How do you get people to know that your artists exist? The economy of attention is almost as important as getting a hold of your customer’s coins. These days, Zarou, Hanson, and Pellow all agreed that social media strategies are essential for burgeoning brands and labels.
“I think that if you’re a young person, you need to be extremely fluent in every social media platform: the ins and outs, who’s on what, what works and what doesn’t,” says Pellow. “You need to absolutely utilize Tik Tok, YouTube, all that corny stuff. But it’s genius! There’s such a world of cool shit you can do if you’re creative and smart. Don’t look at old models and try to duplicate them, because they’re unrealistic for the future.”
Zarou added that in today’s digital landscape, micro-targeting specific audiences is a crucial strategy for growing an artist’s popularity.
“As social media has evolved, there’s a million different communities and mico-communities within platforms,” says Zarou. “That’s what’s happening if you step back and look at it. You have Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter — but that’s very 30,000 feet. If you go in deeper, there are micro-communities within each of those platforms. So you want to understand the artist that you’re working with so you can have a sense of what communities and audiences they appeal to. Artist X may appeal to a female 18-24 demo — but you can target that specific demo with Insta ads nowadays. I can say, ‘This artist may appeal to Post-Malone and Demi Lovato fans’, and then I can target people who follow them.”
“Let’s say you’re working with an artist,” Zarou continued, “and this has nothing to do with their music — but they’re into gaming. They’re playing Call of Duty and they’re streaming on Twitch. You want to go and attack the gaming audience, you look in the e-sports community. You want to be authentic and organic. You want to go after an audience where there’s a connection. You can market deeper than just the music. Use the music as a gateway drug into who that artist represents holistically.”
While many labels hire PR firms to handle their marketing, for many DIY companies, this simply isn’t possible, meaning you’ll have to curate your own list of contacts for getting the word out about your new content, says Hanson.
“I’ve never hired a PR person,” says Hanson. “In my experience, I would rather do the work and make the contacts. Other people have really good experiences with PR. It depends on what level you’re trying to be at.”
“There needs to be a bit of a cycle happening where people who are following either know about the other,” says Hanson. “For us, that was also about booking shows and creating festivals that have our name on them so people start to recognize us as more than just a label — but also that we exist in the first place.”
“When you have a new release you have to figure out singles that you want to have premiered,” Hanson continues. “You have to create contacts with these big blogs and tastemaker websites like Stereogum, Pitchfork, and Paste — and you have to be good at working those contacts. But you also have to make sure that bands keep promoting and tour — and you have to make sure that when they tour, they’re posting about it. Label-wide compilations are great too: because if someone goes in liking one band, they’ll find 20-30 more they’d never heard of ... People will say: if I like this band, I’ll like these other bands, and suddenly they’ve found music they never would have before. So then there’s a sort of snowball effect. Consistency is very important.”