BY PHIL HOOD
When Yoyoka, an eight-year-old Japanese girl, stunned the world with her stellar drum cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” last year she garnering more than a million views of her video on YouTube. That’s great for her, but views alone should not be the goal for building your brand. If you’re serious about building your career in the music industry, your goal is to build your email list.
[Check out the first three parts of this series: “6 Tips For Building Your Drumming Career on Social Media,” “8 Social Media Rules For Posting,” and “Press Is Digital, Too.”]
Email is especially crucial if your niche is small, and drums are, relatively speaking, a small niche in the world of music and entertainment. Whether you are selling lessons or supporting small club dates, you need to reach dedicated followers—not just casual viewers. Someone willing to receive and occasionally read your email is more likely to see a show, download a lesson, or buy your gear than someone who merely clicks “Like.”
Though it may seem counterintuitive, the number of people who open your email usually goes up the more frequently you contact them. Some artists have generated email followers by offering free downloadable lessons and then following up with a tailored program of frequent emails to keep students interested. Acoustic Guitar magazine, for example, has a list of fervent guitar students who receive email daily [Editor’s note: full disclosure, Drum!’s parent company, Stringletter Media, also publishes Acoustic Guitar.] At the other end of the spectrum, if you tour sporadically and know your audience, infrequent emails can shoulder the load. You’ve got to figure out what’s right for your audience and your content, but don’t be afraid to email frequently if your list is responsive and interested.
Multimedia and Monetization
YouTube is hugely influential as a place to find new music and has played the biggest role in uncovering new stars today. Luke Holland, Cooper Drummer, and many other drummers found their audience or attracted the attention of bandleaders looking for talent through YouTube. But the platform seems to be a natural home for snarky and sophomoric comments instead of useful interactions. Some artists report that they use it as a storage device for video that is embedded elsewhere and don’t interact much with viewers except to answer serious questions. That’s a good guideline in developing your career and audience—let the rough comments roll off your back, but when a fan is asking serious questions, be sure to respond.
iTunes and Amazon are the most important outlets for physical media and downloads. Spotify is the most important audio streaming site for music discovery, and, like Pandora and other sites, it can provide royalty income. Many artists also use platforms such as Deezer, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. Middleware sites such as Tunecore save time and do the heavy lifting of formatting and uploading to all of these distribution outlets for a fee. You can use all of these outlets to ensure new releases reach the maximum number of people. To promote recordings, publicist Vickie Starr of Girlie Action Media says she often uses bite sized 30- or 60-second audio or video clips to promote new releases on social media, linking to full songs on YouTube and all of the streaming platforms.
“The road is black and white,
either you can sell tickets or you can’t.”
Show Me The Money
You don’t just want to change the world with your music—it would be nice to make some money along the way. The best methods are direct sales of recordings, streaming fees and royalties, sales of lessons, tabs, books, merchandise and related products, direct donations from fans, and, of course, gigs and touring. In addition, artists who achieve enough views can monetize videos on YouTube through advertising. Patreon enables you to ask fans to directly support your music. You can also work your music to well-followed Spotify playlist curators. Some of the most popular tunes in terms of streams got their start that way.
Be True To Yourself
The iron rule of the internet is to create more value than you take. You can build that visibility and credibility by showing respect for your audience and your fellow musicians. Despite the chaotic and sometimes nasty tone encountered at times on forums and social media, high ideals and authenticity ultimately have an impact. Don’t be afraid to post only lessons, or only “serious” content. Try to solve the problems you have as a drummer, artist, and human being, and then share that with the audience. They’ll reward you for it.
“The music business is really a spiritual business whether we know it or not.”
Which monetization strategy you pursue depends on your skills, temperament, and aims. If you’re only after followers and interaction, you may need few of them. If you want a full-time career, go back and read about developing your goals.
Phil Hood is the founding publisher of Drum! Magazine.