With no testing and no
feedback during the creation process and in the end,
artists spend their entire
career hoping people will like their music.
Indie artists can up their odds with a bit of strategic
Guest Post by Dave Kusek, on
The DIY Musician
In the music industry, musicians create music in
isolation and then release it to the public. They
spend weeks or months writing, rehearsing, recording, mixing
and mastering. After all that work and effort up front, you
don’t know how well the album will perform until after the fact
– after you invested all that time and money into the music.
The sales data starts rolling in and then you find out if it
was all worth it.
If you look at it this way, the music industry really seems
like a grand game of dice. It’s really an exercise in hope
marketing. There’s no testing and no feedback during the
creation process and in the end, artists spend their entire
career on hoping people will like their
music. Of course, labels have a pretty good idea what the
audience wants, but even major label artists have flop albums.
Today, musicians don’t need to be stuck in this
model. The internet pretty much gives you a direct
connection to your fans and access to a huge community of music
listeners. You can get feedback pretty much instantaneously
online and I’m going to run down some strategies to do so in
If you’d like to improve your music and give your fans exactly
what they want, Alex
Mitchell, Co-founder and CEO of Audiokite, will be joining me
for a free webinar on Thursday, April 9 at 1PM EST. He’ll
be taking your through the platform and show you how real indie
musicians are using Audiokite to take their music to the next
level. You can join the
webinar live or signup to
watch the replay – it’s all free.
1. Survey your fans
If you have an email list, you already have a great way to get
direct feedback from your fans. You can easily send a short
surveys to learn more about what your fans like using Google
Forms. Just login to Google, create a new form, add in some
questions, and email your fans the link.
As far as what to ask your fans, the sky’s the limit. You could
gather general information on your fans. What is their favorite
genre of music, what other musicians do they like, how often do
they go to concerts, and what kinds of emails do they like
getting from musicians? This will give you valuable insight
into their likes and dislikes and give you some ideas for
promoting your music, possible collaborations, and gigs. For
example, if a lot of your fans like to go to shows at least
once a week, maybe you should be focusing more on your gigging.
You could also ask
your fans direct questions about your music. Send them two
songs and ask them to vote on their favorite or do a cover song
in two different genres and ask them which they preferred. You
could even send your email subscribers private, unlisted videos
to get feedback before you even release it to the public.
If you’re not getting as many survey responses as you’d like,
you could tie it into a contest. Everyone who answers the
survey could be entered to win a free t shirt, signed CD, or
VIP pass. It won’t cost you much, but this added incentive will
get you more results.
2. The A/B Test
Unless you’re really well-versed in analytics, sometimes it can
be difficult to gather real insight from all that raw data.
Instead, choose something specific you want to experiment with
and set up an A/B test. Basically you’re just going to
create 2 different versions of something, release them both to
your fans, and see which performs better.
This is a great way to test what kinds of songs resonate most
with your audience. Try releasing two songs at exactly the same
time, be it originals or a covers. Put them both on your
website, give them the same amount of promotion, and see which
gets the most listens and which had the most fans listening all
the way to the end.
You can also use this same strategy with your emails. Pretty
much every email service out there has some A/B testing
functionality. First you want to choose the element of your
email that you want to test. You could test whether a different
subject line affects your open rates or whether your fans
respond better to a picture-heavy email or if they prefer plain
Next, you’re going to create two different emails. In order to
get the most out of an A/B test, make sure you’re only changing
one element. Using the example above, your emails would have
the same message, just different subject lines. When you send
your A/B test, half of your list will get one version and half
will get the other version. Go in and look at your email
analytics to see which one performed better.
A/B testing is really a continuous process. In other words, you
want to be constantly testing new subject lines, new content,
and new offers to try to out-perform your winners.
3. Use Audiokite
The examples above are great, and your fans can be a very
valuable resource for feedback, but if you want even more
information, you’re going to have to look into the wider world
of music fans. You can actually get better feedback on your
lyrics, your mix, and your overall sound from people who aren’t
already familiar with you and your music.
In the past, only the major labels had access to this kind of
surveying, but services like Audiokite are
opening the doors for indie musicians to gain valuable insight
about their music. Audiokite will
play your music for hundreds of people and gather their
thoughts in an easy to understand report that you can use to
improve your sound and even get some promotion and monetization
From an Audiokite report
you can learn whether your song appeals more towards men or
women, how new listeners react to it, whether or not they would
seek you out after hearing your music for the first time, what
elements of the song and the mix need more work, and much more.
A lot of artists will upload works in progress to Audiokite and
get feedback before they even release it, giving them the
opportunity to improve.
As you can see, data and feedback can be extremely valuable
to indie musicians, but we really just scratched the surface in
this article. We will dive into even more great strategies in
webinar with Alex Mitchell from Audiokite. He’ll
be taking you through the platform and showing you how best to
use Audiokite to improve your music and your career. I hope
you’ll join us
in the free webinar, but if you can’t make
it, sign up
to watch the replay.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can
create a plan for success for your band or career, check out
the New Artist
Model, the alternative online business school for
independent musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and new