14 Online Marketing Mistakes Musicians Love to Make

Tony Davies - 27 Jun 2023
Band at stadium

The internet offers various ways to reach out and connect to music lovers, giving a powerful tool to boost your career. If you don’t have an online presence, you’re at a disadvantage against the vast majority that do.

As a musician, you want to be playing and performing, not spending all your time trying to encourage people to follow you on various social media platforms.

It’s therefore important you make the best use of the time you set aside for the online world. Let’s investigate some common mistakes musicians make when trying to take advantage of online marketing.

Forgetting you need a website

Most artists or bands have their own website these days but there are exceptions. As an artist or band, having your own site gives you a professional edge and authenticity.

When trying to secure new gigs, being able to give a promoter your website address if far better than giving a link to a Facebook page or Twitter profile.

Unlike other platforms available to musicians on the internet, your website is a blank canvas. You may wish to upload your music, add a bio, create a shopping area for merchandise and add your upcoming gigs. It can be tailored to suit whatever you feel would really add value to your music venture.

Remember to link back to your website from any other sites you use where possible. This again will help make you look more professional and established.

Making social media all about you

A conversation in the real world is a two way exchange. To get the best from social media, make sure you communicate with your followers in a similar fashion. Nobody wants to hear every detail of your day, week or life just as you would quickly lose interest listening to someone tell you all about theirs. Ask questions and spend time replying to followers to build that rapport.

Forgetting to post on social media

Make sure you don’t let too much time pass between posts. Letting a few days pass now again is fine but once you start letting a week or two go by, you’ll find followers start becoming less engaged when you do get around to posting.

Stay in regular contact with your following with a steady stream of posts they will find engaging.

Remember, a mailing list is the best way to communicate with fans.

Overdoing social media

At the other end of the scale is posting too much. I wouldn’t recommend adding more than two posts a day in your feed. Quality over quantity is important here. Sure, some of your posts will not be seen by your followers but even if that’s the case, if you’re posting five or six times a day, people are likely to get fed up and unfollow you.

Using social media exclusively as a marketing platform

Related to the point above, constantly bombarding everyone with posts such as “Check out my new Song” or “Watch us as Last Night’s Gig” will quickly turn people away. Social media should be used to cast a net over music lovers with the intention of reeling them in by posting engaging content. Ultimately you want people to follow you, attend gigs, visit your website and sign up to your mailing list.

From time to time it’s fine to shamelessly promote your latest song or gig! In return though, remember to post plenty of content your followers will find interesting.

Forgetting to link your channels together

Black and white of people playing sport behind a chainlink fence

There’s various ways you can link all your online pages together.

Firstly, it’s in the interests of social media sites to help you get more followers. They will provide a small section of code you can insert on your site which will generate a button, usually with the caption Follow me on Facebook or whatever the platform is.

In reverse, you’ll want to add a link back to your website from your social media profiles. Most social sites allow you to add your web address in their settings.

If you want to take things further, most social sites will allow you to embed your feed onto your own website. For example, if you have a Twitter profile, you’d have an area on your site showing all your latest Twitter activity.

Signing up to all the social platforms

Initially you might think your best way to gain as many followers as possible is to sign up with every social media site you can think of. Unfortunately, this quickly becomes unmanageable.

Imagine you’ve thought of a good post to share. You start with Facebook. All good. Then you move to Twitter but find the content is too long so have to re-write the post. Then you’re off to Instagram but you forgot your password so have to reset it. Then you go to Youtube but you obviously need to record a video version of the post here. That’s great but other video based platforms might not accept the one you’ve created for Youtube for technical reasons.

As you can see, this approach starts taking up time better off spent working in other areas such as booking your next gigs or creating new music.

Undoubtedly, most music fans are on many social media platforms anyway so once you’ve covered a few, you’ll start seeing diminishing returns.

Your best approach is to manage two or three social platforms. This way you’ll be able to make an impact by giving them your full attention, rather than spreading yourself too thinly.

Not having an email newsletter

Social media is great but having your very own mailing list is vital. Your website and your mailing list are your primary two channels of online presence and communication. I’ve written a whole article on the benefits of mailing lists over social media.

In brief:

  • Social media posts often go unseen
  • Your mailing list is yours whereas social media sites are not. They can change at any time in ways that could be unfavourable for you
  • Emails perform better
  • You can design the layout of an email to exactly what you want unlike social sites where you’re constrained by the platform
  • Emails are direct and personal
  • Emails can be targeted so different users get different content

If you don’t have a mailing list, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to connect with your fans.

Social platforms have the advantage of enabling you to find new followers. This is great but all followers should ultimately be encouraged to sign up to your newsletter.

Failing to upload high quality music

Recording studio

As a musical act, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a solo artist, in a band, creating originals or playing covers, you’ll probably need to upload music at some point.

This is your chance to share with listeners what you do best. If you’re creating original music for outlets such as Spotify or Apple Music, it’s definitely worth investing in professional recording equipment or even using the services of a recording studio.

If you’re a cover or tribute act, you probably won’t need a recording studio but you should still take time to create great demos. High quality videos of you playing live to an excited audience are a bonus.

As music is the core of what you do, anything other than good high quality recording will make all other attempts to market yourself very hard work.

Not being persistent

Everyone expects fast results in the world these days! Building an online following is a process that takes time though, especially if you’re a new artist or band. It can be disheartening if you expect quick results so remember to play the long game.

Don’t forget, quality is better than quantity. It’s far better to have a smaller, more engaged following than a larger group that doesn't really care. Let people follow you naturally (organically) on social media. Don’t go following people in the hope they will follow you back. They might do, but for the wrong reasons.

Ignoring branding

Treat your music venture like a business.

A successful business looks after its existing customers, searches for new customers, creates the best possible products or services for its customers.

An artist or band should be doing exactly the same. Your customers are your fans and followers. Your product is your music and the live performances are the services you offer.

Another way we should emulate business is through branding. The idea is to use the same imagery, artwork and messages in all places. This would include your website, flyers, posters, social media etc.

Have a think about :-

What is the underlying message of your music? Do you have a strapline? What colours or fonts could represent you? Do you have an image you currently use on your bass drum or promotional material?

If a person sees a poster with your branding on it, they’ll instantly know the poster is associated with you without even reading it, provided they’re familiar with you. If not, they've just taken the first step in becoming familiar!

Not using business cards

Well, this one may be in a grey area between offline and online marketing but what the hell!

Make sure you give out business cards at your shows. Audience members may love the gig but forget your band’s name. Some will undoubtedly be a little drunk or at least tipsy! Don’t rely on people’s memory.

Have a chat with them and hand over a card with your website, social media platforms and an email address people can use if they’d like to book you. Chatting to people after a show reinforces their happy memories of your show. The business card is the icing on the cake!

Social media is great but having your very own mailing list is vital.

Not signing people up to your mailing list

Gigs are also a great opportunity to get people signed up to your mailing list.

Ask members of the audience if they’d be willing to sign up or give you their name and email address so you can sign them up later. Explain why you’d like it and don’t forget to mention they can unsubscribe at any time.

Remember, a mailing list is the best way to communicate with fans.

Not removing inactive mailing list subscribers

Surprised cat

It's not immediately obvious why removing inactive subscribers is important. There main two reasons are:

1. Email clients such as Gmail and Hotmail learn which emails are spam. Say 1000 of your subscribers use Gmail. 400 never even open any of the emails you send out. Gmail starts to think because so many people don't open these emails, they could be spam. If your not careful, when Gmail receives one of your messages, it may send it straight to the junk folder

2. Email service providers will generally charge you more money for more emails they send on your behalf. If you're sending emails to people that are not interested, your wasting money.

All mailing list platforms should give you a report showing the subscribers not opening your messages. Sometimes, it's worth trying to "reactivate" these people with a last ditch email specifically designed to revive interest. Ultimately though, some subscribers will need to be removed. Sometimes people simply get a new email address and forget about the one they used when they signed up to your mailing list.


No promotion will beat writing captivating music, playing great shows, and leaving your audiences happy, intrigued and wanting more. When someone witnesses a great show, they’ll tell their friends and look you up online.

Make sure you don’t fall into the many pitfalls artists can easily make in the online world.

Add your comment

Thank you. Your comment has been posted below

Thank you. Your comment has been posted below