A Quick Disclaimer: I tend to steer clear of buzzwords.
This is doubly true when the buzzword is mixed with a religious or cultural reference. So, for all you “Email Marketing Gurus”, “Lead Generation Wizards” or “Copywriting Ninjas”, it’s just a bit.. much.
However, when trying to describe the power and authenticity found in an artist’s clean, effective and to-the-point digital presence, I can’t seem to escape the word “Zen”. And sure, this word has become less about “Zen”, an ancient off-shoot of Buddhist philosophy, and instead has become the go-to marketing term for spas and yoga studios across the country, nonetheless I still find it fitting.
I find it fitting because Zen doesn’t mean “relaxing”, instead, Zen means authentic and purposeful. And that’s exactly what an artists online presence should be: To the point, and not trying to be anything else.
Here are a few tips on how to have a focused presence that gets your point across masterfully, without all the clutter that can scare fans, media and other influencers away.
Stop “Faking It Till You Make It”.
An artist should always play up their persona, but never their actual talent, background or skill set.
While being confident is everything in the music industry and being a risk-taker can always pay off, you still need to take an honest assessment of where you are in your career, and showcase your “true self” through your copy, social media and more.
By all means discuss your accolades and accomplishments, but try and save the poetic language for your lyrics.
For instance, in your EPK, it’s pretty apparent when you’re exaggerating and using language that’s just a bit over-the-top.
“..Critically acclaimed album..” (From a rather small, new band)
Great! But you’re going to need the reviews to showcase this. If you simple said that your album, “Received great local reviews”, that’s perfectly fine and still a great piece of info for readers.
“Near Viral hit single”..
I’ve actually seen this phrase more than you’d imagine. Near viral? Did it go viral or not? Was it just popular? If so, that’s okay to say, too! Describing your work as a “popular single” is attractive and to-the-point without playing it up.
“Played alongside headlining acts..”
So, …you were an opener? Saying that would be perfectly acceptable.
Now sure, those are harmless examples, and as a marketing guy and copywriter: I love finding unique ways to give copy a bit more prestige. But just know that there is no harm in calling a spade a spade, and showcasing your career as it is, in the state that it is.
Every DIY, Indie (and even major) artist knows how difficult it is to toe the line of artist and businessperson. It gets tough. So, there is actually some great freedom in showcasing your work and more importantly — yourself — authentically and as you are.
And often, when taking a good look at where your career lies, you start to realize that you actually have done a great amount of work and have made some amazing progress.
To quote the great Zen sage, Drake, “You know it’s real when you are who you think you are.”
Remember, in Zen there is the saying “Beginner Mind, Zen Mind”, which teaches us to never be too stiff, and to always continue our growth. By all means, showcase your accomplishments! But don’t be too rigid, and don’t forget where you genuinely are in your career!
Decluttered Pages, Decluttered Mind
Playing up your bio, and fancy-ing up your copywriting is really one of the lesser-evils of an artist’s digital space. Even if stretched a little, it’s likely not going to scare off too many folks.
However one of the more “evils” of the digital sphere is a messy social media channel or website.
A principal of Zen practice (and meditation in general) is to quiet the mind, right? Zen’s purpose is to have a one-pointed mind and clear objective in your day-to-day routine. And I think that’s a perfect example of how a fan, journalist, and any other influencer should feel when visiting your site, social media channel or EPK.
You should have a clear message in each digital outlet in which your brand lives on. For instance, your website should be easy to navigate, and to-the-point. Your navigation doesn’t need to have 20 different pages, and you don’t need a bright, flashy, background.
A simple backdrop, with maybe an image slider on the homepage, alongside simple navigation: Home, About, Media, Store, Contact, is all you really need.
Remember: Over 55% of users only spend 15 seconds on a website before clicking away.
Give them what they need before they bounce off your site. Whether it’s tour or contact info, or a prominent link to your music, be direct to keep visitors engaged.
The same can be said for social media. I often see Twitter pages that are carelessly linked to their Facebook. So their entire Twitter feed just looks like this:
“Great time at the Columbus show we ha….. via http://fb.com/#$%^&*93938.htm”
If you’re on a channel, take the time to make that channel work.
Your voice is going to vary on social media, you want that unique blend of personal posts, alongside posts that build your brand as well as those straight up promotional posts. However, keep it consistent.
Find a solid rhythm on social media that works for you — typically the industry standard for Facebook is 1-3 posts a day, while Twitter and Instagram are a bit liberal since it’s more of a real-time feed. Just be aware that over-posting can come off as spammy, which is very un-Zen of you to do.
Another great Zen-tip for social media is in how you treat others. Instead of setting up an auto-responder on social media that sends automated messages to new followers, how about being authentic and thanking fans directly for the follow? Being robotic is never attractive to fans, and it’s painfully obvious when you’re just going through the motions.
Take your time to give all of your digital outlets love!
Be aware that it’s not just about being on every social media channels that exists– just having a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Website just to have them.
Instead, it’s about how all of these outlets are working together. How your Facebook might be your go-to place for ads since their ad manager is very user-friendly. But your Twitter is your preferred spot for fan interaction since it’s so real-time. And your Instagram may be your place to post your in-studio photos, and those cat pics, because fans love seeing that personal side of their favorite artists.
Everything you do, should have a purpose. (Even if that purpose is to simply have fun).
Ekaggata is a Zen term meaning “one-pointed-mind” or concentration. It’s all about doing one thing–at a time–the best that you can.
Do one thing, at a time, and do it well.
One major theme that comes to mind when talking about Zen is the discipline found in it’s practitioners. Zen is built around structured mediation — sitting in meditation at the same time, for the same duration, every day.
Zen is also centered around being absorbed in your daily task fully and whole heartedly. No matter what that task may be.
One key component about marketing your music is that you have to be consistent, disciplined and focused on your marketing. Just as a Zen practitioner would commit to meditating twice a day for an hour, you should dedicate a set time out of your day to market your music.
This could be an hour a day scheduling posts, and then another hour building your press/venue list, or simply interacting with fans on social media. The point is to dedicate time out of the week to focus on your marketing and nothing else, and hold yourself to it!
Have one-pointed focus, and do as much as you can for your brand within that time.
Zen is discipline, the discipline of living life, of taking a breath, of not knowing and not trying to know.
While working on your online channels is a journey in itself, following these simple but helpful tips, can ensure you have a quality and clean digital presence that makes your fans and other influencers continuously returning for more.
If you want further advice on how to declutter and clean up your online presence, or a video consultation to gauge how your channels are performing contact me, here. I’d love to work with you and learn more about your art.
As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.