The One Thing

The independent artist’s complete marketing playbook

Published about 1 month ago • 3 min read

Every artist should utilize the three pillars of digital marketing: organic content, advertising, and email.

The problem is that most artists get stuck either creating content or running ads and never move beyond that.

And they almost always leave out email altogether.

Each of these avenues has its own unique benefits, but the trifecta of success lies in utilizing all three.

So here’s a five-step sequence to implement content, ads, and email into your music marketing strategy.

The right way.

Create content

It all starts with creating content centered around your music.

This is not just to promote your work, but to learn and understand what your listeners actually like.

Because what my audience enjoys may not be what your audience enjoys, which may not be what his audience enjoys, what her audience enjoys, etc.

Every artist is unique and therefore, every audience is unique by association.

Each subsequent step in your marketing journey depends upon finding your voice and understanding your audience.

Boost engagement

Once you’ve hit a bit of a stride with organic content, you can use ads to extend the reach of the best-performing posts to unlock even more listeners for your music.

And hopefully some new followers too.

You’re basically putting your winners to work here.

If posting organic content is the testing ground, running ads to boost the winners is like putting in your A-team.

Push your music

The point of content isn’t to use every post as a call to action to “listen to my music on Spotify”.

Organic content is an opportunity to attach a “feeling” to your music by using it in conjunction with engaging visual creative that emphasizes that emotion.

Yes, you want people to know you’re an artist, but if you go straight for the ask every time, you will wear them out.

No one wants to be overly sold to.

Once you’ve identified the “feeling” your audience wants, you can lean into that when pushing people to your music with ads.

Recycle winning posts as ads, attach a call to action to visit your profile within a select few posts, or simply use a video here and there to ask for the click-through to listen.

If every single thing you post online, whether paid or organic, says, “Listen to my music, listen to my music, listen to my music,” that gets old.

Giving people a reason to enjoy your work and then peppering in the ask as a small percentage of your presence online is a more effective long-term strategy.

Retarget for email

Outside of the almighty dollar, the email address is the highest-value return we can get for our efforts.

The “real” world calls this generating leads; the music business calls them fans.

Either way, you want to build your email list.

Running an ad with an attractive value proposition (like a free download) in exchange for someone’s email address is a winning ticket every time.

Identify something your audience wants and then offer it for free.

You get what you want, and they get what they want—a clear exchange of value.

Once you have that email address, you have a direct link to your listeners outside of ad spend or algorithms.

Use email to sell

You can sell merch, concert tickets, event passes, and a ton of other stuff on top of social platforms or by running paid ads.

But the best place to do this is via email.

Again, this is free marketing.

Ads cost money.

Algorithms change.

But your email list is a hot audience that wants more from you.

They wouldn’t have signed up if they didn’t.

Now, much as with your content strategy, you can’t ask, ask, ask.

You have to give first.

What that looks like will vary for every artist (much as it does with content), but once you’ve found your voice and identified how to consistently deliver value to your fans, you can use email to generate sales and turn those fans into customers.

And customers are what allow you to turn your hobby into a business.

Whenever you're ready, there are four ways I can help you:

  1. Read the Newsletter: Read previous issues of The One Thing to learn at your own pace and upgrade your marketing knowledge for free.
  2. Book a Consultation: Schedule a one-on-one call with me to improve your marketing across paid advertising, social media, and more.
  3. The Spotify Traffic Accelerator: Join the hundreds of artists who have successfully learned to automate their growth on Spotify using paid ads on Instagram.
  4. Become a DuPree X Artist: Hire our team to manage your marketing across streaming platforms and social media so you can focus on what matters most—making music.

The One Thing

Tom DuPree III

One high-leverage idea to scale your audience (and your business). Delivered every Tuesday.

Read more from The One Thing

Three of the most effective places for artists to monetize their music are also the three best places to promote it. Succeeding as an independent artist is a delicate balance of marketing your work, serving your fans, and earning money. Because it’s tough to balance everything as a team of one (or only a few), it makes sense to double down on the things that can check more than one box for us. Especially when we’re just getting started. The beauty of music streaming, selling merch, and...

2 days ago • 3 min read

Where we choose to advertise makes a significant difference in the performance of our ads. If we go too tight, we might experience a much higher cost per result (and fewer overall results for our ad spend) than we want to see. If we go too broad, we might waste our money on results that don’t really count for much in the long run. That whole “if your audience is everyone, your audience is no one” thing. So how should we think about country targeting when it comes to sending traffic to Spotify...

9 days ago • 5 min read

Music marketing is about so much more than playlisting vs. advertising. And certainly about more than just creating content and getting streams. It’s about connecting with others and creating a fulfilling path to earn our freedom and a life of meaning through art. Too much emphasis is put on the mechanics of marketing, while not enough is put on why we do the things we do. Why do we release music? Why do we post content? Why do we run ads? Why wouldn’t we do those things? Well, we’re going to...

16 days ago • 4 min read
Share this post