Welcome to Marketing & Self Promotion 101. Congratulations! Your music has been published and now it’s time for the people to come and be blessed. WRONG. Creating a positive buzz around your project means mastering the fine art of marketing and self-promotion. The gospel music industry is a wealth of amazing talent with both new and old artists constantly vying for the public’s attention.
As a new artist, getting the word out about your project will require lots more than a few tweets and Facebook posts. Self-promotion and marketing of your brand has to be purposeful and well-orchestrated.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind before you “Go and Tell it on the Mountain”:
Market Yourself Spread the Word
- Real marketing and self-promotion begin long before your project is complete.
- Network, network and network some more to get your name and brand familiar in the minds of your potential audience. Don’t just look for the hookup, do the homework.
- The gospel industry is an extremely tight-knit community. Word of your reputation can spread and quickly become “gospel” for better or WORSE.
- Social media engagement involves more than 20 consecutive posts of you with a CD in hand reminding people to BUY…BUY!! Do this and you’ll be saying “Bye, Bye” to your audience.
Better to Give than Receive
- Don’t pass on the opportunity to perform for F-R-E-E. Church concerts, civic events, conferences and even weddings are perfect opportunities to not just be seen, but most importantly heard as well.
- Emailing industry leaders to say “I want to send you something to listen to that will bless you” is not a good opener. It’s cliché and most music professionals already have more music than they have time to listen.
- Get sound advice from as many industry professionals as you can. Established artists, managers and consultants with a proven current track record. If you are blessed with an opportunity to meet someone significant please don’t pounce. The objective should not be to get your CD in their hands as fast as you can.
My Sheep Listen to My Voice, I Know Them, and They Follow Me…EVERYWHERE!
- Get rid of the glam squads, the “slay all day” stylists, praise posse and all other non-essential persons to your brand NOW. Representing yourself as a serious artist should be your focus right now. Lest not forget, “the crew” helped cause tragic downfall of M.C. Hammer.
- Your Pastor, family members and friends as dear and well-meaning as they may be may not be experienced enough in the industry to act as professional business managers and publicists. Running a church doesn’t count as artist management experience.
Gerard Bonner is Founder and CEO of the Stellar award-winning 24/7 internet radio station Bonnerfide Radio and Co-founder of Gospelflava.com. Gerard is a well-respected gospel industry veteran with over 20+ years in the business. He is a fountain of knowledge and is an expert consultant working to help shape and define the careers of indie artists nationwide.
CFU: What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen indie artists make in terms of marketing themselves?
GB: Let me give you two big mistakes that indie artists make relative to marketing themselves. First, they usually forget to budget for marketing. They tend to put more budget into production, recording, and styling than they do marketing. There’s little planning and strategy put into effectively marketing an independent artist. As a result, the independent artist drops a project with an even steeper uphill climb.
Secondly, independent artists have a tendency to over inflate their reach. Only Beyonce can drop an album unannounced and have the world react significantly. Mary Mary once said “We treat every record as is we are new artists. We never assume that people know who we are.”
A strong social media following doesn’t always equate to great sales. Independent artists have to be ready and willing to put in the work behind creating awareness for their new efforts and it requires more than a lone social media post.
CFU: Have you witnessed any recent major shifts in the gospel industry that indies should be aware of?
GB: There are several major shifts that have happened in the last few years. At the top of the list is the way in which listeners consume music. People are streaming more than buying. It makes more sense economically for the consumer.
We went through a period where the gospel community was trying to push buying over streaming. However, the independent artist needs to embrace streaming because this is where consumers are. Artists have given streaming a bad name because the payout is vastly different than purchases. However, long term, streaming can be better for artists.
Because listeners consume music differently, independent artists need to prepare for multiple sources of revenue. Gone are the days where merely releasing an album will pay the bills. Indie artists need to tap into multiple ways to use their art to make a living. That includes streaming, teaching, workshops, and perhaps even keeping their 9-5 corporate jobs.
CFU: What sort of consultation services do you offer indie artists?
GB: We offer a number of services to assist independent artists. Our consultations cover a wide variety of topics ranging from marketing and advertising to artist development and management. We look forward to working with artists to really establish individualized paths to achieve long term career success.
You can sign up for our consultation services and be sure to mention the special Church Folks United code “INDIE” in your message: BonnerfideRadio.com/
Are there better times than others for an indie artist to approach the market with their product?
GB: Traditionally, it’s best to avoid releasing music during the 4th quarter of the year, as consumers tend to be focused on Holiday purchases.
However, the BEST time for an independent artist to release product is after they’ve created a demand for the effort. That means their needs to be intentional work to create awareness and a need for their product and their voice. People are no longer randomly supporting artists in general principle. Time and money are valuable to consumers. They need to know they are investing in something that fills a need for them.
Create the demand and the support will soon follow.