How They Market The Stars

Do you ever wonder how artists manage to establish and maintain themselves in an industry so saturated with talent? The answer, a calculated and vigorous marketing plan. 

Behind the face of the performer, label executives, digital strategists, artist management, interactive designers and other industry professionals construct bespoke plans for the release of their latest singles, EP’s and albums. Usually working in tangent with the artists movement, the team must first consider and analyse the act they have in-front of them, and from there decide the most appropriate techniques and assets to deploy. 

Below is an insight into the marketing plans of three current artists, who alongside their respected labels worked effortlessly to promote their brand. By constructing appropriate marketing tools to suit each individual demographic, their fanbases grew organically, the key theme being the use of social media as a primary source of data. For any unsigned artists wanting to release music, this information could be really useful, helping to map out which groups to target and what appropriate marketing tool to use. Though the scale of these releases in a financial sense are on a major label budget, the idea around considering your market before releasing is something that can be done for free.


Tom Grennan

Budget£25,000 +
Age14-45
Gender 50% – 50%
Location UK/Europe

Starting out as a relative unknown in an incredibly competitive and challenging market, Tom’s journey to the top was never going to be an easy task. His feature with Chase & Status on ‘When It All Goes Wrong’ in 2018 cemented his position as a current artist, however there was still the need to retain credibility on his own work. His marketing team triumphed in the early stages of planning by constructing a clear artist proposition from the start, targeting areas of Tom’s character that would be appreciated by his fans and music lovers alike. The campaign demographic categorised the most suitable social media outlets without the need for any extensive field-work, however by assembling all main platform profiles (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook) from scratch, the personable content could remain consistent and concise.

Though Tom’s persona has many marketable features, yet his affiliation with football clearly had the most substance in a creative sense, having played it at youth level a youngster. While the music remained the most important commodity, it was important for this connection to be well advertised, leading to regular appearances on Soccer AM and features with Premier League, Soccer Bible, BBC Sport, Goal.com. This marketing strategy worked alongside the existing social media campaign, which aimed to capture new fans by offering exclusive content including video premieres, audio teasers, first access to tickets, Facebook/Instagram live stream Q&As. Every single release had an accompanying gig announcement to keep audiences and listeners occupied with fresh content, sparking a vigorous set of live shows, breaking a Guinness World Record for the most concerts (10) in 12 hours in the making.


Ray Blk

Budget£25,001 +
Age0-60+
Gender 50% – 50%
Location Global

For many who are unfamiliar to the London music-scene, Ray Blk is an artist who has seen it all, from small social clubs south of the river to nationwide stadium tours. Her rhetoric is what many admire so much, tackling issues surrounding gun and knife violence as well as reinforcing self-worth and relationships with friends and family; people can empathise. The Island representatives involved in her successful ‘Empress’ campaign utilised her personable nature by ensuring that the sense of true sentiment in her music is reflected in the marketing strategy. The main element of the campaign was a YouTube takeover in their North London offices, allowing her to showcase her new work in the company of family members, friends, super fans, radio, press and brand contacts, bloggers and influencers. This allowed her team to incorporate all the elements of a successful project launch, including Q&A’s, meet and greets, and an intimate live performance in one shiny night. The evening itself included a first time very special performance of ‘Paradise’, naturally evoking a poignant and emotional reaction from spectators, reinforcing the sense of honesty and authenticity in her work as a performer. Furthermore, her affiliation with the Stephen Lawrence Foundation and other charities generated an even more wholesome atmosphere around the release, with Mama reaching over 4 million views on YouTube just a few weeks post release.

As the first unsigned artist to win the BBC’s Sound of 2017, Ray was always destined for greatness, most significantly in early 2019, which saw her open up for Nicki Minaj during the UK leg of her European tour. Her music speaks volumes, however its the ethical and well respected person behind the microphone that drives the brand that many have fallen in love with, epitomised by the initials in her stage name; BLK standing for Building Living Knowing, which she describes as her three main values.


Jorja Smith

BudgetN/A
Age18-44
Gender 50% – 50%
Location Global

Originally from Walsall, West Midlands, Jorja Smith’s meteoric rise has been well documented online and in the papers, but how did she do it? Being exposed to a wide variety of music at an early age, her drive and passion for music led her to embark on a scholarship at Aldridge School which gave her an opportunity to study classical singing. Surrounded by other talented musicians, her songwriting and vocal delivery grew in caliber, leading to her first single ‘Blue Lights, which peaked at No.22 on the UK independent music charts. This was essentially the catalyst for her success, leading to collaborations with Maverick Sabre on “Where Did I Go” and “Carry Me Home, and even more significantly a slot on Drakes ‘Boy Meets World’ Tour.

Though there were more than 12 executives behind marketing her debut album ‘Lost and Found’, this campaign started only six weeks prior to the release date. The team focused on reimagining her previous work in order to generate excitement around her latest offering. It was clear from the start that her music targeted a wide demographic, so in order to build awareness amongst new listeners, they had to lean on the fanbases of similar existing artists (Maverick Sabre, Stormzy). By choosing the most suitable marketing ploys in relation to target audience (in this case Facebook ads), they were able to lay the foundations for the rest of the campaign. By focusing their attention on outdoor, TV and web player advertising, Jorja and her team were able to replicate the previous success they had with ‘On My Mind’, provoking the attention of old and new fans alike. The album itself was nominated for a Mercury Prize as well as gaining over 150 million streams; not bad for a six week plan.


While all of the above mentioned artists have what seems like an endless amount of money and experience behind their release campaigns, the essence of each strategy is something that any budding artist could adopt. Taking time to evaluate your target audience and then selecting the appropriate strategy will mean a more concise plan of how to build anticipation around your latest release.

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