4 Steps to Monetize Your Music

I am a student of music marketing as much as I am a teacher. As I continue to learn and grow and add to my arsenal of music marketing knowledge, I hope to pass along what I find particularly helpful and enlightening.

Recently, I was listening to the DIY Musician podcast. In episode 132, Mike King, Chief Marketing Officer for Berklee Online, was being interviewed. He stated that there are 4 steps to monetize your music. I found his thoughts to be very timely.

Musicians that are new to the world of marketing, and especially online marketing, tend to approach their marketing by putting the cart before the horse. In other words, musicians tend to want to go after the money first.

When that approach is taken, the results are predictable. You don’t get a lot of sales – if any at all. Before asking for the sale, Mike suggests that there are several steps you need to take to make a loyal fan. Here are the steps…in order.

Awareness

The first thing that you have to do is get on people’s radar. You have to let people know that you exist, what you’re all about and what you sound like. The more you can do this the better.

With musicians, it’s important that you give people a taste of what your music is like. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to put yourself out there as a musician, but have no music samples for people to listen to.

Fortunately, we live in a day and age where people have come to accept audio and video recordings that are less than pristine. It’s very easy these days to make a quick recording and post it to YouTube, Soundcloud, your website, etc.

So, the first step: Get some music recorded and hosted online somewhere. Then, start sharing it with your friends and ask them to pass it along.

Engagement

The great thing about social media, or the social component of the online world, is that you can get immediate feedback from people. Use this to your advantage.

Once you’ve begun creating an awareness of your music – your sound and your style, ask for people’s feedback. Ask for their honest feedback. This can be tricky. Often times people, especially if they know you well, will try to encourage you the best they can. In other words, they won’t really tell you the truth of what they think of your music. That’s okay. Get them talking.

One way you can do this is to ask very specific questions. Instead of asking them, “What do you think of my new song?” ask them, “Do you think this song sounds more like Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars?” Or maybe ask a question like, “What movie soundtrack could you hear this song on?”

You have to remember to keep them in mind when asking them questions. What would be really interesting to them? For example, you’re not going to get many people responding to a question like, “Hey guys, do you think I should cut the midrange frequencies in the guitar solo at 2:32?”

Second step: Get people talking about your music and giving you feedback.

Acquisition

Once you are on someone’s radar, and they are digging your vibes, resonating with you, the next thing you want to do is get them to take action. You want to give them the opportunity to take the next step of commitment. You want them to become a fan. This should be a pain-free no-brainer step for them.

This could mean something as simple as joining your newsletter, signing up for a free membership on your website or liking your Facebook fan page. Whatever the medium, you’re asking them to commit to a relationship with you where you can be in the driver’s seat of communication.

Third step: Get people to commit to following you as a fan.

Monetization

Even before ever asking for a sale, I think it’s advantageous to continue to repeat step two several times. Engage, engage, engage.

Get to know your fans. Let them get to know you – and more than just what you’re about musically. Let them know what you believe in, what you stand for, how you like to have fun, what kinds of hobbies you have, etc.

If someone is on board with you, it will be a seamless, painless transaction asking them to support your music.

The danger, at this point, may actually be NOT asking for the sale – or not asking enough for the sale. Believe it or not, asking your fans to support you financially is actually really good for your relationship. Often times it’s easier to ask people who don’t know you very well for money.

When it comes to close friends and family, we tend to shy away from asking them for money. It should be the other way around. The people that care about you the most are the ones that should be showing it by supporting you the most!

Fourth step: Ask for the sale!

I hope this helps! I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

Cheers!