Preview Of Lesson 3: Selling Your Music And Giving It Out

This week, we’ll be looking at how exactly we’ll be making our songs available to people. Some of our songs will be sold in the typical ‘exchange for money’ method, while others will be exchanged for mailing list sign ups and promotional favours. So get comfortable, switch your brain into learning mode, and let’s get started.

What Will Your First Release Be

first releaseAs we’ve mentioned in previous lessons, our strategy will be to release a selection of singles and promotional songs. The singles will have more effort put into them and sold, while our promotional songs will be used to raise awareness of our music, gain fan’s contact details, and generally get our name spread about.

So which should you release first, a single or a promotional song? Answer: A promotional song. The reason being because we want to raise awareness of ourself before we ask people to purchase our music.

On top of this, we want to take advantage of human nature. We as humans are more likely to buy off someone if they give us something for free first. We naturally feel like we owe someone something if they give us something for free, and feel like we need to do something for them. We can take advantage of this human trait by officially giving away some of our music free of charge, and watching a percentage of the people buy back into us at a later date.

The final reason we’re going to be releasing a promotion song first, is because we want to start collecting fan’s contact details. By giving people a free song or more for signing up to our mailing list, we are finding out the people who are really interested in our music. Furthermore, we are collecting their contact information, information that we can use to build up a relationship with them and inform them of any future releases.

Please Note: Doing a promo song release first is optional. If you have somewhat of a name from promotion you’ve done prior to this course and you already collect fan’s email addresses, you may want to go straight into a single release. This is down to you, and should be based on what stage of your career you are at.

The Singles To Promotional Songs Ratio

ratioSo, let’s get down to some numbers. For every single you release, how many promotional songs should you release? Well, this is hard to say. The thing is, promotional songs will be used in a number of different ways. You will have at least one on your website which will act as an incentive to get people to sign up to your mailing list, and you will be giving away a new song to anyone on your list either once a month or once every two weeks (We go into more detail on both of these and other ways in the below chapter).

Other then these two methods, the amount of promo songs you will need to give out will depend on how successful you are at the time. The better you’re doing, the less promotional songs you will have to give out. While you will always need to give some out for ‘free’ (Remember I mentioned how people feel more inclined to give something back if you give them something for free, it’s human nature), as you start getting a more established name and have media outlets coming to you, you should scale down the amount of free material you give out. This is to avoid over saturating the market, as if people hear a lot of you in a short space of time, they may get bored. On top of that, if they’ve pretty much heard everything you can do, they’ll most likely move onto the ‘next big thing’ after a while.

You’ll see this reflected in some hot acts of the moment. Record labels often like to milk a person for everything they’re worth, but only while they’re still hot. You see this person featuring on everyone’s songs, they’ll release a bunch of songs themselves, and they’ll appear on TV doing a mass of interviews. Fast forward a year however, and no one will be talking about that person any more. Instead, they’d be replaced with the next hot act of the moment. This is a very short term approach to your music career. It can work for some as it can make a lot of money while it lasts, but not over saturating the market and keeping the fans interested long term is a better strategy.

Please note that this ‘all guns blazing’ method doesn’t work unless you have vast resources and are already in the mainstream spotlight. In other words, don’t go trying this yourself.

If you’re just starting out, I’d say you should release say two promotional songs for every single. This is in addition to the promo songs that you include on your mailing list. This should be enough to help get your name out there, without over saturating the market with too much of your material. As you get more established, you can cut that amount down, and release say one promotional song for every two to five singles (Again in addition to the promo songs that you include on your mailing list). Once again this will depend on what stage you are at your music career, something you’ll have to judge as you go along.

How To Give Out Your Promo Songs

As I’ve mentioned before, these promotional songs are going to be free for your fans to get hold of. Having said that, you’re not just going to give them all away on your website for people to download as much as they like. In all honesty this wouldn’t do much for our music career, and most likely even harm it as people will see your music as cheap. If they see it as cheap, they most likely won’t buy our singles when we release them.

So how are we going to be giving out our music?

  • In Exchange For An Email Address.
    One of the main ways fans will be able to receive our promo songs, is by signing up to our mailing list. They will get a two to four track ep in exchange for their email address, meaning it’s win win for both your and the fan. In addition to that, you will be sending them a new song once or twice a month for their continued support and staying subscribed. This can be achieved by putting your free songs into an ‘autoresponder’, and having your mailing list software automatically send your subscribers specific songs once they have been on your list for a certain amount of time. Don’t worry if this sounds confusing, we will be looking at how to do this in our lesson on mailing lists (Week 5).
  • In Exchange For A Tweet.
    exchange for a tweetOne of the best ways of getting your music out there I via social networking sites. While many people use these sites wrong, if they are used correctly they can be a valuable tool for promoting your music.
    While we will talk more about social media promotion in a future lesson, one thing I want to touch on now is the idea of fans ‘paying’ for your music via a tweet. The idea is simple: You have a song that people can get free, but in order to get that song they first have to tweet about it.
    This will of course require them to have a Twitter account. Once they have tweeted your link, they will be given a link to download your music. Other people will see that person’s tweet, and hopefully go on to re-tweet your message in order to also get the free download.
    The benefit of this is that people will be doing all the promotion for you. In order to get the song, they must first let other people know that they are downloading your songs and that it’s great. When other people see that message, some will also want to hear the song, and in turn have to share that message with their followers in order to gain access.
    The best things about this is it’s all done on auto pilot. Once you have uploaded your song and the message you want people to Tweet, you sit back and let everyone else spread the word for you. You will need to get the link out there initially and let people know they can download your song in exchange for a tweet, but after that your work is done.
    A few websites offer this service, but one specifically aimed at musicians is Tweet For A Track. As well as letting people tweet your message in exchange for your song download, they also allow people to Facebook share your message instead, and collect the people’s email address for you to use. Great for adding new people to your mailing list (Which is one of our main aims, we will talk about this fully in week 5). They do however charge you to share the email addresses they capture, so unless you catch a lot, it may not be worth the price. But sign up to a free account (You can still get people to send the tweets for free) and see how things go. Even if you only use it to get viral tweets and Facebook likes it will be worth it.
    Other websites that allow you to ‘pay with a tweet’ include Pay With A Tweet, and Cloud Flood.
  • To Be Continued.

    There are another 4995 words in this lesson still to be read. To read the rest of this article, please sign up to the Academy.