I’m calling it!
This COVID- 19 shift is a wake up call to all of us. As musicians and entrepreneurs, we have to embrace this new reality…and we have to embrace it fast!
We’ve had enough rest, folks. Time to get back in the saddle.
Make baby steps if you must because we still have to be gentle on ourselves but we have to start moving.
There are so many things we can do RIGHT NOW that can help our music and businesses thrive in the new normal.
Listen, I know you’re tired and frustrated. Running any business or maintaining a music career is so hard. We’ve been talking to our customers and friends about their plans of action during the pandemic and boy, everyone’s just feeling their way through the dark. We’re all waiting for that light at the end of the tunnel.
But we can’t just be sad and sit in one corner anymore.
We have to move!
…because things will not get back to the way they were.
…because everything is shifting so we should adapt and act.
WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
Just imagine we are drowning at sea, we have to use the last ounce of strength we have to paddle to the nearest shore or buoy lest it will be the end of us.
We have to save ourselves no matter what it takes…and we should do it right now.
That means we have to look at what we have straight in the eye and squeeze every drop of creative juice and energy we have to keep our music and businesses (custom band merch, vinyl pressing, custom cassette tape) alive.
Only when we embrace this mindset fully (and I mean FULLY!) can we start turning our lives (and careers and businesses) around.
We can do this, guys! We have to fight the good fight!
Whew…enough pep talk, LET’S START.
First of all, let’s look at what we have right now. We have an abundance of time and technology (internet, our laptop, our phones, etc). While waiting for things to be okay again (optimistic prediction is Spring of 2021), we should put our efforts in creating and growing our online presence.
Building an online community, my friends, is something we have FULL CONTROL over right now and something we can do daily.
Every second that you spend marketing yourself online and reaching out to your fans could not only give you some income during the pandemic (I will reserve this for my next blog post), it’s actually a long-term investment for your business or band since we’re going quickly in this direction anyway. The way we consume music and interact with fans will mainly be digital. This pandemic has just made it clear and sped things up.
Here are the things you can (and should) do right now for our music careers and businesses to recover and thrive:
#1 Use Facebook Ads More Seriously
If you do not know how to create Google ads and Facebook ads, now is the time to figure them out. This is probably one of the best ways to “waste” your time right now because you will use it in the next 2, 10, 20 years! If you did not make the most out of social media, then you need to start now.
I’m sure you know that your posts on your Facebook page do not get viewed by your likers. Only 5-10% or less of them can actually see them. That means you have to boost your posts to be more visible, and not just to your followers but to even their friends. Spending $5-$10 per boost is worth it if it reaches and targets audiences.
- Boost posts that already have engagement (likes, comments, shares) so it’s “tried and tested” to catch people’s attention.
- Get the attention of the followers of the artists similar to but are more successful (like if you’re a metal band, you want your posts to show up to Slayer fans). Locate pages that have an audience you’d like to “borrow,” then type the name of that page – letter for letter – into the “Detailed Targeting” box in the Ads platform. via
#2 Crowdsource Content (Like your music video)
You need a design for your merch? Why not let your fans design them and vote for the best ones.
You need a music video but you can’t shoot during the pandemic? Why not let your fans make it for you. Check out these awesome outsourced music videos if you need some inspiration.
#3 Live Streaming Plus
Live shows are not coming back for a while and streaming was never really our friend. You need to have hundreds of thousands of plays before you can earn enough that could feed you for a month. With Spotify, for example, it takes at least 336,842 streams to earn a U.S. minimum wage of $1,472.
But live streaming is a different game. It is a live recording (unlike streaming) so it is spontaneous and interactive. This is the closest thing we can do virtually to have a more intimate experience like in real-life concerts. Because many musicians are doing live streaming during the pandemic using platforms such as YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Twitch, and Periscope, it is important that you prepare some gimmicks. Performing live virtually is not enough. You have to have a bit of oomph because everyone is now experiencing virtual fatigue. Without it, it could be difficult for you to even convince them to watch.
And while you’re at it, use this time to earn money and make some noise.
DROP A RARE ITEM. “Drops” are product releases with little or no warning, in limited quantities to create shock and added value to the items. Music celebs like The Weeknd and Kanye West have adapted the drop culture to their own music marketing plans, hosting pop-up, limited-time merch shops around the world when they have their tours.
You can just surprise your viewers with a cool, limited edition merch item or even your personal stuff that you want to give away. To make things more fun, you can even have a contest. This will not only help create more buzz to your concert or event, it can make your fans more engaged, which can be the solution for virtual fatigue.
We need to start generating an income from our art somehow and from my opinion, the only way you can do that is from merch/ physical products whether they be band t-shirts printing, vinyl record pressing, CD duplication services near you, what have you.
Keep in mind the days of having a million fans are long over and we don’t need that many. We need 100-1000 committed fans who we ok turn inspire and in turn purchase our music and merch. It seems daunting but just aim for 20-50 followers at a time.
We need to reach out to our tribe and connect with them. The good need folks it’s easier than ever to find them – they’re all online right now waiting for you. So why wait for the pandemic to be over to start working on this?
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.