Uncharted Territories: Musician Guide To Navigating COVID-19
Now that venues, bars, parks, tours, concerts, basically any human interaction has been eliminated, how is a artist suppose to thrive? Well since the evolution of internet, artists have always been adapting and finding innovative ways to market themselves. COVID-19 is no different, and artists are going to have to adapt and adjust. So now what? Obviously streaming is at the forefront of exposure, but can an artists solely depend on streaming? The reality of the truth is, artists are going to have to work their ass off, especially if your making a living off music. We expect a music revolution to arise from this pandemic, not to mention unconventional marketing tactics.
Now before diving into COVID-19 survival guide, wanted to mention a few things. Above and beyond all the marketing strategies, one thing has always hold true; the power of beautifully orchestrated music. We can’t stress this enough, no marketing campaign is greater than the music. So at the end of the day always make sure your music craft is to perfection. So without further a due here are 5 ways to stay relevant during this quarantine.
HIRE A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
Being an artist nowadays is tough and you have to wear many hats. But if you’re going to make a name for yourself you can’t be a marketer and artist at the same time. Imagine if the roles were reversed, you wouldn’t ask your you marketing manger to spit a quick 16. Same thing with marketing, an artist’s job is to focus on the music, let the SMM do the leg work of getting your name out. Of course together you can work the brand name, but not everyone can be a Kanye and control every aspect of theit business. Even Drake had a manager in his early stages named Oliver El-Khatib who helped him form OVO Sound. Bottom line, stop trying to do everything yourself.
LIVE STREAM CONCERTS
One of the hardest hitting sectors for independent artists is tours and concerts. Luckily for us we have live streaming. Some of the most popular platforms are Twitch, Facebook/Instagram Live, Mixer (Microsoft), Youtube Live, Periscope, Zoom, Broadcast Me, Livestream and the list goes on. Each one of these has their unique features and advantages, some of them cost money, so make sure you do your homework. Whatever platform you decide to go with make sure you learn that bitch inside and out to make the user experience as pleasant as possible. Below are some tips to enhance the live streaming experience.
TEST YOUR INTERNET SPEED
Prior to streaming on any device, ensure you have at least 150 mb upload speed. 300mb package is ideal and you can always call your service provider to upgrade your package to reduce any buffering. You might need a new modem and prices vary from $150-$250.
DOWNLOAD BROADCASTING SOFTWARE
Otherwise known as live video switching, involves selecting and displaying multiple sources while a live broadcast. Wirecast, vMix, or OBS (free) are very popular options. You may consider researching each program offers as each one offers different features, capabilities and pricing.
USE AN AUDIO INTERFACE
Streaming a speaker in your bedroom is the quickest way to turn off your fans. Instead use an audio interface to run all audio through so the user gets the maximum clarity and quality.
They are not expensive and you can easily find them on Amazon. Webcams increase the fan experience as oppose to using your mobile device or laptop. Do a couple test runs and make sure everything looks visually pleasing, especially if you’re combing them with your broadcast software.
ONLINE GRASS-ROOTS MOVEMENT
Probably the hardest of the 5, but the theory is simple. Before corona-virus you would interact directly with people such as dj’s, directors and fans. Now that thats out window, imagining doing the same on social media. Same concept just more tedious or easier depending on how tech savvy you are. A lot of artist especially in the rap community are to prideful to comment on another rappers post. But imagine if you were to drop 10 comments a day to a fan, artist or someone in the music industry. If you did that 360 days, thats 3600 potential streams. Now imagine if you push that up to 100 social signals day via a direct message, email, like, or comment, your reach could be limitless. The point is your stuck at home and so everybody else, trust me they’ll listen to anything right now. Now is not the time to be lazy if you’re an artist. The artists who find opportunity in this economic downturn are the ones going to be successful.
With the verge of Tik Tok taking over as the social media king, a lot of mainstream artists are reaching out to influencers to create some sort of dance choreography to their music AKA “Toosie Slide” by Drake. Sometimes by properly tagging the song you can get a group teenagers to jump on your song for free. But sometimes you might have to shell out $50-$5000 bucks for some influential Tik Toker to post a dance with your song. The return on investment is very high, considering artist like Arizona Zervas, Ali Tomineek are making a living off of 15 seconds.
REACH OUT TO PLAYLIST CURATORS
Now more than ever playlists are at the forefront of music promotion. They are literally the fastest and most effective way of getting exposure. But artists be weary when dealing with playlist companies, there are multiple levels to the playlist game. There are 3 types of playlist companies/curators. subscription based, volume based and direct based.
Companies such as Spotify Jedi who offer to place your song on certain number of playlists for a monthly fee. The problem with subscription based model is that they never really give you any insight on what playlists you’re being added to. Also the number of streams are not consistent and is probably the worst choice of the 3.
Volume based companies like PlaylistPush and Daimon Media offer you certain number streams per their playlists campaigns. Again there is no certainty of what playlists your song is being added to or where you’re streams are coming from (bot, paid). Ultimately they do provide you with streams, buts its sketchy AF.
Lastly contacting a curator directly is the most organic and legit way to get exposure. How do you find a curator? If you goto a Spotify playlist you’ll see that curator name under the playlist name. Copy that exact name in Google or Instagram search and wa-lah, their social media or website should pop up where you can contact them directly.
The biggest problem artists face with curators is playlist etiquette. The artist will bombard the curator with endless links of his entire catalog. The curator doesn’t have time to review every song. Your best bet is to introduce yourself, include an your best Spotify song link, maybe a Youtube video to go a long with it and all your relevant social media. Keep it short. If the song isn’t ear catching right away or doesn’t fit the style of the curator, they’re going to check your numbers. If you’re not pushing more than 10K streams on a single or your IG has less than a thousand followers, pretty much consider yourself excluded. Below are some of our favorite hiphop curators.
Picture Credit: Futuristic and NF