Independent musicians work hard to produce high quality music they’re passionate about, but the music itself doesn’t pay the bills. Artists are entrepreneurs, wearing many hats - to market themselves, to broaden their fan base, and in some cases, catch the attention of a record label. Since there are only so many hours in the day, and many artists work other jobs on the side to fund their musical endeavors, having the right tools to save time is crucial.
Artists like Lindsey Stirling are bringing the violin back to mainstream music with original compilations. For artists, who want to practice with a variety of music but don’t want to invest money in books that will take up space, MusicNotes makes it easy and affordable to search and download sheet music for vocals, piano, brass, woodwind, strings and guitar. You can find everything from today’s popular artists, like Justin Timberlake, Tim McGraw, Meghan Trainor and Adele, to classics, like Ode to Joy and Pachelbel's Canon. Vocals are a great option for cover bands, too. Pay per download and print, or join the digital discount club for discounts on all sheet music downloads for a year.
SoundCloud is a platform for listening to music and podcasts. Artists can use it as a distribution channel to build a fan base. Fans can follow artists, and build playlists, completely free.
MP3 Tag is a small piece of software that allows you to batch edit the metadata on your audio files. Beyond MP3s, it can also handle batch-editing of other formats including: WMA, iTunes, MP4 and a variety of others. It also supports online database lookups from Amazon, Freedb and MusicBrainz to gather proper tags and cover art for files in the music library.
Designing promotional materials for shows, artwork for CD covers and social media graphics can be pricey, and for the musician on a budget, hiring a professional graphic designer may be impossible. Canva is a free online graphic design tool that lets those with no design experience craft a variety of beautiful graphics. Users can purchase stock photos and other graphic elements for $1 each. A premium subscription, for $12.95 per month, allows you to save your brand kit, making it easier to produce high quality graphics in the future.
Cyfe is an all-in-one business analytics dashboard. The free version allows you to track up to five widgets, but if you want more insight in less time, a premium account priced at $19.99/month offers unlimited widgets. Track everything from website analytics, to social media statistics, finances and more, including online and offline data. Spend more time making music and less time managing the marketing aspect. See who’s visiting your website, whether or not your social media ad campaigns are working and more.
Sonicbids is a platform that helps musicians book gigs. It helps artists and bands connect with promoters, who are looking for talent to grow their fan bases. Musicians can use Sonicbids to generate a professional electronic press kit (EPK) that includes social statistics from Twitter, SoundCloud, Facebook and YouTube. The integrated messaging system allows you to keep track of all contacts. It's sort of like a LinkedIn for musical artists.
TopSpin is a direct-to-fan sales and marketing platform. Any creative can use the platform to promote and sell music, movies, merchandise and tickets. Use it to connect with your fan base. Offer them exclusive access to special shows. Sell your band merchandise. And remain in complete control of your fan data. Prices start at $9.99 per month.
CD Baby is a direct-from-artist online music store. Run by artists, the company aims to put more profit back in the hands of the artists themselves. Artists can use CD Baby to sell music in more than 95 digital stores and across more than 15,000 brick-and-mortar locations. They’ll manage your listings in iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and more. They also help with licensing and royalty collection.
Zapier is an event trigger-based automation system. It interacts with a number of applications you’re already using to take care of repeatable tasks. Use it with Cyfe and Soundcloud. Or use it to post Twitter updates on Facebook. Automatically thank fans on Facebook every month. Automate accounting between PayPal and Freshbooks and a number of other accounting apps and more. A free plan is available as well as paid plans starting at $20 per month.
Using these tools, musicians can spend less time on marketing and promotion and more time on doing what they love -making music.