Modern Music Marketing: Music Promotion, Fan Relationships, and Direct-to-Fan Strategies


Authored by Mike King


Course Code: OMBUS-274

Next semester starts September 28

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


The internet created a seismic shift in the music industry. Traditional marketing strategies and tactics, many still effective, have been overtaken by music streaming services and a variety of online-based marketing, sales, and distribution outlets, all of which require their own specific marketing approaches and strategies.

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This course takes an in-depth look at the tools, technologies, strategies, and tactics artists can use to generate interest in their music, acquire new fans, and monetize their music. The course begins with an introduction to modern music marketing—the opportunities available, case studies on how artists are generating interest online, ways to optimize the fan experience, and the elements of the direct-to-fan approach to marketing campaigns. From there, we’ll do a deep dive into the topic of fans: the artist-fan relationship dynamic, fan communities, and fan funding. Next, you’ll learn about niche marketing and how to build an audience profile using demographics and psychographics.

You’ll learn how to build a modern music marketing technology toolset including a website, a mailings list, social media, digital distribution, and streaming service profiles. You’ll end this section of the course learning about various modern music marketing platforms to handle everything from fan engagement to e-commerce, to digital advertising.

After building a modern music marketing technology toolset, the balance of the course will all tie together as you devise a fully-integrated direct-to-fan marketing campaign plan, including deep dives into forecasting and data analytics.

By the end of this course, you’ll have mastered the art of modern music marketing, and have a fully-integrated, and optimized direct-to-fan marketing plan that you can be used to effectively promote and monetize music in today’s dynamic market.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • develop a well-rounded approach to marketing, including the direct-to-fan approach
  • understand who the fans are and the rewarding dynamic of the artist-fan relationship
  • learn how to optimize a fan-friendly website
  • build and market to a mailing list
  • utilize the power of social media outlets to build community and generate demand
  • distribute music to streaming services and download outlets
  • utilize advertising platforms and e-commerce tools
  • identify traditional and nontraditional pricing and marketing strategies
  • create a direct-to-fan marketing plan for a music release
  • properly use analytics to measure your success
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Getting Started with Online Music Marketing

  • Foundational Music Marketing Concepts
  • An Integrated Approach to Marketing
  • Marketing in an Era of Streaming
  • Technology and the Evolution of Music Marketing
  • Direct-to-Fan Marketing Approach
  • Direct-to-Fan Pioneers
  • A Middle Class of Musicians: Direct-to-Fan Marketing In Practice
  • The Rise of the Musicpreneur—Next Level Direct-to-Fan
  • D2F, D2C, DIY—Holy Acronyms, Batman!
  • Building a Marketing Team
  • Assignment 1: Your Modern Music Marketing Toolset

Lesson 2: Understanding Fans and Fan Engagement

  • What is a “Fan”?
  • Technology and the Artist-Fan Relationship
  • Fan Communities and Managing Artist-Fan Engagement
  • Levels of Fandom—What is a Superfan?
  • Super-Serving the Superfans
  • Fan Communities and the Marketing Funnel
  • Fan Funding/Crowdfunding for Musicians
  • The Art of Asking
  • Assignment 2: Asking Fans for Support

Lesson 3: Niche Marketing and Branding

  • Targeting within the Traditional Approach to Marketing
  • Targeting within the Direct-to-Fan Approach to Marketing
  • Niche Marketing: Advantages, Realities, and the 80/20 Rule
  • Demographics and Psychographics: Finding Community
  • Branding
  • The Right Merch for the Right Fan
  • Merch as Social Objects that Help Build Community
  • Assignment 3: Outline Demographic and Psychographic Traits

Lesson 4: Website Optimization

  • Brief History of Websites
  • Why a Website?
  • Best Practices for Building an Effective Website
  • Site Structure and Critical Components: Homepage, About, Music, Video, and News
  • Site Structure and Critical Components: Contact, Mailing List, Tour, Store, and Lyrics
  • Photos and Electronic Press Kit (EPK)
  • Building a Website
  • Choosing a Website Service Provider
  • Website Optimization
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Website Metadata: Meta Description, Meta Info, and Meta Tags
  • How Your Website Metadata Gets Used on Social Media
  • Third-Party Integrations
  • Assignment 4: Optimizing Your Own Website

Lesson 5: Mailing Lists and Other Permission-Based Contacts

  • Permission Marketing
  • The Marketing Funnel: Acquisition
  • Mailing Lists
  • How to Get Started
  • Building a Mailing List
  • Mailing List Best Practices: What to Do and Say
  • Optimization: Email Newsletters
  • Mailing Lists: Beyond the Newsletter
  • Automation and Segmentation
  • Other Permission-Based Contact Lists
  • Assignment 5: Create a Mailing List Strategy

Lesson 6: Social Media: Building Community and Generating Demand

  • Social Media
  • Social Media and the Marketing Funnel
  • Social Media Services: Structure and Functionality
  • Posts: Content Types
  • More Content: Stories and Live Streams
  • Feeds, Algorithms, and Hashtags
  • Memes, Influencers, and Sponsorships
  • Social Media Platforms: Facebook
  • Social Media Platforms: Instagram
  • Social Media Platforms: Twitter
  • Social Media Platforms: YouTube
  • Other Social Media Platforms
  • Podcasts, Wikipedia, and Other Community Touch Points
  • Building Community and Generating Demand
  • Relational Boundaries and Self Care
  • Assignment 6: The Present and Future of Social Media

Lesson 7: Online Music Services

  • Brief History of Music Consumption
  • Online Music Services Overview
  • The Top Online Music Services
  • Playlists
  • Algorithmic and Editorial Playlists
  • Personalized, Branded, and User-Generated Playlists
  • Digital Distribution Services
  • Self-Serve Digital Distribution Services
  • Premium Digital Distribution Services
  • Releasing Music
  • Streaming Services: Artist Profiles and Dashboards
  • Getting on Playlists
  • Assignment 7: Create a Plan for Your Next Single Release

Lesson 8: Direct-to-Fan Tools and Platforms

  • Getting Started with Direct-to-Fan Tools and Platforms
  • The Correlation between Music Production and Music Marketing Tool Sets
  • Do I Need to Use an Integrated Direct-to-Fan Platform?
  • Direct-to-Fan Tools and Platforms
  • Core Functionality Needed for a Direct-to-Fan Artist
  • Email Collection Widgets
  • Mailing Lists / Newsletters
  • Streaming Media Players
  • Storefronts
  • Analytics and Reporting Functions
  • Pricing Structures of Direct-to-Fan Tools and Platforms
  • Assignment 8: Review Direct-to-Fan Tools and Platforms

Lesson 9: Forecasting, Structuring Your Campaign, and Implementation

  • The Direct-to-Fan Approach to Sales
  • The Music Retail Market Today
  • Direct-to-Fan: Determining Your Goals, and Setting Realistic Expectations
  • Forecasting Your DTF Sales
  • Direct-to-Fan Projections vs. Traditional Retail Projections
  • Discussion: Forecasting Considerations
  • Direct-to-Fan: The Offer–Product, Pricing, and the Importance of Bundling
  • Product Consideration
  • Pricing, Bundling, and Offer Considerations
  • Bundling Products
  • Sample Product Mix & Pricing Analysis Document
  • Building an Effective and Optimized Offer Page
  • Example: Landing and Offer Page Wire Frames
  • Tailoring Your Offer Page, and Fan Acquisition Techniques
  • Example 1: Fanfarlo
  • Example 2: Fan Acquistion and Data Capture - The Civil Wars
  • Example 3: Two Different Approaches to Direct-to-Fan Marketing Campaigns - Carbon Leaf
  • Assignment 9: Create Your Own Product and Forecasting Document

Lesson 10: Creating your Direct-to-Fan Marketing Plan

  • Phase 1 Acquisition: Goals, Assets, Promotion
  • Setting Your Goals
  • Promotional Assets
  • Promotion for Acquisition
  • Other Creative Acquisition-Focused Initiatives
  • Phase 2: Pre-order
  • Pre-order Strategies
  • Case Study: Messaging around an Artist's Direct-to-Fan Pre-Order Campaign
  • Creating and Fulfilling Pre-orders
  • Phase 3: Release
  • Phase 4: Post Release
  • Assignment 10: Create Your Own Direct-to-Fan Marketing Plan

Lesson 11: Offline Marketing Strategies and Finalizing Your Direct-to-Fan Marketing Plan 

  • The Importance of Engaging and Integrating Offline Marketing Verticals into Your Campaign
  • Radiohead's Ed O'Brien on the Physical Release of In Rainbows
  • Publicity: Communication Techniques and Promoting Yourself to Online and Offline Outlets
  • What Writers are Looking for from Artists/Publicists
  • Press Kit Essentials
  • The Importance of a Press Story
  • How to Pitch Print Media
  • How to Pitch Blogs
  • Independent Publicists
  • Distribution and Retail
  • The Physical Distribution Process
  • Independent Artists and Distribution
  • Distribution Fee and How It Is Calculated
  • Marketing to Traditional, Physical Retail
  • Benefits of Independent Retailers
  • Online and Terrestrial Radio
  • Working Noncommercial Radio
  • Tools for Researching Noncommercial Stations
  • Typical Expenses of Running a Noncommercial Radio Campaign
  • Independent Radio Promotion
  • Online Radio
  • The Direct-to-Fan Route for Touring
  • Traditional Approach to Touring: Booking Your Gig
  • Promoting the Show: Working with a Traditional Venue
  • Promoting the Show: What You Should Be Doing to Promote Yourself
  • Promoting the Show: Press
  • Promoting the Show: Retail
  • Routing Your Tour
  • Assignment 11: Finalizing Your Direct-to-Fan Marketing Plan

Lesson 12: Data, Analytics, and Measuring Your Results

  • Analytics and Data Overview: Old-School, Traditional Data Analysis Practices
  • Radio and Press
  • A Discussion of Old-School and New-School Data Techniques
  • Analytics and Data Overview: New-School Data Analysis Practices
  • Why Data Is the Future of the Music Business
  • Facebook
  • Using Third-Party Services to Analyze Social Outreach
  • Next Big Sound
  • Getting Started with Google Analytics
  • Adding Google Tracking to your Site
  • Google Analytics Overview: What to Look For
  • How to Use This Information for Marketing
  • Gauging the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns
  • E-mail Analytics
  • Widget Analysis
  • Twitter Analytics
  • Assignment 12: Analyzing the Success of Your Direct-to-Fan Approach


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Completion of Music Marketing 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Recommended Textbook(s)

Software Requirements

  • Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice, or other program that allows you to open and work with an Excel .xlsx spreadsheet file.

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection




Mike King is a course author, instructor, and the Vice President of Enrollment at Berklee College of Music and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Berklee Online. Prior to working at Berklee, Mike was the Marketing/Product Manager at Rykodisc, where he oversaw marketing efforts for label artists including Mickey Hart, Jeb Loy Nichols, Morphine, Jess Klein, Voices On The Verge, Bill Hicks, The Slip, Pork Tornado (Phish), Kelly Joe Phelps, and Frank Zappa's estate. Mike was the Director of Marketing and Managing Editor of Herb Alpert's online musician's resource, ArtistsHouseMusic, for three years.

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Mike has written and teaches three courses for Berklee Online: Music Marketing 101; Online Music Marketing: Campaign Strategies, Social Media, and Digital Distribution; and Music Business Trends and Strategies. His book, Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail was published by Berklee Press in 2009. Mike was recognized as the Best Music Business Teacher by the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) in 2011.

Mike has written for Making Music magazine, International Musician, Hypebot, and American Songwriter, and has been quoted in NPR Morning Edition, the Huffington Post, Billboard, The Boston Globe, Wired, CNN, the Boston Phoenix, The Chicago Tribune, Music Connection, and Muso. He's also presented at MIDEM, CMJ, SXSW, NAMM, NARM, SF Music Tech, Futures of Entertainment @ MIT, and Music 2.0. Read Less



Chandler Coyle is a partner and "digital geek" at the Topspin-certified digital marketing firm Music Geek Services based out of Chicago. Music Geek Services provides artist services for the music industry and been Topspin-certified since 2009. Music Geek has worked with, or is currently working with, acts such as Barenaked Ladies, Sloan, Said The Whale, Josh Rouse, The Odds, and Rhett Miller. From 2000-2010, Chandler managed a 10-person web development firm and has done everything from setting up networks to programming content management systems to create graphic designs for clients. Then, in 2010, Coyle brought his web skills to Music Geek Services where his passion is to help bands establish or enhance their online presence to increase their fan base and sell more music.


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