INTERVIEW: MUSIC MARKETING STRATEGIES WITH REBECCA SMART BAKKEN

Learn from the expert herself, as Rebecca Smart Bakken shares insights on the music marketing trends and actionable strategies for a successful promotion in 2024.

Technology is changing the way people discover and enjoy music. Streaming platforms have replaced physical albums, algorithms influence our tastes, and social media has become the lifeline for reaching new audiences. Artists find themselves caught in this whirlwind, where old strategies fade, and mastering new techniques is crucial for getting their music heard. That's why we turned to Rebecca Smart Bakken, a leading voice in music marketing, to shed light on how artists can thrive in this dynamic digital world.

Rebecca Smart Bakken is a music marketing strategist and the CEO of SMART music agency, known for her innovative approach to music marketing and promotion in the digital age. Her expertise has transformed the careers of hundreds of musicians, from established names like Chase & Status, BLOND:ISH and Eats Everything, to countless rising stars. In this interview with Videobolt, she shares actionable tips, highlights emerging trends, and emphasizes the tools and strategies musicians need to succeed in 2024.

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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Hello Rebecca, thanks for taking the time to speak with us! We're all so curious — the music scene changes fast! What are the must-do marketing strategies artists should focus on in 2024?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
You're absolutely right, the music industry is a whirlwind of change. First and foremost, content is still king! There's just no way around it. You have to do content! It’s the best way to get visibility these days because people are spending tons of time on social media absorbing content. I see musicians starting from scratch on platforms like TikTok and blowing up their account in record time with the right strategy. The key is to be creative and find ways to make your content stand out in the algorithm.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Is this affecting how musicians need to spend money on promotion?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Yeah, along with content strategy, budgets are shifting too. In the past, the focus was on spending heavily on ads, with less on influencers. That's now flipping. Expect to spend less on traditional ads and invest more strategically in influencers.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Why do you think this is happening?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Well, I’d say there are a few reasons for this. Data privacy rules are tightening, making ads less effective. Besides, there's something extra powerful about someone else vouching for your music – it’s more impactful than doing all the promotion yourself. That's why labels and artists are redirecting their attention and budgets towards influencer campaigns to spread the reach well beyond their own channels.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Back in the 80s MTV revolutionized the industry by introducing music videos. Do you see today's surge in visual content having a similar impact?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
TikTok and Reels are kinda the new MTV. That’s something I always emphasize. However, today’s “MTV” comes in the form of user generated content. Social media is where people discover new music these days. The goal is to get creators using your song, because the more it gets featured, the bigger your audience becomes.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
How would you compare this new situation with the early days of MTV?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
While MTV was all about music videos, TikTok and Reels are all about User Generated Content around the audio. And if your song gets picked up by the algorithm… it can blow up FAST! Another big difference is accessibility. It's way easier for anyone to make a Reel or TikTok than it ever was to get a video on MTV. Although labels with big budgets can certainly help spread a song faster through UGC, it is actually possible for anyone to make their music viral on these platforms.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
In your view, how do visuals impact the overall experience of a musical piece?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
From the moment MTV introduced music videos, it fundamentally changed the way we experience music. Since then, artists have become increasingly innovative in translating their music into captivating visual experiences, adding a powerful element of excitement into their work. Adding a visual element can elevate a track, allowing listeners to forge a deeper connection. It goes beyond simply hearing the song — it becomes a multi-sensory experience.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
So you feel different visual choices can enhance or even completely change the perception of music?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Absolutely! Think of lyric videos – they help the audience engage with the lyrics on a deeper level, leading to a greater understanding of the song's meaning. Beyond that, specific visual choices can reinforce a song's themes or create specific atmospheres – energetic, dreamlike, nostalgic. Ultimately, visuals amplify the emotional impact the music intends to create.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Indie artists and smaller labels are bombarded with advice to create engaging visuals for their music. But where should they start if they're on a limited budget?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Every artist needs a visualizer for their track. They're a secret weapon for any release strategy, instantly elevating your brand while being perfect for Spotify Canvas and social media promotion. Best of all, they're super simple, affordable, and quick to create.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Visualizers are great, but what other budget-friendly visual options are out there?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
The other option is lyric videos. They stand out as one of the most effective ways to get people connected to your tracks. When people read the lyrics as they listen, the connection to the song deepens automatically. I always advise artists I work with to produce a full lyric video for YouTube and tons of mini ones for Reels and TikTok.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
It looks like short-form video is everywhere becoming dominant, but how do artists stand out amidst the overwhelming amount of content?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Yes, short-form video content is KEY to growth these days. You have TikTok, Reels, and Shorts – perfect channels for tapping into cold audiences. The platforms are pushing short formats harder than ever, meaning there's massive potential for your content to get seen. But with so much content out there the competition is stiff! It’s not like a few years back when you could create a no-effort concept and poof go viral. You need to get innovative with your content. Think creatively!
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
What are some specific strategies you advise your clients to follow when they want to create unique short-form content?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
You have to think outside the box. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Think NEW! Knowing your target audience is essential. The nicher the better! For example, one of my SMART club artists is a dairy farmer who recently went viral on TikTok. In just two weeks, he gained 100,000 followers and racked up over 30M views – all from his fellow farmers and people interested in that niche. When it’s clear WHO you are for, it’s easier for the platforms to push your content to relevant people.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Everyone talks about the importance of community building for musicians, but let's be honest – it's incredibly challenging. What advice do you give your clients to approach this?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
This goes back to your niche. Think your audience is everyone? Think again! The broader your focus, the worse it gets. Sometimes your niche can be outside your typical music audience. Take for instance Deadmau5 who leveraged his passion for gaming to cultivate a community of gamers who also enjoy his music. Knowing your brand identity makes it easier to build a community of like-minded people who share similar interests. Community building can be tough, but it becomes much easier once you know exactly who you want to connect with. Start with a focused niche and grow from there.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
TikTok trends thrive on user-generated content, so how do you inspire fans to become your biggest promoters?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
This will not just happen organically, by itself. It takes a lot of HARD work. But the effort pays off when you see your music take on a life of its own through user videos! Start by creating tons of content featuring your track and reach out to people in your network to join in. You can even consider paid campaigns on the TikTok Creator Marketplace to expand your reach and get others to feature your tracks in their content.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Are there other ways to encourage creators to use your music?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Of course, think about how your song can relate to trends or become a soundtrack for specific moments. Caiti Baker's "I got big d*ck energy" is a great example of a catchy phrase that people used to express themselves. I also worked on a campaign where an artist's track became synonymous with quirky New York moments. The more you inspire people to connect your music with their own content, the more likely it is to spread organically.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Beyond marketing, could you talk about how lyric videos and music visualizers might actually shape the way someone connects with a song?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Yes, they definitely do! Adding a visual experience to your music means you're simultaneously stimulating multiple senses, allowing listeners to forge a much deeper emotional connection with your song. Lyric videos also help with enhancing connections with your tracks. By reading the lyrics along with the music, you engage more senses, strengthening your understanding and emotional response to the song.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
With so many platforms out there, how do you think musicians should choose where to be active?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Well, being present on different platforms is crucial for building a strong artist brand. I always advise my clients to optimize their content for posting across multiple channels. If you create a TikTok, don't just leave it there! Share it on Reels, Shorts, Facebook, etc. to maximize visibility. Focus your energy on one or two main platforms, then repurpose content for others. This way, you'll reach your target audience directly on their favorite platforms.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
With algorithms shaping discoverability on streaming platforms, do visual components play a role in how music is found and shared?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
You might be surprised, but visuals have a huge impact on how music performs on streaming platforms. Spotify is investing heavily in visual content. Tracks with Canvas see impressive results: a 145% increase in track saves and a 5% increase in overall streams. Plus, users who engage with Canvas content stay on the platform longer and are more likely to explore an artist's full catalog.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
They recently even expanded video options on the services, haven’t they?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Yeah, you now have the Clips section on Spotify where you can add more videos to your profile. Here you can add lyric videos, behind-the-scenes clips, making of videos, etc. Adding more visual content to your Spotify profile makes it easier to convert a casual listener to a dedicated fan directly on the streaming platforms where they are already discovering music.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
So, AI is becoming a big deal in music. What kind of impact do you think it will have, and what should artists be aware of?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
AI is poised to transform every aspect of the music industry, and this revolution has only just begun. But despite the fact that it offers exciting opportunities for artists – enhancing creativity, deepening audience engagement, and unlocking new revenue streams – it also raises key challenges.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
What do you mean?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Well, questions of artistic authenticity, copyright complexities, and the possibility for misuse of the technology cannot be ignored. Artists and the entire music industry will need to work together to navigate these opportunities and challenges to leverage the full potential of AI while preserving the essence of human creativity in music.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
What are some common mistakes you see artists make with their music marketing?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Not doing enough content! Basically giving up on their marketing. By the time release day comes along they are already tired of promoting it and want to move on to the next track. Promoting a track takes persistence! You are not Beyonce who can drop music and have tons of people rushing to go listen to it (not yet anyway!)
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
So, consistency and patience?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Exactly. While instant virality is the dream, it usually takes months for a song to gain traction.Think of Dear Silas – his track "I ain't stressin' today" finally blew up after three years of dedicated promotion. Keep the faith in your music, keep creating great content, and your audience will grow!
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Any favorite tools for musicians that work really well?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Right now, I'm seeing the best results for my artists on Instagram and TikTok. We use tools like Loomly to streamline our workflow and easily repurpose content across different platforms. However, on Instagram and TikTok we always post natively. For those 'talking head' videos, captions.ai is a lifesaver – it adds captions and cleans up the editing in a flash. And of course, Videobolt is our go-to for creating eye-catching visualizers and lyric videos that get our music noticed. I actually created this post on IG featuring my 85 favorite music marketing tools and you can of course find Videobolt as one of them. You can click here to learn more.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
So basically, an affordable way to test new releases?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
Exactly. If the visualizers and lyric videos are performing on the different platforms it is an indication that it is worthwhile spending the budget for a music video. However if you are not getting much traction with these assets it is also very risky to justify investing more into visual content if the algorithm isn’t pushing it through your initial testing. You can also collect the data of the people who have watched the visualizer or the lyric video and retarget them with your full blown music video.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Lastly, we'd love to learn more about you, Rebecca. What is that you do?
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
I empower artists to thrive in the digital age by offering a blend of strategic guidance and hands-on marketing support. I have tons of FREE advice on how to market your music and create an artist brand on my channels. You can find me on all the main ones like IG, TikTok, Youtube etc. Just look for Rebecca Smart Bakken or username rebecca_bakken. Every week I share free tips and music marketing breakdowns. I also have an online community of DIY musicians who need help with their music marketing called SMART club. This is where you can come and get personal help from me with your music marketing every week. It also has tons of online courses that will help you with your music marketing. Lastly I have my agency, SMART Music Agency, where my team does the marketing for artists and labels. We have social media managers and content creators who create and manage their content and even sometimes goes on the road with the artists to get the content we need. We have worked with artists like Chase & Status, BLOND:ISH, Eats Everything just to name a few.
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Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
This has been incredibly helpful, Rebecca – thank you for sharing your expertise with our readers!
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Rebecca Smart Bakken
CEO of SMART Music Agency
It was my pleasure! I enjoyed our conversation, and I hope your readers find the information valuable.

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Published on Apr 2, 2024 by
Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt

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