Develop your music portfolio

Developing your profile & marketing strategy

As most of you will be self-releasing your music initially it is essential that you study-up on how to market and promote yourself.  As they say you can have the best album ever recorded but unless people know it’s out there then you won’t be getting far!

Most artists (including the big ones) have all had to endlessly promote themselves to get their music out there and to hopefully generate some income from their music.  If you’re not very keen on the idea then either you’re in the wrong industry or you need to get help – friends, partners, band-mates, managers, publishers, record labels, agents – but here’s a very brief and broad overview…

Writing a marketing or business plan

Music is a business, and just like any other business it’s incredibly useful to write a business and marketing plan.  They aren’t as much work as they sound and can be very useful for focussing and organising your plan of attack.  There are lots of free templates and guides available online.  Check out: https://bandzoogle.com/blog/5-steps-to-creating-an-effective-music-marketing-plan

Writing a biography

You will need a brief biography for practically everything – on all your online material, getting gigs, getting press, getting airplay.   Usually a 1 page document with a cool pic, a logo/brand and some concise words that tell your unique story.  Check out: https://bandzoogle.com/blog/how-to-write-an-effective-musician-bio-with-examples

Artist Image

You will need a few pictures or images that capture who you are as an artist.  Whether photos, illustrations, artwork, animation… there are endless options.  You will need these in a format that can be emailed, put up online and printed – if you need recommendations for photographers, graphic designers, artists or animators let us know.

Branding

You will need a logo/brand that also screams who you are as an artist/band.  Do it yourself, ask a friend or get a designer to help you – it needs to again be in a variety of formats for online and print.  Let us know if you need any help finding a designer or there are heaps of websites like https://www.fiverr.com which have loads of affordable options if you don’t know where to start.

Online strategy

If you haven’t already signed up and created a profile on Revolution Creative, then do, because this is an awesome free public platform where you can host your music (via Soundcloud) and be seen by all sorts of potential clients or scoped by talent scouts.

As almost all sales now take place online you simply cannot afford to not have an online plan of attack.  As well as a profile on Revolution Creative you could consider some or all of the following (and it’s changing all the time):

  • A website
  • Facebook
  • Youtube / Vimeo
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Blog
  • Soundcloud
  • Bandcamp
  • Tumblr
  • Vevo
  • Spotify / Google Play / Apple Music….

The key is to tie them all together so they all look coherent design wise and wording-wise – get your bio, logo and your pics across all of them and make sure you keep them up to date and linked together. Remember to link to any additional online presence you have within your Revolution Creative profile. 
Best to focus on 1 or 2 of these options (a Vimeo account and a facebook page for example) rather than spread yourself too thin trying to keep them up to date.  Again ask a friend or a band-mate to help out or if you are in a group get each member to manage a different online component.

If you need any suggestions on web designers and web hosting etc. let us know.  Check out squarespace.com, wix.com, wordpress.com for easy do it yourself options.  Lots of artists make do with Soundcloud or Bandcamp for starters too.

Once you have some releases on Spotify and Apple Music you can also claim your artist profile and customise it to suit your brand too.

Blogs / Aggregators

Blogs are more and more crucial in getting word out there about your releases.  Research and sign-up to blogs that suit the style of music you’re making.  Get in contact with as many as you can that may be interested in featuring your music and/or videos.

Check out services like www.submithub.com

Which submit your music/video to multiple blogs for a small fee – there are bound to be many others like this so keep researching. 

Check out https://www.fiverr.com and other online sales spaces for people who can help promote your videos and music on youtube, spotify, facebook – you name it someone does it.

Gigs / performance / venues

Regardless of your style/genre most artists need to perform live to generate income from their music, raise their profile and to gain experience and contacts.

You’ll need to be able to play with live instruments and others or in some cases over recorded backing tracks – some gigs pay, some don’t – It’s all about getting out there and getting your music and your face known.

If you’re in Auckland there are loads of live music venues – mostly for covers and DJs and a bunch for originals.  Check out: http://www.heartofthecity.co.nz/  for some ideas or get out there and introduce yourself – using your bio / website / or even just a business card with all your music details on it and links to your sounds.

Videos

If you plan to release anything for airplay (radio, TV etc.) it is pretty much essential you have a commercial quality video to support a song.  Check out NZ On Air funding for some potential ways of paying for this – but many artist self-fund videos when they start off.  You’ll need to get as much $ as you can afford and pull in lots of favours to get them made – but they are essential in raising profile.    You can make a video for $50 or $50,000 it’s all up to your budget, your ideas and your resources.

Videos are essential in driving traffic to your website/youtube/facebook etc. create interest and hype and may also help you get NZ On Air funding if you’re lucky.

If you don’t know any video-makers let us know and we can put you in touch with some different options depending on your budget.

Getting airplay

Once you have your hit song and video you’ll want to get it on TV and radio.  This is where you’ll need your bio, your online strategy, your song and video all ready to go.  It’s then a question of using any contacts you have at radio stations or TV stations to get your song on air. 

This is where lots of people get a manager to help out (many are happy to be hired for one off campaigns to launch a single or an album for a fee) and/or a dedicated plugger.  A plugger is someone you pay a fee specifically to try and get your song and/or video airplay.  Again this all depends on your budget.

Let us know if you need any recommendations or check out pluggers / PR options here: https://www.themusic.co.nz/

Press / PR

The same as getting airplay getting press and PR happening takes using all your contacts and ideas – newspapers, magazines, online sites, special events – to get your music and you in the public eye.

Some artists again use a manager to help them with this and some also hire the services of a PR specialist.  Ideally you want to find someone who has experience dealing with promoting artists in the creative press.  It often isn’t cheap but a few magazine articles can add a lot of sales to a new album/EP/single – and it’s much cheaper than buying advertising!

Let us know if you need any recommendations or check out pluggers / PR options here: https://www.themusic.co.nz/

Managers

Managers are people or companies that look after the business (and sometimes personal) affairs of artists/bands.  They generally work by commission (20% is standard) although some do work for hire on specific projects like an album release or organising a tour etc.  Managers can help with getting you signed, promotion, getting and organising gigs and tours, accounts and legal etc.

Like any business relationship it is essential that you get to know each other before you sign any agreements.  We highly recommend a 3 or 6 month trial period whilst you get to know each other before you start signing away 20% of your income to someone you don’t know very well!

Always make sure you get any legal agreements checked by an experienced music industry lawyer.  It saves a lot of heartache in the future.

There are not many professional managers in NZ and the big ones tend to manage only large established artists in most cases.    

To find a manager you can check out: http://www.mmf.co.nz/

You can meet managers by simply being out and gigging or being on the scene.  Many people are managed by trusted friends, partners and family too.

Agents

To find gigs and to organise tours etc. many artists use an agent.  An agent usually takes a commission off any performance fees usually in the region of 10 – 15%.

There are a few large established agents (mostly for well-known acts) and a variety of online listing sites.  Again, your bio/logo/online/music/video etc. is all required to get listed.

Here are a few:


By Marshall Smith – The Sound Room.

The Sound Room Ltd (est. 2003) is based in Auckland, New Zealand and is run by composers/producers Tom Fox and Marshall Smith. The Sound Room writes and produces music and sound design for film/tv, advertising, games and artists.

Marshall won a place at the Berlinale in 2016, an ART Venture Award in 2012 for creative entrepreneurs and was granted a Professional Development Award in 2011 from the NZ Film Commission. He has also been a finalist for song of the year in the APRA Silver Scrolls (2004). Marshall is co-founder and Chairperson of the Screen Composers Guild of New Zealand.