Bulding up your music career Part 8: Local, local, local...

In the previous blogs we analyzed your website and social media. These are important parts of your strategy, because you will have to put a lot of work, and, if you are not clear with what you want and how to get there, you are just going to waste a lot of energy doing stuff that is not relevant.

For most of the musicians, the target is common: your music has to be heard by more people; they have to support you (read buy your music and coming to your shows), and have them became your spokespersons, in plain English, they have to be dedicated fans that tell their friends about you, how great your music is and spread the word around.

We need to look at who these people are that you are trying to reach. Does it make a difference where are they located? In other words, if you have an album and you can sell 7,000 of them all over the world or mostly locally, which one would be better?

The marketing that you can do over internet and the easiness of the digital delivery is both a blessing and a curse, for the exact reason: you can do it, it is achievable! However, the smart guys are looking at demographics, because it’s very important for their music career. Remember what I said, you need people to hear your music, and then become your fans, even fanatics for your music. Having one album every so often will not make it happening. Having a strategy that allows you to build a fan base that starts in your area, locally, is the way to go! If you get 10,000 fans locally, that are buying your music and come to your shows, the sky is the limit. You will be chased by the major labels, because they know that, if you can sell by yourself 10,000 copies of your album and have local shows that are sold out, you will have success at the largest possible scale.

But even then, you may want to think if it’s in your interest to be signed by a label; a contract signed may make you a winner when it comes to money (that word “may” is very important here, we’ll get back later to that), but it will take a huge toll on your life. Just look around.

In my view, a real musician cares about his music, loves to play it for people, and it’s not necessary driven by money. Let’s do a simple calculation: let’s say you’re in a band of 4 guys. If you sell yourself 10,000 copies, that’s 150,000 dollars in total. Let’s assume you sell half at your gig, half through different retail/internet outlets, so you’ll be left with roughly 125,000. The manufacturing is 15,000, so it drops to 110,000. Let’s say you pay only 10,000 for recording/mixing/mastering, so it drops again to 100,000. In order to sell it, you need to let people know about it, that’s the marketing part, so that will take another 20,000 out of your pocket. This is a rather optimistic calculation, but let’s say splitting in 4 (band members) it comes to 20,000 dollars. Selling 10,000 is no easy my friends, sounds easy, but it’s not. And 20,000 dollars it’s not much. However, that can be done. With an aggressive promotion tour in your region and city, you will both make sure you sell your albums and make some money from gigging.

In order to sell that many copies, it is important to have fans locally, who like your show and your music, and are coming steady. If that happens, then you’re set for quite a period of time, and can work to increase the fan base steady. If a record label gets involved, they will take care of many aspects of this business, knowing you can sell music and attract people. If you do it alone it is harder, but once you succeed you’re in control. The key word here is not “label” or “you-the band”, but is “local”. That’s what you have to do. Either you or one of the band members has to dive into the business aspect, or have a manager and an agent – but we will come back to that.

Your whole marketing strategy has to be focused on the local market. The social media strategy has to be adapted to the same area. Once you achieve it, the next step is to expand it; with a lot of work, talent, persistence and smart strategy it will take quite some time, but you’re on your way…

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