There is no easy route to getting your music noticed, and any company that is selling a foolproof way to get 10k streams is probably selling snake oil.
The music industry is fluid and ever-changing; what was in yesterday is out today, and it takes so much more than an awesome EP or album to get noticed.
The rise of music streaming and YouTube as vehicles for industry success has meant that there are thousands of unsigned bands, solo artists and other musicians all vying for attention, and without proper marketing, even the greatest song in the world will get no traction.
But there are ways you can market your music to get noticed.
Of course, what this means in practice for you as a musician depends on a lot of factors, from the genre you play, to the type of exposure you are looking for.
Here we will reveal the most important things to think about when marketing your music.
What is the Aim of a Music Marketing Strategy?
For most musicians, the ultimate end goal of building a music career is to get signed to a record label and make music full-time.
For other musicians, it might be establishing themselves as the best wedding band in the country and being booked up every weekend.
Whatever the end goal or aim is, the number one thing (besides professionally produced, well-written music with tight instrumentals), is that fickle mistress of fan engagement.
Fan engagement is one of the most important steps to creating a loyal fanbase. More than just clicks and listens for ad revenue and sponsorships, you want to create a hardcore group of superfans that are dedicated to you and your music.
According to Eventbrite, word-of-mouth is the single most effective channel of new music discovery, and loyal fans are the best source for this.
Fan engagement means:
- Being consistently present where the fans are, whether that is at local live shows or on social media.
- Being authentic in your presence – your persona as a musician is an inherent part of your brand and is what will draw your fans to you.
- Lastly, it means sustaining what you have built by showing up daily and putting as much effort into interaction as you have in creating your EP.
Where to Start?
Learning as much as you can about digital marketing is a good start. But here are some things to think about when first starting your journey into music marketing:
Before you go in all guns blazing, you need to focus on planning. This can be as simple as brainstorming ideas of unique things that you can do to get noticed – and some of the ideas in this article should help.
The only way to know what works is to try out different methods and measure the results – and a marketing master plan is crucial to your success. Create one. Now.
There are some thoughts on creating your music marketing blueprint here.
Know Your Fans
You need to know your audience. Ask yourself:
- Who is your ideal fan?
- Where do they hang out?
- Who would be in attendance at your ideal gig?
These are the people to target and to usher through the stages of fandom.
The stages of fandom are based on the research of Jeff James and Daniel Funk, who looked at the psychological journey of sports fans – but this theory is appropriate for any type of fan.
Every fan interaction should aim to complete the cycle of:
Downloads and Facebook likes are not as important as creating allegiant die-hard fans that will do whatever it takes to support you.
Know Your Competition
You should also make sure you know the market and analyze your competitors.
- Who are your biggest competitors locally and online?
- What are they doing?
- How are you different?
Look for their strengths and see how you can use that information, and see what their weaknesses are to capitalize on them.
The Electronic Press Kit
Creating an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) should be one of the first marketing actions you take.
There are several templates available online to help you decide how to structure yours, but the main things you should include are:
- Music – Provide either a link to your music (or a built-in music player) in the EPK. Make sure it works and points to the best song(s) for the best results.
- Bio – Your artist bio is like an elevator pitch, memorably telling your unique story.
- Imagery – If you want to get noticed, professional photography is essential.
- Touring history – Let the recipients know where you have played – and when – so they can see how active you are in the local and wider area.
- Press cuttings – Include links to press mentions.
- Key info – Links to social media pages and all contact information. Make it simple for interested parties to get in touch with you.
- Social statistics – In this influencer market, having a good, interactive following on social media, YouTube and streaming sites goes a long way to making you appear a serious contender.
The EPK is your (rather large) calling card, so make sure it contains all your greatest hits.
You should submit your EPK (usually as a PDF, by email) to the press, venues you are interested in, agents and record labels.
The Best Ways to Market Yourself
Some tactics are better than others. Here we cover the best ways you can market yourself and your music.
First things first. Build a website.
This is a one-stop-shop for everything a fan needs – from the immediate download of music, to merch, bios, tour dates and more.
Websites do not have to be expensive or difficult – many hosting sites offer cheap domain names and come with simple web page builders and themes you can use.
Building a website should be one of the first things you do when you launch your music.
When fans visit your website, ask them to sign up to receive your email newsletter.
Email marketing is still an effective way to share information and encourage visits to your website – which can then convert into leads, fans, and ultimately, sales.
Use something like an exclusive track download or discount as an incentive.
There are so many places fans can digitally stream and/or download your music, including Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, YouTube Music, SoundCloud, Amazon Music, and more.
There are aggregators and distributors out there that can get your music out to all relevant platforms for any independent artist, and all you need to do is decide where you want your music to be found.
Remember that you don’t need to be limited to just one platform, either – judge where you want to be depending on where your fans find their music.
Also, don’t forget to ask to be included in playlists.
Both algorithmic and editor-created playlists can reach hundreds of millions of listeners all around the globe, so submit your unreleased track for consideration.
Social media can be a time-consuming way to connect with fans, but in most cases, it is where the people are, so it is worth having an active presence.
It is a good idea to create a consistent username across all platforms – It would be advisable to reserve the relevant username on platforms you don’t yet use.
Here is an overview of the key social media destinations that can make a difference for your music career today:
- Facebook – Facebook is undeniably the largest social media platform. Create a Facebook page for your music and get access to detailed analytics. Share your blog posts, videos, music for fan consumption.
- Instagram – Instagram is a huge platform that is all about visual content. But this does not just mean static photos. With the growth of IGTV and Reels, video shares can garner a lot of interest, too. Use relevant hashtags to help people discover what you are doing.
- TikTok – Short and sweet, the videos on TikTok tend to be presented to users according to algorithms. This platform is great for creating fans through quick, viral videos and funny, relatable content.
- Twitter – Great for self-promotion in short sentences, sharing content from other platforms, and getting shares and retweets. Use for brand building and monitoring mentions. Connect with venues and give a shout out when you are performing.
Although often lumped in with social media platforms, the importance of YouTube can’t be overstated.
When fans are searching for a song or an artist, they are almost as likely to search for them on YouTube as they are on Google.
Creating your own channel is simple, and you can upload any number of different types of videos, such as:
- Music videos
- Lyric videos
- Gig performances
- Live-streamed performances
- Equipment reviews
Regular, scheduled and reliable uploads of quality videos can get great traction – just be sure to enable channel recommendations and use tags, effective and interesting titles, and detailed descriptions.
It is an unfortunate truth in marketing that you must spend money to make money – but paid advertising doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive if done right.
Utilizing the Facebook or Instagram ads algorithm, for example, can boost the reach of your posts in a highly targeted way.
Spotify ads are available and can reach listeners while they are already listening to music, and there are Google ads and all sorts of other paid advertising platforms available.
If you want to take this part seriously, it might be time to find a PR or marketing company – for a price, of course.
Superfans love to shout about their support, so creating merchandise is not only a great way to make money but also a way to get your brand seen.
T-shirts, stickers, patches and magnets are all great options for simple-to-design merch that can be sold both online and at shows.
Top Tips for Effective Music Marketing
How do you ensure that your music marketing efforts remain effective? Here’s what you need to know:
To avoid flogging a dead horse and pouring energy into ineffective marketing methods, you need to analyze what you are doing.
Luckily, on almost all platforms, there will be built-in tools that can help – from Facebook Page Analytics through to website counters, YouTube Creator Dashboard and the Spotify for Artists app – all the data is available for you to see what is working – and what is not.
It can be a full-time job marketing your music, and although you should be putting as much effort into it as you do creating the music, you do not want to be wasting your time on strategies that are not working.
Engage Your Fans
Turning those who have just noticed you into superfans requires engagement.
At every opportunity, get immersed in conversation and share authentic insights that will allow people to see the person or people behind the music.
Some ideas to get you started:
- Share some behind the scenes photos or footage
- Encourage fans to check-in at a venue and share pics with a branded hashtag
- Answer questions from fans
- Share user generated content
- Share news and songs from other artists
- Live stream practice sessions or informal performances
Show up on social media and in the YouTube comments to give fans an authentic interactive experience – make sure they feel recognized and appreciated and have real conversations where you can.
Plan Your Content
There are so many types of content that you can create for social media – and with the right planning, these can be used and repurposed for any number of destinations.
Creating a detailed plan of how and where to use specific content will make it easier to ensure that everything is covered where you need it and where it will be most effective.
Play Live Regularly
There is nothing better than playing live as a musician, so get out there and show fans what you can do in real life.
A killer set and brilliant live experience for your fans will earn you a local, loyal following that will encourage other venues to book you – and then you can take it on the road for touring or performing at festivals.
Get the fans to check in to the venue and share photos and videos from the gig for extra exposure.
Don’t forget to use Twitter to let everyone know where you will be and when!
Network & Collaborate
Your network is important, from fans to promoters – so use every opportunity you can to get out there and network.
You can connect with people online and in real life, by attending local gigs for other bands, playing at open mic and acoustic nights, and treating every conversation as an opportunity to meet someone who could potentially be an important contact.
Influencers, music bloggers and famous YouTubers are always good for recommendations, and if you can get yourself and your music talked about by people in the know, then you will grow your fanbase.
There are potentially hundreds of thousands of influencers and music blogs for you to approach – so be prepared with what they need to know and get emailing.
Consider doing a fun collab with a competitor or working with someone in a different genre completely. The right collaboration can boost fans for both artists without too much work.
Perhaps a co-writer or a “battle,” or even just a joint interview can provide interesting content for both sets of fans.
It is probably most beneficial to work with someone who has a larger fanbase, but don’t discount those who are just starting out either, as any new fan can be nurtured to become a superfan.
Go Viral with Video
What is the key to making a viral video? There is no secret formula, but if you are looking to create interest, then making use of video sharing apps and networks like Reels, TikTok and IGTV to share funny, inspiring and on-topic videos is a good place to start.
No matter what you do from a tactical standpoint, stay authentic to yourself and your brand to make the most of your potentially viral videos.
However you want to market, the most important thing is to get started.
Choose the methods that will work best for you based on the above and your brainstorming session – but remember to focus on consistency, authenticity and sustainability to make the most of your marketing efforts.