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The One Thing

The music marketing trinity—streaming, merch, and live shows

Published 2 days ago • 3 min read

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 playing shows is that not only are these great places to make money from our music, but they are also incredible ways to promote it.

They are essentially paid marketing channels.

If we can make a little bit of money back while promoting our work at the same time, I call that a win.

Digital streaming platforms

Spotify’s 1,000-stream rule aside, digital streaming platforms are an effective place to monetize your work quickly.

Yes, streaming payouts are low—we’re not gonna dig into that argument today—but they do exist.

So while it may take tremendous volume (nailed it) to earn any semblance of a sizeable income from DSPs, the fact that we can upload music and start earning anything is pretty cool.

But it’s not just about the revenue.

It’s also about the attention.

Spotify, specifically, has some of the best music discovery algorithms on the market today, and other platforms are slowly catching up.

Playlists like Radio, Discover Weekly, and Release Radar are highly effective ways to throw your music out to new listeners and fans if you can unlock them.

So though it may take a while to go full-time on streaming alone, I personally believe it’s still a good idea to place a bit of attention and energy into something that generates at least a small amount of return instead of zero.

However, it doesn’t have to end there.

Selling artist merchandise

It’s easy to think of artist merch as a tool for making money.

But have you ever considered it as a marketing channel?

Maybe not.

When you stop to think about it, a t-shirt with your name on it is essentially a walking billboard.

It’s free advertising.

Well, actually, it’s paid advertising.

Except you’re the one getting paid, not the other way around.

Every time someone wears your shirt in public, other people will see it.

In the ad world, we call that an impression.

Selling merch allows you to get paid for long-tail organic impressions.

And what’s more is if you can get your merch on the shoulders of someone who is a bit of a tastemaker or a maven in their circle of friends, their opinion carries an outsized amount of weight.

When someone with good musical taste gives you their stamp of approval, others are more likely to take note and follow suit.

After all, everyone loves to say they discovered a new band or artist “before they blew up”.

Playing live shows

The single most effective place to earn lifelong fans isn’t on Spotify or social media.

It’s not even within your email list.

It’s at your show.

The live show is, and will forever be, the pinnacle of the musical experience.

At least that’s my opinion.

Once someone buys a ticket to come see you live, they are giving you the highest value currency they possess: their time.

Think about the last show you went to.

I’ll bet you spent the week leading up to the concert listening to that band or artist on repeat to get psyched.

Maybe you hit the merch table on your way in or out and picked up a shirt or dropped your email for the mailing list.

And if you’re a die-hard, you might have even signed up for a meet and greet to grab a photo with your favorite band.

This checks every box on this list: streaming, merch, and an in-person experience.

It doesn’t get any better than this.

Not for the fans.

Not for the artist.

It’s not to say that every artist on the planet has to play shows—I personally spent a decade touring at a high level but don’t have the bug to do it as much anymore.

But if shows are on your radar, I can tell you from experience they’re worth it.

Of course, if you do decide to play shows, you’ll need to bring your A-game.

This whole thing only works if you know how to kill it live.

But more on that another time.

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.

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