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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Major Self-Marketing Missteps
Friday, January 30, 2009

Even though every artist is online, and usually in a myriad of places, very few actually know how to correctly take advantage of the web’s self-promotional opportunities. In fact, the vast majority of artists go about things entirely the wrong way. Today I’m going to take a look at two of the biggest areas in which artists make mistakes when trying to market themselves online and give some ideas for how they can improve on what they’re doing to make their online promotions significantly more effective.

MySpace Misuse and Facebook Foolery

Your MySpace and Facebook pages are great ways to promote yourself. Randomly putting your stuff on other people’s pages, however, only works to make yourself known as a nuisance. Sadly, far too many artists either don’t understand how to properly utilize social networking sites, or they simply don’t care. Here are some good rules of thumb:

- Don’t post your flyer in someone’s MySpace comment section or on their Facebook “wall” unless they’re on the show’s bill. Other people’s pages are not your personal dumping ground for e-flyers. If you want them to see your flyer just e-mail it to them. The chances that the hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of random people on their friend list will be local enough to go to your show is slim to none and nobody checks random people’s MySpace comment sections to figure out how to spend their Saturday night. Not only are you wasting your time, but if you just send an email instead you’ll have a much easier time influencing that same person to come to the show. People care about not being thought of as a number. Show em they actually matter and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

- Don’t post your videos in people’s comment sections or on their “walls” UNLESS you have an already established relationship with the person. I have numerous people who post videos on my MySpace page and I approve all of the ones from the artists I actually know (I try to keep my Facebook page promotion-free). Again, if you don’t know the person just send it in an email. When you send it out, though, don’t just say “this is the new hot shit you gotta hear.” I get half a dozen emails like that a day. The ones I usually check out say something more along the lines of “Hey, Adam, this is my latest video. I’d love it if you checked it out and let me know what you think.” By personalizing the email and asking for feedback you’re creating a relationship with the person and if they like your music you’re creating a fan.

- Don’t post your audio player in people’s MySpace comment sections. It screws up the page’s loading time and it tries to run your music at the same time said person’s music is also trying to run, causing an audible clusterfuck that sounds good to no one. The first reaction a person has when they hear this isn’t “damn, who’s that artist, I need to know more,” it’s “who messed up my page? I can’t wait to delete them.”

Spamming for Fans

Misuse of email lists and a misunderstanding of email marketing permeates the music world in a truly amazing way. I’d say maybe 10% of artists know what they’re doing when it comes to their email presence. Yes, you need an email list, but don’t go spamming for fans. Every day I see someone has added me to their ReverbNation or FanReach list and every day I unsubscribe from them. Artists need to realize that just randomly adding everyone in their address book to their email list is actually counterproductive to their goals. By sending email blasts to people who may only just barely know of you, aren’t familiar with your music, and haven’t seen you live, you’re only working to make them remember your name for all the wrong reasons (“oh, that’s that artist that spams everyone.”). Just let your email list grow naturally and you’ll be fine because that way you’ll know everyone on your list wants to know more about you.

Oh and once you have your list don’t go crazy with the emails. Nothing’s worse than seeing three new emails a day from an artist who has nothing of any real importance to say. Got a new video up? Great, send it! Got a show coming up in a week? Great, send the flyer. If you have nothing coming up hitting people every couple of weeks will do just fine.

Now go out and promote yourself and make your name and your work known for all the right reasons.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:39 AM  
  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger Whitemist said…

    Your comments are right on and i can NOT emphasis enough the correctness of the attitude. Having worked with an artist/promoter. productions person who was and is very successful from the late 1980's to now, How you promote your event/music/place is very important and there are many way to screw it up. I did that last year promoting his work at a club/restaurant with online groups that really did not want that in their system. I learned what they wanted and approached it differently (with a new email since the first was banned)! Know there area you are going into, know the rules! Sometimes they can be great to follow progress.

  • At 5:20 PM, Blogger Headsnack said…

    amen! bout time somebody cooked up the spam and fed it to the wolves!

  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Thank you both!

    I wish everyone realized HOW one gets in people's faces and ears is what really matters most.

  • At 8:14 AM, Blogger Whitemist said…

    For those who are dis-believers, notice, I did NOT post the name of my friend or his music or his places! A post of that kind on this site would be wrong! And that is an example.

  • At 12:41 AM, Blogger Red Stinger said…

    Can this advice be said the same for advertisers? I've become one so to speak.

  • At 7:50 AM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Red - Most definitely. If you get in people's faces the wrong way you'll be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger Homeboy Sandman said…

    i was tryna post a flyer in this comments section but the html code won't take. rats.

  • At 9:11 AM, Blogger general said…

    love it.... you hit the spot... with that one.

    coming from a marketing comp. this is what we tell artist everyday. i have branded/broken artist from 12 inch wax to new media. SOME WHAT YOU HAVE SAID IS RIGHT ON THE SPOT.



  • At 12:08 PM, Blogger green conscious said…

    You already know how I feel about it!

  • At 1:14 PM, Blogger Paul Gargano said…

    I've found that there's a really subtle balance between artist promo, and artists being a pain in the arse. Part of it, for me, is how, when and where I meet someone. It's one thing to have someone hand you a flier or talk to you out at a club, it's another to get emails telling you to check out a new song, blah blah... Maybe this is a bit different in the hip-hop world, but in my world, the attitude is very much one where if the band is the one doing the hyping, it's because they can't find anyone else to do the hyping for them. One thing I think helps, even if you can't afford a publicist, is to make it appear that the emails are coming from a publicist/someone else in the camp with an air of professionalism, that way it doesn't seem like you're trying to circumvent the system.

    Hopefully that makes sense... I'm fighting a stomach virus (and losing) and my ghost-writer is afraid to come to the house ;)


  • At 8:35 AM, Blogger Skila said…

    good advise, thank you doctor

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