Digital Marketing for Drummers: Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul

When I first started marketing drummers, MySpace was all the rage and YouTube didn’t exist. I invested hundreds of dollars in how-to books like Guerrilla Marketing, How to Start a Record Label, and the dreaded Music Industry Roundup. None of those books are relevant today. Why, you ask? Because the entire landscape of the music industry has changed several times over since then. And if your desire is to thrive in the modern music marketplace, you too must change.

In the current era and foreseeable future, talented drummers must also become talented marketers in order to become or remain relevant in an oversaturated, mobile-accessible marketplace. Fortunately, the appropriate tools for the job are plentiful. However, the necessary entrepreneurial mentality among drummers is sorely lacking. In this blog post, I’ll discuss a few tips that will improve your marketing approach and instantly scale up your music industry footprint.

“Word of mouth is way more important than millions of dollars spent on marketing.”

Isaac Hanson

The “7 Ps” of marketing include Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Process, and Physical Evidence. Today, let’s focus on the first three. Improving these should be adequate to jump start your music career.

PRODUCT

If your primary musical ambition is to be a touring drummer, two things are true: you’re selling yourself short and you are the product. The product commonly refers to whatever you are selling. As a drummer, you are primarily selling your musical skill, but it’s impossible to detach yourself from your performance unless you’re simply providing anonymous studio recordings for projects (which is not necessarily a bad idea).

Let’s face it, drums are a physical instrument and watching the drummer put in work is part of the show. For those of us who love the art form, even when we listen to audio recordings of amazing drummers, we subtly wonder what he or she looked like while doing that standout chop.

So let’s put this idea together quickly: If the drumming performance is the product, but you can’t detach yourself from the performance, what you are essentially selling is YOURSELF. Let that sink in… How you dress? For sale. How you speak? For sale. How you behave? ALL. FOR. SALE. Gone are the days when a drummer could hide behind the artist with impunity. Today, every musician is “the artist.’ Get used to it.

So taking these facts into account, you must approach your public image as an essential part of your product and market accordingly. Your social media platforms should constantly reinforce the public image that you wish to project. People like to connect with consistency so don’t become a new person every time you post on Facebook or Instagram.

Establish patterns that are easy to connect with. For example, if you like to be weird sometimes, a “Weird Wednesday” post explains to your audience easily and simply why this particular upload may be out of the ordinary. Moreover, even they don’t like the new content, you’re still providing them with a schedule that they can expect and connect with.

Another approach is to find a cool personal attribute and make it the focal point of your marketing plan. When we see images of a drummer with a huge afro, we think of Questlove. This is no accident. He identified a distinct personal attribute and he used it to stand out from the crowd. That’s marketing genius!

Price

Price typically refers to the pricing strategy that you employ for your product, in this instance, yourself. I bet you don’t charge the same price for small bar gigs as you do for huge stadium events. At least I hope you don’t…

I’ve had countless conversations with musicians regarding the fee they charge for their services. My common advice is to charge whatever you’re worth, which leads into a lengthy tirade about how they are worth different amounts to different people. Simply put… be flexible. Be smart enough to charge $2500 when the budget can accommodate it and humble enough to work for free when the opportunity can bring you $500 worth of exposure that you didn’t have before.

In my upcoming vlog series, The 6-Figure Musician, I detail various opportunities for musicians to scale their income using common sense practices through creative marketing and knuckle-busting hard work. But the purpose of this post is to encourage you to think openly about your price and be flexible enough to understand that one $100 gig will pay you the same as two $50 gigs.

Your price should reflect your value. Do you have a website? Do you have a large social media footprint? Can you use your platforms to help promote an event? Would having you on stage increase ticket sales? These are all value-based inquiries that can only be scaled by you. For example, if an artist can hire you to play a gig for $200 and safely rely on your followers to buy $300 worth of tickets, you instantly bring value to the situation. See how that works? However, it is your responsibility to manage and maintain your personal value by how you present the product.

Promotion

Promotion refers to the activities which you engage in to make your customers or potential customers aware of your product, in this case, yourself. Promotion includes advertising and direct marketing among other things.

SELL! SELL! SELL! Always be selling. Even when you sleep, sell.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. There is no greater promotional asset that you can have than your own website. It is your own platform that provides a controllable presentation to the world of your product (yourself) and your price (value). It speaks volumes about your level of seriousness toward your public image and your brand. It is the great separator between musicians who are invested in their presentation and musicians who relegate themselves to using whatever free platform is the flavor-of-the-day.

  

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and others are great tools, but they should be supplemental in nature, providing additional social connections and steering current and potential customers to your ultimate internet doorstep. Using a drummer’s analogy, social platforms are merely the drum heads; replaceable and substitutable. Your personal domain and website are the drum.

This week, Facebook and Instagram experienced a worldwide crash limiting the ability of millions of users to access their accounts (https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/13/tech/facebook-instagram-down/index.html). However, for those musicians who maintain their own space on the internet, it was only a minor glitch in their promotional scheme.

So as you consider how to better market yourself in order to reach your goals, remember that you are the product, your price must be based upon given circumstances, and perhaps most importantly, if you don’t have your own website, your promotional efforts are seriously lacking. Good luck!

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