Back in the gold ol' MySpace days, artists could simply upload a low-quality recording of themselves singing and get hundreds of interactions. It wasn’t because they were doing anything special, but rather because the online music industry was in its infancy, and there were very few people who actually posted their music. Fast forward to today, artists have to struggle to even get their own friends and family to check out their content. Now, it doesn't mean that it's impossible to get praise as a music artist online, but it does mean we have to get creative with how we reach potential listeners and fans. Whether you plan to be a one-hit wonder or a lifelong music creator, these music marketing tips can help you get more engagement on your music, and ultimately, more fans.
9 unique, online music marketing tips (updated 2020):
TikTok is an emerging social media platform that allows users to create or upload videos of themselves, for others to watch, comment and share. But you probably already knew that. What you probably don’t know is that certain distributors share your music directly to TikTok, placing it in their directory for anyone in the app to use in the videos. This direct integration is not only great for making money from your music (royalties from streams), but it has viral potential. Create a video with just the right dance or humorous content that goes along with your video, and suddenly millions of people might choose to copy you and make their own version- using your song! This is what happened to the “Harlem Shake” from Bauuer back in the day, and is very much possible in today's music world- on apps like TikTok.
The challenge with creating TikTok videos for this purpose is getting your music on the platform in the first place. At StoryTime, we use Distrokid for our distribution platform because it directly sends artists music to TikTok, along with other social media platforms. Distrokid is inexpensive, and you can use this discount code for a few dollars off. Spend some time learning the culture of TikTok, then make our own videos with your music and share, share, share!
Google is undoubtedly the worlds most popular search engine. Surprisingly, I’ve found that many music artists don’t take advantage of it’s particular SEO features. Google Knowledge Panels, among other SEO features, are a great way to consolidate all of your artistic outlets into one, easy to read search-result on Google. Here’s an example of a knowledge panel for Lowsh. As you can see, all of my website content is composed into a sleek, organized panel. Now, anytime someone looks up my name on Google, they can easily access other channels about me. In our fast-paced world, this ease of access is critical.
Another fun feature of Google Knowledge Panels is that they allow users to actually POST on Google, as if it was it’s own social media page. This is done through a Google application called Cameos, which allows posters to share Q&A type videos with their fans. For a guide to setting up a Google Knowledge Panel, check this one out.
To my previous point of how fast-paced our society is, it’s important that every creative asset we post online is easily accessible by potential viewers. The more steps you make people take to get to your music, the less likely they will take it (at about a scale of 1/10, I’ve found). In business, the concepts of funnels are used to direct potential customers to make sales. In the very same way, our marketing as artists online, have to give users the thing they want, fast. Got a new release that you want people to hear? Better make a video for the big three social media, so that people can actually hear it directly on their feed, without having to jump through a thousand hoops to get to it.
If you make a post on social media telling people to check the link in your bio, chances are you’ve lost more than half of them already. You've got to give them the goods right up front. There are many great online services that can help you create a quick music-content video for posting, or you can find someone to do it for you on gig marketplaces like Fiverr. We also have a few preferred partners we can point you to, feel free to email us.
Quality is important, but quantity will always be necessary. I’m talking about always being on people's news feeds, with information about your releases, upcoming shows, lifestyle, and more. We get way too much information thrown at us on a daily basis to remember that an artist put out a new single- if they only made a single post about it. There’s a lot of industry controversy about posting too much, and while the situation can certainly vary, I am always of the impression that artists need to put themselves out there by any means necessary. If you’re worried about being repetitive or annoying, find new ways to say the same thing. Social platforms are all different for a reason- use the features that make them unique.
If you’re at the point where creating content for consistent posting is a bandwidth issue (no time, etc), then perhaps it could be beneficial to pick up some management to assist. Having a team behind your artist brand can relieve the pressures of marketing and promotion, and instead give you the bandwidth to make more music. This can be extremely freeing (coming from someone who still slaves over doing my own promotion) and, if the management is a good fit, beneficial to the success of your brand. At StoryTime, we offer branding and marketing services to artists for this very reason, for one-time or ongoing assistance. We’ve created videos like this and this specifically to promote and boost an artists release, and the results are always great. If you want to chat with us about this for yourself, check out our marketing page, where you can contact us directly.
Newsletters might seem like a thing of the past, but I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve been able to connect with, through them. Emails are still very much a thing, especially in the music industry, and because emails are expected to be checked in most professions on a regular basis, any messages sent will naturally have a higher chance of reading (just be sure to make your newsletter quality). I’ve always used Mailchimp for newsletters because it’s relatively easy to get started, but there are tons of other options out there. If you want to get an idea of what kind of stuff to send in a music newsletter, sign up for the Lowsh newsletter and see. I keep my emails engaging and relevant- important for not losing subscribers!
Playlists are the online DJs of music- curating a selection of tunes for other people to check out because they trust the opinion of the curator. There are SO many playlists out there today, that it's hard NOT to find one that you can submit your music to. I suggest looking for playlist in your genre and messaging the people that run it- they'll usually have a submission portal referred to you. While some playlist curators charge for submission, others are totally free. You just have to evaluate if a paid playlist is worth it or not. Also, playlists aren't just on Spotify, they can be found on YouTube as well as Soundcloud, so do your research and find the best place to submit your music. We have a few playlists on Spotify that we're always accepting submissions for, and we never charge money for addition. We do however, reserve the right to pick and choose which music we include. I suggest checking out our New Fire playlist, which focuses primarily on electronic dance music, and sending us a message if you'd like to submit.
YouTube is a powerhouse for artist marketing, because it has a massive user base and easy cross-integration with other digital platforms. By uploading your music to YouTube, you also increase the chances of earning royalties, since YouTubes' agorithms track and report all streaming activity to distributors. At StoryTime, we always upload artist teasers and recap clips, for the purposes of SEO and generating royalties- here's our channel to give you an idea.
If you don't have video content to upload, you can simply throw your audio over the album artwork, or any image, really, and post it. If you're really set on creating something higher quality but don't have any video content, you can try finding a designer to create some stock imagery for you. Here's someone I found on Fiverr, to point you in the right direction.
Posting on your own is great, but having other people post about your music is even better. For one, it exposes your music to potentially new fans, who may never have come across your work without hearing about it from someone else. Secondly, Google pays attention to every time that your info is mentioned, and the more it's mentioned by other people, the more it will start to recommend you as a result for people online (this goes back to the Google knowledge panel part in #2). Ask your friends and family to post about your music, or consider contacting blogs/online groups to get help with sharing your music. There's a reason why we have a blog- to share your music and help get it the recognition it deserves!
The real strategy in online music marketing, lies in innovation. Creating new ways to get your music in the hands of fans, using new softwares to promote your content, or even just finding unique ways to word things (think memes), are all based on a desire to innovate and improve the way your music is recieved. Take some time to study artists who are seemingly getting a lot of hits, or are at least appearing on your feed a lot. If a certain artists name comes to mind first, look them up and study them. They've obviously done something to resonate and stick in your head.
Remember, there's no perfect science to music marketing, but there are tons of strategies out there that you should explore and impliement with your own spin, to find what works. Some people don't do any marketing at all and do just fine, while others maybe need some extra attention to it. Whatever you do, don't give up, and keep trying to get your music heard. For more music marketing tips, check out this article. Have fun!
- Aleksey W.
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