Promoting your music and boosting your exposure can be a real challenge when you’re an independent artist. When you sign with a record label, you get to tap into their resources, use their network, and gain access to a marketing and PR budget that allows you to reach and expand your audience. But if you’re a newcomer or an independent artist looking to get recognition and have your music heard by millions, you’ll have to invest some time and effort into making that happen.
From releasing new music and spreading the word on social media to networking, playlist pitching, and PR, you’ll pretty much have to do it all on your own. That can sound overwhelming, but as long as you’ve got a plan that helps you focus on the most important steps to consider, you should be able to get it done. Here’s where to start.
1. Create good music
This goes without saying, but your music is your main strength, and everything else you do revolves around it. So, the first thing you want to focus on is making sure your music is polished, carefully mixed and produced, and that it sounds professional enough that fans and music professionals alike will take notice.
Nowadays, you don’t need access to a fancy and expensive recording studio, as there are tools and technologies to help you achieve a professional-level sound at home. This is where you want to spend most of your time and effort, on writing amazing lyrics, coming up with catchy melodies, and polishing the end result until you’re proud to share it to the world.
2. Sign up to artist services
These days, you will find your target audience online, on streaming platforms like YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, and even TikTok and Instagram. It’s a no-brainer that any aspiring musician should also be present on these platforms, but you can go beyond that and take it to the next level by signing up to services that cater directly to artists.
Spotify for Artists, for instance, is a great platform for independent artists to show off their work and tap into the millions of potential followers that Spotify has to offer. Their services will enable you to access extra features and benefits that will help you promote your music in a professional way. But you don’t have to limit yourself to just Spotify; try Apple Music for Artists, Deezer for Creators, or YouTube for Artists. Make sure to have a look at the benefits they each have to offer and see which platform is the best fit for you.
3. Release your songs onto streaming platforms
Music fans are constantly flocking to Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube to discover new artists to love and support, so naturally, you want your music to be there for them to find and listen to. You should approach these platforms just as you would a professional release through a record label.
Choose your release date, set up appealing visuals and cover art for your single, EP or LP, prepare all the metadata, get all your licensing in place, and start dropping teasers. Whether that’s videos on TikTok or Instagram, snippets of music on YouTube or Facebook, do everything you can to build up hype for your upcoming release on Spotify or Apple Music. Don’t forget to polish and enhance your artist profile and connect it to your website or social media channels.
4. Establish a strong online presence
Now that we brought it up, you definitely want to have a solid, polished, and up-to-date website to showcase your work, announce new releases and collaborations, feature your collabs, and share your contact details. You also want to have strong social media profiles, on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and wherever else makes sense for you.
That’s not to say you have to create your profiles, build a website, and your work is done. You want to keep all your online profiles up to date, make sure all the contact details are correct in case artists or label representatives want to get in touch with you, and last but not least, you want to be active on these platforms. Read and respond to comments and messages, join groups and challenges, and interact with your followers and potential fans as much as you can.
5. Build your website and mailing list
We’ve already mentioned that it would be great to have your own professional-looking website, where you can showcase your music, upcoming releases, collaborations, upcoming live gigs, and more.
In this digital age, your website is your calling card, so make sure you have all your details, your artist bio, contact details, and social profiles linked on there to make it easy for people to discover you when they look you up online. It doesn’t have to be a complex website with lots of pages and expensive visuals; keep it simple, clean, and fresh. You can work with a digital marketing specialist or agency to help you build your website if you’re not sure how to do it on your own.
You can even take it one step further and build a mailing list as a way to send people newsletters and news tidbits about upcoming live shows, releases, video drops, and more. That’s a great way to build a fanbase and reach your fans directly by dropping news in their inboxes.
6. Get press and blog coverage
Whenever you drop a new single, launch a new release on Spotify, or publish a new music video on YouTube, you want as many people as possible to know about it. Writing up a press release and sending it out to media outlets and music blogs can get you much-needed exposure.
Do a little bit of research to create a list of blogs, forums, and other media outlets that seem like the right fit for you, create a professional-looking press release, and send it out. Don’t forget to also share it on your social media profiles and encourage people to spread the news. The more exposure, the better!
7. Collaborate with other artists
Another great way to promote your music online is to collaborate with other artists and musicians. By working on a duet or a feature song, a live gig or live on TikTok or YouTube, you’ll basically double your exposure and have more people discovering your music. It’s a win-win situation for both you and the artist you chose to collaborate with, so you’ve really got nothing to lose. As a bonus, you’ll also get to refine and further develop your skills as a musician, and that’s priceless.
8. Build your fanbase / community
To build a fanbase and a community of followers, you’ll want to make the most out of all available channels at your disposal, be that streaming platforms, social media, PR and advertising, and so on. At the same time, fans are drawn to artists who are authentic, sincere, and transparent, so don’t try too hard to be someone that you are not. Be yourself at all times and be confident in your skills and your music, and fans will take notice.
To grow your community, you want to stay active, both online and offline. Communicate and engage with your fans on social media, get their feedback and apply it, share behind-the-scenes content or educational content, like your creative process or sources of inspiration, and be responsive. Besides that, try to perform live as often as you can, either at local venues or at music festivals, and seek out collaborations with other artists you admire, to tap into their audience, as well.
9. Get featured in popular playlists
Getting your songs featured in popular Spotify playlists can significantly boost your exposure and unlock access to millions of potential listeners. To achieve this, start by optimizing and enhancing your Spotify profile, and start engaging with fellow musicians, with your followers, and share music constantly to get your music in rotation as much as possible. Generate buzz around new releases, engage with playlist curators, and stay active on the platform to increase your chances.
If you want to be more proactive about this while you wait and hope that your songs get featured automatically in listener playlists and algorithmic playlists, you can also submit your songs to editorial playlists. Do a little bit of research to find playlists where your music might be a good fit, and make sure you submit your song in time, as editors usually select music for new playlists a week ahead.
10. Try to go viral on social media
Another way of building buzz around your music and getting music fans and even record labels to notice you is to go viral on social media. That sounds downright impossible, given the amount of content being released on social media platforms on a daily basis, but there is always a chance of it happening to you, so why not try it?
The more views, likes, comments, and shares you get on your video on TikTok, for instance, the more popular it will become. The algorithm will then start pushing your video to more and more people, helping it get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of views on TikTok. Recent research shows that more than 74 artists launched their music careers by posting organic TikTok content in 2022. But in order for that to happen to you, you’ll need to get creative and start a music challenge or join one, and feature catchy songs or fun remixes that capture the attention of users. Keep at it and have fun, and who knows, your video could be the next viral TikTok sensation that catapults you into fame.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make my music go viral?
Making your music go viral is a combination of creating a compelling and unique song, strategic promotion, and a bit of luck. Start by focusing on creating high-quality, catchy music that stands out. Develop a strong online presence through social media, engaging with your audience, and sharing your music across various platforms. Create visually appealing music videos and collaborate with influencers or content creators to maximize reach. Leverage trending topics, challenges, or viral trends to create content that resonates with a wider audience. Engage with online communities and actively seek press coverage or blog features.
How can I promote my music for free?
To promote your music for free, leverage social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to engage with your audience and share your music. Utilize streaming platforms like SoundCloud and Bandcamp to distribute your music and connect with listeners. Collaborate with other artists, participate in online communities, and engage with fans through comments and messages. Leverage email marketing by building an email list and regularly sending newsletters with updates and exclusive content. Seek out opportunities for local performances, open mics, and community events to showcase your talent. Lastly, engage with music blogs, online magazines, and podcasts by pitching your music for potential features or interviews.
How can I build a fanbase?
To build a fanbase, focus on creating high-quality music that resonates with your target audience. Engage with fans through social media, respond to comments and messages, and offer exclusive content. Perform live regularly, collaborate with other artists, and seek press coverage. Build an email list to stay connected with fans and leverage online communities. Stay consistent, authentic, and prioritize building genuine connections with your audience through meaningful engagement.
How do I get my song heard by more people?
To get your song heard by more people, focus on strategic promotion. Utilize social media platforms to share your music, engage with your audience, and collaborate with influencers. Submit your music to relevant blogs, playlists, and radio stations. Leverage streaming platforms, optimize your profiles, and encourage fans to save and share your music. Engage in targeted advertising campaigns and seek out opportunities for music licensing, sync placements, and collaborations with brands or content creators to expand your reach.
Want to learn more about music promotion and getting exposure as a newcomer artist?
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