Music Is Ketchup

If you let it be.

As founder of Columbus Songwriters Association, I come from a zealous camp of thinking. I’m from a tribe of independent songwriters that want to make a living on our music, without performing 50 states and 5 continents to do it. When you think about streaming, and the 10,000% less royalties that are paid through it than other forms of royalties, the future doesn’t look very green for the copyright holder. Artists may justify this due to the promotion it brings to their live shows. But if you take performance out of the formula, the “to stream, or not to stream” debacle is simple: Control the access to your music.

That’s not saying don’t ever put your music on Spotify.

Smart is a marketing plan that revolves around differentiation, breaking through the noise, and maintaining valuable control of how your music is heard, consumed. So, when launching your new song, I advocate to artists and songwriters to choose one digital channel that you can gain the greatest amount of value from. Maybe that value is money. Maybe that value is promotion. If the channel you choose is your personal website, so be it. If it’s an indie music website, that works too. But not both. Just one. You want to choose one to put all of your time and attention into promoting. You want to blow up your activity in that one specific channel so you can cut through the noise, and achieve a goal that spikes the value of your music in that one place, to that audience, just there. That one “burst” is a way more valuable place to start than many tiny ripples around the internet.

Once that burst happens, you need a plan for the momentum. You should have already decided what to do next. Whether that’s taking the momentum into multiple channels, or dare I say, deleting your music from that website/channel, making everyone wonder where you went, and then surprising them with an email blast that keeps them engaged in follow up releases, and introduces you to real personal connection. That personal connection is the engagement that keeps your listeners, listening.

At that point, you have this core audience that wants to know you. You gotta do something with this attention. I think a private Facebook group (or a Patreon.com) where people are willing to pay for your privately released music can help you work up to the marketing budget you need, to actually launch a YouTube video that gets seen by tons of people, that you can then send to a supervisor to get a licensing cut.

Through my lens, music is ketchup. It’s watered down, fructose-induced tomato stuff that goes with everything, but is rarely appreciated in a way that makes people actually want to buy a bottle of it. People don’t buy ketchup like they used to, because they can get it anywhere and everywhere. But people do buy super organic, locally farmed tomatoes. Those tomatoes can always become ketchup if they fail to sell. My thought is, if your music is special, why grind it into the system, and make ketchup, especially before you try to sell it in a special way, first?

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