In its simplest form, marketing is raising the profile of a brand and its products or services in the public’s mind. So in that case, I would say all independent artists understand the basics of marketing their music – yes, even those rappers spamming SoundCloud links are doing some form of marketing.
But notice that I wrote “understand effective marketing,” which makes all the difference in the world between success and failure.
You can market your music by hitting up everyone on your Twitter feed with a link to your new single, or, you can effectively market your music by creating a solid marketing strategy and executing it regularly.
2. RELENTLESS WORK ETHIC
There’s a saying: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” You’re not going to be successful at anything in this world without hard work and dedication, shout out to Money Mayweather.
Look at all our case studies on successful artists – whether it’s superstars like Kanye West and Drake or independent grinders like Yo Gotti – and the one constant factor is that they put in the long hours above everything else.
It’s all about hard work guys. But not just about the music.
In addition to putting in the long hours working on your craft; you also have to put in the hours distributing and promoting the music, fine-tuning your live performances, engaging with fans online and offline, and constantly educating yourself on the business side of things.
Which brings us to…
3. MUSIC INDUSTRY KNOWLEDGE
Like Rap Coalition founder and music industry veteran, Wendy Day, said: “I think the most important trait is seeking out the knowledge and experience to do this properly. You either hire the right people who have the knowledge and connections to help you succeed as an artist or you learn how to do this yourself.”
Educating yourself thoroughly on the music business will make a huge difference in your success as an artist. Make sure you understand the fundamentals of music publishing and licensing your content, especially if you’re looking to set up your own independent record label.
4. STRONG TEAM AROUND YOU
To Wendy’s point above, if you don’t have the experience or time to learn about the music business, then you need to make sure you build yourself a strong team to address your weaknesses.
Just because you’re an independent artist doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. There are only so many hours in the day and you have to be smart on which tasks you dedicate your time to and which tasks you delegate.
Depending on what you’re missing in your arsenal, consider hiring a manager, marketing director or promoter, tour manager, graphic designer, lawyer and accountant. It doesn’t have to be right away, but you should definitely have a plan to slowly build up your team as you hit new levels in your recording career.
5. EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
How many rappers do you know who are really active on Twitter or Facebook, but all they’re doing is spamming their followers with music links? There’s no genuine engagement with fans, no real interaction with followers, just blindly spamming link after link hoping they’re going to be the next big thing.
Don’t do this. Trust me, it’ll do more harm than good.
It’s good to be active on as many social media networks as possible, but only if you can manage them properly and engage with the fans regularly, otherwise don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s better to be active and effective on 3 platforms, rather than on all them and not using them properly.