Lets say you have an album that’s going to drop in a few weeks, and rightfully so, you’ve been promoting it on social media. You’ve also been able to get some publications to give you some pre-release coverage via song premieres, reviews, running press releases etc…Through these promotional efforts, you now have some people interested in your album, but there’s a problem: how do you follow-up with them again with future updates, or send them a reminder the day of the drop?
Everyone that works in sales knows that you’re not likely to convert on the first point of contact, it’s the follow-up(s) where the conversion is made, so why aren’t artists securing a way to make contact with people who are interested in their album during the pre-release promotional stage?
The days of pre-orders are coming to end (quickly). You used to be able to get people to purchase in advance, and therefore there wasn’t as much need for continual contact, but people have moved away from CD’s, and are moving away from iTunes. It’s all about streaming now; so if the majority of people aren’t pre-purchasing, how do you keep them on the line for a few weeks? How do you continue to make contact and keep them interested until it drops on a streaming platform?
If your answer is social media, I’d like to continue to walk you through the initial scenario — After the fan gets done reading the article, or social media post, they decide to follow you on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, or maybe they already follow you, but what’s the likelihood that they’re going to see your follow-up, or drop-day posts? In 2018….the odds aren’t good. For Facebook, 2-6% of your followers see your posts (unless you willing to pay), for Twitter it’s about 17%, and for Instagram it’s about 10%. Yes of course, paying to advertise on the platforms helps significantly, but the probability of those select fans seeing your post is still unknown.
So if your social media followers no longer have a good chance of seeing your follow-up posts, and people are no longer pre-ordering the album, then why is everybody still running their pre-release promotional campaigns like nothing has changed??? Do you think that people are just going to remember the drop date, or continue to seek out the information on their own? There’s way too much to going on in our lives to remember, or seek it out.
Artists are spending all this money, time and effort garnering up interest and buzz, only to hope fans pre-order, see their future social media posts, remember the drop date, and/or seek the information out on their own. This is clearly not a good game-plan.
The new game-plan: lead people less to your social media and iTunes, and more to your email list and Spotify page.
Let’s hit Spotify first, since it’s more straightforward. When people follow you on Spotify two things happen when you release new music: you appear in their Release Radar Playlist (where all of the new music of the people they follow appears) and a New Release email is sent to your followers notifying them of your release (along with notifications of new releases from everyone else they follow).
What’s also great is that you can input a little code and create a Spotify Follow Button that’ll work on any website.
Here’s what our code looks like:
<iframe style=”border: none; overflow: hidden;” src=”https://embed.spotify.com/follow/1/?uri=spotify:user:texas_music_pickers&size=detail&theme=light” width=”300″ height=”56″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”>
And here’s what it looks like visually:
Of course this might not be a viable option for every artist. If you don’t have any catalog on the platform, you don’t have an artist account people can follow. Or, what if the material you do have isn’t very good and/or doesn’t give people an accurate expectation of the upcoming project? You don’t want to lose them before they hear the new stuff. The solution: release a song from the upcoming project FIRST, and THEN start your promotion. If you can’t send people to Spotify yet, you’re fighting an uphill battle gathering momentum. Feel free to drop a few social media posts before you release the debut track, but the bulk of your promotional efforts needs to come after.
Lets go ahead and address a few concerns you may have with pushing people to follow you on Spotify. First, how many of your fans actually have Spotify? Yes, not every one of your fans has adopted it; however, it is growing like crazy and it’s the leading streaming platform. Don’t make it the only option for your fans to find your music, but definitely make it the first one. Second, how many of your fans that do have Spotify, check their Release Radar and how many of those people will actually listen to (click) the song? I couldn’t find any data on this, but all you need to know is that it’s most certainly better than the 1% Click-Through-Rate of Facebook (link clicks/Facebook likes); especially when you add in the New Release Email Spotify sends out.
Pushing people to your Spotify page is the first big change you should make, but it’s not the most important one. In my opinion, the most effective thing you can do is to run an album-release email campaign. Think about what having a fan’s email address allows you to do….It enables you to have a non-invasive way to contact them directly. You can’t do that any other way. You don’t know if any of your posts are going to make it in their social media news feeds, but emails make it in the inbox 90% of the time and are seen 79% of the time. Almost all of your fans have email that is probably checked daily, so if someone is wanting to stay updated, this is clearly the best way for you to maintain contact – yet I see very few artists doing it.
There are services that make the campaign easy to set up, and easy for fans to sign up for. The email service will provide you with a little bit of HTML code, and you can then embed it on any website. It’ll look like this:
I would start 3 to 4 weeks out and incentivize people to sign-up by guaranteeing them exclusive content. I would setup a trigger email with an acoustic video performance of the single track I just dropped (the one mentioned previously in the article) in it, so that when people sign up they are automatically sent an email with the video (or a link to it). Two-weeks out, I would send an acoustic video performance of a new song. 72 hours out, I would send out an exclusive song premiere, and then the day of the drop, I would send them a reminder email that the album is out. What’s great is that you can set up all of this at the beginning of the campaign, schedule it, and then never have to touch it again. You can also provide every option possible for them to follow you and listen in your emails: Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube etc…You get the best of both worlds.
Now don’t have massive expectations for your email campaign. Don’t expect to get hundreds to sign up in the first couple of weeks; you’ll likely only get a handful each week. Go ahead and make peace with the fact that it’s going to be a slow and steady process. That’s just the way it works; it’s not going to grow as fast as your social media pages, but that’s okay. You’ve created direct lines of communication with people who are interested in your music that will likely last longer than any social media connection. You can continue to build this list for your next releases, and this line of communication will never be subject to algorithms, or limited reach. You can also funnel this list in to a monthly/quarterly newsletter after the release. For fans that are truly interested in staying up-to-date with your music, this is the most reliable way in 2018. I’ll take the email addresses of 100 solid fans, over a grab-bag of 1,000 Facebook likes or Twitter followers. The people who sign up for your email campaign are the merch-buyers, the song-spreaders, and the show-attenders. They’re too important to be subject to social media’s algorithms, inconsistency, and uncertainty and that’s why this change is so important. I’m not saying you should abandon social media, in fact, it’s the best way to bring in new fans due to it’s shareability….but email is superior for reaching the core fans you already have. So why aren’t you offering it? Why aren’t you pushing it? Why aren’t you making sure this is a part of every piece of publicity about your upcoming release? Why aren’t you using in conjunction with your social media? Why aren’t you trying to convert your Twitter/Instagram/Facebook followers to Spotify followers and email subscribers?
I’m also not saying to stop pushing people to iTunes (go get that money while you still can), just to have it further down in the order of importance. It’s a dying platform, less of your fans are on it, and it gives you no way to maintain contact with those listeners, so limiting exposure for platforms that aren’t going to give you a return in the future, in favor of those that will, only makes sense. Spotify and email are where you want incoming fans to go while building for your release, not iTunes and Facebook. This isn’t just the best strategy for the current landscape, it’s also the best way to set yourself up in the future. Spotify is going to be here for a while, and email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If I were you, I’d be incorporating them in as much pre-release promotion as possible! Have links, or embed them, in press releases, blog articles, at the bottom of social media posts etc… and I would start doing it now.
If you enjoyed this article, enter your email address below to find out about our upcoming seminars and workshops. I’m planning on putting together a 4 hour workshop during mid-summer. I’ll cover Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, , Email-marketing, making contact with talent buyers, markets to hit outside of Texas/Oklahoma, strategies for getting in to venues and more. We’ll have an open jam session afterwards.