With entry requirements for making and releasing music at an all-time low, the market for aspiring musicians and producers has never been so oversaturated. As such, it can be challenging to get your music heard. However, as barriers to entry have come down, techniques to get your music in front of more people have become more available. In this article, we’ll cover some of our top tips for getting your music heard and what’s expected from artists in this digital world.
Define your brand
Before releasing new music you should define your genre and brand. In order to appreciate your target audience, it is important to categorise yourself and your music. Consistency is key when building your brand – your artwork and imagery should reflect who you are as an artist. And they can have a huge effect on streaming numbers and social media presence. Artwork and brand imagery are often the first points of contact for potential fans, so this is where they will form their first impressions of you – even without hearing your music.
High quality portfolio
Ultimately your audience is going to define you by your music, as such this should be your primary focus. It’s important to get feedback on your music – identify what people are enjoying as well as what isn’t working. Having a portfolio of music will allow you to showcase yourself. Once someone engages with your music, you must have additional content for them to experience to retain their engagement. Jobs, responsibilities, and creative blocks can all contribute to a lull in productivity, having a portfolio of music allows you to continually release content consistently even when external factors inevitably get in the way. Take time to ensure that your music is mixed and sounds good before releasing – people will notice if it's not. Many distributors won’t even accept music if it’s not up to standard.
Social media is where you can build and interact with your fanbase. You should decide on two or three social media platforms that you think are suitable for you. It's better to have a couple of profiles where you post regularly than to have many inactive accounts. Decide on what platforms will enable you the most engagement. Your social media presence should be up to date and maintain consistency. Being consistent with social media posts is vital if you are wanting to engage your audience, especially if you aren’t releasing music or gigging frequently. Keeping audience engagement on social media involves posting regular content and ensuring that your posts are of high quality. Not too regularly though, as over-posting or saturating your page with unengaging content can have adverse effects. Scheduling your posts can help keep them regular, so plan your posts to have consistent topics and release them on certain days. This could be ‘new release Friday’ for example.
Digital streaming platforms
Many musicians are dissatisfied with the current streaming revenue model with artists earning less than a penny per stream. However, it’s important to consider that streaming has provided a bigger audience for small independent artists, people are listening to more music than ever before, and the threat of digital piracy has been reduced by this. In 2021, Spotify reported over three hundred million active users worldwide. Consequently, streaming should be seen as a promotional tool as opposed to a revenue stream for musicians. In comparison, Bandcamp provides a much more lucrative platform for artists, allowing them to promote and sell digital downloads, physical copies, and merchandise at a customisable price point. Also, distributors are not needed when uploading to Bandcamp and it’s open to everyone, with artists setting their own prices.
Back in 2016, BuzzFeed stated that according to an industry estimate ‘1 out of every 5 plays across all streaming services today happens inside of a playlist’ and that number has only been growing steadily since. Spotify allows for branded, user-created and officially curated playlists, which makes it easier to get your music added. Branded playlists can often be the best place to start. Platforms like Indiemono allow users to submit tracks to be considered for a collection of playlists. These playlists often have a large following and so can be a great place to start building up streams. User-created playlists are also a great way of generating streams, however, the process of pitching your music is less simple. Finding the creators of independent playlists can be difficult but searching them on social media can make things easier. If you are struggling to get on a user-created playlist, you could always make your own, incorporating your music as well as tracks from similar artists and promote it via social media. Finally, official (Spotify curated) playlists are the best way of getting your music heard due to the number of active listeners but with thousands of submissions every day it’s much more competitive.
Working with others and delegating tasks can help with productivity and workflow. Collaboration can act as a form of inspiration for artists and as such, it’s great for overcoming creative blocks as well as providing an opportunity to learn your strengths and weaknesses. Collaborating with other artists also opens you up to their fans and enables you to grow and develop your own fan base which can be massively beneficial, especially if they are more established than you are. As music production has become more and more of a solitary process, collaborating is a great way of getting feedback and expanding your skill set by learning from others. And your collaboration doesn’t have to be limited to music, working with social media influencers can also be very beneficial. Influencers often have a huge following on social media and often create content that requires background music, as decent royalty-free music can be difficult to find, sending influencers tracks in exchange for a mention or shoutout from them can be mutually beneficial.
So there’s a number of great online promotion techniques you can use to get your music heard. But by far the most important tools are consistency and dedication – this is something repeated time and again by the artists in our video courses. It’s not an exact science and what works for someone else may not work for you. However, following the above will help you gain confidence, forge alliances, and grow your audience as a musician. To learn more about promoting yourself as an artist and expanding your fan base, why not explore our courses?