It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or seasoned veteran.
To get from where you are to where you want to be in your music career, you must come up with a strategy. In most cases, that strategy will revolve around marketing.
Many people have goals. Fewer people write them down. Even fewer people have a strategy. And, only a tiny percentage of people ever action their strategy.
So, whether you’re looking to get more exposure, build your email list, land better shows or sell more merch, here are some music marketing tips you can use as part of your strategy.
Get Clear On Your Brand & The Impact You Want To Make
The other tips on this list are of little use to you if you don’t know what your brand is or what impact you want to make on the world.
The clearer you are on who you are, what you stand for and the fans you want to attract, the better you will do with your music marketing strategies.
If you don’t have an “awesome” idea yet – don’t worry. You can come up with a placeholder vision for now and iterate on it as you go.
But you still need a vision. It could be something as simple as “we want to show the world how cool skateboarding is through our punk rock music.”
Guess what? That sounds engaging to me. I could easily get behind it.
“We make music because we’re creative and passionate about it” is a complete cop out and I have no idea how to place you (publicists and media people won’t know either). It’s not a vision, and it’s certainly not a brand out to make an impact.
Get your brand together now. It has less to do with your colors, fonts or logos (which are important), and more to do with the impact you want to have on your fans (most important).
Set Up Your Website & Keep It Updated
It may seem obvious, but many musicians are still more reliant on social media for building their online presence than their own website.
This is a mistake.
It’s important to create your home on the web. It makes it easy for you to keep your fans updated, collect email addresses and sell your merch with greater efficiency.
If you don’t know what digital sharecropping is, Google it and study up. It’s basically the practice of “building your home on rented land”, leaving the power in the hands of the renter.
Once you’ve understood the disadvantages of digital sharecropping, start putting your best content on your website. Use social media to drive people back to your central hub.
A self-hosted WordPress installation is ideal. If you find it too technical or frustrating, use Bandzoogle instead.
Build Your Email List & Send Regular Campaigns
This should be your top priority with your online marketing.
Don’t worry about website visitors, social media followers or even engagement figures.
If your email list is growing consistently, 80% of the game is won. All you need to do is give something away for free in exchange for an email address, and you can put this on autopilot using a service like MailChimp.
Now for the part that many musicians balk at – sending emails. Your email list won’t do you much good if you don’t send campaigns. If you don’t make any asks, you won’t sell anything.
So, send weekly campaigns, even if it’s just to build relationship with your audience. If anything, that should be your focus.
Then, make the occasional ask of your fans – “stream our album”, “buy tickets to our show”, “vote for our song” or otherwise.
Stick with it and keep showing up every week.
Make Inspiring, Entertaining And/Or Educational Content & Publish Weekly
Don’t get all stiff on me – I’m not asking you to write a listicle or in-depth business case study.
People want to get to know the artist behind the music. So, maybe make a weekly vlog.
Have fun with the process. Make it a part of your routine.
Focus on engaging your audience first and foremost. Sales will come later.
There are dozens of ways to leverage content you create. But if you don’t make content, you’ll have nothing to leverage.
You don’t need to become an all-out publisher, but I would recommend getting something out there at least once per week because you can easily repurpose whatever you create to get even more exposure.
To me, a social media strategy that doesn’t include proprietary content isn’t a social media strategy at all. It all starts here.
Make Great Music & Publish More (If Possible, Every Month)
Stop holding back.
As artists, we generally aren’t the best judge of our material. Songs that we don’t like can end up being our hits.
Just look at Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting.” Neither Douglas nor his producer knew that it would be a hit but no harm spending a few minutes in the studio to throw together one more song, right?
“Kung Fu Fighting” ended up rising to the top of British, Australian, Canadian, American and Soul Singles charts. It also got Gold certification from the RIAA in 1974.
I know you might hesitate in releasing “unfinished” or “unpolished” material, but I can tell you from experience it can be both rewarding and beneficial for you career.
If you get a great response on a specific track, double down and iterate on it. Make more tracks like it.
Put more of yourself out there. It will help with your marketing.
Automate Your Submissions Using Boost Collective Or SubmitHub
I would not advise spending your whole day submitting your music to Spotify playlist curators. If that’s what you’re doing right now, cut it out.
At most, you should only be spending 30 minutes per day on this, because the above tips are going to drive results faster than getting on a popular playlist, which is dubious at best.
Instead, invest a bit of money into yourself and your career.
Use a service like Boost Collective or SubmitHub to connect with bloggers, labels, Spotify playlisters, YouTubers, radio stations and influencers.
Outsourcing your Spotify promotion can save time and get you better results, as these services will have existing connections that would take a long time for you to grow yourself.
Spend a bit of money, submit your music to relevant opportunities, call it a day and move on. That way, you can get to your other to-do items.
You won’t get some of that money back, but so what? It’s the same with anything else you can spend your money on.
There will be some hits and some misses, but if the size of the hits is bigger than the misses, you’re on the right track.
Get Your Music On The Radio
With major media conglomerates taking over the airwaves, it has never been more challenging for independent musicians to get their music on the radio.
That doesn’t mean you should give up on radio altogether, as it can increase your credibility and help you grow your fan base.
And, if you’re still wondering whether radio is still relevant, yes, it is. So long as you’re hearing mainstream music on radio, it’s worth it (why else would labels invest in it?).
So, put together a smaller scale independent radio campaign and make a day out of it.
Get the band together and bring 200 copies of your CDs, 200 one sheets, 200 envelopes and a few Sharpies to the library.
Use the internet to find 200 relevant college and community stations that play your style of music across the country. If you want to put your list together fast, use The Indie Bible.
Then, remove the cellophane wrapper from your CDs, stuff them in the envelopes with your one sheets, seal the envelopes, address them to the appropriate parties, take them to the post office and mail them out.
Follow up with each station after a few weeks to confirm they received your CD.
While you’re at it, set up a free account with Radio Airplay and start getting your music played on internet radio.
Make Awesome Branded Merch & Get It Out There
So far as this list is concerned, on a scale of earth-shattering revelation to “duh”, this tip lands itself a little closer to the “duh” side.
Every band should have something to sell. And, it’s never been easier to get your merch made up quickly and affordably using a service like Merchly.
Here’s the rub.
If you don’t have a strong brand, while you might sell a bit of merch here and there, you’re not going to be as effective as you could be.
Go back to the first tip and read it again. You need to be clear on what impact you want to make on the world!
Once you’ve done that, it gets much easier to create merch that’s perfectly in alignment with your vision and brand. You could even say it streamlines the process.
Okay, but how does merch lead to more exposure for your music?
Simple. It turns your fans into walking billboards.
So, make attractive branded merch your fans will wear as they’re going about their day to day.
Play Out Often & Connect With Your Fans
Playing live is still one of the best ways to engage fans and prospective fans.
If possible, get a banner made up with your band name and web address on it. It makes it so much easier for people to find you and will help you grow your fan base faster.
After all, announcing your name over the PA after every song is kind of tacky.
At every show, collect email addresses from the people who show up. If you’ve got signup forms set up on your website, it’s already working for you 24/7. Now it’s time for you to put yourself to work and do some of the legwork.
Sell merch at every show. Get your superfans wearing your gear everywhere they go, so you can tap into the power of passive promotion and social proof.
Spend some time getting to know your fans. Everything they share with you about themselves and their favorite activities and interests is data you can use to create content (emails, blog posts, podcast episodes, videos) and reengage.
If you manage to get played on radio, make note of what cities you’re getting played in and tour through them often. Build a relationship with the stations and see if you can drop in and do an interview or acoustic performance.
When you’re ready, book tours and play more shows. Work hard and play often, regardless of how many people show up at your shows.
Give Interviews On Podcasts & Promote Them
Musicians are often deep thinkers and have important thoughts to share with the world. So, start booking podcast interviews.
Spend some time preparing for interviews so you can knock the interview out of the park. Deliver some serious value on the shows you are asked to be on.
Not every podcast host will agree to have you on their show (I wouldn’t expect a response rate above 3 to 20%), but it can’t hurt to ask, right?
Be ready with a templated pitch – a few bullet points on the subjects you want to cover, specifically things you can speak intelligently on.
Send your pitch to all the relevant (and I do mean relevant) podcasts you can find and customize your message based on the show.
Don’t forget to promote whatever podcasts you’ve been on. Share them with your email list and social media followers. It builds your brand and credibility.
If you’re not going to share your interviews you may as well not do this at all.
And, if you can’t be bothered to wade through a sea of emails, hire a freelancer on Upwork, give them your email pitch and have them do the back and forth on your behalf, for like $5 an hour.
Engage In More YouTube Collaborations
Stop trying to do everything yourself. We’re firmly in the information age now, and all the audiences are already built. You don’t need to start from scratch.
Start collaborating and poaching prospective fans from other artists who’ve got a presence on YouTube.
Make an “ABC” list of people you’d like to collaborate with:
- A list – big YouTubers you dream of one day working on something with.
- B list – YouTubers that have a bit of a following.
- C list – local artists you know with a YouTube channel.
Then come up with an idea and send a message to everyone on your list! Yes, all of them.
Sure, it’s scary to talk to your A list, but if you don’t take chances, nothing will ever change in your career.
Get Into Influencer Marketing – The Time Is Now
Like I said, all the audiences are already built. You don’t need to put your blood, sweat and tears into getting from fan 0 to fan 1,000. Go where people already are and you can build your fan base faster.
Do your research and find influencers you connect with (similar interests, political views, personalities, etc.). Search high and low on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok for prospective collaborators.
Then, see if they’d be willing to promote your show or latest release in exchange for a social media post, a bit of money or a service you can offer.
Maybe you could write theme songs for influencers in exchange for some exposure. What influencer doesn’t want a theme song to call their own?
Use influencer marketing to expand your reach by leaps and bounds instead of waiting around for your social media following to grow.
Automate Traffic Generation Using Ads
Content marketing is awesome. But it’s hard, especially when you’ve already got dozens of other things on your to-do list.
Keyword research? Blah.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t publish at least one unique piece of content weekly (blog post, podcast episode, video or otherwise). You should!
But that’s something you should do for your fans more than anything else.
The fastest way to drive traffic to your website is with ads. And, you know the best part? You get data from your ad spend.
Advertising platforms like Google, YouTube and Facebook leave you with plenty of data to assess ad performance, which you can then use to make even better ads.
So, set aside a bit of money to keep those ads running. $30 per month is enough if that’s all you’ve got. Increase your spending as you begin to drive better results from your ads.
Automate Social Media Using Hootsuite Or Meet Edgar
Just give up. Stop trying to be an Instagram Rockstar. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
I can almost guarantee you’re wasting more time on social media than you should be and it’s taking away from the things you should be focused on (e.g. making great music).
Despite what you may have heard, social media doesn’t present that significant of an opportunity and Facebook is just going to keep throttling engagement (same with Instagram).
The above actions are going to drive faster results, especially if you’re still trying to build a following from 0.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t register accounts with popular social platforms. You should! And if you’re already doing well on social media, then keep doing what you’re already doing.
But instead of trying to build your following from the ground up, lean on tools like Hootsuite or Meet Edgar to automate your posting. Keep adding new and fresh content as necessary.
Spend 15 to 30 minutes per day checking in and engaging with people. Then, get off the computer. Move on.
Boom. I just saved you hours you could be spending on making more music.
Fast Music Marketing Tips, Final Thoughts
The above isn’t just a list of tips. It’s a holistic approach to getting your music the exposure it truly deserves.
But it may require a new mindset. Not everything you take on will be even remotely comfortable. Plus, you might balk at the idea of spending money on marketing and promotion.
But whoever said building a music career was comfortable? It’s not. It takes dedication and hard work. And, if you don’t take any risks, how can you expect to get anywhere with this?
So, when you’re ready, get moving. Use the above tips to cause breakthrough results in your music career.