Modern musicians maintain the burning passion for success that people from earlier generations possessed. Indeed, every aspiring artist longs to get their music heard far and wide and make new fans in the process. However, the music promotion world has evolved greatly in the digital era.
Most of these changes have leveled the playing field for independent musicians who wouldn’t be able to compete with famous artists who are signed to major record labels. However, few independent artists understand how to truly get their name out there and turn their passion for music into a source of income.
The good news is that just about anyone can learn and implement some key music promotion strategies. This guide will go over some of the most effective methods and why they are so important for independent musicians.
1. Create a Website
You might have stumbled onto your favorite artist’s website while Googling them. Such websites typically contain information on ticket sales, upcoming music, links to merchandise, and other regular updates. Signed artists have such websites set up by and operated by their label. However, there’s no reason why you can’t also set up and operate your own website.
Doing so allows new fans to learn more about you and your music. A well-designed website that includes exciting and up-to-date information can actually turn new visitors into dedicated fans. As a bonus, you can also use the website to promote your social media pages and vice versa.
2. Utilize Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms have taken the world by storm, and it’s easy to see why. These platforms allow people to connect with friends and family, and also receive regular updates from their favorite brands and artists.
Every independent musician should strive to set up social media pages on major sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Such pages are great for connecting with fans and offering them regular updates. This helps you stay relevant and reminds people that you have new music worth listening to in the works.
There’s also a special type of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for social media known as “Social SEO”. If you can utilize this social SEO effectively, it can boost your ranking in Google search results. It can also lead more people to your website and further improve your odds of making new fans.
3. Perform Live Regularly
Live performances have remained the best way for musicians to get their name out there for centuries. In fact, it was the key to becoming known before humanity developed the ability to capture sound and play it back on physical media such as vinyl records and magnetic tape.
Live performances are still vital for any new musician hoping to become known in the local scene. People might not flock to hear your music once you release it, but they will still end up hearing it if you happen to perform at an event they are attending.
So try getting booked to perform at music festivals and gigs. You can also attend and perform at open mic events in your city. This strategy is especially useful for new independent artists who don’t yet have the star power to get booked for big music festivals.
4. Try Guerilla Marketing
Guerilla marketing is a special type of marketing that utilizes unconventional promotion strategies designed to capture the public’s attention. These strategies can be quite cost-effective, especially for independent artists who can’t afford to spend a lot on promotion.
Some budget-friendly guerilla marketing tactics you can try include:
Street chalk drawings serve as an excellent guerilla marketing tactic for musicians who live in major cities with lots of foot traffic. You can hire street chalk artists to recreate one of your recent albums or single artworks in a busy city area. They can also include a short message detailing your social media links and handles.
Street chalk art is great for promotion because it doesn’t disrupt foot traffic. The chalk art is also easy to wash off and is protected as a form of free speech under the US constitution’s first amendment.
As an independent musician, you will need to follow a few entrepreneurial tactics to get your name out there. Every entrepreneur has their own custom business card detailing their name and contact details. You too should follow suit by creating your own business cards. If you’re part of a band, you can create business cards for the group itself.
While most people prefer handing their business cards to others directly, you can follow some more covert approaches to distribute your card to the general public. One great idea is to head over to a public library and slip your business card into various books. This helps complete strangers learn about you and your music.
You can get creative with this idea and target music-related books or books from authors whose fans would likely appreciate your music lyrics.
If you can afford to splurge on music promotion, consider throwing a release party with the help of your friends and peers. Setting up a dazzling event with performances, food, and drinks is likely to attract attention from bloggers and other members of the general public.
If you’re lucky, you may even win over a few tastemakers who then go on to promote your music on their platforms. However, it is important to avoid going overboard with this event. After all, throwing a party isn’t cheap, so you should adjust the event’s size based on how much you can afford.
You might not be able to afford to book a venue for the event, but you might still be able to use a friend’s basement space for a great listening party.
5. Make Use of Youtube
Youtube has become the go-to video sharing platform on the internet since it was launched in 2005. Many of us browse Youtube seeking entertaining content from comedians, celebrities, chefs, reviewers, and animators. However, Youtube’s music section has remained one of its most popular sections.
You don’t have to look very far to see music videos from big name artists with hundreds of million or even billions of views. Such sights make it apparent that many people use Youtube as a music streaming platform. This means every aspiring independent artist should also strive to create and upload content to the platform.
This includes creating music videos or simply uploading tracks with the accompanying album or single artwork. Simply uploading these videos to the platform isn’t enough, though. You will also need to implement creative strategies to get others to discover your music.
One clever strategy involves uploading music videos or track videos to Youtube and including them in playlists containing music from popular artists. This strategy is useful because it allows people seeking music from these popular artists to stumble onto your videos. Such people might not be aware that you aren’t a famous artist and will judge your music based on its quality.
This is a great way to develop a fanbase in a relatively affordable manner. However, you should note that Youtube’s massive size means there are already thousands of artists attempting this strategy, so your chance of success will be highest if your music is unique and has a sound that grips listeners within the first couple of seconds.
6. Create TikTok Content
TikTok is a unique platform within the internet sphere. It isn’t used for communication quite in the way that social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are. Its short video runtime also makes it distinct from Youtube and the kind of content found there.
TikTok allows you to upload 15 second long videos, but recently introduced a change that allows you to string four 15 second long videos together to create a 1 minute video. This means you won’t be able to upload any full tracks or music videos to the platform. However, you might not need to if your goal is to simply develop a fanbase.
TikTok’s draw is that it is full of short-form content, much of which is comedic in nature. Many TikTokers use music in the background of their videos, and it isn’t uncommon for TikTok videos containing music from obscure artists to receive tens of millions of views.
This means you can use the platform as an effective promotional tool by creating music that would serve well as background music for TikTok videos. It would also help to connect with some famous TikTokers and ask them to feature your music in their videos.
7. Upload Music to Major Music Streaming Platforms
The digital era is a great time to be a music fan. You can find music from the vast majority of artists on major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and TIDAL. Uploading your own music to these platforms is free and you receive money whenever people stream your music. In fact, music streaming is a $90 billion industry.
Uploading your music to these platforms is important because it gives people the ability to access and listen to your music whenever they please. Such people might not ever purchase your singles or albums, but you can still profit off their streams.
You can also promote your music on these music platforms in clever ways. For example, you can apply the Youtube promotion strategy of slipping your music into custom playlists here too.
8. Build a Strong Promotion Team
It can be tempting to attempt independent music promotion on your own. After all, the term “independent” implies you aren’t relying on anyone else. However, the truth is that most indie artists do have to rely on others in their promotional efforts.
One person simply can’t keep up with all the work that goes into promotion. This includes creating artwork, writing promotional blogs, creating reviews, and shooting music videos. For this reason, you shouldn’t shy away from reaching out to others and asking them for help.
This strategy is useful because it allows you to draw on the strengths of others around you. You might be able to get a friend who is an aspiring filmmaker to shoot your music video and apply what they know to create something truly eye-catchy. Similarly, you can reach out to an independent painter in your community and ask them to create suitable artwork that matches your music’s feel.
In some cases, you will need to pay others for their services. However, many may view it as a way to promote their own skills, so they may offer to do it for free.
9. Create an Artist Profile on MuzikSwipe
MuzikSwipe isn’t exactly a music streaming service. Instead, it is a unique app designed to help music listeners find new artists whose music fits their taste. App users are presented with a series of 15-second long music clips and have the ability to swipe left or right on each clip depending on whether it interests them.
When users have shown interest in three music clips from the same artist, they will become connected as a “match”.
This platform is incredibly useful for independent artists because it connects listeners with musicians simply based on the way the music sounds, rather than the musician’s popularity. As an artist, you can upload multiple 15-second snippets of your tracks to the platform and tag it with suitable genres. If your music delivers what people are looking for, you should be able to sculpt a large following on the platform.
As you can see, there are many ways to promote music as an independent artist in the digital era. The strategies described above can be incredibly effective when utilized properly and demonstrate that you don’t necessarily need to be a high roller with a fancy record label contract to get your music out there for the world to hear.
So consider trying the strategies described above and making your mark in the music world.
Eric Dalius is The Executive Chairman of MuzicSwipe, a music and content discovery platform designed to maximize artist discovery and optimize fan relationships. Additionally, he runs the weekly podcast “FULLSPEED,” featuring interviews with cutting-edge entrepreneurs. As the founder of the “Eric Dalius Foundation,” he provides four scholarships for US students. Keep up with Eric on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Entrepreneur.com.