We have a guest post from Scott Masson who is a social media expert, and he has got some invaluable advice for musicians contacting promoters on the web and on the effective use of email.
This article covers:
- How to make the most out of social media and how to use advanced listening tools to their full advantage
- How to put together personalised mail merges to save hours of brain numbing mail outs
- How to track email opens and link clicks, making follow ups more streamlined and showing you which promoters are active
- How to build an effective web presence
4 Web Tools Which Will Get You More Gigs – Scott Masson
As a musician the last thing you want to be doing is mindlessly writing and replying to hundreds upon hundreds of emails, often meaning you are spending more time behind a desk than making actual music. Unfortunately, as an unsigned band or DIY musician, it is a necessary evil on the road to gaining recognition and getting gigs.
It is frustrating to have to put your time into it, but even more frustrating knowing that it has to be done to build relationships with industry influencers and get your music reaching the right ears. The key to being able to maximise music writing and studio time is to make sure your system for admin runs flawlessly and effortlessly.
Luckily, there are minds out there that love creating ways to make the admin life simpler as much as you do music. The four hacks below are the fruits of their imagination, and allow easier and more efficient exposure.
#1 Personalise Emails Quickly and Easily
Lesson number one in making contacts for a DIY musician is that the personal touch always wins. The world of self promotion runs mostly on email so making yours stand out is top priority.
The trouble is that the release of one EP alone may take hundreds of emails from everyone from promoters and music blogs to management agents and radio pushers. Also these people receive hundreds of emails angling for the same thing as you. That’s a lot of personalising to a lot of people in order to stand out.
- “Hi there,
We are about to release our new EP and would love it if you could review it on your blog…”
- “Hi Ellen,
I’m getting in touch because we are about to release a new EP, and would love it if you could review it on Ellen’s Rock Blog…”
Say hello to your new best friend: Mail merges. With these you can write a mass email template and then personalise with names, companies and whatever other personal affects take your fancy.
Microsoft Office has the best mail merge capabilities out of any ordinary email client, as it can store and organise huge numbers of contacts across lots of different niches (for example, PRs, journos, promoters etc) and lets you send out an unlimited number of emails each day. You can learn how to send out an Outlook merge here. Outlook comes installed with many Windows PCs, so you can usually start sending campaigns for free. However, if you use Mac or some other OS, you can pick up Outlook at a discount on this site.
Mail merges are also possible using Gmail and Google Docs, which is great news for those musicians just starting up when funds are low and justifying the payments for an email system just isn’t realistic as they are both completely free for anyone to use. The catch is that they limit how many merges you can do in a day (the Gmail limit is 100) and it doesn’t have the contact organising abilities… but still, it’s free! Find out how to do a Gmail merge here.
Because a mail merge allows you to simultaneously email so many people all at once, the potential for colossal screw-ups is huge. Always test the mail merge by sending test campaigns out to yourself and friends. Set up dummy accounts with Gmail, AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo, just to check it works across the major email clients.
#2 Follow Up Like a Pro
Don’t be a pest about it but do follow up where appropriate! The recipients of your emails receive so many, yours may honestly have been overlooked or forgotten.
A simple “Hi Ellie, just following up on the email I sent you last week regarding…” will suffice. Polite, not too forceful, still to the point.
But how to tell when is appropriate and where the line is between making yourself known and being too pushy? If only there was a way to track who opened your email, how many times they opened it and when!
Meet your new sidekick, Sidekick! This is a genius free add-on from Hubspot which enables you to see who opened your email and when, as well as if they clicked any links (ideal for seeing if they clicked through to actually listen to your music).
Sidekick allows you to make informed follow-ups, as you can see from the recipient’s behaviour whether or not it’s worth following them up, and whether it is appropriate to do so.
The free version of Sidekick allows you to track 200 emails a month, so make sure you turn it off when you don’t need to track a conversation.
#3 Social Media as a Listening Tool
I don’t need to tell you how social media has grown in recent years and how it is capable of almost anything. This everyone knows. Yet there is still the danger, when promoting yourself using it, of forgetting about all the other ways it can aid your success. For example it can be a tool for listening as well as broadcasting.
Mention allows you to be a fly on the wall of social media (as well as the internet as a whole) and hone in on key words that direct you towards gig opportunities in your local area, journos looking for new bands to cover and other, similarly targeted, opportunities.
It can also be used to hear when fans are discussing bands similar to your own, dropping you at the door of opportunities for subtle self promotion to the audience most likely to be receptive.
Mention usually costs £30 a month, but it comes with a free trial, so you can see for yourself whether it offers value to your band before you commit.
- Find and Follow the Right People
Never forget the value of who you follow as well as of those who follow you. Make sure you target your local industry influencers, booking agents, journalists etc. to maximise the chances of being booked for last minute slots or exposure from local radio. The less specified you are as a follower the more opportunities you’ll miss out on to those who have the ‘in’ with the locals.
You can use Twitter’s search function to find relevant people, as savvy internet users tend to use keywords in their Twitter handles and bios, in order to make themselves more searchable.
#4 Sort Out Your Online Presence
Although being a follower of a band “you won’t have heard of” is considered ‘cool’, being the band that no one has heard of is anything but. Make sure that this isn’t because you have made it impossible to hear of you via online routes, by far the most convenient for potential fans.
Make sure that at the very least your band is findable across the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify. Youtube is another hotspot for musical discovery, and it doesn’t have to be a visual work of art. Keep it simple by all means, just you and your guitar, or even a static promo image will do… its all about the music after all. Tunestotube is an easy way to do this.
Keeping your musical material under wraps until people “like” your page is a sure fire way to rub a lot of people up the wrong way and ensure that they move on to someone less exclusive. Just don’t do it, just let them hear the music you worked so hard on making!
A website provides a creative space where you can express yourself exactly the way you want and others can assess everything about you from your music to your merch. As such, it potentially the best online asset you can have.
CMS systems like WordPress are probably the simplest to set up, especially if coding is not your forte. To get your own domain name (without .wordpress.com at the end) you will need to cough up but it isn’t much. Shop around and you can get it for less than a monthly round at the pub. You’ll soon be bought those drinks anyway if you follow the tips above.
It doesn’t take much effort to implement the above, in fact after the initial set up it takes far, far less. They can dramatically improve the number of gigs and the amount of exposure you can get, saving you time and effort, all allowing you to concentrate on actually creating and performing music.
Be sure to jump into the comments below and let us know what digital tools you use to make band admin that little bit easier.