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It's Not The Tools That Don't Work, it's The Band

It’s not the tools that don’t work, it’s the band.

This is an article by Marcus Taylor, founder of The Musician’s Guide

It fascinates me how two artists can have polar opposite opinions about the same music marketing service or tool. Who is right – if either? Is it the tool’s fault or the artists?

Having met and discussed this with lots of artists over the past few months, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

You get out what you put in

Whether you’re using Stageit, Reverbnation, Bandcamp, or any other music marketing service, you get out what you put in.

For example, FanDistro is a music marketing service that I whole-heartedly support, but it’s an interesting tool, because it really highlights the aspect of getting out what you put in.

FanDistro allows you to offer rewards to fans who introduce your music to enough of their friends e.g. a free download of your album when 5 friends share your music on Facebook. As you can imagine, if you create a page and do nothing you get nothing. If you work on creating amazing rewards, your music spreads like wildfire.

To illustrate my point, here are a few live examples of artists who have set up projects that are getting hundreds of distros (shares) on lots of their songs. These artists have clearly put a lot of effort into setting up rewards that they know will result in their music being shared.

Meanwhile, there are a whole host of artists who setup these kinds of pages with nothing more than a few tracks and basic bio information and expect to somehow build fans from it. The results, unsurprisingly, looks like this…


The moral of the story? You get out what you put in.

Tools are tools, not silver bullets

The purpose of a screwdriver is not to magically make a cupboard put itself together. It’s to make your life easier when you’re screwing the cupboard together. It’s not a silver bullet, it’s simply a tool.

I know many artists who sign up for every new tool hoping that it’s the silver bullet that will make them rich or famous. While I don’t discourage being open minded about new tools (some of the new kids on the block are the best around IMO), you shouldn’t expect the tool to do the work for you.

View tools as a means of making your life easier and assisting you with your goals, not being a silver bullet.

It all comes down to the music

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many marketing dollars or man-hours you put into promoting your single if it’s not going to be shared or listened to more than once.

The process of music going viral and generating opportunities relies on the power of compounding, which I’ve talked about before on Music Think Tank. Your song must be shared at an exponential rate. It must also be entertaining to generate opportunities, such as shows, deals, and further publicity opportunities.

Final thoughts: Is it the tool’s fault?

Here’s where I get a bit stuck, and would love some feedback from anyone in the comments below – is it the music marketing service’s responsibility to make it easy to get effective results?

In other words, if you went over to Bandpage or BandsinTown and added their app to your Facebook page, but didn’t add any tour dates, is it their fault for not making that step intuitive enough, or is it the artist’s fault for being lazy or not putting in the effort to understand how to make the tool work?

The Musician’s Guide was launched in 2009 by Marcus Taylor, a former indie label manager and artist from Oxfordshire, with a passion to help musicians learn about building their fanbase. attracts over 300,000 musicians from all over the World every year.

To learn more about Marcus, click here. Alternatively if you’d like to get in touch or arrange a coffee date, you can email (below) or send him a tweet.


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