Creating great music should always be the number-one priority for an independent artist. In order for music to sustain a long-term career, you need to figure out how to get it in front of listeners.
If you’re just starting to market your music, the number of online options at your disposal can be overwhelming. Luckily, many of them are free (or very affordable), so it’s worth trying out options to see what works best for you.
To make the most out of your music marketing efforts, you’ll want to learn who your audience is and where those people are – then focus your plans on the platforms they use most.
Here's a list of online music marketing tools for independent artists and bands to cut through the noise; tools to help you find fans and build lasting relationships with them through your music:
A mailing list is the most important music marketing tool for an independent artist. Social media is useful but no one’s feed shows them every project they like, so you risk having fans miss your posts (...and, truly, not everyone is on Facebook!).
An email with a link to click is a focussed way to directly reach the individuals who were interested enough in your music to actively join your mailing list.
Additionally, the analytics that are measured with each mailout provide you important information about the health and engagement level of your list. Use this data to tweak, test, and improve each email you send, to ensure that you’re getting the most out of every campaign. Open rates, click-through rates, new signups, and unsubscribes will give you insight on where your biggest fans are located. This can help greatly when deciding on anchor dates for your next tour.
Every independent artist should create a music website. Launching your own website not only allows you to have complete control over the branding, feel, and functionality of your online presence, it also allows you the freedom of not having to adhere to character limitations or algorithms.
Fans want a one-stop shop that is easy to find online, where they can listen to your music, watch your videos, learn about upcoming shows, and find out more about you. You can also sell your merch online, making money and marketing your music to a broader range of fans.
In addition to being a key tool for building your mailing list, your website also includes data to help you better understand your fans' demographics. This allows you to market your music to a more targeted audience.
Maintaining a proper website isn’t just for your fans. Artists who represent themselves well with a professional website and electronic press kit have a stronger impact on talent buyers, music journalists, and other industry professionals.
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Setting up a Smart Links page that connects to all your online services is a focussed way to let fans find and follow you. The benefit of using Smart Links to share your music is that you can track where your fans are coming from, and where they are going.
You can use a Smart Links feature on a dedicated landing page right on your artist website as well, setting up a custom experience with your own URL, allowing your fans to immerse themselves in your music, videos, and more.
Facebook is an effective way to reach fans who still use the platform every day. If you create great content that includes video, images, and authentic posts that resonate with your listeners, it’s a good platform to market your music to many.
While it requires a bit of budget and know-how, Facebook Ads Manager can also be a powerful marketing tool for musicians to make sure information about new releases is reaching the right fans online.
The beauty of Instagram is that it provides the opportunity to share everyday things with your fans consistently. This relatable style of sharing lets your personality and enthusiasm shine through, especially in Instagram stories.
You can also get your songs added to the Instagram music catalog so that people can share them within their stories, or record short reels set to your music, making your songs heard more widely.
Instagram posts can be promoted through Facebook Ads Manager (the same way you’d promote a Facebook post) to reach the targeted audience of your choice.
YouTube is a huge driver for music discovery, and remains a popular choice for many fans to share and consume music.
To market your music on YouTube and build a dedicated following of subscribers, upload videos to your custom channel on a consistent schedule. You can also make use of this video content on other platforms, whether it’s in an email newsletter leading to your video, or posted directly as a short clip on TikTok.
Be sure to include links to your website or Smart Links page in every YouTube video description, and use relevant keywords so that your content comes up in search results and related video suggestions.
As a streaming service, Spotify provides an opportunity to get your music discovered and heard by new potential fans. Use the tools on your Spotify for Artists dashboard to make the most of this platform. These tools include customizing your Spotify profile, creating an Artist Playlist, submitting unreleased music to playlists, and making strategic use of your song statistics and listener demographics.
Even with a small following on Spotify, the data from that engagement can be a valuable music marketing tool. Use that insight to make focused decisions on where to perform live, which demographics to target on social media, and more.
TikTok has grown rapidly in popularity and is another online music marketing tool that requires less planning and polish. You can create sharable clips directly for your followers, or your fans can create fun – and potentially viral – videos using your music.
Gaining exposure on TikTok may reveal your music to a different generation of fans. You can also create meaningful engagement in unique ways, such as writing songs with your fans on TikTok.
If Snapchat is a platform you’re comfortable using, use it! It can be a very creative way to market your music by connecting with your fans, especially if you have an audience that falls into a younger demographic.
The app is all about being personal, casual, and spontaneous, so it’s an effective online music marketing tool without feeling obviously promotional. It also takes a lot of the pressure off of creating “perfect” content, because nothing on Snapchat is archived.
Playing live shows remains a highly effective way to turn one-time listeners into long-term fans. Bandsintown is the largest concert discovery platform, making it an efficient online music marketing tool for any performing artist.
It provides an easy way to reach more music lovers and sell tickets to your shows. Bandsintown also allows you to sync all of your tour dates across your website, Facebook page, and other social networks, and any updates you make are updated in these places, making it easy for your fans to find your shows in multiple places.
The goal as a musician is to make great music, but getting it out to the world can be a lot of work – especially if you don’t have a marketing team behind you. Using a variety of online music marketing platforms suitable for your style of music will ultimately pay off when casual listeners become true fans that are willing to support your art, which sustains your career.
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