Updated: Jun 22
If you are an independent artist looking to promote your music, it's important you have both a bonfire and firework music marketing strategy. While every artist focuses on the newest release (The firework - which burns bright and quickly fades) musicians should also be thinking about their 'Bonfire' strategy (Their on-going, slow-burn content strategy that maintains momentum between releases).
Traditional music promotion has focused on launches, singles, videos, EPs and albums. All of your marketing efforts are geared up to focus on the launch. Often an 8 week period at best, frequently far less. Then once the launch has passed everything goes quiet and your return to writing your next batch of songs. Think of this approach as a Firework. Your marketing burns brightly for a short period of time and then disappears. People loved it when they could see it, but now it's gone.
How social media changed marketing and brand engagement
The Firework model is the traditional way the music industry and in fact most industries approached their marketing. However, when social media arrived the world changed. A few years ago, I had a meeting at YouTube, they told me the major record labels were tearing their hair out. The labels wanted to know why viewers were more likely to watch Zoella than their priority pop artist talent.
YouTube explained to the labels, it was all due to daily momentum. Zoella was building engagement by posting relatable, engaging, daily, short-form content. Meanwhile, the pop artists were uploading one full-length music video and then disappearing for 3 months until the release of their next single.
The gap between albums was even greater. In the time taken for the artist to upload two videos, Zoella had uploaded dozens and spent hours engaging with her fans. It was clear at this point there was a new world order, and if you didn't adapt you would be left behind or forgotten. The brand world was the first to respond, and their marketing campaigns began to switch from fireworks to bonfires, or bonfire and fireworks, for a full display!
Bonfires burn bright for longer
Suddenly every marketing agency in the land was being asked to create an 'always on campaign' or a bonfire. Brands didn't want to be forgotten or just disappear for months at a time. Previously the cost of traditional advertising on TV, radio, print or outdoor prevented them from using a bonfire approach, but social media provided them with a simple and cost-effective way to always be active, talking, share and engaging. Now companies use Fireworks for big launches and Bonfires for daily brand building and consumer engagement.
6 quick ways to create a bonfire strategy to promote yourself as an independent artist
The next time you finish promoting your latest release, take time to plan your bonfire strategy this will help you to maintain fan engagement between releases.
Cut your full-length music videos up into 20 / 25-second clips for Feeds, TV, Reel and 15 seconds for Stories.
Record live acoustic versions of previous singles and some of your favourite covers
Jump on Canva and create some artwork using your best lyrics
Grab a camera, some outfits and a friend and go and shoot 100-150 different images in interesting locations around town
Jump on Canva again and pull together some of your best press quotes and attach them to your existing release artwork
Edit together short clips from your last live show
These 6 steps should allow you to quickly create hundreds of pieces of content. Once you have all of your content, use Facebook Creator Studio to schedule it to be published across both Facebook and Instagram. We recommend a minimum of three posts a week, this approach will keep your social feeds buzzing while you focus on writing your next release.
Promote your back catalogue
The other way to create your Bonfire strategy is to recycle previous Firework content. Remember, nobody cares when a track was released, If you hear a song for the first time, it's new music. Spotify playlists don't just contain music that was released last week, they just contain music, and if you enjoy it, you share it. Nobody is Googling 'when was that song released' and then deciding to ignore old music.
As an independent artist, the vast majority of people have never heard your music. So if you've just finished promoting your new EP and don't know what to share on your social feeds, start again. Revisit your first single and reshare the content you made to promote it.
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Words Mark Knight