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Promotion for the Independent Musician

In a market saturated with the music of aspiring musicians and already well established acts it can be difficult for new acts to gain exposure. This begs the question, how does an artist stand out and get heard over the masses of music uploaded to the web each day? This guide was written as a follow-up of sorts to our blog “treating your band as a business” and also ties in with our online marketing crash course. The article will be split into two sections: the first pertaining to more traditional “physical” promotion techniques and the second focused on marketing your music online to listeners around the globe.

The Demo CD

The demo CD (or tape if you remember the golden days of the cassette) has long been a staple of promotion for aspiring musicians. A demo of your music can be anything from rough DIY live recordings to a selection of two or three professional recordings of your best songs. Although sometimes a well-composed, well-performed song can shine through a muffled and noisy home recording, it is often more beneficial to select a “single” and a “b-side” at minimum to have professionally recorded. You might be surprised to learn that the cost of creating a professional recording using high quality equipment is often less than the cost of purchasing an entry-level home recording setup of your own. A great sounding demo can be invaluable in getting your act booked for shows and also makes a great freebie to get people interested in your music!

Tips for an effective Demo:

  • Put your best songs forward
  • Have high quality recordings (if you record yourself a small studio can often mix & master your project fairly inexpensively, a pro mix can really take your home recordings to the next level)
  • Keep it short (2-3 songs is generally a good number to shoot for)
  • A small CD insert with art can really help grab attention
  • Don’t forget to include your contact info! (A booking agent can’t book you if they can’t contact you, regardless of how great your demo is)   


“Freebies” As A Promotion Tool

While we’re on the topic of freebies we want to take a second to give you a few ideas that will help get the creative juices flowing on ways you can use inexpensive merch items as promotional tools! The idea behind freebie promotion is simple: people love free stuff and are more likely to tell a friend or co-worker about your awesome band within a 30 day window if they have a small reminder in the form of “low overhead” merchandise. As a general rule of thumb, you will probably want to use lower cost merch items for promotion and avoid giving out items with a high manufacturing cost such as clothing or vinyl. For example, stickers are one of the best low-cost, highly-effective promotional tools available. Most everyone likes stickers and wherever, whatever or to whoever they are applied instantly becomes a free promotional outlet for your band. A great eye catching design is definitely a must if you’re aiming for maximum effectiveness. Try giving out smaller stickers for free and place them next to other larger stickers for sale on the merch table (but be sure fans can separate free from for sale!)  Download cards are another simple yet effective tool directing fans to your online music and can be printed, at low cost, on formats from business cards to flyers. A good download card design will be eye-catching without being cluttered. You can decide to require “liking” your facebook page (via a “like gate”) before the download will begin.

An example download card from

Promotion for the Independent Musician

Reader Comments (2)

Don't you think that low-cost merch as stickers is a waste of time and money? I just got impression that such things go straight to the garbage, and it's still better gratify less amount of fans but with something useful, like mug or fridge magnet.

October 29 | Unregistered CommenterAlf Rimokova

Great Christian Music by Christian recording artist Kenny T Bird. His songs are being played around the World to encourage all, that to remember that no matter how bad things look, God is still in Control

October 30 | Unregistered CommenterKenny T Bird

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