SoundCloud has long served as a haven for artists and musicians. While the landscape of the music industry and distribution scene has changed drastically over the past couple of years, SoundCloud remains a major voice within the industry.
Still, many artists struggle to learn how to get more plays on SoundCloud and cultivate a dedicated audience through SoundCloud followers. After all, it can be challenging to build a following on any platform, let alone one as large as SoundCloud.
Luckily, we've created a comprehensive guide for helping you build your SoundCloud community. We'll share strategies to help you cultivate organic SoundCloud followers and a fanbase far outside of the community below.
8 Ways To Earn Real SoundCloud Followers
Here are some strategies to help you earn genuine SoundCloud plays and followers. Note that these methods aren't necessarily easy, nor are they a "quick fix." Real, authentic audiences take time to build. That being said, if you follow these strategies carefully, your music is bound to be heard.
1. Exceptional Music Comes First
It may seem like a no-brainer, but undoubtedly the best way to grow your SoundCloud account is to make exceptionally good music. Quality music speaks for itself in a world where just about anyone can gain access to a DAW so long as they have access to the internet. The music market is oversaturated -- that means that your music doesn't just have to be good, it needs to be great to have a fighting chance.
Unfortunately, a lot of musicians get the process twisted. Budding artists often create their own music, usually, only a handful of songs, upload it to platforms, and then expect the project to blow up through divine intervention. The image of an "overnight" success has certainly misled musicians in this way since things rarely come that easy. Even debuting or "emerging" artists under labels may have been signed and developing for years despite just surfacing in front of the public eye.
You need to create music that will automatically leave a listener wanting more -- not just of music, but of you and your backstory. This means making a lot of music until you have a voice that's unique and polished enough to generate genuine intrigue.
Marketing music is definitely an essential part of the process, but it's largely a waste of time if your music isn't up to snuff. If you just started making music, take it upon yourself to seek out feedback from other artists and refine your chops.
Focus all of your energy on making great music before worrying about attracting listeners through marketing. It's going to be a waste of time, energy, and potentially money if you work on marketing before you have created the most refined version of your art.
2. Make Sure Your Meta Data Is On Check
Once you're ready to share your music, make sure you are providing all of the necessary data in your SoundCloud upload. Since Sound Cloud utilizes an algorithm to feed tracks to users, the more accurate your upload is, the more likely it is to reach your target audience. Let's look at a successful track for example:
This track by emerging artist Sofia Mills is properly credited, has intriguing cover art, and a descriptive genre (#AlternativeRock) that will likely help the track land in front of her target audience. Sofia's new profile art also coincides with the theme of her new release, adding production value.
Sofia is a popular artist on the platform, so she likely doesn't need to use additional hashtags or create an elaborate description for her track. However, you certainly can! Include links where fans can find you on other platforms and don't be afraid to add in other relevant tags.
You can also allow fans to download it for free or purchase the track via another platform like iTunes or Bandcamp. Be sure to tag any collaborators before posting as well.
3. Build Anticipation For Your Release
Too many artists put emphasis only on release day. If you want to help your music gain more plays, you typically want to start promoting your music at least a couple of weeks before it drops on all platforms, not just SoundCloud.
One of the SoundCloud-specific features you can leverage during this time is the "private links" option. Upload your song about 2-3 weeks before release day and set it as a private link instead of public. You can also set up a scheduled release so that it automatically switches to public on release day.
In the weeks leading up to release day, you can use this private link to earn SoundCloud plays before it's officially released, connect with curators, and reward loyal fans. For instance, you can grant an early listen to any fan who takes the time to pre-saves your song. You can also upload your private link to sites like SubmitHub directly where you can pitch your track for curator coverage.
This will earn you legitimate SoundCloud plays and might lead to some additional release day hype which is always a good thing! However, make sure you don't let your SoundCloud promotions run dry after release day has passed. The best thing you can do for your music is to maintain marketing momentum.
4. Put Yourself Out There, Everywhere
It may seem counterintuitive, but in order to reach SoundCloud users, you need to reach listeners on a variety of platforms. Becoming a marketable musician is all about putting yourself out there. Here are a couple of platforms you'll want to develop some of your presence on:
TikTok undoubtedly has a foothold in the music industry. Tracks broken on Tiktok are gaining more listeners than those showcased on radio stations, so it's essential that you focus some time and energy on being on the platform via short-form video content.
It may surprise you, but YouTube is actually one of the biggest music streaming platforms in the world. Whether you're there to create music videos or short-form content via Reels, it's worth your time.
Instagram might not have the same luster as it used to, but its main competitor Tiktok is driving the platform to prioritize organic outreach. It's also one of the few platforms based on photos, so it may give you a new way to connect with a different subset of fans and other artists.
Facebook may feel archaic to some, but the platform's interest in Web3 and curtailing the metaverse might prove to be a valuable resource to artists who invest in the community.
Twitter is another great place to rally fans together and easily share links amongst fans and friends. You can easily direct traffic to SoundCloud tracks through this text-based platform.
Forum sites like Reddit have unique communities that may interact with your music in a new way. Be sure to network with other artists and carve a niche in this community.
Musician presence on Discord has only grown over time. Connect directly with your audience by creating an artist community and server of your own.
Managing other platforms can be overwhelming, so don't worry if you feel like some are stronger than others. This is natural, and as long as you have a presence on each, don't feel like you have to overload each one with the same content. Many artists like to devote most of their energy to one or two platforms and only post occasionally on the others. The key is to find what's sustainable for you.
5. Create a Community
It goes without saying that in order to get a little, you need to give a little. Don't just be a producer on SoundCloud, be a consumer, too. Not only will this help you connect with other artists, but you'll also experience the firsthand discovery of new music, which can be used to curtail your own artist strategy. Here are a couple of ways to get started:
Engagement Breeds Engagement
If you haven't built up a fanbase already, you might have to start by interacting with other artists in the same boat. Take the time to listen to other artists' music and take note of what makes one artist stand out against another. You'll find that you'll gain more listeners when you sit down and make time for other people's music, too.
Don't just spam people -- other creators can very well tell if you actually listened to a song or not. Instead, focus your energy on fewer accounts, but listen and comment thoughtfully. These sorts of interactions are much more likely to foster relationships and mutual support rather than annoyance at best.
Listen To Your Listeners
It goes without saying that your creative vision should come first. However, if you find that multiple listeners are giving you a few tips on how your sound may be improved, try your best to incorporate that feedback in an authentic way. Listeners love to be a part of the process, and this can help create more anticipation for your next batch of SoundCloud tracks.
Promotion circles can be a great way to interact with other SoundCloud artists while mutually supporting each other. These networks can be created by reaching out to individual artists and rallying a group together. The point is that each member provides mutual support. No one should have to "buy followers" or SoundCloud streams. Ideally, everyone in your promotion circle is genuinely excited about each others' music.
When it comes to being on SoundCloud, or just creating as an upcoming artist, it's incredibly important to collaborate with other musicians. Whether you're making music with other SoundCloud users or musicians in your circle, making music with other people gives you the chance to grow in a whole new way.
Plus, there is huge potential for cross-promotion with these sorts of tracks. Two heads is better than one, especially when you both can access a whole other audience through each other. If you don't know anyone just yet who would be down to collaborate, reach out to other creators! The worst thing that could happen is they decline and you move on to the next venture.
6. Find Curators
You might have to put on your detective hat, but if you can find SoundCloud playlist curators via social media or otherwise, make sure to reach out to them! A major DSP playlist on places like SoundCloud, Spotify, or otherwise, can turn into hundreds of true listeners, who will hopefully connect to fans.
Connecting with these tastemakers can be difficult as an independent artist, but you can do so through sites like Submithub or try your hand at reaching out to curators directly. When reaching out, be short, to the point, and include a direct link to your music. This is where something like SoundCloud's private link feature comes in handy.
7. Consider Legit Paid Promotion
It's important to note that legitimate paid promotion can help a great track reach new heights, but it's not going to be worth the investment if the music can't hold its own. You also have to keep your eye on an artist. Websites offering free followers are rarely legitimate and you don't want to unintentionally buy fake SoundCloud plays.
Ultimately, even if having more plays on SoundCloud produces a boost to your ego, it's only real SoundCloud plays that will lead to a career in music. Investing in botted services is a misuse of energy and will only distort your valuable analytics, which is one of the most important tools artists have at their disposal.
That being said, if you do have a small marketing budget and you want to source more real SoundCloud plays, here are some resources that might be helpful:
Soundcloud's Promotion Service
It's worth mentioning that SoundCloud now hosts its own promotion service . This feature is only available to artists who are monetizing on SoundCloud through SoundCloud Premier, Repost Select, or the Repost by SoundCloud. The minimum spend is $25 per campaign, and you'll have to wait about a week in between setting up the campaign and the campaign start date, which again, reiterates the importance of uploading your music well before release day.
Social Media Ads
You can run ads on sites like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to help grow your follower base and lead different audiences back to your music. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials detailing how you can set up these campaigns, but know that it can take a bunch of testing to find your target audience. It may be helpful to send up a music landing page to promote your SoundCloud profile and other DSP profiles via a service like ToneDen .
PR and Agencies
It's fair to say that PR and the blogosphere culture of music have much less influence than they did even a couple of years ago. That being said, a couple of select blogs still break artists and help them earn credit within the audiophile circle. PR doesn't always translate to earning SoundCloud plays, but it may be a worthy investment in your long-term career depending on your sound and intentions.
Ad agencies can help you better target your ad campaigns so that you can get the most bang for your buck while converting viewers to members of your audience. However, professional campaigns can be fairly expensive. Even if you can't afford these services as an emerging artist, it's worth having on your radar for future use.
8. The Law of Attraction
Learning how to build an audience can be undoubtedly exhausting. Independent artists don't just have to make amazing music, they have to figure out how to consistently use promo channels like SoundCloud to their advantage. However, try not to get discouraged! This is all part of the process.
In most cases, there isn't a singular event that propels an artist into stardom. Rather, successful artists attract listeners by consistently putting out quality music and consistently showing up on promotional channels so the music can be found.
Professional musicians have teams to help them cultivate social media strategy and audience engagement, but they had to work to even get to that point. When in doubt, know that great music is hard to ignore.
When you hone in on a specific audience, create a culture, and earn new fans through consistent output and amazing art, you'll naturally attract more followers, and hopefully, a team that can take your artistry to the next level. Cultivating a strong SoundCloud account in the music world is important, but it's not the end all be all.
Focus on crafting a long-lasting career and the rest will follow.
Hence, earning more SoundCloud plays isn't always easy, but it is inevitable if you take the time to cultivate your creativity. When you mix musical masterpieces with a magnificent marketing strategy, the question isn't
your music is going to get heard, it's
. Enjoy the process of music and marketing!