QR for PR: A Guide to Using QR Codes for Music Promotion

Written by Michael Whittington

You know me, I’m a rock star.

Well…maybe you don’t know me. This is my first post on this mobile marketing blog, after all. Hi! I’m Mike and I’m a rock star. Okay, I’m not a star yet but with some good old fashioned talent and a little concept called exposure I’ll be on my way. Talent is pretty much spoken for—either you have it, or you practice until you do. Exposure is another story. People still “get good” at their careers or hobbies the same way they did centuries ago, however, as the world changes, so do the effective methods of exposure. Remember the movie Airheads? Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler take radio station personnel hostage in hopes of getting their song played. Today, the radio is no longer the forefront of the music industry. We have the internet and you can upload as many songs as you want to different sites. Getting your music online is a cakewalk, but getting it heard is another story.

Who’s biting, really? It is important to use social media so people can find you, but 9999 times out of 10,000, they aren’t going to. YouTube is not a catch-all. The person looking for cat videos is never going to find your song with their search queries. Facebook won’t do the trick either. How can you make fans if they don’t know you exist? Some artists from genres all across the board have applied a mobile marketing strategy and are finding that QR codes are the secret ingredient.

Take the point-of-view of the random passerby. He or she has seen the flyer promoting your upcoming concert or performance in the subway station or on a telephone pole. Even if this person is free and interested in hearing new music, they probably won’t beat themselves up if they forget about it. What are you to them? They may enjoy a peaceful night at home in front of their computer, why would they sacrifice that time to see a band they’re not even sure they like? I’m guilty of it too. I tell myself I’ll stop by and check it out but later I just can’t convince myself to put my shoes and jacket back on. However, if a band I like is in town I cancel my other plans and mark my calendar so I don’t forget. The trick is to get people to know you before they see you and a crinkled piece of printer paper can’t do that very well. Not until now. Slap a QR code on there so the passersby can whip out their phone, scan it and be taken to some of your internet media. Be mindful, you probably have less than sixty seconds to catch their interest. If not, it’s over. In many cases, the sheer sound or genre of your music will turn people away. It isn’t because you aren’t talented, it’s simple taste. Even if only one out of five people who scan your QR code stop by your show, it’s still much better than no one. You probably won’t want grumpy people who are difficult to satisfy in the audience anyway.

Know the Music Biz list a number of innovative ways QR codes can help independent musicians out. As part of their mobile marketing campaign, artists can link to:

  • Their videos, including an exclusive “meet the band” video that might only be accessible to fans who scan the code.
  • Discounts on merchandise
  • Entry into exclusive contests.

Also, one band at CD Baby mentions linking to a site that plays their new single on arrival. All across the internet you can find bands who used the same method, many of which also chose to make their song available for free download. Other artists link directly to the music itself using a widget from the popular site SoundCloud. For information on linking a QR code to a SoundCloud widget check out this short blog.

Know the Music Biz suggests including QR codes in or on the following places for an effective mobile marketing campaign:

  • Flyers
  • Album artwork
  • Stickers, shirts and other promotional items
  • Others

I’d add your websites and social media profiles to this list. Obviously it is senseless to do this if you could just provide a hyperlink, so only put a QR code on your site if it has a special offer. It is a poor mobile marketing strategy to waste someone’s time.

Want to see a man with a beard and a video production budget reaffirm most of what I just said?

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