Artists – The 5 BEST ways to spend money promoting your music career

February 25, 2010

The last email I wrote was called “Artists – Stop wasting your money – The top 5 ways bands waste money and how to stop!!!”

This email is about 5 good ways to spend money promoting your music career.

I want to state, for now, this list is a work in progress.  I might tweak it and send out a revised list of 5-10 things in another few weeks but since the last email I wrote was so popular, I wanted to follow up while the iron was still hot.  Upon further reflection, I might add or take away some of these items.  Hey, a woman reserves the right to change her mind, right?


1)  Pressing CDs/Gas for your car or van.  Ok, pressing CDs may not technically fall under “marketing and promotion” but to me, it could.  It may sound positively old school and if you don’t plan to tour or do anything to promote your music, perhaps pressing up 100 CDs makes more sense than pressing up 1,000.  However, if you plan to do ANY type of effective radio promotion, film/tv promotion or music publicity, many people still want CDs.  Not to mention, you need product to sell at shows!   The last thing you want to do is play out anywhere without physical product to sell.  And let’s face it, your fans are MUCH more likely to shell out $10-15 for a fully pressed CD with professional artwork than a CD you burned at home on your Mac.  Make sure your artwork looks professional – no photos of kids or dogs on the album cover please!  Now way more important that pressing the CDs is a plan on how you’re going to sell them.  The best way?  Play out locally and play anywhere and everywhere you can.  I guarantee you’ll sell a lot more CDs if you play out 7 nights a week than none!!  CDs don’t sell themselves.  Artists do.  The biggest mistake I see most artists making is not getting out there and playing enough live shows!!!

2)  Film/TV promotion.  You knew I was gonna say this, right?  Hey, I didn’t get into the music pitching, licensing and promotion world by accident (ok, maybe I did) but I did it because it made sense for me 8-9 years ago (waaaaay before it was so hip) and it still makes sense today.  Promoting your music to film/tv (and also ads and video games, etc) is one of the ONLY things you can do in the WORLD right now where you actually stand to make some if not all of your money back, and then some! Some indie artists and composers make upwards of $100,000 a year licensing their music (and they may never play a show in their life!).  Not only can it be a decent if not very lucractive pay day, it also is press (my song was featured on MTV or “90210”, so much so that many labels build entire artist marketing campaigns around a huge placement – heard that Phoenix song in a Cadillac ad about 5,000 times lately?  Hello Grammy!) and that sets you apart from the other million artists on myspace that can’t say that!  Plus, it adds value to your publishing catalog.  You’re MUCH more likely to get signed to a label and publishing company if you have a list of placements on your resume.  Plus, fans discover a lot of new music through exposure in films, TV shows, ads and video games.  A song on a video game plays over and over and over again – generating many more impressions than even commercial radio spins!!  I could go on and on about the importance of film/tv promotion but we’ll save that for another email.  I’ll just say it’s competitive as hell these days, but it’s still worth doing!!!  Frankly, if I only had $1000 or $2000 to promote my music, if I were an artist, this is absolutely where I would put it!  Yet most artists aren’t that smart…and therefore aren’t that successful.

3)  Social media marketing.  I’m not sure if I’d recommend hiring someone to do your social media marketing for you since I only know one person that does this for a living – but if you’re clueless in this area, why not?  Get someone to promote you to new people on myspace and facebook if you don’t know how to do it – or don’t have the time.  Now, these days, this is not thought of as “acceptable” by some label social media marketing gurus I’ve talked to.  They say “A label wants an artist that does their own social marketing”.  But, realistically, there are only so many hours in the day, right?  And maybe you work a day job.  Not everyone is 16 years old, lives at home and has 5 guys in a band that can spend hours online a day writing new fans on myspace.  Or maybe you need to spend more of your time writing and recording songs and playing shows.  So why not hire a kid or tech expert to help you with this?  Why not also hire some college kids to be your street team if you don’t understand or have the time to navigate myspace or promote your music online effectively?  Pay someone to get you promoted on the important music web sites, blogs, Internet radio stations and music web sites.  Sure, there’s still no guarantee it will lead to anything but EVERYONE is online these days and I’d much rather see you spend your money on social media marketing than a lot of other things!

4)  Making a decent sounding recording/hiring a great mixer.  Note I did not write “hire an expensive studio, producer or engineer”.  Find an up and coming engineer or producer/engineer in your home town and go record in their home studio.  If you spend more than $20,000-30,000 recording and mixing and mastering your record you’ve spent WAY too much.  I’ve heard GREAT, amazing albums that were recorded in home studios or someone’s bedroom (released on major labels no less).  You can go into the studio to track the drums and bass and record the vocals at home.  In the end, a great mixer will make ALL the difference in the world in your song! So spend some money there.  Besides, people today care less and less about the sound quality of music (it’s sad but true!)  If people are buying more and more songs digitally, the record quality only matters to true audiophiles, for licensing to major films and trailers and for well, listening to on a big, expensive, old school stereo.

5)  Spend no money AT ALL.  I know, I know.  It sounds crazy but in general, every artist I meets whines to me, “Oh, if I only had money for a HUGE ad campaign, a media blitz, ads in Times Square, a music video, to hire a big name publicist and radio promoter, I’d be a HUGE star.”

I guarantee you, if you had (and spent) the money for these things, you’d likely be NO FURTHER ALONG than you are right now.

And I don’t know about you, but I rather be no further along with tens of thousands of dollars still in the bank than being no further along having spent/wasted tens of thousands of dollars of my own money.

Artists always wants the “easy way” the “shortcut” the way to “leap from from obscurity to superstardom overnight with NO work.”  Let me tell you something.  This is all code for “I’m too lazy to do the REAL work it takes to become successful.  And I know it.  And any smart label or manager these days knows it too.

True, it can take YEARS upon YEARS of back breaking touring playing to small or non-existent crowds to develop even a small following.  It can takes months, if not YEARS of promoting on myspace and facebook and other social networking sites to develop any real fanbase.  Yet, you HAVE to do it if you want to become successful.

Because while you’re sitting there whining “I would be more successful if only I had a publicist and record label” – some other artist is busting their ass on the road, promoting on myspace, working on their songwriting craft, making $300 YouTube videos, and gaining fans and selling CDs and becoming “successful” while you sit home and complain about “if only I had money…”

My friend saw U2 play a show in her home city on their first album.  It was in the middle of a snow storm so only 20 people were there.  20 people to see U2.  So if your ego is too big to perform in front of small crowds, well, just remember this.  U2 had to do it and they are the biggest band in the world!!  Get over your fragile ego and get out there and play!!!  Play free shows for high schools, colleges, coffee shops, bars, anywhere and everywhere you can!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA  90210

~Music Marketing~Music Licensing~Music Publicity

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
-Yogi Berra

“Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark.”
-David Ogilvy



  1. Reblogged this on softcroissant and commented:
    very good summary!

  2. Great article – things I’ve often thought and never seen voiced in a piece like this. Thank you.
    One question – how exactly does one spend money on film/TV placement? Where is that money going?

    • You can promote your music to film/tv just they way you promote to press – through a publicist. I do this for a lot of clients. It’s great because I can get music listened to by the industry.

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