From social media to live events, there are countless ways to market your music as an independent musician. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of gimmicky or superficial promotion that ultimately falls flat, so we are detailing 10 music marketing tips for artists looking to grow their following.
Before we dive in, remember this, the best way to prepare yourself for a great promo run is to start with great music. It may seem like with enough marketing and promo, any track can become a hit, but if the music you're releasing doesn't have a unique or appealing sound, it will be hard to gain traction. Without a label backing you, the best first step for independent musicians is to start by creating a strong personal brand and sound that resonates with a core audience and then look to promote yourself more broadly.
The first step to music promotion anyone can do from their phone in a matter of minutes: sign up for artist services from the major streaming platforms. Each platform has its own tools for artists such as Spotify for Artists, Apple Music for Artists, Amazon Music for Artists, Deezer for Creators, and YouTube for Artists. These tools allow you to submit music to playlists, edit your artist bio, view streaming analytics, and have greater control over your artist profile and the promotion of your music.
While social media isn't always the most direct way to reach out to your fans, it is a useful place to make big announcements and build your online musical aesthetic. It allows you to create a dialogue with your audience and build relationships, which can lead to more fans and better opportunities. Each social media platform has its strengths and weaknesses, so you should consider which one is best suited to your needs. For example, if you're targeting teenagers and young adults, then Snapchat and Instagram may be good options, but if your music is more popular with older generations, you might see better results on Facebook or even LinkedIn. Listed below are some great ideas for social media content that helps boost engagement while promoting your music at the same time.
Contests and giveaways: Giving away a few custom band tees or a VIP ticket to your next show is an opportunity to bolster engagement with your account, especially if you ask your followers to share your page with friends as one of the rules of the giveaway.
Music and tour updates: Fans who follow your socials are excited about your new music and the chance to see you live. Promoting upcoming releases and tours is a great way to build up the hype around your band and even gets fans to go back and listen to your old songs in anticipation of upcoming music.
Live Q&A sessions: This is a great way to get to know your fans and give them the exclusive feeling of talking directly with their favorite artist. This can be a quick win without much prep work, simply go live when you find yourself with 10-20 minutes of free time. Or you can de a prescheduled live to build anticipation.
Behind-the-scenes content: Another way of creating exclusivity with your social media followers is to share never-before-seen footage of your band, before and after your shows, as well as on tour and while in the studio. Exclusive content helps your followers get to know you better, and also helps to build your brand as entertaining, likable people, outside of your music itself.
It may feel a little old school, but email lists are an important way to reach out to as well as expand your fan base. Whether you are sending out updates about upcoming music releases, tour dates, or ticket sales, a personalized email can go a long way in turning a casual listener into a lifelong fan. Make sure to promote your email list on multiple platforms as well as in person. Keep a link to the mailing list on your social media channels, and create posts/stories to promote it. Have a pop-up on your website that allows for easy sign-up access, and even bring sign-up sheets or QR codes to concerts that ask your fans for their email address. That way, everyone who hears your music live has a way to keep up to date with your newest endeavors after the show. After your email list is created and you have a content calendar ready, sign up for an email marketing service such as Constant Contact or HubSpot to automate this process.1
The next step is to regularly send content in the form of a monthly newsletter. Be sure each email contains updates about your music, releases, upcoming shows, and a call to action. A call to action could be asking them to shop for merch, stream on Apple Music, or come to an upcoming show.
Utilizing visuals that represent your music helps to give fans a better idea of your style, sound, and aesthetics. It also helps to catch the attention of new fans and potential followers. Your video doesn't have to be flashy, but make sure to invest time and effort into brainstorming a video that will keep your audience excited and engaged.
One path you can take is to go the personal route, compiling footage from live shows and studio sessions to show your fans the process of the creation of that song. On the other hand, you can think about what that song means conceptually, and create a storyline throughout the video that promotes your theme i.e love, heartbreak, a carefree lifestyle, or whatever you choose to make music about.
Playing live shows is an important part of promoting your music. Hosting an album or single release party, or the premiere of a music video are great ways to build buzz around a release and bring music fans together to enjoy your work. For shows not centered around a specific release, you can still make efforts to promote your music and build your audience to stay connected after the show. Ask the audience to pull out their phone and follow you on their preferred streaming platform or your social channels. You can even go so far as to give a free sticker to any fan who shows they follow you on Spotify after the show! The experience of live music is truly unique. As an artist, you want to ensure you are bringing that magic to the experience of your live shows to build fan engagement.
It's important to remember that success doesn't come overnight. While it may be tempting to pay for listeners, this will not contribute to real, long-lasting success. This technique is not only unproductive it's also dangerous. Streaming services that suspect you are buying listens may take down your song, and sometimes even ban your profile altogether. Additionally, it is infinitely more gratifying to know that real people love your music, and gives you a better perspective on your growth as an artist. If you pay for streams, you are creating a false sense of popularity for yourself, making it hard to judge when your music is being positively received by your fan base.
Aside from giving you bragging rights, press placements can lead to more broadcast coverage and industry attention. They also allow you to showcase your music to a wider audience and can help you sell more music. It’s a great way to let people know who you are and what your music is about. The best way to start this process is to submit your music to different music media platforms and network with local reporters. You can also send out an electronic press kit, or pitch your music to music blogs, radio stations, and magazines. Additionally, there is nothing stopping you from putting up blog posts about your music on your own website. You can use this as a way to publish long-form content, like the story behind how you wrote a song or the full lyrics to your album.
No artist can ignore streaming and playlisting if they want to reach the maximum amount of people with their music. By utilizing streaming platforms and playlisting, artists can get their songs in front of an audience that would be much more difficult to access via traditional methods. Furthermore, streaming and playlisting allow artists to track the success of their songs and measure their reach, giving them valuable insights into their fanbase and the success of their music.
The best way to get on a playlist is to create high-quality music that resonates with the audience of the playlist. You should also be sure to share your music with bloggers, music curators, and radio DJs who are well-aligned with your sound and genre. Building connections in your music scene is a key step to reaching people who handle playlisting. If it is advertised, you can also reach out directly to the playlist curator to make sure they are aware of your music. Simply searching "@gmail.com" on Spotify is one way to find curators. If you have the budget, Groover is a paid option for reaching playlist curators.
Spotify and Apple music are constantly updating their editorial playlists, and are on the lookout for the hottest new artists, so don't get discouraged if you don't make it the first time. Keep trying and remember that the quality of your music is more important than a spot on any playlist.
There is no simple answer to how to promote your music, but by creating a strong brand, remaining consistent with your online presence, and producing high-quality music, you are putting yourself in the best position to effectively promote yourself.
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