The good thing to note about realising you’ve made a few mis-steps in your career is that this is a perfectly valid entrepreneurial business tactic – it’s called ‘testing’. If something didn’t work, you know not to do it again and that way, you learn what does work. So, stop for a moment and check if you’ve been doing any of these things:
6) Not having an opt-in box with an appropriate incentive on your website
If you only rely on social media to ‘collect’ fans, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to losing that information because you’re not in control of Facebook. You need to have your own separate mailing list and you need to have a good way of getting people on to it. If you have a great website – make it work for you! Don’t make the sign-up incentive a pdf of your lyrics or have no incentive at all other than a big ‘subscribe!’ button because that’s not going to appeal to music-lovers. Offer a fantastic song of yours in return for signing up. That way, people have a really relevant and rewarding incentive and you’ll steadily grow your list.
7) Not using an email marketing provider for your newsletter
If you don’t use a proper email service provider that is designed for multiple address send-outs you are actually doing something illegal in sending out mass emails. You can’t afford to spam people and have others be able to access your friends and fan’s addresses at the same time. It’s just sloppy and simultaneously violates people’s privacy. Try using an email provider such as Mailchimp or Aweber.
8) Responding to others’ success by comparing it to your own
This seems to be a real problem among certain musicians. Somewhere along the line some of us got so focussed on the industry and our own ambition that we forgot about the music. Remember that delicious feeling of hearing the latest mix of your own song? There’s room for that sense of love and enjoyment alongside others too. If you find yourself commenting on another musician’s FB post about how they’ve done three gigs this week with, “yeah, I did FOUR last week!” then there’s something wrong. It’s not all about you. And it’s not a competition. I’ll say that last one again. It’s NOT a competition. We may all be working in the same industry but we’re not all doing the same kinds of songs in the same genre of music with the same outlook and experience. The music industry may choose to pit us against each other but we have a choice not to. Try posting ‘Great!’ or ‘You go girl!’ or just hit ‘like’ when you read about another musician’s achievements, because that’s how we support each other and honour the value in the work we do. If you think it’s a competitive, heartless world and react to it as though it is, that’s precisely what you will create.
9) Only contacting your newsletter subscribers when you’re selling something
How effective was the last email you got from a musician who you hadn’t heard from in months, saying, “Hey! I’ve got a new album coming out next week! Buy it here!” You probably deleted that email. And maybe even unsubscribed. There’s nothing worse than adding to the rising number of sales emails we all get in our inboxes. Make sure that you set aside time on a regular basis, each week or every couple of weeks to send out an email to your mailing list telling them about the meaning behind one of your songs or how funny it was to do an interview and run into the kind of mis-reporting you get in tabloid newspapers as a result. Something that the people who follow your music will find entertaining. Share stuff with your fans on your list like they are VIPs. Give them lots of insider info and videos or mp3 content before you even mention where they can buy something you’ve made. It stands to reason that the people you build a relationship with will be far more likely to click through to watch your latest video or check out your new website if you’ve been having a friendly chat with them over the previous months.
10) Forgetting your creativity when taking music business ideas on board
Most business tips in articles like these are mainly focussed on standard, mainstream business approaches adapted to fit the music industry. Getting a solid ‘small business’ mentality around your work as a musician is a smart move, but don’t let it suck you into being boring and standard in your approach. Remember, the iPod wasn’t the first kind of mp3 player, but it was the first with such a remarkable design and user-friendly functionality. Your advantage as a musician is that you’re already overflowing with creativity. So use it in every newsletter email subject line, every video concept, every social media post. Do something off-the-wall or quirky that people will remember. How about writing an email to your subscribers with the heading, ’3 things I learned from…[insert the name of your biggest musical influence]‘ or make a video to send in an email to the venue you want to get a gig at, singing an introduction about why you want to play there? In short, keep your creative genius alive even outside the studio.