What is an NFT? How Exclusive Content is Revolutionising the Music Industry

Right now, everyone in the music industry is talking about NFTs. But there’s a few questions to answer here: What are they? Why are people willing to spend so much money on them? Can emerging artists benefit from NFTs?

We had a ton of DMs asking us to go into this topic, so in this article we’re going to explain everything you need to know about NFTs, how they are creating a new mode of monetisation for musicians, and how you, as an artist, can make use of them.

WTF is an NFT?

So what actually is an NFT? NFT stands for ‘Non-fungible token’. Essentially, it is a piece of digital art or media that lives online which you can purchase with cryptocurrency and have credible ownership rights for. This could be anything from video to audio, an image, or even a tweet. 

Most forms of cryptocurrency are ‘fungible’ – in other words – you can exchange them or spend them in compatible online stores. You can’t do this with an NFT. Instead, they act more like a rare digital trading card. They are stored on a cloud-like structure known as a ‘blockchain’ where your ownership of the NFT is verified and you can only trade or sell it as a sort of collectible item.

NFTs can be sold at a specified face value or auctioned off to allow demand to drive the value higher. Usually, they are limited in quantity to increase the rarity and exclusive nature of the product. Plus, they can be resold as the value increases. Basically, they are only worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

What’s the Point?

We’ve already begun to see huge artists raking in thousands, if not millions from the sale of NFTs. Kings of Leon made around $2 million dollars through releasing their latest album in NFT format, whilst DJ 3LAU set a new record after selling just 33 NFTs for a staggering $11.6 million dollars. Each of his NFTs included custom artwork and songs, access to never-heard-before music and a limited edition vinyl pressing of his album.

Some of you might be saying: “What’s the point in some of this NFT content if other people can still see it or listen to it elsewhere online?” and you’re right – you could simply go stream Kings of Leon’s new album on Spotify. However, it’s not so much about the accessibility of the content, but the actual ownership certification of the original asset and the bragging rights that come with it.

It’s a bit like going to a gig and catching something that the band throws into the crowd at the end, like a drumstick or guitar plectrum – you gain a stronger connection to the artist through owning this item that you know is one-of-a-kind.

We’re going to be bold and say that NFTs could well be the biggest development to the music industry since streaming began, as they are paving the way for an alternative music economy. Here’s why…

The State of Monetisation in the Music Industry

We all know how hard artists and the music industry have been hit by the pandemic. A recent UK study showed that 64% of musicians were considering leaving the music profession, presumably due to the loss of income from live shows being cancelled – the main source of revenue for most artists.

Not only that, but the past year or so has seen a lot of attention put on the royalties that Spotify and other streaming services pay artists. In 2020, 42,100 artists on Spotify made $10k or more from streaming royalties, and whilst this is a strong 80% increase since 2017, it’s still just a drop in the ocean of approximately 8 million creators on Spotify.

As a result, artists have struggled to bring in their regular income, or even survive, and have instead been struggling to find new ways to monetise from their music. NFTs could well be the answer.

Recent studies from 2020 have shown that the ‘creator economy’ is the fastest growing type of small business. But with such exponential increases in the number of creators, finding ways to monetise that creativity has proved extremely difficult.

Fans will always want more and more content – no amount will ever be enough – but what else can you offer them? What if you could increase that fan connection by offering them the opportunity to buy an exclusive item created by you with significant collectible value?

What Do NFTs Offer?

We often speak about creating value in your content for your followers as, after all, this is how you convert them into real fans. Nurturing those who have already shown dedication to your music is vital as well, but how exactly can you do this? This is where NFTs can prove their worth.

Monetising from your fans is never something you can do straight away. Like we said, you have to nurture and provide for them until the point where they are invested enough in your music and brand that they are willing to spend money on you. Consequently, it’s important that once you have fans who have reached this point, you make the most of their loyalty as it’s a prime opportunity for making some money.

Possibly the best thing about NFTs is the legacy of income that they can create for artists. For example, if you were selling an exclusive piece of artwork for your latest release, you can actually specify a percentage of that asset which you own, so every time it gets resold, you make money. Plus, should that asset increase in value over time, you’ll be making more money whenever it changes hands.

Not only that, but the by-product of this is some easily accessed word-of-mouth marketing. Whoever buys your NFT is going to want to share their new prize purchase with others and show it off on socials, automatically gaining you some extra exposure. It’s providing a new element to your content game.

Strengthening the Fan Connection

Turning followers into fans is all about letting people feel like they know you on some level, and NFTs are a great way of doing just this. Fans can feel even closer to you as someone they admire because they own something you made that no one else does; they gain that sense of exclusivity.

Think how many people, given the opportunity, would run up to one of their favourite artists exclaiming “OMG I’m your biggest fan!” – NFTs allow fans to actually prove this.

What About Emerging Artists?

The question is though, is there enough demand for these items when it comes to emerging artists? The point that a lot of people are making about NFTs is that, like many things in the industry, they will only benefit a small percentage of artists at the top of the game. This is why some of these items are being sold for millions.

Maybe you’re thinking: “Nobody is going to pay serious money for an NFT from me”, and perhaps at this stage in your career, you might be right, but this is why cultivating super-fans of your music is going to be so important. It only takes one of them to be willing enough to pay a decent price for a one-of-a-kind asset created by you. 

We already see artists with dedicated fan bases making money on platforms like bandcamp and patreon, purchasing limited release merchandise and vinyl for substantial sums – even paying more than the list price or donating to the artist out of their own good will and loyalty.

Be the Investment

Also, think about the kind of music fans who love discovering new artists in the early days of their career: the people who like to say “I knew that band before they were big – I’ve been listening to them for years”, as if they are some kind of uncredited industry tastemaker. Similarly, there will be people like this, with a lot of spare cash, who want to invest in up-and-coming artists before they hit the big time. This could be achieved through purchasing an NFT early on and watching the value rise as that artist grows to superstardom.

Plus, NFTs don’t have to be ridiculously expensive, nor do they have to be auctioned; Grimes recently issued a series of NFT artwork of which there were 400 pieces available per item. These were priced at just $20 each – proving that the NFT market is accessible for emerging artists and the typical music fan. This makes the NFT market seem more like ‘digital merchandise’, rather than a playground exclusively for the super-rich.

This is the only way NFTs can truly help the whole music industry, rather than just well-established artists. The price points need to be accessible for everyone.

However, NFTs will only become financially valuable when a serious amount of people are aware of the content and its creator. So, although you may not be able to benefit right this moment from selling NFTs, this is exactly why you should be taking every care with your fan base to make sure those fans are engaged, dedicated and loyal. 

How Are Artists Using NFTs?

So you know now that NFTs can make you a lot of money and that they aren’t necessarily just for the top end of the music industry spectrum. But how are artists actually using them and what kinds of things can you sell as an NFT?

  • If you’re an artist with a particularly strong visual brand, then NFTs are definitely something to think about. You could create exclusive artwork for your latest release and sell one-off graphics designed by you, or you could collaborate with an artist you like for extra credibility.
  • Social tokens’ are being used to allow access to exclusive fan events and communities, private chat servers and paid email newsletters, with incentives of course. The value of the token rises as the communities grow.
  • Integrating NFTs with online events such as live-streams or album listening parties. The fans attracted to these sort of events are more likely to be the ones willing to invest in you.
  • Reignite interest in an artist’s back catalog (as 3LAU did with his Ultraviolet album). For example, limited release reissues of an old album with exclusive content added in like vinyl copies or bonus tracks.

We’re still in the early stages of this phenomenon, but it seems that just about anything can be sold as an NFT, so there’s a lot of scope for creativity and unique marketing ideas here.

Prepare Now, Profit Later

In some ways, purchasing NFTs is no different to being an art collector, the only difference being that we’ve transitioned from the physical to the digital. It might seem a little crazy at first, but there are people out there who are willing to pay for these sort of ‘collectibles’.

What’s great is that NFTs are establishing a new form of content for artists, alongside new kinds of experiences for fans. Plus, for once, artists are in control of the money they can make – not just on the initial sale, but further down the line too.

So although focusing on getting new fans is usually an artist’s priority, don’t forget to provide value for those who are already your fans – look to those who have invested their time, and potentially money, in you already – they are the ones who are more likely to part with their cash for you.

Unlike most music marketing methods, the NFT market isn’t about reaching the most people possible; it’s about reaching the right people.

If you’re interested in finding out more about NFTs and where you can buy/sell them, check out a few of these online marketplaces: Rarible, Ethereum, OpenSea

If you found this blog helpful, you can read more music marketing articles here, follow our tips on Instagram or check out our advice videos on our YouTube channel.

How To NOT Annoy People When Promoting Your Music

Let’s be honest – nobody likes a blatant plug – but such is the life of the aspiring artist. Selling yourself is simply part of the job when it comes to music marketing and getting yourself out there, but have you ever felt that too much promotion could be hindering your artist growth, rather than helping it? So how can you promote your music without annoying people?

Perhaps that person who stumbled across a piece of your content, liked it and clicked ‘follow’, is growing tired of endless selfies and posts telling them that your latest single is ‘OUT NOW’ – and has been for several weeks. On the other hand, perhaps they aren’t, but are they actually engaging with you?

Either way, there is the chance that if you haven’t got your marketing strategy right you could be encouraging unfollows and discouraging platforms from pushing you out to the masses.

So in this article, we want to show you how to promote your music without annoying your audience, putting them off and potentially losing followers in the process.

Is Posting Every Day Annoying?

This seems to be a common misconception when it comes to social media for artists. We can understand why you might think posting something everyday can become annoying, but the truth is, if you’re adding value for your followers, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Of course, if you’re posting 3 or 4 times a day and it’s just mindless selfies, likelihood is you will be irritating your audience. Being vigilante when selecting the content you post is a valuable skill to learn. Try to get into the habit of asking yourself before each post: ‘What will my followers get out of this? What value am I offering?

However, the time and effort required to create content to post every day simply isn’t possible for most emerging artists anyway, especially if you work another job. So, don’t feel the need to post this often either – remember, whilst quantity is great in the early phases to establish your content strategy, a real quality post of value every few days is perfectly acceptable.

Only post when you have something of value to offer your audience

Not Everything Has to Be a ‘Sell’

Whilst promotion is the name of the game, not everything you post on socials needs to be a direct sell. These are exactly the kind of tactics that come across as desperate and don’t encourage engagement with your content either.

Instead, we would recommend that you don’t go for the direct sell all that often, perhaps 2-3 times a month at most. Nobody really likes to be sold to, so it’s much wiser to integrate these plugs into your content sparsely, otherwise your followers will only consider you a spam merchant and might even unfollow you.

Give, Don’t Take

This is one of the biggest mistakes that emerging artists make when promoting their music online. Of course, your pursuit is to build a dedicated fan base, drive engagement and boost your streaming profile, but if you’re always asking something of your followers, ask yourself this: Why should they do what you want them to?

In reality, you might care a lot about your music career, but no one else will unless you make them. The key here is to give as much as you can to your audience, rather than constantly trying to take from them and sell them your product (the music).

You can do this easily with simple things like replying to as many comments and DMs as possible and interacting on a personal level with your followers. Alternatively, you could use other platform specific features like Instagram’s ‘Join Chat‘ which allows you to start a group chat with followers of your choice. By doing this, you can give your fans the opportunity to be directly involved with you. Perhaps you can even ask for their help on selecting artwork for an upcoming release or getting their suggestions on what kind of content they want to see.

Consequently, through letting your followers in and giving them these valuable interactions, they give back to you though engagement – it’s a two-way street.

It’s important not to take advantage of your followers – give back to them too

Disguise Your Selling Tactics

Although pushy selling doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you can’t subtly slide your sales tactics into your content. You just have to be clever about it and not so blatantly overt.

If you’re familiar with Burstimo content, you’ll know how much we advocate for using social media ads as an effective form of music promotion. If you’re using them, this is a prime opportunity to offer quality content, whilst selling yourself at the same time.

Say you’ve made a promo vid or a teaser for an ad, one of the best ways to reel in new listeners is by comparing your music with similar artists that you relate to. For example, you could use a banner on top of your video stating one of the following:

  • Do you think we sound like [insert similar artist]?’
  • ‘If you like [insert similar artist] then you’ll love this’
  • ‘For fans of [insert similar artist]’

Obviously, make sure you pick an artist or band that you do actually share a similar sound with, but the great thing about doing this is that you slide in the sell without being too obvious. Since most people who come across your ad won’t know you, the comparison to a more well-known artist is the selling point, but it convinces them to watch or listen further without you begging desperately for them to do so.

Stop Shouting ‘OUT NOW’

This is without a doubt one of the least engaging styles of content you can share. It’s also one of the most boring and irritating.

There is a time and place for declaring your latest track ‘OUT NOW’, but posting it every other day in your feed and your stories, plus writing it in your bio, is not it. If you’re only posting this sort of content because you don’t know what else to post, it’s better to not post at all.

Just step out of your artist shoes and into your consumer shoes for a moment: unless you are already a dedicated fan of a particular artist, what part of somebody sharing a graphic post with ‘OUT NOW’ emblazoned across it makes you want to go to another platform and listen to their whole track?

Take it from our followers. We recently made an Instagram post on exactly this topic and this was one of their replies:

Why waste a chance to engage with your audience?

Understand That Growth Takes Time

Part of the reason that we come across so many artist Instagram pages with nothing but these ‘OUT NOW’ posts is because these musicians are hugely impatient. It goes without saying that artist growth takes time; you can’t shout about your new single a few times and expect the numbers to flood in overnight.

Particularly if you are directing people towards your socials, you probably will annoy them if you send them there, but there’s no valuable content. In this case, you should be making sure your profiles are up to date and well populated with quality content.

Don’t Treat Your Socials Like a Website

We see a lot of artists falling into the trap of treating their social media profiles like websites, or even using them as a substitute for one. This is not what they are for, nor what they were made for.

Websites are the place for announcements and ‘OUT NOW’ style content, so why post the same things on your socials? It’s a wasted opportunity. It extends to things like tour date announcements too – this just isn’t the kind of content people can engage with.

We’re not saying you should never post these things, but continuously doing so will grow tiresome for your followers as they’ll feel like you’re constantly trying to get something from them, rather than providing them with quality content.

There’s 3 things you can ask yourself before posting a piece of content. If it fulfils one of these criteria, post away.

  1. Does it Educate?
  2. Does it Entertain?
  3. Does it Document something in a unique or interesting way?

Be Yourself in Your Content

If you’ve watched any of our recent podcasts, you’ll have heard us talk about how important authenticity is when approaching your music promotion strategy. There’s nothing worse than somebody who is clearly trying to adopt a certain ‘persona’ in their content.

The problem is, when something works for one artist, a lot of others try to copy this in an attempt to emulate their success. However, what they should have done is evaluated why that content worked, and adapted parts of it to suit their own style. Being inauthentic is so easy to detect these days.

A prime example of this issue is Lewis Capaldi. His ‘skit’ style content exploded through his sense of humour which was genuinely just his personality – there was no scripting. When we spoke with former Digital Marketing Manager for Virgin EMI, Bets Chadbourn, on our podcast, she elaborated on the problem:

‘It’s important for artists to stick to their personal brand. I have so many artists that get signed and come in to me and say “we want to be like Lewis Capaldi”… and I say, “but you’re not Lewis”. You can’t force yourself to be funny. We’re seeing that a lot online with other artists.’

Essentially, when you try to be something that’s already been done, you will annoy people because they know that you aren’t being authentic. It might not be the first thing people look for in an artist, but simply being you and maintaining your artist brand plays a huge part in endearing followers to you.

Are You Being Consistent?

On the topic of being yourself, another thing that can annoy, and potentially confuse your followers, is not having a consistent theme in your content. Employing a recurring theme through your content is often what makes people hit that follow button and keep coming back for more.

If your content is lacking coherency and jumping all over the place with the sort of content you’re sharing, those who come across you aren’t going to feel inclined to follow you as they won’t know what you’re actually offering.

Conclusion

If annoying your followers is something you’ve worried about in the past, this isn’t a bad thing – it shows that you’ve taken your audience into consideration and that you actually care about not spamming them with useless content.

The reality is, if people aren’t listening to your music, then either the track isn’t good enough or you haven’t engaged with your audience prior to them listening; no amount of ‘OUT NOW’ posts or shameless plugs are going to change that.

So in essence, the best way to promote your music without annoying people, is to not really sell your music at all. If the content you are sharing is consistently engaging and offering value, you’ve done the hard work of selling yourself already. Why go overboard?

If you found this blog helpful, you can read more music marketing articles here, follow our tips on Instagram or check out our advice videos on our YouTube channel

Top 3 Ways Emerging Artists Should Spend Their Money

If there’s one thing artists always want to know when it comes to music marketing, it’s where they should spend their hard-earned money. Creating a sustainable income from music is no easy feat, so it’s natural that musicians want to invest their earnings wisely.

Artists often believe that they have to spend money to make money and progress their career. However, in the early stages there are actually plenty of easy strategies to promote your music for free.

Saying this, there comes a time when a little investment goes a long way, so in this article we want to show you where you should be spending your money as an emerging artist in order to gain the best return on your investment.

As a music marketing company, we see artists throw money at pointless endeavours all the time, so we’re going to point out the things you should avoid wasting your money on too.

1. Social Media Ads

Whenever we’re asked the question ‘where should artists spend money first?’ – we don’t hesitate to answer: social media ads. The idea of spending money on platforms that are supposed to be free can put a lot of artists off, but if you do it right, you will get results.

What we love so much about social ads is that even if you don’t make huge gains in streams or new followers first time round, you’ve still gained something: data. Experimenting with ads is a great way to find your target audience, so although it might feel like you haven’t got much return at first, the data you have obtained becomes a valuable asset, as you can retarget these people at a later date when you have a bigger ad budget.

Not only this, but you can start off small with as little as $5 and see exactly what you’re getting for your money thanks to cost per click measures. In terms of music marketing and PR, there simply isn’t another form of promotion which shows you where your money is actually going.

Experimentation is key when it comes to ads. For instance, rather than blowing all your budget on one ad, split it between a handful of different ones. Play around with titles, demographics and locations to see what works best – this way you won’t waste all your money and you will have narrowed down your audience at the same time.

Focus On The Content

Our biggest tip for ads is actually to do with the content itself. We’ve heard artists complain that ads don’t work, even though they’ve tried various targeting combinations, but more often than not, the reason they aren’t working is because of the content. Usually, this is what needs changing up if you’re not finding favourable results on your ads.

There are 3 things we have found work best to ensure your ads are successful and cost effective:

  1. Use banners: Doing this helps your ad stand out and stop people scrolling. The text needs to be intriguing and spark people’s interest. We’ve done A/B tests with ads using a banner and without, and both the cost-per-click and engagement are significantly improved when you employ them.

2. Tell a story: Make sure you are getting people emotionally invested by telling the story of your track, you as an artist or what inspired you to create music.

3. Add Value: Don’t just take from your audience, you need to create value in your ad for them by telling them what they stand to gain from it. This could be put across in the banner or the caption, but show people how they will benefit by investing time in you.

Need some help starting off with ads? Check out our video tutorial right here.

2. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is amazing, but there is a caveat…

In recent years the online world has seen a huge surge in the use of this kind of marketing, but because of that, it has become an increasingly saturated market. As a result, a lot of people have begun to waste their promotion budgets simply paying anyone and everyone to stick their track in the background of an Instagram story. This just doesn’t work anymore.

The thing with using influencers is that is has to be the right fit not only for you, but also for the influencer. Otherwise, it’s only going to feel forced and inauthentic. Modern content consumers are clever enough these days to sniff out a cheap bit of product placement, so you won’t be fooling anyone.

When we welcomed Artist Manager of Nina Nesbitt, Chelsea Wood, on to our podcast, she pointed out how important it is that “If an influencer markets anything, how is it right for your brand? It always has to be your brand and what is right for you.”

In other words, there’s no point in getting a fitness influencer to use your track in their content if you’re a folk/singer-songwriter artist because it probably isn’t going to fit. You need to be really selective when hiring an influencer, so do your research on them first and make sure it’s a match made in heaven before you part with any cash.

3. Production

This tip is a little different as it’s something you should spend money on before you’ve released your music.

If you’re familiar with any of our video content across YouTube and Instagram, you’ll have heard us say that the best place to start when it comes to music marketing is with a quality product. You could be the best at music promotion in the world, but without substance and quality music, you’re essentially flogging a dead horse.

So before you even think about your marketing strategy for your next release, or splashing the cash on other methods of promotion, ask yourself if the quality of your track is good enough.

By quality, we don’t just mean a catchy pop song or a banging dance anthem, but also the sonic quality of your music. Has it been mixed and mastered properly to a high level of production? If not, then this is the place you should be spending your money before anything else.

How Do I Know if My Music is Good Enough?

There’s one really easy way of knowing if your mix is good enough: listen to a playlist that you think your music would fit well to and honestly ask yourself if it sounds good enough. In terms of sound quality, is it within the same ballpark as the other tracks? Alternatively, get the honest opinion of other musicians you know.

In our podcast with Matthew Fletcher, manager of Mcfly and (formerly) Busted, he highlighted the importance of focusing on the quality of your music at the start of your career:

“People don’t focus enough, in my opinion, on the quality of their songs. If you want to be an artist, then that has to be your number one focus. Get that right first.”

“And I would always say to people – just be honest with yourself, even if people around you can’t be. And even if you want to be dishonest, be dishonest in the sense of it not being good enough. Compare it to your idols and ask yourself honestly, is it as good as that?”

Where NOT to spend your money

1. Buying Fake Followers or Streams

We’ve made our stance on purchasing followers and streams clear many a time before – and in case you were wondering, it’s not a positive one. We can understand the temptation when you’re early on in your career and you compare yourself to other artists, but this will only set you back in the long run.

Whether it’s getting ‘shadowbanned’ by Instagram for buying followers or having your music removed from Spotify for dealing in fake streams, the gratification is only temporary and you end up hindering the progress of your career.

2. Buying Gear You Don’t Need

That new guitar or synth can be pretty alluring, but is it going to make you a better musician? Probably not. Is it going to get you new fans? Definitely not. Think about all the coverage and exposure you could secure using the methods we listed if you didn’t break the bank on frivolous ego-boosting purchases.

3. Spending Big on a Music Video

You might think that since we preach about getting the quality of your music right first, the same would apply to your music video – but it’s not quite the same ball game. If you’re still in the early stages of your career, spending loads on a fancy video is a waste because you don’t have the audience yet. Big artists can afford to do this because they know that people are going to watch it. Without that guaranteed exposure, would you feel comfortable forking out several thousand on a team to make your production ultra high-end?

Further down the line, there could well be the demand for you to make polished videos, but until then, try some of these alternatives to a music video which will provide you with quality content without leaving you bankrupt.

Conclusion

To wrap up, promoting your music doesn’t have to cost the earth, especially when it comes to using ads – even with a small budget you can conduct some market research that you can use further down the line too. Saying this, it is worth investing in things like production to set you on the best possible path from the get go.

However, if you’re yet to make your debut release, don’t think that you need to spend tons of money to get off the ground – you’re still testing the waters at this stage and you won’t have much of an audience yet. In this case, focus on building that audience through your content strategy before splashing the cash.

If you found this blog helpful, feel free to read more music marketing articles here, or you can check out our advice videos on our YouTube channel.

‘Help! I Bought Followers’: How to Get Back on the Road to Organic Artist Growth

When you work alongside artists every day, it’s pretty common to find one who has tried to cheat the system and bought followers. Whether it’s Instagram followers or Spotify streams, the problem has become pandemic to the industry, affecting not only those who pay for fake numbers, but all artists trying to make a name for themselves.

We all know success is hard to come by in this industry and frustration with your current music marketing tactics, or simply a lack of knowledge about strategies can quickly lead to these sort of actions. But let us tell you now that there is no cheating the system when it comes to successfully marketing your music and artist brand. In many facets of life, people look for the quickest route from A to B, and it’s the same in music. A lot of artists want to explode overnight without truly being ready and without putting in the work that will gain them real success. The result? They turn to the world of fake numbers to provide a thin veneer of what they deem to be ‘success’.

If you’re reading this, panicking and beginning to regret those fake followers you bought a while back, don’t worry – you aren’t alone – and your reasoning for doing so is not lost on us. However, in this article we’ll show you exactly what to do if you have bought followers/streams in the past and how you can get back on the road to genuine, organic growth as an artist – whilst deterring you from buying any more in the future too!

Why Do People Buy Followers?

In short, this question can be answered with one word: insecurity. The scenario is not difficult to imagine; you’re an emerging artist with a few releases out and you’ve been posting content across socials to help build your brand, but perhaps your audience growth has stagnated, or has not really grown at all. There’s a lot of reasons why this might have happened, but inevitably, it leads to artists feeling inadequate and disheartened by their lack of progress. Consequently, they look for a quick fix and that is exactly what these third-party services are offering.

Naturally, inadequacy leads to comparison, and comparison loops back to inadequacy – it’s a vicious circle. It’s completely human to compare ourselves to others and we strongly believe that this is something emerging artists need to stop doing. Of course, it’s hard not to, but usually when artists do this, they place themselves next to their musical heroes and heroines: household names with huge followings and significant financial backing. This is simply a pointless task, made even more pointless when reports show that some of the biggest artists in the world, including Justin Bieber and Rihanna, have large percentages of fake twitter followers.

If you do feel compelled to go head-to-head with other artists, don’t compare, but evaluate instead. Look at artists at a similar stage in their career to you and if they have a stronger following, ask yourself: What have they done to get to this point? What kind of content are they sharing? How are they engaging with their current audience? There’s no need to be envious of the success of others – just learn from them instead.

As a result of these inadequacy issues, many artists start to believe that their music promotion just needs a ‘little boost’; that there’s one single thing which will kickstart their career and drive their growth up a gear. Unfortunately, this often realises itself in the form of a quick google for ‘buy streams’ or ‘buy followers’ – what’s the harm, right? Let us show you.

The Reality of Purchasing Followers

The big question here is this: Do you really believe in your music if you’re buying followers and streams? Perhaps the act in itself is a warning sign for artists that, subconsciously, they aren’t fully confident in the quality of their music and should consider going back to the drawing board. After all, starting with great music is the best possible course of action – the numbers mean nothing when there is no substance behind them.

So besides kidding yourself, who else are you trying to fool? The social media platforms? Good luck with that. Social media has come a long way since its early days and it’s far more intelligent than most of us can possibly comprehend.

Instagram knows when you’ve bought followers. It knows when you’ve used engagement pods. Even if you think you’ve found a loophole to cheat the system, you can guarantee that this method won’t last long, as the platform will get wise to it sooner or later.

On top of that, there’s a strong chance that you could get ‘shadowbanned’ when it comes to Instagram. The platform has seemingly denied the existence of such a term, but it has become clear that if you fail to comply with the terms of service, your content won’t be getting pushed out to new people or achieving its full potential reach. You won’t be informed of any changes to your account, but you’ll be sure to see a drop in engagement.

Not sure if you’ve been shadowbanned or not? Try this:

  • Post a picture on your account with a fairly niche hashtag (using a popular one will make this test very difficult).
  • Then, ask a handful of people who don’t follow you to search that hashtag and see if your content comes up.
  • If it doesn’t – chances are you’ve been shadowbanned.

Finally, one last point on being realistic: it’s usually pretty obvious when you’ve paid for followers. If there’s only a handful of posts on your account, consisting mainly of ‘OUT NOW’ promotions and selfies, but you’ve got tens of thousands of followers – something doesn’t quite add up. The modern content consumer can sense an inauthentic profile a mile away, so the only person you’re fooling is yourself.

Stop Being a Slave to the Numbers

What is your actual goal in music? Do you want 5 million followers on Instagram or a sold out arena tour? In the modern social world we inhabit, we’ve been indoctrinated into believing that these big numbers are a like-for-like replacement for genuine success. Of course, it proves that you can build an audience through a well considered content strategy, but does it really show that you’re a successful musician?

Artists shouldn’t be using these numbers as targets, but as measurements and indicators instead. They can show you how and sometimes why your success is growing, but they are not the definition of musical success itself. Of course, it’s a great feeling when you hit that milestone of 1000 or 5000 followers, but artists need to stop obsessing over the temporary gratification of a larger number when the better course of action is to work and engage with the audience that is already there.

You have to think about the value of the followers you do have – are they truly dedicated, engaged fans? If so, then a couple of hundred is ten times better than a thousand fake or unengaged ones.

Followers aren’t all necessarily ‘fans’ anyway. Someone may have seen one good piece of content and hit the follow button, expecting more of the same, but they might not have even listened to your music or checked you out on other platforms. Basically, just because someone follows you, it doesn’t mean they are entirely invested in you and your music.

The Benefits of Keeping it Real

Streaming may not be the money making machine that artists want it to be, but it is nonetheless a fantastic exposure tool and host for your music. Therefore, you wouldn’t want anything to jeopardise your presence on these platforms, right?

If you keep up to date with the latest industry news, you’ll surely have heard of the plight of many musicians who found out much of their music had suddenly been removed from Spotify. The reason? Allegedly, this was the platform’s way of cracking down on artificial streams. It was estimated that in January of 2021 alone, around 750,000 tracks were removed from the platform. Appeals processes have been launched, but many artists are still fighting to restore their music.

The point here is that sooner or later, platforms will act on dishonest activity. Knowledge of fake streams on Spotify is nothing new – the platform may not be able to stop it entirely, but they can seemingly monitor who is using these services and it proves that you will inevitably be punished for violating their terms and conditions of use. Not only would you be compromising any revenue you were making on the platform, but more importantly than that, the potential reach of your music being on Spotify – the number one location for listeners to seek out new music.

But people love exactly that – new music. There’s tons of people out there who love to be the one discovering new music, excavating these ‘hidden gems’ from obscurity and telling all their friends about it. Word of mouth is the most organic, valuable kind of music marketing, but you can’t be the hidden gem if you already have 20,000 followers and 100,000 streams (apparently) – those people won’t want to know you then.

If nothing else, is knowing that you’ve built your career on an authentic, true foundation not enough to dissuade the purchase of trivial numbers? When you build your artist brand the real way, the numbers aren’t trivial, in fact, they’re a useful indicator of where you’re at in your career.

Buying fake streams could lead to your music being removed from Spotify

Paid for Followers? Here’s What to Do

This might not be the answer you want to hear, but we would recommend starting fresh. The Instagram ‘shadowban’ is rumoured to last around two weeks, but no one really knows for sure – do you really want to take the risk of your content not being pushed out like you know it could? It’s a waste of time if nothing else. So, by starting over, you can at least know that if you aren’t getting engagement, it’s not because your account has been restricted.

Of course, depending how far down the line you are with your account, it might feel like you’re throwing away a huge fan base, but think about how many from that group are actually genuine, real followers? Here’s how to go about starting over:

  1. Create your new artist account
  2. Let your followers on the old account know that you’re creating a new profile and where they can find you.
  3. Try to populate the new account with some fresh content so you don’t send people to an empty profile.

Other than the money you spent on buying followers, you won’t really have lost anything, as once you inform your audience of your new account, all the dedicated, quality fans will happily migrate to the new account because they are genuinely invested in you – it doesn’t matter about the rest. See it as a ‘spring clean’ of your following.

Conclusion

Starting again isn’t easy, but we can safely assure you it will be better for your music career in the long run. It helps to not view this as returning to square one, but as moving on from a false start, and as we mentioned, the real fans will follow you on that journey.

Fortunately, a quick google of ‘buy Instagram followers’ returns a fair amount of results discouraging you from doing so, in between the services themselves, but it can cost around $100 for a few thousand followers. We can tell you now that there are a lot of better ways to spend $100 towards your music career which will have much greater impact than a trivial number.

If you want to give yourself the best footing for your music to grow, don’t build it on a faulty foundation. Authenticity is at the heart of artist growth these days, so be patient with your audience and stop ego-stroking by buying your followers or streams.

We hope you’ve found this article useful in giving you the right mindset towards your following, and if you did, feel free to check our other music marketing articles here, or if you prefer, head over to our YouTube channel for more tips and advice.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing an Artist Press Release

How do you begin to get noticed in the music industry? What do you need to build a foundation of credibility and reputation?

As an emerging artist, there are a myriad of routes you can follow when it comes to music marketing, so sometimes it can be difficult to know which one to head down when you’re just starting off in your career.

Obviously, you want to start building a following and getting your music out there, but how do you go about doing this in these early stages of your journey? One way you can begin to create some buzz around you and your music is to pitch to online music blogs, radio stations and other publications who might be able to provide you with some valuable coverage. But, there’s one thing that you’ll need to help you get your foot in the door: a killer press release.

In this article, we’re going to give you all the tools you need to understand what your press release should look like and what to include, so you have the best chances of grabbing the attention of the media and securing your dream press coverage.

What Is a Press Release?

A press release is a highly useful music promotion asset that you can use when contacting media publications to announce the upcoming release of your new material, whether that’s a single, EP or album.

Your press release should aim to spark the interest of journalists or publications that you are sending it to, but also provide all the relevant information about your act and your music in a concise and targeted manner.

The 5 Ws

A press release shouldn’t be a huge, lengthy document. It needs to be sharp and snappy whilst promoting your music in the best possible light. Whilst doing this you need to address the 5 Ws:

Who: Give some detail into your act and who you are (particularly if you have a stage name or are part of a band)

What: Explain what genre of music you are creating and what is so unique about you

Where: Explain what part of the world you’re making music from. How has that shaped your music?

When: It’s ESSENTIAL to tell people when your new release is coming out

Why: This is where you should explain the reasoning behind you making music and even what inspired this new release. Having a strong narrative behind your music is integral for standing out from the crowd, so make sure you get this point across.

If you keep these 5 things in mind when writing your press release, you’ll be sure to cover all bases in terms of basic information, but how exactly should you structure it?

What to Include in Your Press Release

This is our ultimate list of all the components that should make up your press release. Some may not apply to you at this point in your career, but if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to having a valuable asset for promoting your music.

Headline

Grabbing the attention of the reader as they open the email is absolutely key, and the first thing they are likely to see is the headline. Imagine you are writing for the front page of a newspaper – the perfect headline needs to be punchy and enticing, making them want to read on. Keep it a short as possible though – unnecessarily wordy headlines are only asking to be ignored.

You might want to include the name of an act that has inspired you or this particular release as a way of piquing the reader’s interest and hooking them in.

Tip: if you’re having trouble crafting your headline, write the body of your press release first so you can see what the really juicy, exciting parts are, then this should give you a good idea of what to lead with.

First Paragraph

Again, much like your headline, the first paragraph needs to be engaging and invite the reader in to find out more. Much like a standfirst in a newspaper or magazine, this should reel in the reader by impressing them or hitting them with the most compelling piece of information.

The best way to do this is to imagine your latest release is being covered in a news story on TV. How would the presenter introduce you and the story? What piece of information from your story would they use to convince viewers to keep watching? Once you’ve done that, try reading it out loud as if you were the presenter and see if it fits.

Artwork/Images

Would you be drawn in by an email full of text from someone you don’t know? A page of words and links simply isn’t going to cut it when it comes to grabbing people’s attention, so make sure you at least have single/album artwork to accompany your copy.

Also, if you aren’t featured in your artwork, you might want to include a high-resolution image of yourself so people can put a face to the music. In fact, it’s always good to have a decent collection of images that you can provide to the media and publications anyway, as they’re likely to want a couple should they choose to write a feature on you.

Artwork is always a good indicator of what someone can expect from an artist

Release Date

This one goes pretty much without saying, but publications are going to need a release date from you. Make sure you’ve set this out well in advance and whatever you do, stick with it. Changing it at the last minute will only be confusing for your audience; you could end up with features stating one date and you saying another – if nothing else, it looks unprofessional.

Music Links

Again, this is a pretty obvious one, but it’s imperative to have an easy link that people can follow to listen to your music. We recommend using a private Soundcloud link as this is the quickest and easiest way to listen; it only takes a click. Avoid using streaming links, download links or MP3s, as these only create extra steps and time for someone to listen. If you have an accompanying music video, make sure to link that as well.

Remember, you are trying to convince someone to write a feature about you, so make it as convenient and easy as possible for them – complicated links and processes just to hear your track aren’t the best way of endearing yourself to the people you want to feature you!

Tip: Put this somewhere near the top of your press release so readers can instantly find your music – don’t leave them searching for it.

Social Links

It’s always wise to include your social media links so people can check out your online presence and the kind of content you’re putting out. Even if you haven’t built a huge following yet, if you’re demonstrating intent to gain an audience by sharing consistent, quality content, this is a great sign for the media and they’ll be all the more likely to write a piece on you.

Quotes

If you’ve had any previous coverage from blogs or other written publications already, using a quote or two from these pieces is great for increasing credibility and showing that you’re on the right track as an artist. However, quotes should always provide insight, not just facts, so choose one that presents you and your music in the best light.

Contact Details

Be sure to include at least an email address, for you or your management, in case those you are pitching too want to find out any more about you. Also, if you are featured somewhere, the publication may well send you a link to the coverage – if you’re lucky.

Press Release Dos and Don’ts

Now that you exactly how to build your press release, here are our points of best practice when it comes to writing the actual copy:

Do use emotive language: you’re trying to get someone excited about your music so be enthusiastic, descriptive and highlight the best qualities of your product.

Do mention your plans going forward: All media outlets in the music industry, not just blogs, like to see that you have plans further down the line. Whether this is a live tour, promotional events or an album release, it shows them that you’re committed and that you aren’t likely to fade away into obscurity. Not only that, but should the publication choose to feature you, it gives readers and fans something to keep an eye out for in the future.

Do proofread your release: You’d be surprised at the number of poorly edited releases out there – make sure you thoroughly check through yours and get a friend to cast an eye over it too. You won’t be taken seriously if you can’t even spell your name right.

Don’t waffle on too much. Your press release needn’t be longer than 2 pages worth (including images).

Don’t be arrogant and big yourself up too much. There’s nothing more off-putting than this kind of attitude. There’s a difference between selling yourself and cockiness.

Don’t use over-the-top fancy fonts and colour schemes. All this shows is that the subject matter isn’t strong enough on its own. Keep it simple and make it easy for people to read.

A Last Few Things to Think About

When it comes to actually sending out your press release, don’t blanket copy all the outlets you’ve found into one email – it looks lazy – so instead, send them out individually, and if you want to give an extra personal touch, try writing a short, targeted introduction for each outlet you’re sending to, rather than just sending the press release alone.

Also, avoid attaching the press release separately to the email – once again, this just adds another step for the reader when you could simply have the body of the release in the email itself.

When Should I Send Out My Press Release?

Picking the right time to send your release can be the difference between your email being opened or ignored

You should aim to send out your press release around 4 weeks before the release date of your track/album, so you’re giving outlets a decent amount of time to write up any features. Plus, this gives you time as well in case you need to follow up any of your mail-outs.

When it comes to specifics, there are actually days and times when your email is more likely to get opened. Put yourself in the shoes of the journalist here – would you open an email at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon? Research has shown that the best day to send a press release is on a Thursday, where the open rate is around 26%, whilst Wednesdays and Fridays are the days to avoid, when 85% of emails get lost in journalist’s inboxes.

As for time of day, the same studies have shown that between 10:00am and 2:00pm are the sweet spot, whereas early morning emails may well be ignored by caffeine-hungry journalists.

Finally…

Hopefully, this blog has given you a better idea of what your artist press release should consist of, but if you’re still in need of some more help, sign up to our mailing list and we’ll send you a free PDF template for how a press release should look on the page.

For more in-depth tips and advice on music marketing, check out our other articles or visit our Burstimo YouTube channel.

How to Avoid Being a Broke Musician

The broke musician is right up there alongside the starving artist stereotype because, unfortunately, it’s true for the most part.

You might see artists with millions and millions of streams and equate that with millions in the bank, but sadly that is not always the case. The truth is, many artists you consider successful are actually broke.

In this article, you’ll find out why many musicians are successful but broke, and how you can avoid heading down the same route.

The difference between a top musician and a broke musician

As with most industries, the music industry has varying levels of success. We have the top multi-millionaire artists in the top 1%.

However, even this top 1% is shrinking and in all honesty, your favorite musician probably isn’t earning as much as you might think. An awful lot of top musicians get mere pennies of the value they are actually worth.

To put this in perspective, only around 7,500 artists on Spotify bring in an annual streaming income of $100,000 – out of 8 million.

Let’s look at the reasons why.

Reason 1: Deals that break musicians

This is probably one of the main reasons your favourite artist does not earn as much as you think. 

They find success quickly and jump in to signing a deal with a record label or manager who ends up taking a hefty cut of all the artist’s income: streaming revenue, merchandise and live tickets. This is how deals are made, as they invest in you as an artist.  

However, some incredibly bad deals have been signed because the manager or label will offer a very appealing advance, for example, a couple of hundred thousand. Would you be able to turn down that kind of offer? Especially early on in your career.

Likelihood is, these artists haven’t seen that amount of money before, and they sign the deal without reading the small print or putting much thought into the future – they just grab the big pot of cash.

This happened to R&B act TLC.

You would have thought that after selling 10 million records, TLC would be automatic millionaires, but in actual fact, at the highest point in their career, they were earning less than $35,000 a year each. For 10 million album sales, it just doesn’t sound right, does it?

Here’s what happened: TLC had signed deals with both a manager and a record label, resulting in their earnings being greatly diminished by each party. This happens to artists worldwide, and it’s still something to watch out for today.

In 2018, Lil Pump voided his contract with Warner Music. He was given an advance of $350,000 and the opportunity to earn $500,000.

He caught success early on and as this contract was signed when he was a lot younger, he was able to leave the deal and take up opportunities offering up to $12 million after the chart success of Gucci Gang.

If he had got stuck in that contract, or did not know or realise there was a way of leaving it, Lil Pump would be earning a fraction of what he is now.

Reason 2: Relying on streaming revenue alone

Artists tend to rely too much on streams, and as a result, in today’s digital era, they are not earning a lot of money.

Don’t get us wrong, here at Burstimo we love streaming platforms as they allow musicians to reach a wider audience at every level. They are fantastic exposure tools.

However, many artists look at streams the same way as they do album sales. Some of us might remember buying physical album copies from record stores, usually around the £10 mark – this just doesn’t equate to streaming platforms unfortunately.

If you look at the Official Charts in the UK, 1000 album streams equal one sale. That shows how different they are!

Let’s break it down…

One stream is $0.00429. 1 million streams are approximately $5000.

That might sound a lot of money, but if you factor in who might share that cut with you – the label, manager, producer, songwriter, and potentially other artists featured on the track – the profits can dwindle very quickly. To top it off, one million streams is not an easy feat to achieve either!

Focussing and relying on streams is not the route to a stable artist income.

Even artists like Charli XCX, who adapt their music for streaming platforms (by creating hooks or playing the chorus first), do not entirely rely on streams. The artists that do are are the ones who complain and consequently, become broke.

Reason 3: Artists are broke because they don’t release enough music

A lot of your favourite artists simply don’t release enough music to make significant money. The fact is, the music industry is oversaturated.

40,000 tracks are uploaded to Spotify every day. There are millions of songs on the platform that haven’t even clocked 1 stream. So, if an artist chooses to release just once a year, or not even that, they simply can’t expect to be making any serious money.

The reason for this isn’t just the fact they won’t get enough streams, but because they won’t keep their fans engaged enough for them to continue their support.

The music industry has changed. Because of the digital era, there is almost infinitely more competition, and so much music to choose from means superfans are harder to secure. When artists had to pay to create and distribute physical music, there were a limited number of bands with superfans being able to buy every release, album, merchandise, and go to every gig.

How to NOT become a broke musician

Before this gets all too depressing, let’s summarise how you can avoid this sort of situation.

#1 Concentrate on getting superfans

Keep people interested for as long as possible with consistency, new releases, new content, playing live – basically giving your audience as much as you can. Only then will they give back to you.

#2 Always read the small print of any deals you sign

Whether it’s a deal with a record label or a manager – get a lawyer, a friend or another pair of eyes to read it with you. Ensure it is a fair deal and you know exactly what it means, or indeed if it is the best contract you could get.

Remember, even if the advance is incredible, tread with caution as it could trap you further down the line.  

#3 Don’t be the artist that signs too early

When you concentrate on creating a solid fan base who cares about you, listens to your music and comes to your shows, by the time a good label deal comes to you, they might want you more than you want them. This is when the best deals are made.

It becomes more of a win-win situation as they know they are getting a good deal with you and by investing in you, are prepared to take less of a cut because you aren’t so much of a risk. 

#4 Avoid going broke by multiplying your income streams

Don’t just rely on streaming platforms, even if you are getting millions of streams! Some of the world’s most prominent artists do, but it’s still not enough to secure that stable income.

Look at the other ways you can earn money in the music industry, like selling merchandise, playing live, securing a sponsorship deal (especially clothing brands), or even product placement.

Product placement is becoming increasingly more popular, especially on music videos. It was pretty commonplace in movies where brands paid to have actors use their products on set.

It actually can earn artists big money. The Chemical Brothers did a whole video with F1, while in a Little Mix video, they casually put down some Beats headphones in one small scene and there’s no doubt they would have been paid to do this.

Don’t be a broke Musician! Be a successful one

The music industry has plenty of opportunities, especially when you have a decent-sized audience, so remember – don’t get stuck on pursuing streams and don’t rush in to signing any deals without very careful consideration.

If you found this blog helpful, you can read more music marketing articles here, follow our tips on Instagram or check out our advice videos on our YouTube channel