These days, there are so many different ways to market your music online that it’s tough to even know where to start. Which services are worth your time, energy, and money? On how many social media platforms do you need to be active? Do email lists still matter?
Online music marketing revolves around engaging with your fans. To get started with music marketing, your main goal should be to find these fans, and make them aware of you. From there, solidify the relationship to create superfans who will support you throughout your career.
Why are superfans so important? Well, they’re the fans you can count on to come to all of your shows, buy just about everything you offer, and promote your music through word of mouth.
Before we dive into the specifics of how to market your music independently, let’s quickly touch on the three pillars of fan engagement. These should be at the core of your marketing strategy, so keep them in mind as you create your plan:
Consistency. In order to rise above the noise of the internet, you have to be consistent in your music marketing, in terms of both quantity and quality.
Authenticity. Communication with your fans must come from you, the artist, in your voice. You want them to feel like they’re along for the ride on the journey of your music career.
Sustainability. There’s no shortcut or quick fix for building up a solid fanbase - you have to show up and do the work every day to sustain fan engagement.
Use these tenets of fan engagement plus online music marketing tools to drive awareness and engagement for your music, and produce effective results.
With this in mind, let’s look at the best ways to market your music online:
1. Use your own website
Your own artist website should be the backbone of your music marketing strategy. It should act as the hub for everything you do online, while your social media platforms are the spokes - the places where you share interesting content and link back to your website as often as possible.
Why is it necessary for a musician to have a website? In terms of building a fanbase, your site is the place to which you will steer listeners, convert their interest, and keep the relationship going over the long term.
As the core of your marketing strategy, it’s important to make a music website with consistent branding and content – you’ll send fans here from all of your social media and streaming sites. Drive fans back to your site for maximum engagement, to sell music and merch commission-free, and build your community. You can use Landing pages hand-in-hand with your artist website, streaming traffic to focussed pages and then evaluating your efforts to see which strategies are engaging your fans the most.
If you’re not yet at this cross-platform marketing stage, just be sure to keep your website up-to-date with news of upcoming releases, new singles, videos, and more; it’s a pivotal place where fans and industry professionals can always find you online.
2. Create content consistently
Consistent, quality content to share on your website and social media is an integral part of inspiring interest for your music. If making music is your strong point, work on translating that skill into content that will resonate with your fans. You can also incorporate your own story, giving an insightful look at who you are and what inspires you.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Preview an upcoming show
- Review a recent show
- Tour stories
- Rehearsal stories
- Studio stories
- Songwriting snippets
- New gear
- Other bands in your genre
- Stories from your personal life (if you’re comfortable with it)
- Your pets
- Your hobbies and passions outside of music
Be sure to include different media in your content as well - videos and photos are easy to create and compelling visuals always help create a more interactive experience. This content will help you build your fanbase, so you have a solid core in place so that they are there when you have a new release that you want to target with music marketing.
Where should you be adding this content? To your music website first, on a ‘news’ page, or in a blog. This will not only help your website’s SEO (search engine rank) but will also give fans plenty to explore. From there, you can also repurpose it for social media and newsletters as well.
You don’t have to release new singles every week or even every month in the name of creating content. Find a steady pace that works for you - whether it’s talking about the writing process as you gear up for an album, or adding reviews of gear that you’re loving. The key here is consistency: regular updates show that your career is active and, over time, it helps create a stronger connection to your fans.
Artist: Calvin Arsenia
3. Maintain a social media presence
Think of social media as a conversation; use it as a tool to interact with fans and share your journey as an artist. You don’t have to be active on every platform, and carry endless conversations all at once. In order for your presence to be sustainable over the long term, choose just a few platforms where you feel most comfortable.
Keep in mind that you’re first and foremost a musician, so if songwriting, recording, and performing are your strengths, use those skills to create posts for your fans. Sharing content shouldn’t take over your schedule when you could be investing time in making music.
If you’re just getting started with social media for your music, look for the platforms where you have the best chance of finding potential new fans and put your energy there. Otherwise, focus on the services that you enjoy using, and the ones where your fans are already actively engaging with you.
Social media can be draining - if you have lots of content to push out,try using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to help your marketing efforts run smoothly, . Be sure that there’s variety in what you share, and stay aware of comments or questions that may need follow up after posting.
How do you know which social media services are a good fit for you to market your music? These are some options to consider:
Facebook remains a popular platform, with musicians and fans engaging through shared content ranging from text updates, photos, and videos. Organic reach can be low here, so be sure to reply to fans’ comments to maintain engagement.
Twitter requires more time but less effort in creating content, so if you’re interested in engaging fans through regular conversations, this may be a good way to build your brand and market your music.
As a media-driven platform, Instagram is a good fit for many musicians. From video and highlight reels to options to “go live,” try different approaches to market your music in a way that’s more genuine than curated.
To build up your following on YouTube, you need to produce quality videos and upload them on a consistent schedule. People search for music all the time on YouTube, so if videos are your thing, this is a good place to market your work..
If you enjoy making quick video clips, you may want to useTik Tok to help build your fanbase. It allows for spontaneity and authenticity, and may help you reach many more fans in a rapid manner.
To maximize the number of fans you’re making on social media, create a Smart Links page on your website that contains all of your social media links. Use that as the link in your profile on social media platforms while you’re releasing new content or marketing current music. Then you can read the Smart Links data to see where your fans are landing on that page from, and, by extension, through which services they are most interested in following you.
Building fans on social media can take time. So, with whichever social media platform(s) you plan to use to market your music online, make sure you’re ready to put in continued effort. And, with all of these social media services, reserving your artist name is a good idea so that others can tag you, potentially giving you content to re-share.
4. Experiment with social media ads
You’ve likely seen social media ads for music all over your various feeds. It’s worth experimenting on the platforms where your fans are concentrated to see if some paid outreach helps you connect with listeners that dig your music.
It helps to have a strong social media presence before dabbling in ads, and to have a feeling for the type of platform where your music might best succeed. Plus, you’ll want to have a bit of a budget to play with.
The most popular platforms for artists to market their music with paid ads are Instagram and Facebook, with differing options for time and cost investment. Check out Facebook and Instagram Ads for Musicians: A Beginner’s Guide to see if their options might be a good fit for you.
5. Pitch to Spotify playlists
If you want to market your music on streaming services, Spotify is a good place to start. Spotify for Artists offers tools to optimize your streaming presence and improve your reach within the algorithm.
If you decide to invest your energy in this, getting your song featured on a Spotify playlist can be a great way to reach a whole new base of listeners.
Depending on your music marketing goals, getting your tracks featured on a playlist can be just as valuable as getting a press write-up. For human-curated Spotify playlists, it’s essentially the same as any other kind of pitch: often, it comes down to timing more than anything.
Do keep in mind that much of the music discovery on Spotify happens through personalized, algorithm-driven playlists, like Release Radar and Discover Weekly. These lists make it possible for smaller, independent artists to reach their niche audience organically. If you’re trying to get on those kinds of playlists, prepare well in advance of your release.
What it all comes down to is this: the more active you are on Spotify, the more you’ll get noticed by the algorithm and playlist curators.
You can also use Show.co’s Ad Builder tool to create marketing campaigns for your music here. Launch a Spotify pre-save campaign, or run audio ads to reach new listeners, and convert them into fans by sending them to your website.
Artist: Calvin Arsenia
6. Pitch to music blogs
The most important thing to understand when pitching to music blogs and publications is that it’s not just about having great music. You also need to have a compelling story that their audience will care about.
If you are getting started with marketing your music and want to try pitching, read this post: How to get publicity to promote your music. Once you've got some ideas on how to generate buzz, you’ll be ready to reach out to blogs and music publications.
Make sure you’ve got up-to-date assets at hand, such as your promotional photos, new or best tracks, and a professional EPK for your music. Then work on reaching out and following up with music blogs that are a good fit - whether local or large scale, mentions of your music online are a great way to gain some traction for new releases and boost search engine hits.
7. Build your email list
It’s hard to know for sure which social media platforms your current and potential fans may be using. But most people have an email address they check daily, making email the most reliable way to keep in touch over the long term.
Making a point to build your mailing list will pay off when you get down to marketing your music. Why? It’s the ultimate permission marketing. Fans sign up because they want to hear from you. Once they’re on your list, email offers the highest returns for fans buying your music, merch, tickets to shows, and supporting your crowdfunding efforts.
Marketing your music with your email list is a two-fold strategy: first, you’ll need to get fans on your list; secondly, you’ll want to continue engaging those fans to keep your music top of mind.
If you’ve decided to build up your mailing list prior to releasing new music, one of the best ways to reach that goal is to create a Landing page. This page can contain just a Mailing List Signup Form feature. You can drive traffic to this page from social media platforms, and offer an incentive like a free song download or access to exclusive content to sweeten the deal.
Another way to build up your email list is by making it your primary call-to-action on your website. Put the signup box in a very obvious location, and specifically direct people’s attention to it. You can also always set up a list at your shows, collecting email addresses at your merch table.
With each email newsletter you send, it’s best to focus on just one objective that you’re trying to achieve for the greatest chance of success. Regularly analyze data like the open rate and the click rate for each email, and experiment with tweaks to your new campaigns — for instance, a more intriguing subject line or a new email format - to keep your fans engaged.
As far as how often you should be sending out newsletters, there’s no hard and fast rule as long as you’re consistent. If you’re new to email marketing, try sending out a monthly newsletter to test the waters while you figure out what works for your fanbase and what doesn’t. Then follow these up with special announcements if you have upcoming release dates, shows, crowdfunding campaigns, or other content that you want to share.
In the industry nowadays, musicians must often wear many hats and marketing music independently can seem like a full-time job outside of making music. If you're feeling overwhelmed, just remember that every kind of music marketing always comes back to the three pillars of fan engagement: consistency, authenticity, and sustainability.
Use your website as the central hub, and the rest of your online presence as the spokes. Then remember to analyze your fan data regularly, and you’ll be well on your way to creating an effective marketing strategy for your music.
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