Things We Learned From Austin Music Foundation’s DIY Musician Marketing Panel


1 From the Austin Music Foundation’s June DIY marketing panel, we learn some of the insights shared at the event regarding marketing tools and techniques available to artists seeking success in a rapidly shifting marketplace.

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Guest by Sarah of Wysidio

On June 7th, the Austin Music Foundation hosted “Breaking Through the Noise: Digital Marketing for DIY Musicians” at one of our favorite venues in Austin: Empire Control Room.

The panel was moderated by artist and podcast host, Johnny Goudie. He was joined by panelists in the marketing and talent buying realms from some of Austin’s most highly regarded venues and music industry businesses:

Erica Shamaly, Director of Marketing, ACL Live
Kristyn Ciani, Talent Buyer, C3 Concerts
Lizabel Stella, Social Media Strategist, Bmused Imaging
Taylor Brandeger, Marketing Manager, Mohawk Austin
Stephen Sternschein, Managing Partner, Heard Presents and Empire Control Room

The panelists discussed the variety of marketing tools out available for DIY musicians to take advantage of, as well as what they look for when booking acts at their venues in terms of marketing output. Here are some of the insights we took away from this panel:

Engagement matters most.

It’s easy to get caught up in how many followers you do or don’t have. What many artists overlook is the level of engagement they have with those who do follow them.

If you have 40,000 Facebook followers, but only get 5 likes per post, that reads as a red flag to music marketers, media, fans, and talent buyers alike. Take the time to interact with your fans online and IRL by taking photos and meeting them at shows, replying to their tweets and comments, and sharing what inspires you as an artist (or other personal tidbits) on your social media pages. The few minutes you spend with a budding fan can turn them into lifelong fans.

And by the way, if you’re thinking about buying followers — don’t. All five panelists say they can see right through it and it is an immediate turn-off and guarantee that they will never book you. The bottom line? It’s obvious.

The secret number: 1,500

Though level of engagement is more important than the number of fans, that’s not to say the number of followers you have doesn’t matter. It takes time to build up your following, but it’s work that is well worth every single fan you get. This can be painstaking, but it is a crucial period every successful artist must go through.

“You build fans one person at a time; there’s no shortcut,” Sternschein said.

That being said, your first 1,500 fans are the toughest. Once you hit that 1,500 mark, according to the panelists, the fans you get after will be easier and easier to accumulate because you already have some clout when they discover your page. This number also stands out to talent buyers as it shows you have been steadily working and cultivating your following for some time and are serious about your music career.

Use this trick for expanding your organic reach on Facebook.

2It’s no secret to most musicians and marketers that Facebook has become nearly entirely “pay to play,” meaning it is hard for you to get your posts seen by your followers without throwing some ad dollars behind them to boost them.

Luckily, a little bit of money can go a long way — even $10 or $15 can help you grow you audience if leveraged properly.

However, there is still one way to gain organic traffic. One way to hack organic growth if you’re short on cash is to have an inner circle that will share, comment, and like your posts as soon as they go out. This trick is super useful for DIY artists, as posts that immediately get a lot of interaction are seen positively by Facebook’s algorithm and reach more organic eyes.

Of course, sharing content that is professional, personal, and consistent with your brand always helps gain organic interactions as well.

Target fans of related acts to sell out your shows.

Promoting your own shows is important. Though Facebook is phasing out the efficacy of organic reach, you don’t have to have much of a budget to make use of Facebook’s paid ads. One of the best ways to make use of your ad dollars is to make sure you target your ads to the right people — i.e. people who are likely to actually attend the show.

One smart way to think about targeting was a tip we learned from this panel: target the event to people in the venue area that like artist Facebook pages similar to yours in terms of genre. If you have a Spotify page, it is easy to brainstorm a list of artists similar to you; simply click the Related Artists tab on your profile.

Also, talent buyers are much more prone to book you if they see you have a history of actually PROMOTING YOUR OWN SHOWS. This seems obvious, but many artists forget that once they book a show, the work is hardly finished. You are responsible for boosting attendance if you hope to continue to book shows, especially with that venue. So make sure you actively share the event page, invite friends to the Facebook event, and be your own #1 fan.

If you’re itching to learn more about taking control of your own marketing, the panelists recommended Facebook Blueprint as a great tool to keep you up to date on the latest Facebook marketing trends and tips. Thank you to the panelists and Austin Music Foundation for putting on such a useful panel for the local scene! Check out more upcoming events they are hosting for artists just like you on the AMF website.

Wysidio is also here to help, as we specialize in working with DIY artists who are already investing in themselves, but need some expertise to guide them to the next step.

Contact us below to learn more about our marketing services, including graphic design, social media ad management, brand consulting, bio writing, and more — or check out our Artist Services page.