So, you’ve put the hours in, created a song you’re proud of, and now you need to start advertising it. Obviously, you want your music to reach the biggest audience possible, right? Well, we’re here to help! There are several steps you can take in order to promote your music and get it to reach a large audience without needing to go over budget or start crazy PR stunts just to get your hard work noticed.
Before the rise of social media and online platforms, music was promoted through physical advertising, including posters and newspaper adverts, as well as radio plays and shoutouts, and for bigger bands, TV appearances on shows such as Top of The Pops and MTV. The way music is advertised has evolved over the years with a move away from physical advertising, especially with more emphasis on being environmentally friendly, and a move towards utilising online spaces for promoting music.
Of course, social media is the most obvious platform to promote your music on. However, each social media platform is different and boasts vastly different features, algorithms and audiences so you need to adapt your marketing style slightly to suit each one.
Instagram: Focus on visual material and producing exciting content for their young demographic of 25-34 year olds. Use as many hashtags as possible to reach the largest following. Check Out: The Instagram page of 29 year old American DJ, Marshmello. He has a very clear image and ‘brand’ with the instantly recognisable helmet that he wears, even in his posts that aren’t about DJing. He also offers ‘behind the scenes’ photos from music videos, tours etc. which is a great way of welcoming in your audience and making them feel like they’re part of your journey.
Facebook: This site has an older audience than the others (with an average age of 40.5 years old) so it’s best to not include as much meme and joke-y content. Make sure to utilise the events tool to spread interest and invite people to like your page. Check Out: John Legend. Not many artists use Facebook as the main way to connect with their audience but John Legend does a pretty good job of it. He shares lots of ‘behind the scenes’ photos and footage and posts a lot more regularly than most artists on the site. He also uses it to share posts about topics he is passionate about, such as animal cruelty so fans get to know more about him as a person.
Twitter: Focus less on images, create memes and relatable content that will go viral. It’s more informal,so treat it as more of an online ‘hang-out’ place for discussion. Check Out: Jedward… yes, really. You may have thought they made a couple of pop songs back in the early 2010s and then disappeared off the face of the earth, but they have recently re-emerged (minus the quiffs) and are gaining popularity again thanks to their regular tweeting. They tweet about anything from campaigning and politics to music news and inspirational videos, they also build their brand through their tweets, using words like ‘JEPIC’.
TikTok: Use the feature that allows you to put your video into a category. Video content such as music videos could look great (consider how this can be done with landscape videos), and use the most interesting snippet of your song that will draw people in and if lucky, become a viral/ trending sound on tiktok. Check Out: UK rapper ArrDee’s verse in the remix version of Tion Wayne’s ‘Body’. Getting a song more popular from one good sound bite has worked especially well with verses from rap songs and ArrDee’s verse is a particularly catchy example. It’s currently hard to scroll through TikTok without hearing it at least once.
Despite the differences with these platforms, remember that having a cohesive brand image including the name, colour palette, and logo design will create a distinct and recognisable look.
Tip: Researching your audience by looking at the analytics for each site will help you to create suitable content tailored to your audience demographics.
Other Online Resources
Aside from the main social media sites, there are many other ways to take advantage of online platforms to promote your music. Creating your own website is important in order to act as the main point of contact for fans to find out information, buy music, check out tour dates etc. Some cheap sites to use are Wix, WordPress and Squarespace, all of which also have more expensive packages for more advanced website tools, so you should find the bundle that suits you. On your website, you should make a subscribe button where fans can sign up to the mailing list and you can send out regular updates and announcements and really help to push any new music or ticket releases. And on the topic of concert tickets, signing up to the main ticket websites such as Ticketmaster, Songkick and Bandsintown as these sites use location based marketing so people will get a notification if you are playing a venue in their area. All of these sites work with venues from the small local pubs and music bars to 50k+ capacity arenas, so they will be a valuable tool all the way through your musical journey.
An important platform not to overlook is small blogs and music magazines as they will usually be more than happy to review or write about your music for free, giving you more exposure and helping to fill their website with great content. To make this easier, consider creating an electronic press kit with background information, music, photos and videos, tour dates and contact information, to be able to send to sites. If your budget allows, you could think about hiring a music PR company to help you with your promotional campaign strategy and gain more interest from your audience.
To reach a diverse audience, seek out platforms that are off the beaten track. For example, did you know that Saturdays on the r/music reddit forum are dedicated to fresh and original music, giving underground artists the opportunity to get their music out there on a level playing field (as no outside promotion is allowed) to an audience of 27M users? Doing your research and searching far and wide for different platforms will pay off.
Make Your Visual Content Exciting
Creating an exciting music video is a great way to gain more exposure for a song you’re releasing. The more views it gets, the more likely it will be to get recommended to a large audience, so the popularity of the song can grow massively. To make it exciting, you will have to think outside the box, as there will be certain types of videos that everyone has seen a hundred times. For example, a video of a rock band playing their instruments for the whole song isn’t going to be that effective as it has been done many, many times before. Interesting videos can still be made on a low budget, although the quality may not be as high as those using industry standard recording equipment. For many amateur filmmakers, getting to produce a music video is a great opportunity for them so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a creative mind to help you create your videos.
Collaborating with small content creators early on will be more affordable and if you are happy with the standard of the content, you could continue to work with them even as your music gets more popular. As with blogs and local radio stations etc. it is also more of a supportive and symbiotic relationship between two creatives, where both parties help eachother out, compared to the more corporate partnerships you may have with companies in the future.
This video by Fatboy Slim only cost $800 to produce and won three awards at the 1999 MTV Music Awards, including Best Breakthrough Video, proving it’s not about having the biggest budget but the best ideas.
Radio Isn’t Dead
You’d think that with the rise of the streaming age that radio was already becoming obsolete in today’s society. However, listener numbers remain strong, the main difference being that listeners are using digital platforms such as apps, online or DAB instead of FM radios. In 2017, 89.3% of the adult (15+) UK population tuned into a radio station each week, compared to 90.2% in 2018, 89.4% in 2019 and down to 88.8% in the first quarter of 2020, according to data collected by Rajar. Clearly, radio is still thriving and therefore it’s an important way to promote your music. You can research audiences for particular stations and get in contact with one that you think would be suitable for your style, for example if you make grime tracks then stations like BBC Radio 1Xtra or Capital Xtra would be more suitable than Classic FM. The BBC also offers a great platform ‘BBC Introducing’ to provide exposure to new talent.
Keep promoting away from the screen
If you’re a young band or artist starting out, it’s likely that you’ll begin to get slots as support acts for bands on tour. This in itself is great exposure, as the music will be selling itself at gigs to an audience that has come to see a similar band/artist, so chances are, you’ll gain new fans with every gig. A great way to take advantage of this opportunity is to sell your merch and music in the form of CDs/ Records/ Mixtapes at a stall at the gig. Creating some interesting merch that stands out from the usual band tees you see will entice more people to buy some and merch also acts as great advertising as people will be wearing it around.
Tip: Giving out freebies such as stickers may seem like you’ll be making a loss but it will be worth it for the advertising it gets you and the good impression you give to music fans.
Think Outside the Box
Promoting businesses and brands online has become part of the everyday rat race with a sea of bands and artists trying to produce exciting content that will make them go viral. By all means use the tools available but if you really want to stand out, try thinking outside the box for ways to promote your music. Arctic Monkeys are a band well known for getting famous by recording their frst demos and giving them away to fans at gigs via burnt CDs which were then uploaded to a then new social media platform, mySpace, long before social media was used for music sharing and promotional purposes.
Whilst that obviously isn’t going to be relevant now – who’s used myspace in the last 10 years? – the point is that jumping on trends early, or creating your own, may just get you ahead of the game. Create some amazing artwork to give away with your music, organise a participatory music video, make your own music show, bring back mixtapes, create your own platform entirely… the possibilities really are endless.
So Get Promoting
Hopefully this article has shown that there is a vast amount of platforms out there to use to promote your music. It may not be something you would love to spend your time doing and I’m sure as a musician you’d far rather be spending this time making music, but investing your time into promotion will pay off massively as you begin to grow a fanbase. So get creative, get your music out there and enjoy your journey to musical stardom!
Chloe is a content creator with a passion for writing, photography, graphic design and making music. She loves experimenting with creative media and has a desire to work in the music and media industries in the future.