For many artists, marketing is somewhat at odds with who they are and what they do. Since making music is often deeply personal and emotional, thinking about a music marketing strategy to promote your work might seem foreign, fake, or forced.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the fact that it’s never been harder for new artists to find audiences for their music. Between the digitization and democratization of the music industry and the cheap cost of DIY home recording technology, there’s more new music being released today globally than at any other point in history.
An unbelievable amount of new music gets uploaded to streaming platforms each day, and much of the time, what determines whether new songs will connect with an audience or not depends on how they’re marketed. If you’re not sure how to promote your music effectively, these seven marketing strategies for musicians will definitely help get you started.
1. Find out who and where your fans are
To get the most out of your promotion efforts, you have to find out who your fans are. Knowing details like where your audience is based and how old they are can help you build a marketing strategy that accurately reaches them.
Today, everything from personalized band websites to music streaming artist accounts offer detailed analytic information to help you learn more about your fans. Some platforms even give detailed information like when fans stumbled across your music online first, and through what channels or search terms. Get to know your data, and you’ll get to know your fans.
2. Don’t ignore existing fans while trying to make new ones
Audience engagement is an essential part of sustaining a meaningful career in music whether you have 50 dedicated fans or 5 million. Once you learn more about who your fans are, focus on doing everything you can to connect with them in a meaningful way. It’s important to engage with and understand your current fans before trying to find new ones, or at least simultaneously.
Simply distributing music online and hoping listeners find it isn’t enough. Strong, effective music marketing happens when you work in a way that maintains your identity and integrity as an artist. Whether it’s through email campaigns, your website, playlists, or blogs; fan engagement is essential for keeping your existing fans looped in and interested in what you’re doing.
An unsexy way of thinking about this is fan maintenance, and a better one is seeing it as connecting with your existing audience in a personal or friendly way. You’ll have the best shot at building your audience if you don’t neglect your existing fans.
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3. Social media music marketing strategies
Social media platforms are packed with problems and it’s becoming harder and harder to reach fans through them, but marketing strategies for musicians are sadly much less impactful without them.
Take Instagram, for example. Interacting with accounts associated with those who know, promote, and create your style of music can bring new attention to your work. These include bands, record labels, and music fans. The same goes for Twitter.
Whether you’re trying to get the word out about a new release or people to show up to your performances, social media is still a tool you can use to narrow down who might like your music and to reach out to those people directly.
Paid ads on these platforms are the easiest way of accomplishing this, but look into other tools like hashtags, meetup groups, Reddit threads, and Facebook groups in local areas you’re touring through, to help get you that exposure for free. And never forget to reach out to other bands like yours through their social channels, a little bit of friend-making and cross-promotion can go a long way.
4. Focus on creating compelling non-musical content
Flyers, photos, videos, blogs—putting lots of time and thought into offering non-musical content to your listeners will help you make a lasting impact that ultimately results in new fans learning about your music on their prefered media.
In today’s competitive music industry, listeners often need more than just music to become interested in an artist’s music. A strong visual or written narrative can put your music in an exciting new context.
If you don’t know where to begin, start by defining your artistic identity: why you make music, what your music means, how you got where you are today. This will help you know what to say through blogs and visual narratives. If you can, consider teaming up with a visual artist to help represent your work through videos, photography, flyers, and merch.
5. Send your music to blogs, playlists and press outlets
There’s no getting around the fact that pitching music is one of the least fun parts of being a career-minded musician. Take the time to write an engaging artist bio and press release and get someone you trust to take a look at it.
Look up the contact information of members of the press that write about your style of music specifically, and then send email after email until you get responses. It might feel soul-crushing at first, but it’s 100% necessary to engage new listeners and build momentum around your music from outside sources.
Aiming to get featured in massive publications and playlists can be a challenge. There is a process to submit your song for feature on Spotify playlists, for example, but don’t forget to start small and work your way up from there. It’s a manageable and rewarding way to approach the gargantuan task of pitching music ahead of you.
You might not think getting featured on small blogs and playlists is that important, but it actually is. Momentum doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It starts with a couple of people at a time becoming loyal advocates for your music before growing into something more substantial.
6. Create and monetize your own artist website
Band websites are an essential part of building a musical identity and reaching out to new fans. Social media still does this to a degree, but platforms like Facebook and Twitter are becoming less effective for musicians by the day by limiting your voice and reach as an artist.
In order to reliably reach your followers, you typically have to pay for it. With your own website, not only do you have a clear path towards reaching audiences, but you also have a way to shape your message and identity on your own terms.
New fans are more likely to resonate with the story you tell through your website rather than a bland Twitter or Facebook profile. Band websites also provide revenue streams for musicians that social media platforms don’t. 7. Pay for a PR/radio campaign
This last music strategy is for musicians who have money to invest in their music.
Hiring someone to push your music to radio, playlists, blogs and press outlets can achieve huge results, but often at huge prices. The amount of money you should spend will depend on the scale and scope of your intended campaign, but meaningful results don’t really happen until thousands of dollars are spent—and even then there’s no guarantee that your music will be reviewed or picked up by radio stations—so spend plan accordingly and spend wisely.
An alternative is simply to save money over time (for example, if all four members of your band puts only $20 into an account every month, you’ll have about $1,000 in a year), and do a big promo mailout campaign yourself.
Make a list of college and community radio stations across the country, and magazines that review music, and send out tons of album copies, you’re bound to get somewhere, and save hundreds in the process.
Also check out: Marketing For Musicians: 6 Essential Tools
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.
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