Becoming a successful musician is challenging, especially when you aren’t sure how to promote your music. Some musicians are even reluctant to promote their music; they feel like their music should speak for itself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that idea, but you also need to speak for your music.
The pandemic is changing how everything works, and music is no exception. Musicians can’t host gigs when people aren’t allowed to pack a venue. It’s time you change your approach to marketing your music. The internet offers plenty of incredible and imaginative ways to get your music out to the world, from live streams to digital marketing.
If you are serious about your music, then you need to be less hesitant about promoting it – and yourself. Here are ten ideas to promote your music and share your passion with the world.
How to Get Started with a Marketing Starter Kit For Musicians
No matter your feelings on the depth and beauty of music, it’s important to realize that it’s a product. At the end of the day, you are creating a product to share with the world. Your goal is to share the product, the music, and get people to buy it. You can start by creating a marketing plan.
A marketing plan covers your strategy over a set period. Marketing feels overwhelming for beginners, but you’ll quickly get to grips with it. Here’s what you need to do to get started;
- Analyze the Market
The market for musicians is, of course, the music industry itself. Marketing begins with analyzing the market and checking out the competition. Your competition is other artists in your genre. Understand what makes you different from them and discover your Unique Selling Point/Proposition.
- Define the Audience
Your audience is potential listeners and fans. You can characterize your intended audience by thinking about the genre you create and who generally listens to it.
- Establish Short-and-Long-Term Goals
Do you plan on releasing an album by the end of the year? Put together an action plan of how you’ll do it – list the steps you need to follow to reach your goals.
- Determine Marketing Strategies
We’ll outline ten top strategies for marketing music. You don’t have to use them all. Pick and choose the strategies you think will work best for you.
- Establish a Budget
Marketing costs money. Calculate how much money you have for marketing as you go through strategies and choose which ones to focus on.
Go through this basic plan step-by-step and fill in all the gaps. You can’t promote anything, especially not music, without a marketing plan.
The Rise of Livestreaming in the Pandemic Era
The current pandemic has changed the way a lot of things work. Honestly, some of these changes may persist even when we return to “normalcy.” One change the music industry has seen is an increase in live stream shows.
Musicians can’t go on tours and run gigs with so many venues closed as a result of the pandemic. Even in areas where venues are still open, many musicians – and fans – are apprehensive about putting themselves in danger. Livestreaming has been the solution.
Musicians are turning to platforms like YouTube to hold virtual concerts for people. Some musicians do this for free while others charge an entrance fee. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Even free streams offer listeners the chance to “tip” musicians and send a dollar or two their way.
Please don’t feel that you can’t play for others right now. There are lots of ways for musicians to share their music with a live audience. One amazing thing about the internet is how it brings us all together and gives us all these options to share our passions with the world. Why not take the chance to run a live stream show? It’s also excellent marketing because it puts your music in front of people who wouldn’t have heard it otherwise.
Top Ten Tips to Promote Your Music
Pitch Your Music to Playlists and Blogs
Publicity is king for marketing. Unfortunately, getting good publicity for anything, especially music, can feel like a full-time job. This doesn’t mean you can’t get publicity without quitting your job as a musician.
The key thing to understand with pitching your music to blogs, publications, and playlists is that it’s more about the story behind the music than the music itself. People respond well to compelling and unique stories. You can have the best music in the world, but if people don’t care about you they likely won’t care about your music.
You need an electronic press kit and professional press photos at the very least, but no one is interested in those if they aren’t interested in you.
Getting your music featured on playlists can also depend on your story more than the music itself. You need to have a great write-up on your side. For playlists created by people, such as Spotify playlists, it’s like pitching anything else to anyone else. Sometimes timing is the most important factor for getting featured.
Please keep in mind that, while many people discover new music through Spotify, most of that comes from algorithm-driven personalized playlists such as Discover Weekly. These algorithms mean that even a small artist can reach a global audience.
Plan and Maintain a Social Media Presence
With nearly half of the world plugged into social media, it’s a platform you can’t afford to ignore with marketing your music. You can leverage social media so people do your promotions for you if you do it right. Go viral on Instagram or TikTok and who knows what could happen?
How you post your music to social media depends on a mixture of quality, creativity, and luck. People love fun and inspiring content and they love to share it with others. People like video content in particular, so record yourself playing your song or set the music to some background video or images.
Social media also helps you create a community of fans. Be sure to engage with your fans and share content with them. Make the most of the opportunities social media affords you and you’re sure to find success.
Part of social media marketing is deciding on which platforms to focus on. Some platforms are better than others and you can’t maintain an active profile on everything. Given that social media users respond well to videos and music is an auditory process, a platform that lets you share videos – such as Instagram or Twitter – would be an excellent fit.
Create a Band Website
Every band needs to have a band website. Your website helps you build an identity and connect to new fans. Social media helps with this, but it is only a cog in the greater machine. Social media is becoming less effective for musicians because it limits their reach. A major problem with social media is that you generally have to pay for the kind of reach you want.
By creating your own band website, you give yourself a path to reach new audiences. You also give yourself a platform to create and shape your own identity and message. Everything is the way you want it to be.
New fans are likely to resonate more with the message they get from a website than they would with a social media profile. Another benefit of websites is that you can monetize them. A high-quality website becomes a much-needed revenue stream for bands in a way that social media never will.
Be Smart With Gigs
Playing shows is one of the most effective ways for musicians, particularly new artists, to build an audience.
You need to be smart and creative with your gig. Ensure that you have the best gear you can get so that people get the best performance from you. You want to make a good first impression on audiences. Being stuck inside is no reason to not perform for your fans. Set up a computer in your recording studio and start a Facebook stream. Go live on YouTube or another social media platform. There’s plenty of choices.
Try to find musicians in your genre to connect with. Anyone who loves music as much as you would be happy to let you play with them, so long as your music fits theirs. See if there are any festivals you can get into.
This may mean you have to consider playing music for free. Nobody wants to be paid in “exposure,” but there are times when doing a free show here and there helps. Free shows put you in front of a new audience and allow you to test a new song or setlist before putting it in front of a paying audience.
Carefully assess every gigging opportunity that comes your way, from streaming a concert to working with others and working for free.
Make Awesome Music Videos
Making great music isn’t enough. You also need some awesome music videos to go with them. Uploading those videos to YouTube sounds obvious, but don’t limit yourself to only YouTube.
Nearly a third of all internet users watch YouTube videos. More than half a billion people watch videos on Facebook. When combined, around 45% of internet users watch at least one hour of content between the two platforms. Videos are the most-consumed forms of content on the internet.
Creating an amazing music video is an effective way to get attention and introduce your music to a new audience. Don’t discount the fact people will share your video with others, doing your promotional work for you.
The good news is that making a music video isn’t as complicated as you might think. Take the song “Someday” by The Strokes as an example. Most of the music video is just the band hanging out together. Be as creative with your videos as you are with your music and you’ll see success.
PR And Radio Campaigns
Getting a song or two on the radio gives you instant access to the listening audience. Don’t be discouraged if you get rejected as you’ll eventually find stations willing to play your music if you keep trying.
Internet radio stations such as Pandora are a good choice. While Pandora has a review process for music, there are plenty of other stations that don’t. These stations should play your music as long as it isn’t offensive.
One reason it’s difficult to get airplay is that many big stations are in the pockets of major labels. Independent artists would have more luck trying to get played on small stations such as college radio. Getting your music on college radio also gives you a natural touring destination when you’re ready to hit the road.
If you’ve got the money for it, consider hiring a radio promotion company to make those applications for you. These companies also have connections in the industry and have an easier time getting accepted than if you did it alone.
Promote Your Music Via Email
Maintaining an email newsletter is a great way to connect to fans. Not only does it keep you in touch with the audience, but it helps you build relationships with them. Those relationships become sales and emotional investment.
If you can get people to join a mailing list on your website, you get their email address. From there, you can send weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly messages about you and your music.
Email newsletters give you a chance to announce new singles and albums to the audience. Why not use your newsletter to announce tour dates or upcoming merchandise sales?
There’s a lot you can do with emails besides pester people to buy your stuff. One thing to keep in mind with newsletters is that you need to avoid spamming people. Don’t go crazy and send people too many emails at once.
We mentioned before that the audience loves a good story. People are almost too obsessed with the lives of the artists behind the art. You only have to look at celebrity culture to see that. It might be a bit creepy at times, but it’s certainly something you could take advantage of and build on.
Consider starting a blog for yourself or your band. A blog gives you a great way to offer fans a look into the creative process. Use your blog to tell stories from the road for fans to enjoy. Why not recommend other artists and share your musical tastes while you’re at it?
Publishing content for the world to see makes you seem more likable to your audience. They become emotionally invested in you and your story. Blogs also show up in search engine results, letting you get a little SEO in the process.
Vlogging is another way to connect to the audience. Don’t just tell fans what happens behind the scenes, show them. Share videos to Facebook and YouTube. Grab a camera, record what happens in the tour bus or recording studio, and give people a look inside your world.
Create Interesting Non-Musical Content
The idea of creating non-musical content to promote music sounds contradictory, but it makes a lot of sense. Things such as flyers, photos, and videos all come under non-musical content and they all get your name out there. The more time and attention you give to these products, the better the results they generate.
Listeners often need more than music to get truly invested in an artist. This goes back to our last tip on creating a website and blog for yourself. Think a little outside the box though. Is there anything besides music you can talk about? What are your other interests?
Many musicians find success by talking about other things they enjoy and connecting with audiences for those things. If you like comics, for example, then why not talk about your favorite comics or even start reviewing them?
If you aren’t sure where to start, then first define your artistic identity. Define what your music means and why you made it. Reflect on where you are now and how you got there. Take what you learn and use it to create audio and visual narratives. Consider working with a professional graphics designer or visual artist who can help bring your ideas for photos, videos, and merchandise to life.
Market Yourself as a Business and Build Relationships with Other Businesses and Influencers
Rather than focusing on reaching individual fans, why not focus your efforts on establishing relationships with businesses and influencers?
Spend some time talking to related websites, event organizers, and radio stations. Get in touch with musicians and DJs who are better established than you.
These entities all have a bigger audience than you. That fanbase is sure to contain some people who would be great fans of yours if they knew you existed. Many musicians work too hard to connect to individual fans. You’ll have more success by connecting with people who are already more successful.
When someone bigger than you promotes you, you get much more exposure from that one interview, event, or show than you would from spending a month on social media.
This is why you should invest some time and effort into building these relationships.