What hasn’t gotten easier is getting people to listen to your music.
And while it’s true, social media allows us to reach more people than we ever could before, it seems like it takes forever to build a following on Instagram.
So how can you get more streams, more fans and more attention for your music?
Today you’re going to see 16 proven ways to promote your music.
Let’s get to it!
1. Get to Know and Support Other Artists
Even though we’re in this internet era, where you can work with people across the world without ever having to physically meet them, the most important way to promote your music is still through face to face interactions (i.e. in the real world).
Get to know other artists in your genre, who are at the same level or a little bit higher than where you are.
Follow them on social media, like and comment on their posts, and go to their shows.
You have to show face.
For example, in the business world, John Levy, hosts a dinner party twice a month and invites only 12 influential people.
He makes it clear he doesn’t expect anything in return but if he ever needs anything from one of them, I bet they’re more likely to point him in the right direction than somebody who hasn’t been to his house.
And the reason for that is he’s building social capital.
He’s being generous with his time, knowledge and resources and it’s only natural others will reciprocate.
So how can a musician do the same?
Invite artists and producers who are on the same level as you to your studio sessions.
It doesn’t matter if you record at home in a closet, because they probably do as well.
Through collaborations you can build strong bonds with other artists who can promote you to their followings.
Think of it like this if I have 1000 fans and you have a 1000 fans, and we do a song together, now 2000 people are going to know about us.
It may not sound like much and obviously not all their fans will become your fans, but you just doubled the amount of people that know about you and potentially doubled your fan base.
Rapper Pusha T, recently said,
What happens behind the scenes can make or break an artist and your chances of success as an artist has more to do with who you know than what you know.
This means you should not only collaborate with other artists but with other people in the music business like managers, producers, video directors, audio engineers, graphic designers (and not just with Instagram models guys!).
And be nice! Make friends, not enemies.
For example, how did J. Cole get signed by Jay-Z?
Not by wearing t-shirts that said, “Produce for Jay Z or Die Trying” (J. Cole did do that).
Not by waiting outside Jay-Z’s office and handing him a beat CD, only for Jay-Z to tell him, “Man I don’t want that”.
J. Cole got signed by Jay-Z because J Cole’s friend arranged a last minute meeting with Jay-Z.
Did you catch that? J. Cole got signed because his friend got him a meeting with Jay-Z.
My friend, you have to make friends.
2. Spend More Time Performing Than On Social Media
Spending time liking pictures on Instagram is fine, but you better be spending the majority of your time on a stage in front of a microphone.
You need to put in those hours so that when you do have fans that pay to come see you, you don’t catch stage freight or forget your words or lose your breath.
You want to be well trained for when your moment comes.
You can see exactly how many hours you’re putting into social media every day with iPhone’s screen time feature.
If you’re spending more time on social media than on creating, recording and performing, you’re doing it wrong.
You maybe saying, “Andre how am I going to perform if I don’t have any fans?”.
Perform at open mics.
If you have no idea what an open mic is, it’s usually a weekly thing that bars and theaters have where anyone can sign up and perform.
In just 3 months of performing at open mics you’ll get to know so many different types of artists (remember point #1) and will have improved your performance skills exponentially (certainly much more than just sitting at home).
Also you never know who will be in attendance.
For example, Ed Sheeran, would perform at open mics in LA and one time, one of the people in attendance was Jamie Fox, who not only let him stay at his house, but also let him use his home studio as well as help introduce him to important people in the music business.
Now does performing at open mics sound worth it?
3. Upload to All Streaming Sites
Forget burning CDs that’s a complete waste of money and bad for the environment, instead get your music on all the streaming sites.
I’ve already gone over multiple times about how to digitally distribute your music.
If it wasn’t already obvious why you should have your music on all streaming platforms, keep this mind,
Streaming services now contribute over 50% of industry revenue worldwide, according to a recent industry report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Over the last two years, the recorded music industry has grown for the first time since its Napster-induced decimation over 15 years ago. Last year, it grew at its highest rate since 1997: 5.9% to $15.7 billion.
The music industry is actually growing for the first time in over 20 years and that’s because of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
Your music has to be available on all streaming services.
4. Build Your Own Platform
If you can’t get on the radio or a blog, start your own.
Any musician who records at home can easily start a podcast and will be miles ahead any non-musician, as you already have the equipment and software to produce, record and edit your podcast.
The same is true for starting your own music blog, it’s dead simple, now a days to create a stunning website.
And if you think blogs are dead, why are you reading this? Just like I’m being generous with my knowledge to help you, I bet there’s so much you know that you can share with the world and build your following.
In fact, you don’t even need your own website.
Rapper A$AP Rocky became famous because his friend (remember how important friends are?) posted his music on his tumblr which had built up a following for posting good and interesting new music.
You can build similar platforms on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, where you showcase other artists work you admire, sprinkling in some of your own music, of course.
It also doesn’t just have to be music, it can be just interesting and funny things people who would potentially like your music would also like.
They’ve amassed a following of over 1 million followers.
That’s a lot of people to market to.
In fact, they recently released their own mixtape featuring up and coming rappers and producers from Toronto.
Wouldn’t you love to get in front of 1 million people?
Create an Instagram that showcases the cool and interesting and funny things going on in your city.
If you don’t want to put in the work building up your platform, you can submit your music to these kind of Instagram accounts who have (but it won’t usually be free though).
5. Get Your Own Website
Your website is where you direct fans to buy your tickets, stream your albums, and buy your merch.
You have to update it regularly with your releases such as new music and music videos.
Pro Tip: Make sure you pay your monthly hosting fees. I hate when I find a new artist and check their website and their site is down cause they didn’t pay their hosting bill!
6. Build a mailing list
A mailing list is basically a program that collects your fan’s emails so that you can email them when you have something to show them like a new song, merch or tour dates.
You maybe saying but, “I have an Instagram or Twitter or Facebook account where I can reach my audience, why do I need their email?”.
Because Facebook will not be forever.
Instagram will not be forever.
Twitter will not be forever.
Remember Myspace? Me neither.
We’ve already seen how Facebook and Facebook owned Instagram have moved away from showing your post to all your followers in favor of making you pay to reach all of them.
When you build your following on a social media platform, it’s basically like building your home on rented land and your landlord (Facebook) can charge you whatever they want to reach your fans.
At least with email you’ll always be able to own the communication channel with your fans that nobody can take away.
For example, Louis C.K. who will probably never work with a major studio again, for obvious reasons, doesn’t have to worry about reaching his fan base.
Because Louis C.K. has been building his email list for years, he doesn’t have to worry about a middle-man blocking access to his fans, as he can always email them directly and say, “Hey I have a show here or you can buy new special here”.
7. Document Your Journey
If I’ve sold you on posting on a regular basis to your social media, you maybe asking what do I post?
Post everything to do with your music.
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has a great motto when it comes to creating content,
Document. Don’t create.
What he means by this is don’t try to make mind blowing content for social media, just document your process in creating your mind blowing music.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating content for their personal brand is trying to oversell themselves because they think that’s what’s going to get people’s attention. Whether you’re a business coach or motivational speaker or artist, I think it’s much more fruitful to talk about your process than about the actual advice you “think” you should be giving them.
This can include things like:
- Snippets of new music you’re working on
- Tracklist as they evolve
- Performance clips
- You singing your song in your kitchen
- A tour of your studio
- Music Videos
- Lyric Videos
- Song Explanation Videos
- Upcoming Performance Dates
- Pictures (professional ones and ones taken by you)
Every single thing you do that has to do with the creating aspect of music, post about it, because it shows people that you’re invested in making music.
So that when you’re album does come out, others will be invested in it as well, and it’s not a surprise to the world.
It’s pre-marketing, marketing your album before it drops.
8. Hire Social Media Influencers
You know when a rapper or an artist or a comedian or movie star releases a new album, movie or special?
Other rappers, artists, and actors will post about it on their social media.
Thereby letting all their followers know about what their peer has released.
That’s social media influencing at the macro level.
You can do the same.
You just need to find the social media influencers at your level.
And oh yeah social media influencers are not anything magical or fancy, they’re just people on social media (particularly Instagram) that have a lot of followers.
And by a lot, I would say more than 10,000 followers.
What you’re going to want to do is find the ones that relate closely to your niche.
For example, if you’re an artist that makes Christian rap music, find people on Instagram that have a large following and that cater to Christians that like rap music.
It’s pretty easy.
If you can’t find a channel that intersects your “x” and “y” variables. Create your own (remember build your own platform above).
How much should you pay a social media influencer?
The majority of social media influencers have no idea what to charge so most of them are overcharging.
From my experience, a fair price is $25 for a 24 hour repost for someone that has over 200,000 followers.
But you’ll see people with less than 20,000 followers try to charge $40 a repost.
This is where the trial and error comes in as you’ll have to DM as many social media influencers as you can to get an idea of their pricing.
Also don’t think just because you paid someone with 300,000 followers to repost your video or picture that you’re going to get all these followers, your actual content is the main reason people will follow you or not.
9. Make the best music you can
This really should be your number one objective.
The only way to really stand out in an overcrowded noisy world is to make music that make people’s heads turn (in a good way).
Imagine those rare times when you hear a new song and you can’t stop listening to it?
You want to create music like that.
Music that makes other people want to listen to it over and over again.
Music that people want to share with their friends and say, “You’ve got to listen to this bro!”.
But how do you make this kind of remarkable music?
You’ve got to keep practicing song making and when you’ve got some songs that you like present them in the best way possible by getting them properly mixed and mastered.
And no that isn’t a cheap plug (okay it kinda is).
Nothing turns off a potential new fan than listening to a song that isn’t mixed and mastered right.
Think about it?
Do you enjoy listening to songs that are not even mixed?
You want to present your music in the best light.
This also means putting some thought and effort into the cover art (or none at all if your music is about putting no thought or effort into your music).
When I say “present your music in the best light” I don’t mean it has to be super professional and polished.
I mean it should be presented in a way that matches the music and ultimately you as an artist and dare I say “brand”.
10. Buy Ads on Facebook and Instagram
The reason Facebook is valued at $140 billion is because advertising on Facebook and Facebook owned Instagram works.
But the caveat is you’ve got to have some money and most importantly you’ve got to test, test, test.
I’d recommend spending $1 a day and target your demographic as tightly as possible.
You’ll probably have to do 10 to 30 tests to figure out the right demographic to target, but once you do it’s pretty much set and forget.
If this sounds all overwhelming and your eyes are rolling back, let’s do a quick example of advertising your music on Instagram.
First thing you’d do is geographic targeting.
I would just target my own city and surrounding area at first as targeting a whole country on a $1 a day budget is too little.
I also think it’s important to get known in your community before anywhere else (but you don’t have to).
Second thing you do is select the gender and age.
I would just go 10 years within my own age and select both genders, unless I know my music only caters to women or men exclusively.
Now this the most important part, selecting the interests.
I would just choose an artist or two or three that I feel like I sound similar to and whose fans would likely enjoy my music.
11. Get Known in a Community
I don’t say get known in the community, I say get known in “a” community. You’ll already naturally gravitate to the spaces that interest you both in real life or online, but are you making yourself known in those spaces?
The best way to get known online and in real life is to build trust. And the only way to build trust is to show up consistently.
So if you’re building an Instagram or Youtube or TikTok following, post content on a consistent basis.
If you’re performing at open mics, show up to them on a consistent basis.
Over time, you’ll not only get to know everyone but everyone will get to know you.
Show up often and be generous with your presence.
12. Create a Partnership or Joint Venture
In the business world, when a company wants to grow quickly, they form a strategic partnership with another company. So why can’t musicians, singers, artists, rappers and producers do the same?
But we don’t look at starting a band as the same as a joint venture, but it really is.
For example, a band with 5 members has potentially 5 times more exposure than a solo artist.
It’s just simple math.
But that doesn’t mean you have to form a band, you can form all kinds of different joint ventures.
The most common being producer and singer or rapper.
But you can also pair up with other small businesses.
For example, if you’re a rapper whose known for being a “weed rapper”, why not reach out to an up and coming vape or some other business that caters to people who smoke weed.
I know I’ve said some disparaging things about Youtube but where Youtube beats any other platform on is on building trust.
In fact, we’ve even stepped up our efforts on Youtube, turning much of our blog content into videos.
So how can an artist build trust on Youtube?
The first obvious thing is to create remarkable music videos.
The second not so obvious thing is, as I’ve noted above, is to document your journey.
For example, you can vlog your journey as a musician from the very bottom to the top.
Do you know how compelling that would be to watch someone like Drake or Kendrick Lamar vlog their journey from the very beginning?
I guarantee we’ll see a new artist do the same.
I’ve been disillusioned by blogs for a few years now because I know just how many submissions a music blogger receives (a few hundred to a thousand a day!).
And most artists seem to be skipping over the blogs as a means of promotion in favor of social media, so that means maybe we should give blogs a second chance since there’s an increased chance a blogger will hear our music.
But how do you submit your music to multiple sites in a time effective manner?
A good site to checkout is submithub.
They’ve built on this whole online platform for submitting your music to bloggers within your genre at scale.
Keep in mind their is a cost that’s set by the blogger, so you’ll really have to experiment (and spend some money) to find a blogger that not only picks up your music but that also has a sizable audience that will translate into streams or downloads or fans or whatever metric you’re shooting for.
Remember one blog post is likely not going to blow you up over night, making it music is a marathon not a sprint.
15. Personalized Dm’s
Saving the best for last: Personalized direct messages to all of your followers on all of your social media is the cheapest and most targeted way to get the word out about your new song, album or music video.
After all, these are the people that are following you!
You can even take this a step further and text message everyone in your phone’s contact book.
The key to doing this is to personalize every message and not just copy and paste the same message over and over (Because most people can smell spam a mile away!).
And yes this is time consuming, especially when you have thousands of followers.
But how bad do you want people to know about your new release?
That’s what it really boils down to.
Is your music really good enough for more than 10 people to hear?
Than get out there and tell everyone about it!
16. Get on TikTok
If you don’t know what TikTok is, it’s basically an app for making mini-music videos.
It’s the app that’s responsible for Old Town Road and a whole bunch of other songs for going viral.
What I like about TikTok is that it not only provides the tools for creation but it also encourages creation (unlike Instagram which has turned more into a person’s highlight reel).
If you don’t have a budget to make a music video and let’s face it most of us don’t, I’d suggest making mini-music videos on TikTok with your own songs and even other people’s songs and build a following that way.
We all know how tough it is to promote your music nowadays.
The two main thing’s to keep in mind, regardless of the promotion method is to stay consistent and produce quality.
Obviously when you start it’s going to be horrible, but by putting yourself on a schedule, you’ll get better not only at making music, but also at promoting your music.
Let me know in the comments any cool ways you’ve done or seen someone else do to promote their music?