Music promotion is one of the most important tools to get your music out there. In recent years, with the evolution of the internet, the answer to the question of “how to promote your music” has never seemed more answerable. Uploading your song on SoundCloud, using Facebook tools effectively, or creating an original video on Youtube are only some of the ways by which you can increase your visibility. The truth is that in order to succeed in this very competitive area, you have to treat your passion for music like a business. Your situation and work ethic could be compared to that of a mini record label. Learning about and performing most of the administrative functions will be your job. Building a good team of diverse people will also be your responsibility and crucial to your success. 

This article intends to give a comprehensive overview on how to promote your music independently. Our purpose will be to give you some tips and techniques in order to bypass the traditional method of sending your tracks to record labels to be released. There are many areas to cover in the music promotion industry (distribution, promotion publishing & marketing) that you’ll need to get familiar with. We’ll be taking a deep look at all of these points.

Distribution & Sales: How to promote your music independently?

Music Promotion Platforms

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CDBaby

CDBaby is a leading online retailer that has been selling independent music online for years. Even though, many people think that CD’s aren’t trendy anymore, there are still opportunities for music promotion thanks to CDBaby. All you need to do is sign up,  send them a couple of CDs and fill in some info about you and your music for promotion. Charging you 4$ per CD, CDBaby.com will take care of everything else (the CD, distribution, etc.)

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Amazon Music / CDs

Amazon Music/CDs is a CD on demand services providing an excellent opportunity for artists to sell physical CDs directly to the public with no additional costs. Send your tracks and Amazon CD will work on how to promote your music.

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Tunecore

Tunecore is a service that helps independent musicians sell their music on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify & more.

Here are below new sites that let you sell your music in different ways:

Of course Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Pandora and Soundcloud are a must in the independent music industry. But it appears that it is extremely hard to get money out of those platforms. Keep in mind to use these platforms just as a way to promote your music and give the possibility to expose your music easily.

List of tools/services to increase potential earnings:

  • Online radio play and promotion
  • Synchronization (your music in TV or Film)

Marketing & Promoting Your Music

Later sections will go into more detail about how to promote your music. Nonetheless, this part should give you an initial insight.  First, you must know that great music is not enough to have a minimum of success. You’ll have to convince the general public, the music industry and the professionals.

Guidelines on how to promote your music successfully:

  1. Use social media to build a fanbase (twitter, facebook, youtube)
  2. Go to trade shows to meet future collaborators or partners.
  3. Use press releases or contact blogs to be reviewed which will lead to more visibility.
  4. Use online advertising banners to encourage people to buy your latest album or single. However, don’t advertise on general sites otherwise it will not be effective.
  5. Seek out to niche websites and blogs to specifically attract fans of your genre of music.

Building a portfolio of promotion tools for your label (web presence)

Create your artist website 

Once you have enough content to present to your audience, building your own website will prove to be an excellent music promotion tool. Your website should be a place where fans can retrieve all the relevant info from your social media, promotion websites and Itunes . You can add your contact info and EPK (Electronic Press Kit). It’s truly important to make sure that your website looks professional and that it is easy to use and to buy from.

EPK example

How to create a WordPress website?

Nowadays, it has never been easier to create a website thanks to CMS (content management system). Any person can create one with a bit of research. Here is what you need to build on:

  1. Domain name – (GoDaddy.com / 1and1.com)
  2. Server provider – (Siteground.com – couple $ / month)
  3. WordPress account – WordPress is probably the most popular CMS in today’s market. Usually, a WordPress account can be created directly from service providers.
  4. Theme (Paid version) [Optional] – It can be useful if you want to have a branded/professional website. (A theme or template is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a blog).

For more details about how to create a website with WordPress: link

Social Networking

Along with your website, social networking sites are certainly a real marketing tool to sell and get popularity through the internet. They thrive on the whole viral networking scene. Many think that throwing their music on SoundCloud is enough to get opportunities. However, you must be present on all social media (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, etc.) and use their tool to make people listen to your tracks.

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Facebook | Group Page

This type of page tends to be the most limited. Indeed, all you have to do is to identify a group photo, add a brief description and publish posts on the group page wall. What makes a group page interesting is that you have the possibility to invite friends and acquaintances in one click. If you have an upcoming gig, you can send out invites to all the group members. It’s definitely a great tool to tell fans about gigs, shows, new tracks and album releases.

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Facebook | Fan page

This page allows you to post rich media such as music videos, photos (of your last concerts for instance), soundtracks and more. Here, perhaps the most important feature is the option to add Apps. This tool should not be underestimated since these apps give you the opportunity to synchronize external applications like Twitter, iLike or Reverb Nation with your own Facebook fan page.

Apps also facilitate other processes such as selling tickets, updating ‘tweets’ or creating mailing lists to analyze promotion and statistical information about artists. Without apps, it would be difficult for artists to send joint invitations to fan pages. Another advantage fan pages offer over group pages is that they give the ability for unregistered members to visit the fan page.

The bottom line is that it proves to be beneficial to both have a group and a fan page since they are complementary. We would advise you to update your content and stay active on your pages as often as possible to make sure that you keep your fans tuned.

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Other social networking websites options

There is a tremendous number of other social networking websites out there that can be extremely valuable:

  • Ning.com: an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks.
  • Last.FM, Spotify.com & Deezer etc: are both music platforms that build a detailed profile of each user’s musical taste by recording details of the tracks the user listens to.

  • ReverbNation.com has come up with clever tools to help you out manage your fans. They provide excellent widgets that you can manage from a central control room on their page, from song players, show schedules and much more. Once you have all widgets, you can post them on all your web platforms and can be updated all at once on your ReverbNation account. All in all, ReverbNation offers other features that can be found on their website.

All those websites will make it easy to promote your music giving the possibility to your audience to listen to your tracks before they purchase them.

Promotion through Reddit

More than a simple forum, if used correctly, Reddit can prove to be a very valuable tool for the promotion of your tracks. There are even subreddit pages that have been created for the promotion of original tracks. Since it is very contemporary and popular, Reddit certainly has an advantage over ordinary blogs in terms of visibility.

Promotion through Youtube

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Music Videos

Making music videos is definitely not one of the most important aspects to consider for music promotion. Nonetheless, recording a convincing video could add so much more to the process of how to promote your music. Even though, most of the time, this process is handed to professionals, today, making music videos has never been easier! With the rise of YouTube and social medias (Facebook), you’re not required to invest lots of cash to show your videos. All you need to have is the right idea and a decent camera.

Camera:
Nowadays, a decent camera is mandatory to satisfy viewers. However, it can be expensive to buy one. But thanks to the rapid technological growth, you can now use your smartphone to record high standard music videos. Furthermore, drones have never been cheaper as it’s now very popular in the audio visual field. It’s now possible to get an honorable drone for a couple hundreds dollars that will deliver unbelievable footages and images.

Location:
Finding an interesting location can be difficult if your local environment doesn’t suit your footage ideas. However, professional video makers use a technology called “Chroma key” (also called “Green Screen filming”), where a person is standing in front of a coloured backdrop (usually green) and performs, then when the video is put into a computer the green backdrop is replaced by other video backgrounds and effects, enabling you to be anywhere in the world. You can easily find a green screen backdrop cloth on online stores.

Lighting:
Once you have recorded all your footage, it’s time to edit it. Here you have 2 options: (1) Use free editor software like Windows Movie Maker and iMovie or (2) spend some money and use Sony Vegas Pro or Adobe Premiere softwares. The main difference between the two is that paid softwares allow you to have more branded and professional features.

When you have put together all the criteria. Publish your music video on every platform you have signed in (own website, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). New websites and facebook pages are coming out offering their expertise to make money with your videos.

Promotion through Twitter (Hack)

As you may know, social media have become an incredible chance for musicians to break into the music industry. Every “social hack” opens a new opportunities for how to promote your music. We are going to describe a Twitter hack with the purpose to drive traffic to your iTunes store. Our purpose here is to convert a listener into a buyer.

First, you’ll need to identify a regular buyer from the iTunes store. It is completely worthless to ask someone to buy your music if they’re not familiar with iTunes store. Use the following keywords on Twitter: (You will be surprised by the number of people who write these hashtags).

#Bought from iTunes
#Bought on iTunes
#Purchased from iTunes
#Purchased on iTunes
#Downloaded from iTunes

Once you have listed those people,  identify the buyer’s musical taste. Focus on those who might be interested in buying your music. Read potential buyers posts to determine their tastes. Next, if buyers match your music style, it’s time to build a long-term relationship with them. You definitely don’t want to ask them to buy your music right away as it may be inappropriate. Instead, you want to start a smooth approach by following them and dropping a message (asking what they do and their music style, etc). Once the relationship is strong, send your iTunes Store link to them (they may even ask a link to your music !).

If you want to be more efficient to promote your music through Twitter, we would advise you to use a free website tool: tweetlater.com (a paid version is also available for more features). It will automate the search for potential buyers. Summon in mind that this will save you time for the 1st step. This is just one example of how you always have to be focused on the way your fans think about buying music. You may notice that it’s a long-term process but it is definitely worthwhile if you are determined to succeed.

Public Relations & Publicity

PR and publicity are extremely important to get visibility. You can make the greatest music in the world, understand how to promote your music but without PR and publicity, no one will ever know about you and your music.

If you follow some of the ideas below, your music will get visibility.

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Get your songs and tracks on websites like About.com

Make sure you’re in the right section of the website to target the right readers/listeners. It will also increase the chances of getting your music reviewed.  Each section on About.com website is run by a host who edits and manages his/her section. Make sure to contact him to create a relationship for future reviews.

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Get your music on local radio & college stations

We would also recommend you to make contact with DJs and station program directors. When it comes to music promotion, to make a serious impact on radio, you have to be in a lot of places at once, and it takes time, effort and good contacts which you have to built up over a long period of time.

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Write press releases

Write press releases on your website on a regular basis (specific section about it at the end of the article). It will increase the ranking of your website on the search engine. Besides that, it will keep your audience interested in your adventure.

Trade Shows

When you think of how to promote your music, you don’t primarily think of trade shows. But it proves to be an excellent tool to put your work forward. Conferences, forums, and seminars are places where you can gain information on the music business, meet people and companies. They will make your music career more successful. Conferences will give you the actual and future trends and requirements from record labels and successful independent artists. Not only that, the seminars will give you valuable business intelligence from within the music industry and an edge when it comes to trying to sell your music. It’s a good way to meet people in your field that might become future partners.

How to get ready when going to trade shows?

First, you must analyze the person and companies that are going to that specific event. When registering to trade shows, you’ll have access to all the names, addresses emails, websites and maybe phone numbers of all artists and companies. We advise you to only focus on the relevant people in your genre to ensure the best use of your music. However, if you don’t detect valuable musicians, artists or companies in your field, it will be a waste of time. Prior to the trade show weekend, you should get in touch with a phone call or an email telling that you’re very pleased to meet them (be tenacious as it’s hard to get an appointment).

Ask them for a meeting at the conference at a specific time and most importantly ask them what they are looking for at the show, how you can be valuable to them. To leave the meeting with relevant info, write a list of 10 questions. During the meeting, keep it to no more than 15 minutes. It will show that you’re busy and demanded with other appointments in the conference. Finally, you should keep in touch a week later with a phone call or an email to progress your actions.

Here is a list of the most popular music trade shows.

You’ll be amazed how fast opportunities will come using trade shows.

2 websites to remember: SonicBids.com & Gigmasters.com

One the most important tool that permits all musicians to make everything possible is SonicBids.com. It provides a suite of tools and resources that connect you with promoters, venue owners, and great music opportunities all over the world. The first thing you need to do is to create an Electronic Press Kit (EPK). It includes an “elevator pitch” which is the most crucial aspect and a media section. SonicBids has a specific blog where you can find tips, advice and EPK examples. Unfortunately, there are more musicians looking for gigs/promoters than promoter looking for musicians. So you’ll have to differentiate yourself from “competitors” to convince promoters. Not only that, make sure that your music style corresponds to promoter’s demand/request.

SonicBids offers other features where you can send you EPK to clubs, bars around your local area. However, keep in mind that most club owners have their own websites. So, don’t forget to send them your EPK as well.

GigMasters.com is an event services booking platform where events are categorized by the type of music and the place. You may pay attention to detail for your EPK in order to convince as many people as you can for your upcoming gigs.

It’s always a great idea to share your talent as much as you can. YouTube is definitely the best way to give an overview of what your music sounds like. All you need to do is to record your tracks on video and share them on YouTube. We would also encourage you to create a page on your website where you invite your fans to show how well you’re doing during your lives. It’s truly important to have your SonicBids and GigMasters accounts linked to your website or YouTube channel. This method of promotion is crucial as it will give more clicks and therefore more opportunities.

The Internet has made it easier to find opportunities and to increase visibility than ever before. It’s now time to embrace it!

Conclusion

As you have seen in this article, there are many ways to promote your music and new venues open new opportunities to live your passion. So, make sure to keep up to date with the latest trend and events of the music industry.  We hope that this article has inspired you to take the leap to turn your music passion into a living. While setting up any business takes time and hard work, it could be a lot of fun after all. You will find out that being actively looking for partners, collaborations and opportunities will get you where you always wanted to be. Finally, if there is one thing you have to remember, it is that you should be committed to continual learning and always be open to help and advice. If you want a quick overview on music promotion, vibe.ng made a great article about this topic.

The music business can be surprising, so enjoy the journey until you reach that goal. However, if you are just starting out with music production, we would recommend you to check out our series of articles related to the beginning of your music production journey.