8 Mistakes that STOP you from making money as a musician

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This is an article explaining why most artists have trouble making money. In this sense it´s also instructions on on how to sell your music. 

Maybe i should also clarify that this is not a tutorial on how to find a label. It´s also not instructions on how to join a distribution service  like CD Baby or Band Camp. It´s not even about how to use other service that allows you to sell your music. There is a myriad of ways and they all have their pros and cons. And there are tons of tutorials on how it all works all over the web. This article is about making sure you maximize your chances to sell as much music as possible. No matter what path you chose to sell.

And it actually works beyond just selling music. You can sell anything.  Here´s the big elephant in the room. The issue nobody wants to talk about. It´s the the big mistake solo- and independent musicians and a lot of majors make. Focusing too much on the creation of the product.

There. I said it. Most artists focus way too much on making music.

Why? Being all about music is cool. But if you´re not communicating and bonding with your audience you´re making a mistake. Because soon you won´t have an audience. There are bands that take 5 years or longer to make an album. Then they release it in a time span of 14 days without any marketing power behind it. Then when the album flops the musicians blame them selves or the economy. While the real reason is using the wrong communication strategy with their fans.

Most struggling artists think that promotion is a one off process.

It begins with the album release and ends right afterwards.

Which used to be true back in the 1990s. Now it´s a recipe for disaster.

The successful artists manage to create waves of anticipation before and AFTER a release. It´s a non stop process. And they do it without feeling awkward about it. They found a way to connect to and communicate with their fans they feel comfortable with.

Let´s go through the most important steps to sell your music in the long term.  And I´m talking about real long term like ten to forty years plus. These methods will work in the short run as well by the way.
So, why do some releases flop while others go through the roof? Is it just about quality of the songwriting, the production or the performance of the songs? Or is it all about marketing budgets and the right connections?
All factors are important. But there is a third more important factor that will make the biggest impact in the long run.

It´s the connection to your fans. If you have a deep bond with your fans you´ll find that things become easier.

Selling music, merchandise, concert tickets  or anything else becomes much easier. Most artists struggle getting their audiences attention for just a few seconds. Then they lose it.

Only a selected few have deep, long lasting relationships to their fans.

Here are the 7 most important factors or mistakes when it comes to selling your music in the long run.


Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 1
Not building rapport with your audience. If your audience does not „feel you“, if they don´t click with you have failed to create basic rapport. They don´t feel a basic connection. The reason behind this is what you´re saying through your words, your music or your non-verbal communication strategy is not UNDERSTOOD or LIKED by your audience.


Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 2
Choosing the wrong audience.

Losing the connection with your audience because you´re not being understood or not liked can have many reasons. One of them could be that the people you think are fans are just a casual audience that isn't interested in your music or what you have to say. Many musicians chose the wrong audience and mistake passive social media followers with real fans while most of their followers only liked a song or two.


Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 3
Not communicating the right way.

The third option is that you have exactly the right audience.
But you still can´t connect. The reason: You´re not communicating the right way. That usually has to do with a lack of experience and routine in mass communication.

It´s actually a huge challenge if you think about it. You have these fans that are individuals that you have to communicate with.
But you can´t do it on a one to one basis. You have to do it in a personal fashion using mass media.  That´s tricky.

You have to know what to talk about.
You have to know what topics your audience loves.
You have to know what your fans are passionate about.
A lot of our work is about coaching musicians to get to
know their fans better. That´s how important it is.
If you don´t know them you can´t communicate with them.


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Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 4
Not building  a following and anticipation before your first record release. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" In the music industry this isn't a philosophical question. If a tree falls in the forest and you don´t create a HUGE outreach campaign to go with it NO ONE HEARS IT and NO ONE makes any money.
You have to create a following before you put out anything major. And you have to create anticipation so your audience knows about upcoming releases months ahead before they’re ready for release. Today it´s best to let the audience witness the creation process and give them snippets or „in studio“ sessions so they can follow along and give feedback. Fans want to belong. If you give them a chance they´ll help you out and feel great about it. So let them.


Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 5
Not building a following during the release.

During record release all eyes should be on you.  As a musicians starting out you´ll never get more attention than during the launch phase.

The biggest mistake we see musicians make here is that they fail to strategically collect e-mail and physical addresses. Instead they rely on fans finding their social media profiles. The first problem with that is most never click your profile if you don´t tell them to. The second problem is that social media companies are notorious for changing their terms and conditions every few months and you´re never sure if you get to keep your fans or if they limit your post reach to something like 5%.


Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 6

Not building a following after the record release.

After the release is before the release. It´s all about cycles or waves. And what you want is to create a tsunami. You want to build momentum and use it to win more and more true fans, that in turn bring in even more fans. If you just stop collecting and connecting fans after your release and go back to the cave you´re losing everything you worked for. You must keep on communicating.


Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 7

Stopping communication at any time is problematic. Of course that doesn't mean that you always have to be online and you´re a now slave to your phone or the keyboard. But any kind of unannounced pauses that go on for TOO LONG will sabotage your communication efforts. Out of sight out of mind.


Mistake That Kills Your Sales Number 8
Not knowing yourself and your audience. This is the biggest mistakes most musicians make. It sabotages their career in every way possible. If you want to focus on just one thing then concentrate on building self-awareness.  Focus on self-knowledge! Start getting to know who your audience, your true fans are.

If you got this one thing dialed in all other parts will become easy and intuitive.


Did you enjoy this article?

We have surveyed and interviewed thousands of musicians all over the world about their biggest problems and challengesand researched the root causes behind what makes some musicians successful while other struggle. Want to learn why some musicians have to struggle while others connect to their fans  without much effort? Want to learn how to find and connect to your true fans? Want to make (more) money off your music?

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