When promoting yourself in the music industry, independent artists need music industry expertise, marketing skills, digital savvy, solid engagement with fans and just a little bit of luck.
Without a full marketing team behind you like those artists with a major record label, you are on your own to make sure you promote yourself in the right way.
For the majority of independent hip-hop artists, this means failing continuously until you either make it work right, or you give up.
If you want to avoid being the latter, then read on – we’re going to look at some of the major mistakes that independent artists make when promoting themselves.
1. Being too hesitant
One of the most common mistakes that you can make during early self-promotion is waiting too long. Waiting for your chance at a venue, a festival or an event is a rite of passage for any musician.
However, waiting too long becomes detrimental to performance, finance and confidence. Look outside of promoting yourself on the obvious scenes – hire as many people as you can afford to promote your music outside of the scenes that you know.
Standing around waiting to finally be picked might mean you’ve gone stagnant – don’t wait for the one venue, and keep promoting in as many places as you can.
2. Not hiring the right people
One of the worst problems you are likely to find as an artist is wanting to do it all on your own. From making the flyers to getting your name out there, you could be hiring people for a fraction of the time cost.
Price everything in gigs – how many gigs could you have completed in the time it took you to be happy with a logo? An article? A video? Avoid being too obsessed with doing it all alone. Sometimes, the best way to save money is to invest in professional, reliable business.
3. Exclusive focus on social media
A typical issue today is to rely on self-promotion via social media too much. While social media is a powerful tool which allows you to build a very important audience, it lacks the ability to make the kind of inroads you need for early self-promotion.
Like we wrote in our article about engaging with your fanbase offline, it is super important that you get out there and meet your fans. You want to break the local scene and get some credibility – people are going to follow your path more if you have some positive reviews and a bit of a musical story to relate to.
Avoid putting all of your time, budget or both into social media marketing – it’s powerful, but not the be-all and end-all of your promotions. Differentiate yourself from all the other artists who are just sitting on Twitter spamming links.
4. Paying too much
We mentioned above – and in this article – about going too far with self-promotion and doing it all on your own. It’s a damaging way to work, but so is just paying out the nose for everything.
You might message a publication or a blog and get hit with the large pricing fee to get them to talk positively about you.
If you find it’s an affordable scenario and you can see others who have had clear benefits from doing so, then go for it; don’t just invest because you feel you need to, though.
5. Generic blog submissions
A big problem can be relying on the wrong kind of software for help. Automated solutions such as Beatwire can be a good place to start, for sure, but they should not be seen as your only form of submission.
An automated press creation kit that is going to just throw generic copy at a journalist or a radio show host is not likely to get your feet in the door. Remember that the promotion element has to be unique, personal and charming.
Being the fifth person to land in their inbox with the same message due to using a basic service is going to make it harder to get work, not easier. avoid this kind of advertising as it tends to do nothing but create a toxic look around your brand.
6. Not targeting your audience
One easy way to find it hard to promote yourself, or make any kind of headway, is to cast the net too wide in terms of self-promotion. Keep it simplistic with the blogs, radios and websites that you get in touch with.
Don’t go looking outside of a net of websites that are actually interested in upcoming independent hip-hop; it’s a waste of your time, and theirs.
7. Not telling your story
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make, though, is not telling the person in question your story. You don’t want to go for the whole Amazon Kindle e-book length of story, but give them a blurb of who you are and what brought you to this point.
Find quality themes that represent who you are as a person and what is a fair reflection of your music. Just telling them you are an independent hip-hop artist is not enough. Give them the short backstory; your personal story can be the winning touch that’s missing.
8. Brand consistency
Sending away for requests to bloggers and publications to try and get a bit of exposure? Then give them links to social media pages and blogs. People who fail to maintain brand consistency across their online profiles and social networks tend to be the people who get nowhere.
Backing up where you are at present is the first thing that you need to do – have a blog that is consistently updated with audio, content and opinion. Keep it fresh and make sure it’s well thought-out. The more reasons that you can give for someone to return and give you a chance, the better.
With all of this in mind, then, you should find it easier to avoid the typical pitfalls that ruins the performance of so many independent hip-hop artists. Be unique, showcase your qualities and avoid overly aggressive sales pitches. It’s a simple start, but one that can make a definitive difference to your chances of success with self-promotion.