to take two weeks off of work to visit a dozen markets that you won’t revisit more than once per year.
It is generally not worth touring any given market unless you can find some kind of support in said market. This can be as simple as family and friends with a place to crash or a good opportunity like finding a local act that does well to trade gigs with. If you pick five markets to target, there are only so many college radio stations, indie record stores and local readers you have to service and create relationships with. Yes, that’s easier said than done, but it is doable. Prior to this step is of course making sure you mean something in your home town so you will have a crowd to trade on with other out-of-town acts.
Give more thought to touring and music releases than you might ordinarily and make sure if you are doing both that they line up in ways that maximize exposure. I urge you to write out a plan and think about having a long term strategy for record releases, tours and your career in general.
Another installment of this series coming soon.