Online Music Marketing: Campaign Strategies, Social Media, and Digital Distribution


Authored by Mike King


Course Code: OMBUS-274

Next Semester
Starts June 29

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


The Internet has created a seismic shift in the music industry. Traditional physical marketing outlets, while still important, have been augmented with 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 and emerging technologies artists can use to generate interest in their music, acquire new fans, and sell their music. The course begins with an introduction to online marketing—the opportunities available, case studies on how artists are generating interest online, ways to optimize the fan experience, and the major differences between online and physical marketing campaigns. From there, the course covers the basics of developing your own Web site; securing a domain and hosting company, developing an optimization strategy so potential fans can find your site using the search engines, and best practices for creating a fantastic user experience.

Once you have your own site in order, we look at ways to optimize your visibility and acquire new fans using social media and third-party sites like Twitter, Facebook,, YouTube, Wikipedia, and more. We'll talk about the best methods for generating demand, look at successful artists and what they are doing to build their community online, and explore other organic (as opposed to paid) marketing opportunities online. Once we've discussed the ways to build up your community on third party sites, we'll consider effective pricing and product techniques designed to reward your most enthusiastic fans, while helping to generate a higher net margin for you as an artist.

To help expand your marketing and sales outreach, we'll discuss pricing details and options for third-party distribution and sales partners (such as iTunes, Amazon, Tunecore, CD Baby, and others), as well as artist-service-based partners (Reverbnation, Topspin, Nimbit, Bandcamp, and others). The final lesson in the course presents options for integrating all of these online concepts into your offline activities (such as touring, selling merch, traditional retail options, and press) to enable a fully integrated marketing campaign, one that is timed to generate as much interest (and sales) as possible!

By the end of this course, you'll have mastered the art of online music marketing, and have a fully timed, integrated, and optimized marketing plan that you can use to build up your digital touch points, generate interest in your music, and sell your music online.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Develop a well-rounded approach to marketing and selling your music online
  • Utilize the power of social media outlets to build your fan base
  • Gain a broad overview of all the marketing segments available to musicians, with a particular focus on online-related initiatives
  • Learn traditional and nontraditional pricing and marketing strategies
  • Gain an in-depth understanding on the use of widgets, the importance of Web optimization, best practices for e-mail, and more
  • Develop a solid foundation in effective messaging, branding, and communication
  • Understand how to properly use analytics to identify your niche and target your audience
  • Create a timeline and a finalized marketing plan for your music release
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Lesson 1: Music Marketing: Past, Present, and Future

  • The State of the Record Industry
  • Discussion: The Record Industry vs. The Music Industry
  • Traditional Record Label Sales, Marketing, and Distribution
  • Noncommercial and Commercial Radio
  • Distribution and Retail Marketing
  • Press and Live Touring
  • Online Marketing
  • Facts, Figures, and Details of Traditional Record Marketing
  • Traditional Physical Retail
  • Online Retailers
  • Terrestrial Radio
  • Touring
  • Direct-to-Fan Examples
  • Assignment 1: Direct-to-Fan Marketing

Lesson 2: Getting Started with Online Music Marketing

  • The Middle Class of Musicians
  • The Middle Class of Musicians - Rachael Yamagata
  • The Middle Class of Musicians - Sloan
  • The Middle Class of Musicians - Will Dailey
  • Direct-to-Fan: The Changing Economics of the Music Business
  • Making a 360 Deal with Yourself
  • Derek Sivers on Finding the Right Partners
  • Terry McBride on Nettwerk and Diversification
  • Discussion: Building Your Online Music Marketing Team
  • Introduction to Online Marketing and Social Media
  • Hugh Macleod on Social Marketing and "Social Objects"
  • The Online Marketing Funnel
  • How Social Media Has Changed the Marketing Funnel
  • Assignment 2:Marketing Throughout the Creative Process

Lesson 3: Creating Your Web Presence

  • Creating a Compelling (and Optimized!) Web Site
  • Getting Started: Out of the Box Web Site Solutions
  • The User Experience and Usability
  • Content is Still King on Your Web Site
  • Effective Use of Media
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Site Copy
  • Behind the Scenes: Metadata and More
  • Linking Strategies
  • Blogging and Establishing Your Voice Online
  • Gary Vaynerchuk on Blogging Best Practices
  • Additional Blogging Best Practices
  • Case Studies: Artist Sites with Effective Blogs
  • Assignment 3: Optimizing Your Own Web Site

Lesson 4: Mailing Lists

  • E-mail Marketing: An Overview
  • Email: Best Practices
  • Email: Building Up Your List
  • Case Study: Rachael Yamagata
  • Discussion: Email Acquisition Strategies
  • Additional Ways to Collect Email Addresses
  • Email Service Providers
  • MailChimp
  • FanBridge
  • Bandzoogle
  • Case Study: Asthmatic Kitty and MailChimp
  • Widgets: An Overview
  • Email Collection Widgets
  • Examples of Widgets in Use
  • Assignment 4: Critiquing an Artist's Mailing List Sign-Up Process

Lesson 5: Identifying and Targeting Your Niche Market

  • The Importance of Niche Marketing
  • Examples of the History of Traditional Push Marketing in the Record Business
  • Seth Godin on Niche Marketing
  • Gary Vaynerchuck on Niches and Social Media
  • Jeff Jarvis on Niche Marketing
  • Demographics, Geographics, and Psychographics: Finding Your Tribe
  • The Problems with Demographics
  • A Background on Psychographics
  • Tips for Identifying Your Target Fans through Psychographics
  • Interview with D.A. Wallach of Chester French
  • Branding Considerations for the Internet Age
  • Knowing What Your Fans Want to Buy
  • Effective Branding
  • Assignment 5: Outline Demographic and Psychographic Traits

Lesson 6: Building Your Community and Generating Demand

  • Online Channel-Based Marketing for Musicians
  • Demand Generation: The Four Major Segments of Online Marketing
  • A Framework for Marketing Across Different Channels
  • Facebook and Marketing Opportunities
  • Online Marketing Opportunities on Facebook
  • Facebook: Curating the Newsfeed
  • Helpful Third Party Services for Facebook Marketing
  • Twitter
  • Twitter Best Practices
  • Twitter in Action:
  • Instagram Best Practices
  • Instagram in Action
  • Collaborative Marketing Outlets
  • Paid Marketing Opportunities on Third-Party Social Networking Sites: Facebook
  • Video Promotion Techniques
  • Erin McKeown and the Cabin Fever Series
  • Assignment 6: Expand Your Digital Touch Points

Lesson 7: Digital Distribution

  • Online Retail and Distribution: The Basics
  • Why Third-Party Distribution?
  • What is Distribution, Exactly?
  • Online Distribution vs. Physical Distribution
  • The Details: Third-Party Online Music Distribution Partners
  • Self-Service Online Distributors
  • CD Baby
  • TuneCore
  • Ditto Music
  • DistroKid
  • Larger Independent Online Distributors with Benefits
  • Online Music Retail Models and Pay Rates: Permanent Downloads, Streams, Advertising
  • The Permanent Download Model
  • The Subscription Streaming Model
  • Assignment 7: Analyze an Artist's Third Party's Distribution and Retail Options

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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