Marketing and promoting your music effectively is arguably the most essential step when it comes to releasing new music. A solid marketing campaign can make a world of difference in terms of gaining exposure and more fans for your music.
As such, this week’s How To series takes a look at how you can promote your music and the steps you can take in order to get as much exposure as possible. Music promotion can seem daunting at first due to its many facets but there are many simple steps you can take.
The main areas we’re going to cover are:
- Social media;
- Mailing lists and;
In 2020, social media plays a rather large role in our way of life and, in a way, has become ingrained in society. Pretty much everyone uses social media in one way or another. For bands and artists, social media can be an effective marketing tool to get attention for your new release and to also find more fans and keep them updated on what your band is up to. After all, fans are more likely to check out your Instagram as opposed to your official website, that’s just how it goes.
With close to a billion active users on its platform, Instagram is without a doubt one of the most popular social media platforms. As an artist this means close to a billion potential new fans for you and your music.
When creating posts make sure you use relevant, and consistent, hashtags. For instance, if you’re a progressive metal band you would use tags such as #prog #progmetal #djent etc. By tagging your posts you are allowing them to be discovered by users who aren’t your followers thus exposing your music to a wider audience.
Instagram also allows you to use ads and sponsored posts once you convert your Instagram account to a business account. Your ad needs to be eye-catching from the second it pops up on a users’ screen.
Curate your profile accordingly and aim to have as many relevant posts about your new release. Some bands and artists choose to repost fan posts as a means to show how many people are actively enjoying their music. Furthermore, many distribution services deliver your music to Instagram so get your fans to post the songs on their IG stories and get them to tag you.
Twitter is another platform you can use to promote your music and gain more fans and more exposure. With users from all over the world, it is easy to gain new fans in far away countries. Perhaps my favourite feature about Twitter is that it is extremely interactive and you can use a variety of media from pictures, GIFs and videos to engage with your fans and your audience.
Like Instagram, Twitter also makes use of hashtags and this is a great way to discover and connect with musicians and fans who have similar interests. Simply searching a hashtag will put you in the right direction.
With Facebook, you can use targeted ads to reach a specific audience and thereby increase your listener base. Despite being a Kenyan band you can target a European audience, or a South American one, the choice and the freedom is yours.
Facebook allows you to schedule posts without having to pay extra or without having to use any third-party services. As a busy musician this feature will save you a great deal of time as you can schedule daily posts to keep your fans happy and engaged.
One thing we’ve noticed when promoting our music via Facebook is that they are not crazy about links from other sites such as YouTube, Vimeo etc. When posting links from these sites you will notice that the audience and engagement is not as great as when you share a video hosted directly on Facebook. So when uploading your latest single or video to YouTube make sure you do the same on Facebook and watch the number of views shoot up.
TikTok is another social platform that has rapidly grown in popularity over the past year. Posts have the potential to go viral and many times they do. As such, many artists the world over have been using TikTok to promote and market their music by encouraging fans to take part in different ‘challenges’ with their music acting as the background score.
As more and more people turn to streaming as their main means of consuming music, playlists have become increasingly popular and landing your song on one of them can mean a lot more streams. In a way playlists have become the modern day equivalent of making mixtapes and there are millions of playlists based on specific genres, sounds, moods etc.
Spotify Editorial Playlists
Spotify allows for users to create playlists and they also have their own editorial playlists that are curated by their in-house staff. Getting on an editorial playlist will result in a lot more streams which in turn will result in greater streaming revenue for you. The process of submitting your music to an editorial playlist is relatively straightforward with the only requisite conditions being that:
- You must have already claimed your Spotify artist account and;
- You can only submit unreleased music for editorial playlist consideration.
Apple Music playlists
Unlike Spotify, Apple music does not cater towards third-party curators and as such it is relatively difficult to pitch your music to their editorial playlists unless you have a direct connection with them – or you know a guy who knows a guy.
However, we’ve noticed that some digital distributors have a strong connection with Apple Music so it may be worthwhile to reach out to your distributor of choice and find out what options are available in terms of pitching your music to the editorial teams.
Apple Music users constantly create their own playlists and you can always reach out to these individual curators to add your music on to their playlists.
Having a mailing list of sorts is essential for ALL musicians regardless of whether you’re established in the industry or you’re just starting out. Mailing lists are the best way to reach a wide audience without having to individually reach out to each person one at a time.
Mailing lists are an effective way of sharing new releases with your fans. Most times these fans have subscribed to your mailing list out of their love for you and your music so they would be eagerly awaiting any new releases you have in the works. You can also use these mailing lists as a way to keep your fans updated on new merchandise, upcoming shows/tours, call-to-actions etc.
Blogs play an important role in how we discover and consume music. Back in the day radio was a sure-fire way of discovering new music but in 2020 let’s face it, how many of us actively listen to the radio all day long? Landing yourself on a top blog like Pitchfork or Fader is a definite guarantee that your music will reach a much wider audience which in turn will result in more streams and purchases.
Most existing music blogs allow for artists to submit to them new music for reviews and usually have a submissions page on their websites. In lieu of a designated submissions page, some sites will ask you to contact the relevant editor to submit your music. From there the editor will decide if your music is a good fit for the sound and image of the website in question. If you pass the initial vetting stage they will likely pass on your music to a relevant staff writer and from there they will listen to and review your music.
Alternatively, you can take your time to go through the site and figure out which writers you should reach out to directly. Many contributors are actively seeking music submissions to write about and they tend to include their emails in their social media bios. The trick to pulling this off successfully is to take the time to research who you want to contact; what bands have they covered in the past, what sites have they written for, are they actively seeking new music or not?
While many blogs accept music submissions directly via their main sites, others rely on third-party services such as Submithub to take music submissions (some labels also use Submithub for demo submissions so it’s worth checking out).
Important Things To Note
Numerous musicians who are starting out are yet to understand just how important choosing a release date is. When setting a release date for your music you need to pick a time-frame that will give you ample opportunity to promote your music to blogs, magazines, radio stations etc.
As we mentioned in last week’s How To article, it is advised to start pitching and promoting your music to blogs at least 6 – 8 weeks in advance. Many of the top music blogs receive hundreds, if not thousands, of requests to review music on a daily basis. By pitching them well ahead of time then you have a higher chance of successfully being reviewed.
Sites such as Bandcamp actively promote music hosted on their site but the only caveat is that you must contact them 6 – 8 weeks in advance of your music being released and they only cover full projects such as albums and EPs.
Where possible try contacting your favourite blogs and magazines at least 10 weeks in advance.
PR Companies & Services
There are numerous PR companies that exist with the sole purpose of promoting your music and getting you exposure. (see for instance CZ Promotions as well as South Africa’s Plug Music Agency). These are industry professionals that have built a network of contacts as a result of their many years of service in this particular field. This means if a particular PR company has good ties with writer’s for lets say Kerrang! or Pitchfork then there is a higher chance that one of these publications will share your music if it comes from a source they know and trust.
Using a PR service for your music also takes the pressure off you as your role is to simply provide the PR firm with the information they need such as the music, press photos, band biography etc. They take the stress away and allow you to focus on what you do best, creating kick ass music for your adoring fans.
Remember that these PR firms are providing a service so be prepared to pay them. Cost usually varies depending on which firm you choose to work with. While some PR firms have a basic flat-fee for their services, other will require you to reach out and contact them about your needs and then they will provide you a quote.
Streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music allow for users to claim their artist accounts. This is an important step for you to take as claiming your artist account will allow you to customize your profile and add a bio, profile picture and other supporting media.
In order to submit to Spotify editorial playlists you must have claimed your account. Furthermore, artist accounts usually break-down your streams and your audience by providing you with weekly, and daily, statistics on how your music is doing. This data will allow you to tailor your marketing plan towards a specific group or a specific region.
It’s a ‘small’ step but one that will help you stand out in a never ending sea of new musicians and one that will give you greater insight to your audience.
Pay for Play Services
Pay for play services have been around for years now and these companies usually target underground and upcoming musicians who are still figuring things out. Recently there has been a surge in the number of these companies and they are now actively pitching to prospective musicians. I get at least 2 – 4 of these cold emails on a daily basis.
Pay for play services guarantee you a set number of plays and streams in exchange for money. It’s a business model used to prey on unsuspecting musicians and it is never worth it. It is unlikely you will recoup the money spent on these services from your streaming revenue alone, so you’re already at a financial loss by engaging with one.
Furthermore, using like this to get more plays on Spotify, Apple Music etc can result in your music being taken off the platform. The cost of paying for plays is not worth it, period.
The intent of this article is to provide readers with steps they can take towards the promotion of their music. While this list is not exhaustive, it should nevertheless give you an idea of where to start and the various methods you can employ to promote your new music.
Are there any tips and tricks that you have that we may have missed out? Let us know!