Kevin Carr, Oceano Musician and Digital Marketing Expert, Writes The Musician’s Guide to Digital Marketing | Arts | San Luis Obispo

At the Local Digital Marketing Guru Kevin Carrthe new book, The Musician’s Guide to Digital Marketingit begins with a contemporary myth: “Fate was written in the stars for the eager YouTuber. His life changed abruptly after a viral video, which led to a placement on a top Spotify playlist, which led to a meeting with a record executive. She caused an overnight sensation with millions of fans and followers. The royalty checks flowed like Capistrano’s salmon….”

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  • Photo courtesy of Melissa Morrow Photography
  • A VERY SPECIAL SET OF SKILLS Oceano resident and digital marketing expert Kevin Carr knows how to optimize the digital realm so artists can reach their widest audiences, and he explains it all in his new eBook, Musician’s Guide to Digital Marketing.

It sounds like a dream come true for any budding musician, but as Carr wrote in his book, “If you believe in those fairy tales – sometimes called the ‘American Idol fantasy’ – then this book is not for you. Ditch the power chords and play Powerball instead, because winning the lotto is more likely.”

Carr’s book is not for dreamers. It’s for DIYers, and what it contains are practical and actionable digital marketing strategies to help artists create a brand, logo, and electronic press kit (EPK), as well as consider search engine optimization (SEO), create memorable artist photos and develop an effective website.

The book, available at and the basis for an upcoming Cuesta College Community Programs course in the fall titled Digital Marketing for Musicians – clearly and succinctly shows artists how to rule the interwebs. But why only digital and no hard copies?

“I thought it would be more appropriate for a digital marketing book,” Carr said over email. “It also allows me to keep it relatively up-to-date every year or so, which I plan to do.”

Carr knows how difficult it is for bands to establish themselves online. He is himself a musician. He self-deprecatingly describes himself as an “ugly drummer”, mainly because his uncle is master drummer Steve Hilstein, former owner of SLO’s The Drum Circuit and current owner of musical pattern.

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MAKE YOUR MARK Kevin Carr's new eBook - A Musician's Guide to Digital Marketing - gives artists the concepts and tools they need to maximize their online presence, grow their audience and market their music, available through Amazon.  - BOOK COVER COURTESY OF KEVIN CARR

  • Book cover courtesy of Kevin Carr
  • LEAVE YOUR MARK Kevin Carr’s new eBook—Musician’s Guide to Digital Marketing— gives artists the concepts and tools they need to maximize their online presence, grow their audience and market their music, available through Amazon.

“My main instrument is the guitar, actually, but everybody plays guitar,” Carr joked. “I thought drums might be a little more interesting. At the Musicians Institute of Hollywood, I finished the Music Business program in 2005, when the music industry was at its wit’s end following Napster and the file sharing Fascinating time to be there, to say the least Internships from this program have been the most useful: a record label and an artist management agency These opportunities revealed to me the inner workings of the mainstream music industry, which was of course ripe for disruption.”

Carr became interested in the business side of music in high school, where his KDC promotions “booked and promoted local gigs in the early years here in South County SLO – for churches, community centers, recreation halls , etc. I even booked a few national acts, which is what led me to attend the Institute of Musicians.

So what made him decide that this book was necessary?

“Is there a need? I guess we’ll see,” he said. “My own experience as a musician and digital marketer has led me to believe this. Most musicians are DIY in every aspect, not just how they write, record and perform their music. I guess that I wanted to provide something that was both affordable and actionable. I know what it’s like to put together a small budget and try to use all the free tools at your disposal. I also didn’t I’ve seen books that have really looked at the weeds of digital marketing: audience building, advertising campaigns, conversions, etc. Most marketing materials, even those aimed at musicians, like to talk in general terms. I didn’t just want to get into the weeds, I wanted to smash them.

Practical information and clear writing are definitely the hallmark of the book. If you don’t know what an EPK is or what SEO means, Carr’s book spells it all out.

“Starting a band is the easiest thing in the world, but launching a career in music is a lot harder,” Carr explained. “Musicians need to be informed of what is expected of them, in terms of self-promotion. There is a cost, mental, physical and financial. When I was playing in Function, we never uttered the phrase “advertising budget”. We care about the studio budget, the gas money, the merchandising, the gear. But if I could start all over again, I would have approached the whole thing with a campaign mindset. You don’t record an album and hope for the best. You create a campaign budget and include a line item for Facebook Ads. It sounds lame and perhaps unartistic, but that’s the reality of building an audience in our time.”

Carr’s book clearly anticipates the pitfalls to come. For example, in the second section on building fans with content, he cautions against online content that doesn’t get the interaction you hoped for: “In your moments of desperation, it’s important to remember two things: content is not a failure but an opportunity to learn what your audience wants, and your audience is not rejecting or ignoring you, they are rejecting and ignoring your content.”

It foresees and sympathizes all in one.

“Anyone who posted a status update on Facebook – and only received a handful of likes – can understand,” he noted. “Much of our world is digital, so it’s no surprise that a disappointing engagement on a meaningful message can drive us to despair. It happens to content creators all the time, but maybe ten times more. We create blogs, make videos, play live, . .. and when it’s over we can feel devastated when social networks advance without really considering our art. Sometimes it’s due to the algorithm, to other times it’s the content itself, most of the time it’s a mix of both. The goal is to achieve a “nothing is precious” mindset. Learn what you can, reuse what you can and try again. Easier said than done, I know.

“What I share in the book are years of experience in digital campaigning and brand building,” he concluded. “It’s not so much secrets, but earned badges. On the contrary, sharing this knowledge helps me justify all my years of business marketing, which is just something I’ve fallen into. I’ve always dreamed of finding a way to merge my career in digital marketing and my passion for music, and I think this is the realization of that dream.” Δ

Contact senior writer Glen Starkey at [email protected]

Cathy W. Howerton