Now is an exciting time to be an independent music artist. These days, if you know how to market your music, an artist can rise to fame overnight.
If you put out something that resonates with an audience, it is easier than ever for them to become your fans. And marketing your music can help speed up the process and increase your reach.
Below, you’ll find tips and advice on how to market music as an independent artist.
- Why you need to learn how to market your music
- How to market music as an independent artist
- Build your audience
- Set up an artist website
- Use social media platforms
- Submit your music to streaming services
- What marketing can do for your music career
Why you need to learn how to market your music
Independent music artists don’t often have the same financial resources as those who are backed by big studios. However, that doesn’t mean you should not market your music at all. You have an audience out there waiting to hear your songs. Success can be within reach with the right mindset and the right tools.
How to market music as an independent artist
In order to get your music to your waiting audience, independent artists like you need to get creative with marketing. Here’s how:
Build your audience
Even if you’re one of the most prolific songwriters in your area, you are not going to achieve success as a musician unless you build an audience. Connecting with fans allows you to share your music with a broader audience. Many venues will want you to have at least a small audience before they book you for a gig.
Collaborate with other artists
Building your fanbase makes it easier to generate word-of-mouth marketing for your music and draw people to your live shows. You can build your fan base by appearing as a guest artist with more popular bands and musicians or serving as an opening act for their live shows.
Grow your fanbase online by working with music bloggers. Do preliminary research to find bloggers and journalists who write about your genre or artists in your local scene. Think about interesting angles that you and your music can provide for them and send a personalized pitch email.
Reach out to influencers
If you follow any local music influencers on social media, send them a direct message and ask them to cover you or your band. As with bloggers, figure out an angle or a hook. Most influencers choose what to post based on how many likes they will get, so only approach them with your best material.
Set up an artist website
Even if you’re already using traditional promotion methods to market your music — like posting flyers in bars and music venues or selling CDs and other merchandise — creating a music website is a necessity. If someone finds your flyer at their local music store, there’s a chance that they will search the internet to find you. Your website is also a place where you can add your music and display it for all to see.
Choose your domain name
Whether you are a solo artist or a band, your name should ideally inform your domain address. For example: If you’re an artist named Jill Sanders, your website should be jillsanders.com or some variation of it.
When setting up your website, the software you’re using should automatically run a check to see if the domain name is available. If not, you may want to choose an alternate selection such as jillsandersmusic.com or jillsanderssings.com.
Optimize your website
While you want your website to stand out, it is also important to make it functional and user-friendly.
An over-designed website that’s hard to navigate might drive your fans away. It should be easy to find your live show schedule, links to buy or stream your music, and ways to buy your merchandise. Features like slideshows on the homepage can help your website be more dynamic while still maintaining intuitive functionality.
Your website should also be designed to function on mobile devices. If someone hears your music in a bar or a nightclub and jumps on their phone to find it, they should be able to easily navigate your site.
Use social media platforms
When learning how to market music, social media shouldn’t be ignored. Other than live gigs, social media is possibly the best tool for building and engaging an audience. Many contemporary artists have built their audiences on social media before being signed to a large record label. Social media also lets you build an audience beyond your current town or city.
Do live streams
Instagram and Facebook let you stream live videos. Take advantage of these features to share music with your potential fans. Many people turn to social media to watch live streams of their favorite artists. If you’re working on new music, share parts of the process with your followers or treat them to a live song or two.
Prioritize fan engagement
Another benefit of social media is that it lets musicians connect directly with their fans. A good social media feed should be engaging and sincere.
You may be tempted to turn your social media accounts into a billboard for your music. While social platforms can be useful for promoting your shows and albums, you can build your audience by sharing other content — like music from other bands you like or discussions about topics that move your fans. Regular engagement helps to build your audience.
Emerging platforms like TikTok are also good for live streams or brief videos that let you engage with your audience. You can use Instagram Stories and Twitter Fleets to share snippets of your music or your day to help build your audience.
Submit your music to streaming services
Most people are familiar with big streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. But you should also have a presence on Youtube and Soundcloud.
To get your music on Spotify, you need a distributor. Record companies handle this step for their artists — but if you’re independent, you will take care of distribution. Spotify works with a variety of distributors and you will probably have to pay a fee or commission. Since Spotify involves payments of royalty fees and licensing, you need a professional in the business to work out the legal details.
Spotify is selective about what ends up on their platform. Most of the music on the app is professionally produced. Run your songs by professionals before you start working on the distribution to make it sound its best.
This is one of the most accessible platforms for artists who don’t have a distributor. Anyone can make a YouTube channel and videos don’t have to be professionally made. To build your audience through YouTube, be sure to post regularly and track your analytics to determine which posts are getting the most views and the best retention.
When uploading your videos, use keywords and tags in the description to help people find you. Your video descriptions help the algorithms find your videos and recommend them to viewers who would probably like them. Craft these carefully based on your target audience.
Apple Music offers a variety of analytics and other tools to help you track your reach and see which of your songs are resonating well with your audience.
Like Spotify, this platform requires a distributor for the royalties and licensing fees. Apple is also selective over artists that are featured on its streaming platform. It’s best to have music that sounds professional and is produced well.
Artists use Soundcloud to upload and promote their music. To successfully use your Soundcloud account and gain followers, use some of the same strategies you’d implement on YouTube. Post regularly and add keywords and tags to your posts.
Soundcloud also lets you direct your fans to buy your songs, along with providing a comments feature through which you can encourage them to share your music with other people. This platform is one of the best for those who don’t have access to a distributor or simply want to distribute music themselves.
What marketing can do for your music career
Being an independent artist might not be as lucrative as being a pop star on a major record label. But you do have the benefit of having absolute control over what you do, and how you market the music you make.
Whether you aim to stay local or to grow your audience and transition to a bigger label, marketing your music is an essential part of the business. The tips listed above will help you promote your music and increase your chances for a successful career.
For more tips on how to market your music, check out The Download for Independent Artists.