How To Promote Your Music - The Ultimate Guide
November 25, 2013
Shaun Letang in Advice from the Experts, MTT Open, Marketing Strategies, music marketing

Hello again, my Music Think Tankers. Today I’m going to look at 6 HUGE things you can do to better promote your music.

Now before you roll your eyes and think I’m going to tell you to “create a Facebook account and promote through social media” or to “get your music in as many places as possible,” listen up. This guide is going to be full of actionable content and advice that won’t be found in every post on the subject that simply rehashes information the writer has heard and not tried out themselves.

By the end of this post I want you to walk away with at least a few things you may not have thought about before, and can start implementing in your music career. So with that in mind, read on, take notes, and share this guide if you find it useful. And be sure to check out my free music marketing ebook afterward to get extra advice and tips for getting your music out there.

Top ways to promote your music from @musicthinktank and @imusicadvice!! - Tweet This

1. Climb the Ladder with Your Collaboration Efforts

OK, so the first thing you can do to promote your music better isn’t actually something many musicians associate with actually being a form of promotion. Collaborating with other musicians can actually be a great way to get out there. Making songs with a well known act can actually mean you can get in front of their fans. It may also mean that you gain a higher perceived value for working with that act, and it can be a good note on your CV when looking for other music related work and opportunities.

The thing is though, it’s very unlikely you’ll get collaborations with big names in your genre (unless you already know them). You see, their time is precious, and they’re not just going to collaborate with every up and coming act out there. The solution? Using the ‘ladder’ method.

What you want to do is categorize any talented musicians in your genre into different levels based on how big they are. Usually, while the biggest acts won’t be willing to work with you at this stage, some of the lower level acts will be - with enough incentive. So what you do is approach those acts which are slightly bigger then you, and do collaborations with a few of them. Not only does this get you in front of their audiences, but it also gets you associated with being at their level.

Once this is done, start looking to the next step of musicians who are that bit more popular then the last group you approached (and are now in yourself). Do the same; collaborate with them, get in front of their audience, and become thought of as being on their level.

Rinse and repeat, each time working with bigger acts and getting a bigger reputation yourself. The good thing is, once people start seeing you’re working with lots of people in your genre, they will want to start working with you too. You’ll be the hip new people on the block that everyone wants to be associated with.

2. Climb the Ladder with Media Outlets You Try to Get On

OK, this method of promotion is pretty similar to the last one, only with platforms to get yourself out there.

If you’ve ever tried to get covered by a big website, TV channel or radio station, chances are you didn’t hear back from them, or got rejected. Again, these places aren’t looking to work with just anyone; you need to prove you’re noteworthy and worthwhile for them using one of their exposure slots. As you may have guessed, the above ladder method works here too.

Start out by getting on smaller platforms and websites, and build your way up. Get all of these previous places you’ve appeared on your music CV. Include their logos on your website. Make it clear people are talking about you.

Gradually build things up, networking with new people along the way. You will find more and bigger opportunities become available to you, as the music industry is full of people who don’t care until you say you’ve worked with ‘x’ amount of their competitors. So keep climbing that ladder.

3. Master Your Gigging Game

So I could say to you, “Gig because it’s good exposure and you can make money from it.” I want to give you more, though. The thing is, anyone can gig. That said, what are you doing to set your gigs apart from 95% of other musicians in your genre?!

Practicing your lyrics is one thing, but mastering your show is something else altogether. Remember, as a musician you are an entertainer! It’s your job to entertain. Yes, that might just be in the form of your voice in rare cases, but in the majority of cases your whole stage presence also factors into things.

When people leave your show, are they going to remember you as that person with good lyrics and a good voice? Or will they remember you as that person who stood out and outshone all the other performing acts that night? I hope you aim to achieve the second one.

So what can you do to achieve that? Well first of all, find out what works in terms of stage presence. Load up YouTube and search for the best live acts in your genre. See how they command the stage, see how they move, and see how they interact with the audience. Does it work? Is it something you can do and build on? Most of the time it will be, so be sure to build yourself as a overall great performer, rather then just someone who has good vocal ability.

4. How to Promote Your Music Online: Schedule Your Social Updates

All right, let’s move on to how to promote your music online. While you all know you should be taking part in social networking, there’s one thing you can do to make things a lot easier in that area: Scheduling your social updates! While this isn’t possible when you’re replying to people who interact with you (which you should be doing), you can schedule updates for your fans with new content and conversation starters.

For example, let’s say you have a gig tonight. You may be very busy just before it, and you know you won’t have any time to communicate with your fans on social sites around that time. In this case, what you could do is schedule two updates for Facebook and Twitter. The first could go something like this:

Not long ago arrived at * venue name * and can’t wait to perform. Any of you here? If so come and say hi and wish me luck!”

You can also schedule another update for later, such as:

The show tonight went well, I can’t wait to share the pictures with you. Give me time to go home and sleep & I’ll get them up tomorrow ;)”

These kind of updates are of course based on things you know are going to happen, yet they will mean you can encourage communication with your fans at a time which is easier for you.

So how do you schedule your social updates? Well my favorite method is via the free tool Hootsuite. Have a look, if you ask me it’s a must use tool for all musicians.

5. Take Advantage of Email Marketing

Email marketing is something I’m surprised I don’t see more musicians taking advantage of. My guess is this is either due to the lack of understanding of how to use it, or because of the cost involved. Or both. That said, bear in mind it could end up being one of your most effective ways to communicate with fans, so once you start building up a fan base you should give it a go.

The advantage with email marketing over Facebook and Twitter is your message gets to more people then it would on alternative platforms. As you probably know, Facebook makes it so only a small percentage of your fans see any message you post. With Twitter, if your followers aren’t online around the time you send your Tweets out, chances are they won’t see them.

With email though, once it’s sent, it sits there until your email subscribers see the message. It doesn’t go anywhere, and it’s not as time sensitive.

There are a lot of other reasons why emails are also effective, but I won’t list them all here. Instead you can check out this guide on list building for musicians, and see for yourself why you need it. I also let you know how to get started with this form of promotion, so give it a try.

6. Don’t Just Update on Twitter, Seek Conversations

My last music marketing tip for the day: Be proactive with your approach to Twitter marketing. I see people get this wrong all the time. They think that all they need to do to promote their music on Twitter is to add a load of random people, then keep Tweeting about things related to themselves. In reality, this is a huge waste of your time.

Real Twitter promotion is all about building connections. You want to seek out conversations relevant to you and get involved.

For example, let’s say you make music and are similar to Coldplay. What you’ll want to do is search for conversations based around Coldplay, and see the results. Be sure to click ‘all’ under the section ‘Results for coldplay.’ This will bring up all people recently talking about them. Next, literally start talking to these people. Let them know you’re into Coldplay too, and for those that respond and seem interested, mention that you make similar music which they may want to check out. So people will end up doing that.

I don’t advise you mention your music the first time around, because people usually put up barriers against you once they feel you’re trying to promote to them on initial contact. But after swapping a Tweet or three, they’ll be much more likely to give you a try if they think you’re a cool person.

You will also want to give them a follow after their first reply, too, as this will increase the chances they’ll follow you back and see your music related updates.

And That’s THE BEGINNING of How to Promote Your Music

And that’s it, six big (and often not talked about) tips for promoting your music. That said, this isn’t everything you need to know in terms of getting your music out there. There are a lot more music marketing tips you can and should learn, and I aim to give you those here today. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to check out my free ebook on the subject (download it here). Inside I start to look at the finer details of music promotion, such as how much you should be doing it, when, and why. I also look at some additional things you need to think about to start getting your music marketing mentality right. Furthermore, you can check this guide for 6 additional music marketing tips.

I hope you found this guide useful and have some things you can start implementing ASAP. If so, please give it a share, and let your fellow musicians check it out too. I’m sure we’ll speak again soon. :)

Shaun Letang,
Music Industry How To.
Music Think Tank.

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