Buzz: Mobile Marketing for Independent Artists: Tools

Written by Jem Bahaijoub Posted in: Buzz on February 13, 2012

So this is it. The final installment in my series on mobile marketing for independent musicians (sob!). We’ve discussed the reality. We’ve established the importance of strategy. Now it’s time to talk tools!  So exactly what tools are out there for the average, hard- working DIY musician? Are the all-singing, all-dancing mobile marketing campaigns of established artists totally out of reach?
Well the good news is there are an increasing number of affordable tools that allow indie artists to get mobile. You just need to know where to look. Here’s a handy list based on the assumption you have either NO DOUGH in your pocket, or a budget of LOW DOUGH.....
Get Snapping
We all know (and love) mainstream social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you’re smart, you’ll be utilizing these sites to the max to supercharge your fan acquisition and engagement. However, there are also now a number of innovative mobile apps that compliment these sites by adding a multi-media dimension.
One of my favorites is the FREE photo app Instagram which allows you to create a type of on-the-road photo diary. One of its best features is the ability to edit photos using various filters that create a more arty-farty type image. Once you’re done, you can publish the photos to your Instagram photo stream (which is like a social networking site in itself) and also post them instantly to your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts. Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz recently launched a competition on Instagram whereby fans were asked to submit photos that are representative and inspired by his new song “I Won’t Give Up”. The winners will have their photos displayed at an art gallery in NYC on March 8th. So if you struggle communicating with your fans in words, then get creative and let the pictures do the talking.
One of the "I Won't Give Up" Instagram contest winners
Get Filming
Like photo-sharing, video-sharing via your cell phone has also really taken off. You can record and share slices of your life with fans for FREE using apps like Viddy or 8mm. Both provide easy to use editing options, effects and music to give your short videos a professional or vintage feel. Well-known artists like Snoop-Dog and T-Pain are already utilizing these apps. Check out their videos for some inspiration.
Collect Fan Data On The Go
Collecting fan data (emails, zip codes, and cell numbers) should be a core feature of your marketing activities. Your newsletter in particular is all-important. I’m a big fan of the newsletter provider Mailchimp, and now they have launched the Mailchimp app for iphone and Android. This app allows you to manage your lists and collect signups on your cell phone or ipad. No more losing your hand written mailing lists! Mailchimp also has  a “Golden Monkeys” app which allows you to track your mailing list “VIPs”, and a new app called “Pyow” that allows you to create and track QR Coupons. Genius.
Mobile-ize Your Merchandise
Let’s continue with the subject of QR Codes (Quick Response codes).  These square black and white barcodes have been around for a while now and music venues and established artists are utilizing them on a regular basis. Well you can now too. There are various free and low-cost tools available that allow you to add QR Codes to your CDs, posters and merchandize. Allowing potential fans to access additional mobile information about you from their physical destination. Check out Kaywa and QRStuff for free static codes or Beetag for more complex trackable codes.
Bear in mind that there are two different types of QR Codes known as static and dynamic codes. The static codes give you access to telephone numbers, email addresses and information that generally cannot be changed. Dynamic codes are linked to information that can be updated regularly, and can also be tracked. Prices vary according to which one you go for.
Create A Band App

Thanks to the lovely folks at ReverbNation, you now don’t have to have a bucketful of money to create a mobile app for your band. In just 6 easy steps you can build your own affordable app which includes your music, biography, photos, videos, calendar, and website/social media links in one handy place. Prices start at $99 per year for Android, and $299 per year for Android and Apple. This includes all push notifications to your fans and a tracking mechanism. The turn-around time for the Android apps take 2-3 days and iphone apps take 3-6 weeks. Bear this in mind if you plan to coincide the launch of the app with a CD release or tour.

Jed Carlson, co-founder of ReverbBNation, says "Mobile is exploding. Having a mobile app in fans' pockets means that they see the artist’s brand every day, have an easy way to share that artist and their music with friends, and it opens yet another communications channel with push notifications.  For artists looking to get signed or book gigs, having a professional mobile app creates instant credibility, and may differentiate that artist from the pack.  We've even observed many artists signing their emails with a link to their mobile app — using it like a virtual business card."
Check out the artist Luego to get an idea of what to expect from the ReverbNation mobile app.
Ensure Your Existing Website is Mobile 
As so many fans now check out new music via their mobile devices, you’d be foolish not to ensure you have a mobile version of your website available. A lot of budget-conscious bands have already created Wordpress sites for themselves for free. The good news is that you can now make this mobile-friendly with the WP login called WP Touch. It’s only $100 and it allows your fans to access your site whenever, wherever.

Other affordable options include . Check out this great article which lists 12 free alternatives to create mobile versions of your website.

Create an SMS Marketing Campaign
According to a recent Pew study, 90% of Americans use their mobile handsets for texting. It therefore makes sense that SMS marketing becomes an integral part of your mobile marketing campaign. is a text messaging service launching this month specially enabling musicians to communicate with their fans instantly. Starting at $12.99 a month, it’s an affordable method of mobile communications. Be careful though. There is a fine line between communicating with your fans and harassing them. The key to SMS marketing is knowing that less is more. Make each message count, and don’t oversaturate your fans to the brink of spamming.
So there you have it. Launching a mobile marketing campaign isn’t as hard as you think. The music industry is thankfully starting to react to the need for easy and affordable mobile marketing solutions for DIY musicians. You just need to do four things - assess your reality, create a strategy, research your tools, and get mobile! Good luck.

Jem Bahaijoub is the founder of imaginePR, a music marketing company based in Washington DC. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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