Promoting smaller names in the seven seas that is the music industry can be difficult to navigate. Luckily, here are seven strategies to really make a splash and get your name heard.
by Caleb J Murphy for Bandzoogle
Music promotion strategies seem to change every year. And that’s because the music industry is an ever-changing group of people trying new things, ignoring what doesn’t work, and repeating what works.
So, in this article, I’m going to share seven of the best promotion strategies for independent artists today. Some of them have been around for a while because they continue to work for musicians, while some of them are new tactics that are gaining traction.
1. Update your website
Updating your website is the first thing you need to do in your music promotion strategy. You need a home on the internet that is unaffected by algorithms. It’s a place where your fans can go to learn more about you, find your tour dates and buy your products.
So make sure you have an up-to-date about page that helps people get to know you better. It involves telling your story and sharing what makes you and your music unique. Keep your tour dates up to date and make it easy to find and buy merchandise.
Your music should also be available for streaming on your site. That means you’ll have to distribute it to Spotify, Apple Music, etc. first. (see the next section for that), then embed a Spotify and/or Apple Music player on your site.
I usually embed a Spotify player from my latest version or a playlist of my best songs on my homepage. Then below I will list links to my music on all other platforms, which you can use Smart Links to do.
2. Distribute your music
This is probably the most important step in promoting your music. Because if your music isn’t available everywhere, what are you going to promote?
To get your music on Spotify, Apple Music and elsewhere, you need a music distribution company. Every independent artist is looking for something different from their distributor, but CD Baby is a good choice. They will send your music to all streaming sites around the world, including popular platforms like Spotify and Apple Music
3. Build your mailing list
A mailing list is a direct way to contact your fans. And if someone gives you their email address, they allow you to send them information about your music. So send them your music.
Whenever you release music, send them an email. Whenever you have new shows, email them. Whenever you have new products, send them an email.
How do you build your mailing list?
Add a signup form to your website and make it obvious. Offer incentives to people who sign up, like unreleased music. You can even build your list through a pre-backup campaign.
Want more ideas for growing your email list? Try using a landing page to start.
Build a professional website in minutes with all the music promotional features you need, including a blog, mailing list and smart links. Try Bandzoogle today!
4. Access Playlists
Currently, I get about 83% of my Spotify streams from user playlists. Only 12% of streams are from people listening directly to my profile. And because of all this activity and the growth of my subscribers, my songs are ending up on Spotify Radio and my subscribers’ Release Radar.
So maybe I’m biased, but accessing Spotify playlists can definitely put your music in front of new people. And I’m talking about user playlists, not Spotify editorial playlists.
How do you get on these playlists? There are a few methods, all of which I’ve used with varying degrees of success.
First, you can submit your music to user playlists through platforms like SubmitHub (which you have to pay for if you want a chance) and Soundplate (free).
Second, you can go to Spotify and search for “@gmail.com” followed by your gender. This brings up playlists in your genre where the curators have listed their email address in the description of the playlist.
Third, you can go to your Spotify profile, scroll down to the “Fans Also Like” section, and click on any of the artists who make similar music to you. Then, from their profile, scroll down to the “Discover on” section to see what playlist their music has been on. Then submit your music to these playlists.
Finally, you can search Spotify for keywords related to your music topics and themes. For example, I released songs about my religious deconstruction, so I searched for keywords like “spiritual deconstruction” and “exvangelical,” I found playlists that include songs on that topic, and I put my songs on a few of these playlists.
5. Interact with fans on social media
When interacting with your fans on social media, authenticity always wins. People can see through dishonesty. So respond to people’s comments and DMs as if those people are your friends. Be someone people want to connect with online.
But what types of content should you post to kickstart engagement? Well first, the content has to adapt to the platform. What works on TikTok can be very different from what works on Instagram.
So, to be successful on any social media platform, you must first be a user of that platform. This lets you get an idea of what you like and what you think your fans will like.
Pay attention to content you like, especially content from other independent artists. So go do that kind of content but in your own way with your songs.
6. Go to TikTok
TikTok has helped independent artists make music their full-time career. How? Well, when you post a video on TikTok, the algorithm passes it on to the people it thinks will like that video, not necessarily your followers.
According to Nic D, a full-time musician thanks to TikTok, followers don’t even count on this platform.
How likely is your post to go viral? Probably quite thin. But every time you post, you’re introducing your music to people who’ve never heard of you.
So why wouldn’t you post content on TikTok? What do you have to lose?
7. Play Live
Playing live music is the most reliable and consistent way to gain new fans. There’s nothing like sharing a room with a talented artist who sings and plays an instrument with passion. It’s a lot of work to book and play shows, but the in-person connection you can make with fans will last your entire career.
For independent artists, touring has never been very lucrative (although you can profit from it). The main reason to play live is to connect with fans and promote your music.
Promoting music is just about sharing what you’ve been doing
Before you start promoting your next release, remember that all of the best music promotion strategies come down to simply sharing something you’ve created. Something you are passionate about. If you do it authentically, you won’t be selling. You won’t annoy people who really like your music. So get out there and share what you’ve done.
Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter-producer whose music has appeared on NBC, ABC and hundreds of independent film projects. He also sends out a weekly email to independent musicians called 5 things to keep you going.