Learning how to promote online music and music IRL requires a completely different set of skills. Certain strategies work best in one space over the other, though one factor is clear - promotion strategies in both spaces are essential.
Below, we'll dive into some of the best platforms and strategies to guide your plan for online music promotion. Promoting your music online comes with its own set of special skills, but with these proven tips, you'll have no trouble reaching new sets of ears.
Essential Platforms For Promoting Your Music
In today's music industry, social media is a key ingredient. The ways to promote music at large have shifted greatly due to this massive refocusing within the music industry. One major change is that labels are no longer signing artists. They're signing fanbases.
This means that you need to prove that you're marketable and strong enough to cultivate a fanbase before any A&R will consider talking with you (assuming that finding a major label is your goal). While this shift in power can create more work for artists upfront, it also gives musicians more leverage over the kinds of deals that they sign, which can have incredible value over a lifetime.
Label or not, learning how to promote your music online is just another essential skill for serious musicians. Here are some key platforms that host some of the best ways to promote your tunes:
TikTok has totally transformed the music industry as we know it. Songs old and new have turned into worldwide hits overnight, simply through the power of this app. That being said, it's extremely beneficial to post your music and build up a fanbase on TikTok. As with most other social media spaces, the algorithm typically rewards you for posting consistently.
It can feel overwhelming to create short videos fairly consistently, but just like any other skill, it's something that you can learn and successfully integrate into your daily routine. This app has immense pushing power for the music industry, so even if you're just gaining one new fan a day, it's definitely worth your time. Use the power of your music, trends, and collaborative features like "duet" and "stitch" to build your fanbase.
Spotify, Apple Music, and Other DSPs
The vast majority of listeners will jam out to your music on digital streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music via playlists and liked songs. Therefore, it's essential you take the time to upload to these sites via a distribution service like Distrokid or with the help of your team.
Note that Spotify provides artists with the opportunity to pitch their tracks for editorial consideration before the release date. Apple Music doesn't provide the same opportunity, but independent artists can still land editorial playlists if you put the effort behind music promotion and visibility. To give your music the best chance of reaching tastemakers and playlists, make sure your music is delivered to these platforms at least a month in advance of your release date.
Reddit might not be the first place you think of when it comes to music promotion, but the thread-based platform is a great place to promote your music and connect with other musicians. Threads like Music Promotion are a great place to start! You can also find fans of similar artists through subthreads to find new fans.
Discord is a great way to provide a space independent of algorithms for your fans. This channel allows you to connect directly with fans, and build a self-sustaining dedicated fanbase. You can share exclusive content via your Discord and host listening parties with your audience. It's a great way to take your top fans and build a stronger connection.
Instagram presents an amazing platform to promote your music and connect with fans. While the site is becoming increasingly more focused on short-form video, you can still use photos to connect with fans in a whole new way. Instagram stories also have features that allow you to pair links to new music directly with your posts, helping your fans stay up to date.
Believe it or not, YouTube is the most popular music streaming service. Therefore, it's essential to have your music uploaded to the platform in order to find new fans. Music videos can help your fans visualize what universe your music lives in, and connect with it on a deeper level. They don't have to be incredibly complex productions, either. Even a DIY video can work wonders!
At the very least, you can create a visualizer or lyric videos for your most popular releases. For artists that don't have enough time or graphic experience to produce videos for this channel, there are plenty of services that can turn your music into a lyric video for a fee. Promote your music with videos as much as possible. It's one of the most effective ways of capturing the attention of new fans.
SoundCloud is a great way to release tracks and test out songs without posting them to your official streaming artist page. Use genre tags and interact with other musicians within your sphere to help build your network. This might also be a great place to search up new bands or artists who are on the cutting edge of the next big thing in music. Plus, some listeners prefer to listen to music through SoundCloud alone, so feel free to promote your new releases here too.
If you have wit and express yourself better in words than in pictures, Twitter is a place where you'll shine. Keep your fans up to date on your upload schedule, new releases, and interact with fans on Twitter. It's also one of the few places where hashtags still hold a good degree of influence. As with any social media platform, your Twitter profile should have convenient access to your links and website so that your fans can jam out.
Facebook, or Meta as it's now known, might not be the most modern social media platform, but it still has its value. Using the platform can help you bring in a new demographic, and help you earn valuable analytics that can service running ads and learning more about your audience. Make a point to put all tour dates up on Facebook events and invite your friends and fans. You never know who might come, and the platform's intuitive interface makes it easy to take note of who is planning on coming.
While most of your music promotion will be rooted in digital streaming platforms and social media, music blogs can also help you earn some notoriety and potential fans depending on the stature of the publication. Music blogs can help boost your online presence as a musician, and give you credibility amongst the sea of other creators.
That being said, music blog placements can be tricky to earn. Indie artists typically email blog outlets directly with a pitch including a link to the song (usually a month before it's actually released), press photos, an artist bio, and a mission statement regarding your artistic vision. Small artists might also use services like SubmitHub to help streamline the process, though playlist pitching funnels do come at an extra expense.
Note that some music blogs are more likely to cover you as you gain notoriety online or in person. It's sort of a catch-22, but that's all to say that putting effort into your social media is essential to your success on multiple fronts.
How To Successfully Promote Your Music: 7 Key Strategies
Having the right platforms is important, but it isn't everything. After all, the platform you choose to put yourself on is only important if you put enough time into using them. You are the make and break factor when it comes to promoting your music online. Remember, no one is going to advocate your art as much as you are.
Use these strategies to push out new music to your fanbase. Remember that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. You're bound to progress throughout your music career if you take the time to execute these strategies properly.
Don't Let Great Be The Enemy of Good
When you're putting yourself out there, you want the music to be as polished as possible. However, don't let your desire for perfection stop you from putting out a song in the first place. All too often, artists will over-critique their own works and get in the way of their own progress.
Don't put out an unfinished project by any means, but if your collaborators are telling you it's good to go and you've been sitting on a song for months, it might be worth just putting it out there so that you can clear up your headspace for new music. As an artist, you can't be too precious and you're never going to please everyone. Make a project as good as you can and then put it out to the world.
Make Sure Your Music Has A Unique, Polished Angle
Marketing can take any music a long way. However, the best way to stand out in an over-saturated market is to ensure that you have something unique to offer throughout your music library. The music you put up on Spotify and other major platforms should be polished and professional. Streaming services serve as an artist's resume of sorts, so make sure your tracks are giving off the right impression.
You might put out demos via your band website, but outside of that, make sure that every creation you share with the world is something that you're truly proud of, and adds to the conversation.
Consistency Is Key
The hardest part about succeeding in a competitive market like the music industry is having the courage to continue. It can be incredibly challenging to put yourself out there, time and time again, only to meet with little engagement. Trust the process because even the greatest artists once had no audience.
It's up to you to keep releasing great music and putting out posts to convert your audience. Making songs is the easy part! The real work comes in marketing and staying consistent so that you can truly connect with your fan base.
Adapt To Your Analytics
Learning how to promote your music online is highly effective since most sites give you access to analytic data. This way, you can quickly gauge how your fans are responding to certain types of content and adjust your creations as needed.
Start to notice how different ways of presenting your work can lead to different outcomes and cultivate your social media strategy around that. If one content bucket is working well over another, try to replicate that as much as possible.
Don't Forget About IRL Promotion
Promoting your music online is a downright necessity that can very well afford you plenty of IRL opportunities. However, don't let that stop you from taking the time to get your music out there outside of the virtual landscape. It's important to build a support system in your network since word of mouth is one of the best ways to grow your audience to this day.
Whether you're an opening act for a friend, heading to jam sessions, or participating at open mics, there are plenty of ways to channel your music in your area. Make a habit out of connecting with at least one new person every time you seek out a music event. Keep your audience up to date on event and tour dates so that you can convert online connections to long-lasting ones. You never know where your potential fans might be, so stay open to possibilities!
One Is The Loneliest Number
The music industry is without a doubt competitive. However, it's also incredibly collaborative and crucial to your success to seek out others within the business. Networking is one of the keys to success and can help you gain more insight into the next steps in your path.
Thankfully, today's digital age makes it easier than ever to find collaborators even if you don't know any other musicians personally. Connect with other creators via social media and find spaces to collaborate. Doing so will help you gain skills, find perspective on your own work, and cross-pollinate audiences, helping you to promote your music online.
There isn't one right way to collaborate, either. You could make an official remix, be featured on a track, or simply earn some songwriting credits by being a part of a process. For even less commitment, you can utilize the "duet" and "stitch" features on social media. A social media collaboration can go a long way, so get creative and link up with as many related artists as possible.
The music industry is notoriously difficult to succeed in due to the low wages, long hours, and endless competition. However, half the battle is simply choosing to keep going. If you consistently create music and market your creations, something is bound to stick at some point or another.