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Canadian Grant Funding: How to Write a Music Marketing Plan

Jonathan Papan

December 7, 2023

Writing a Music Marketing Plan

Crafting an effective marketing plan is crucial for musicians seeking to maximize their reach and engage with their target audience. A well-structured music marketing plan outlines the strategies, tactics, and resources required to promote your music effectively. Applying for Canadian grant funding can provide artists with a valuable opportunity to enhance their promotional efforts and expand their audience reach. To help artists make the most of their grant funding, it’s essential to identify the key expenses to include in their budgets and make strategic decisions about where to allocate those funds.

Firstly, to optimize the impact of marketing grant funds, artists should consider strategizing the allocation of their budget across various promotional activities. Things like recording costs, promotion and supporting content are all key factors grant jurors look for when deciding how much funding to award your project. 

Categories to include in your music marketing budget

Recording and Production

To create a professional-sounding music product, allocate enough funds for high-quality recording, production, mixing, and mastering. Working with skilled professionals in the right studio will help ensure top-notch sound quality to make your music stand out in a competitive industry. Do some research to cover all of your bases. Will you need additional session musicians? Does the studio and producer you have selected work with other artists in your music genre? Make sure what you are asking for is aligned with your goals. You should put a substantial sum of your grant funding towards the production of your song or album. After all, it’s the music you will end up marketing! 

Marketing and Promotion

The second most important expense should be your marketing budget. This is a missed opportunity by most artists who tend to gravitate towards putting more money into expensive music videos and photo shoots. Though these things are important, marketing and promotion are the only ways an artist can guarantee getting their music in front of new audiences. Long gone are the days where you can rely solely on the social media algorithm to push your content out. 

Budget for a comprehensive range of marketing and promotion activities that will help you build brand awareness, engage with fans, and expand your audience. Consider the following line items:

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising offers precise and cost-effective means to reach a highly targeted audience and increase artist visibility. You can use real-time data monitoring to refine strategies for optimal impact, getting the most bang for your buck on getting your music heard. And of course, if you have room in your budget you can also consider industry newsletters and music media ads. But socials are a great place to start.

Content Creation

Budget for creating engaging content such as music videos, lyric videos, behind-the-scenes footage, live performances, and visual assets for social media. We live in an era where every track you release should have multiple video assets and versions. The more content you have around a certain song, the more times you can remind new and old audiences about the song without making them feel like you’re spamming the same content over and over again.

Radio Promotion

Believe it or not, there are still hundreds of thousands of people who listen to AM/FM as well as online radio and this should still be a part of your promotional strategy. A tool like Play MPE will give artists access to an extensive network of radio programmers and tastemakers in your genre, increasing the likelihood of airplay exposure and royalties. You will also want to include budget for a radio tracking service like MTR.

Influencer Marketing

Artists are now able to leverage the credibility and reach of respected online figures to organically promote music, connect with niche audiences, and create authentic connections that can propel your career to new heights. By tapping into an influencer’s established fan base, musicians can swiftly expand their reach and generate buzz that resonates far beyond traditional promotional methods.

Publicist

Though not as utilized for music discovery as years past, getting media coverage in magazines, online publications, and podcasts still serve a great purpose for artists. Having press assets is a great way to showcase value to record labels, managers, and new fans who want to learn more about you. That being said, if you don’t want to grind out emails to publications yourself, hiring a publicist could be very helpful in getting your name out there. 

Graphic Design

 Investing in professional graphic design services is paramount to craft visually captivating album covers, engaging social media graphics, alluring merchandise designs, and compelling promotional materials. The expertise of skilled designers ensures that your visual assets align seamlessly with your artistic identity, enhancing your brand’s visual appeal and leaving a lasting impact on your audience.

Distribution

Before telling people to listen to your music, you need a place for them to find it. There are two main ways to distribute your music, digitally and physically. While channels like Soundcloud, YouTube and Bandcamp allow you to upload music for free, getting your music on popular music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music as well as in stores will most likely cost you a small fee.

Digital Music Distribution

There are many popular services out there to get your music on all the major streaming platforms. Some of the most popular are CDBaby, Tunecore and Distrokid (click here to get a Distrokid discount!) They all do the same job, but in different ways. Some platforms charge a single monthly or yearly fee where you can upload as much music as you want, while others charge per release. 

Physical Music Distribution

If you plan to release physical copies of your music, budget for manufacturing CDs, vinyl, or other merchandise. Consider packaging design, printing, and shipping costs. CDs and vinyl are great options to have at your merch booth and, if you aren’t able to get into major retail chains, try reaching out to a record shop in your area. Independent music stores are often happy to help support local talent by carrying their albums. Don’t forget to open your own online merch shop as well!

More to Consider When Building Your Music Promotion Plans

There is a massive range of things that you can request Canadian grant funding for if you know what to look for. Other options can include travel expenses for touring, merchandise production, copyright registration, legal services, and much more. 

The scope of potential grant funding requests is truly expansive, encompassing an array of critical needs to bolster your music career. Alongside essentials like travel expenses for touring, consider seeking support for merchandise production to establish a tangible connection with fans, securing copyright registration to safeguard your creative works, and 

even engaging legal services to navigate the intricacies of the industry landscape. The versatility of Canadian grant funding empowers artists to strategically invest in their growth, ensuring a well-rounded foundation for a thriving musical journey.

Remember to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives, adjust your strategies as needed, and take advantage of opportunities to further promote your music (check out Play MPE’s ‘Journey of a Song’ explainer, for example!) With a well-planned and effectively executed marketing plan, you can capture the attention of your target audience and leave a lasting impression in the music industry.

Here is a resource with a list of many Canadian grant funding organizations, including FACTOR, the Canada Council for the Arts, and various provincial and regional funding bodies. Remember to start prepping your application a month in advance (at least!) Most organizations are happy to answer any and all questions, to make sure you’re on the right track with your application, so don’t be shy in reaching out for their help. And keep in mind if you’re just starting out that there is a huge range of artists applying for every deadline – some with decades of experience, and others who are brand new. It may take several applications before you get your first ‘Yes’ so don’t be deterred if you receive a few rejections. Take their feedback, look for ways to improve, and keep applying. Good luck!

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