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Marketing Tactics Musicians Can Borrow From Ecommerce Brands

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(Hypebot) — For artists looking to promote and sell their digital content, one of the best sources from which to draw inspiration is ecommerce brands. In this piece, we break down how their techniques can be adapted to the music biz.

Guest post by John Hurley

Note: This article assumes that one of the ways you’re selling your music is as a digital download and that you have a website where you can promote these sales in various ways.

Cultivating multiple revenue streams is a must-do for anyone selling digital content, musicians included. This is something that ecommerce companies have embraced for many years – selling goods on several platforms and using each of these to promote their brand and products.

If you’re running your own website, there’s a lot you can learn from online retailers. These folks have been at it since the dawn of online transaction processing, so they’ve perfected the art of using their main online presence as a part of their sales funnel.

Yes, it may need a bit of a mind-shift on your part. No one will blame you for considering your website a place that exists purely to get to know you and your music rather than a place that pushes commerce.

Don’t stress – we’re not going to suggest that you change your site’s design so drastically that you’ll alienate visitors who are just interested in getting to know you.

The key is in finding balance. You’ll need to position commercial elements in a way that’s unobtrusive and doesn’t give the impression that you’re all about parting your new fans from their hard-earned cash.

Let’s take a look at some effective but subtle ways you can use your site to drive up the sales of your digital downloads. All of these tactics have been pioneered by successful ecommerce brands.


Provide Some Social Proof

This may be a challenging concept for an artist to embrace, but showing evidence that your work is enjoyed by regular folk does have an impact on the perceived popularity of your music.

Of course, you can be tactful about it. There’s a way to shine a spotlight on great feedback from your fans without making it seem like this is all you care about.

Separating social proof from ecommerce is impossible nowadays. Reviews and testimonials make potential customers feel comfortable that they’re about to buy something valuable. It also helps build trust that your online store works properly and that you’re not simply going to take their money and run.

Gili Sports shows us how to do this in an obvious but tasteful way on their homepage. Scroll about a third of the way down and you’ll see a beautiful photograph along with a quote from an unnamed customer.

image source: gilisports.com

It’s a pretty broad endorsement, but it’s just enough to help convince any potential customers that, yes, this product isn’t terrible and, yes, people actually got the thing they paid for.

Notice how the brand doesn’t lead with this testimonial. It’s certainly not the most important message on the homepage, but it’s definitely not a message they want to hide either.  Gili Sports has found a nice balance between highlighting social proof without shoving it down their audience’s throats.

Reach out to people who have bought your music and ask them if you can use some of their positive feedback on your site.

Pro tip: Including the reviewer’s name, location, and date of purchase is a great way to add some additional credibility to the review.


Shine a Light on Good Industry Reviews

I like to think of industry reviews as the music world’s equivalent of ecommerce influencer marketing.

Most reviewers publish their thoughts on platforms that have an established following, just like influencers. They have credibility with your potential fanbase, just like the right influencer would have with an ecommerce brand’s target market. They also have the ability to shape an audience’s taste.

As with social proof, ecommerce brands have long accepted this as a very helpful, if not downright essential, marketing tactic.

What these online retailers have found is that an influencer’s endorsement needs to be authentic and heartfelt in order to be effective. It’s also absolutely essential that an influencer’s endorsement comes from someone who the audience sees as relevant to your brand.

Take a look at the great way online mattress retailer Zoma has incorporated influencer endorsements on their site. Each professional athlete posing candidly with their Zoma mattress shows a potential customer that someone “in the know” thinks this is a great product.

image source: zomasleep.com

If you’ve received several mentions in the media, consider implementing a similar carousel element on your website. As Zoma shows, there’s no need to link each image to a deeper review. A simple, hand-picked quote along with an appropriate visual should be more than enough.

Ideally, you should also include the reviewer’s name, the piece they reviewed, the date it was reviewed, and the publication it was reviewed for.

Drive Traffic to Your Other Online Presences

This is an especially helpful tactic if you’re active on social media or sell/stream your music on other platforms. Each of these digital spaces represents another way for your fans to buy your music or interact with you.


It goes without saying that this tactic should be followed up with a ton of effort to actively engage with your followers. Post frequently on social media and get into real conversations with your audience.

In ecommerce terms, this is a great way to nurture leads (people who haven’t made a purchase yet) and retain existing customers (people who haven’t bought your entire catalog yet).

Diving traffic between your various presences is critical to building a following. Very few websites have features that allow you to engage with your fans/leads in real-time. Make use of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to do so. And make sure to let your website visitors know about all the other places they can reach you.

Head over to JOI to see an example of how to do this in a tasteful way that doesn’t interfere with the website’s main content. The plant base retailer makes excellent use of the site footer to promote its various off-site presences.

image source: addjoi.com

The great thing about using a footer for this purpose is that you don’t have to worry about cluttering your site with a dozen links to platforms like Bandcamp, Spotify, Deezer, or any other platform where your leads can buy your music or interact with you.

Some Closing Thoughts

I realize that getting your artistic mind into a space where you think about your music as “digital commodities” and your artistic vision as a “brand message” may not be easy. Very few musicians became musicians because they love marketing or think about their art in such sterile terms.

At the same time, it’s possible to think about digital marketing as the modern equivalent of pounding the pavement trying to find a live gig.

Nowadays, it’s possible to reach a much wider, global audience. And that’s something that offers massive rewards – but only to those musicians willing to embrace a new paradigm.

The benefits are there for those who have the appetite to educate themselves, put in the hard work, and learn from those who have been at this game right from the start.

Good luck!

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