Are you sitting on a potential smash hit, but aren’t sure how to get it heard? You’re not alone – but you are in luck!
These days, you don’t have to be a marketing expert or a music industry mogul to get your music career off the ground – all you need is a quality product, some self-discipline and good old perseverance.
Here’s a complete guide of everything you need to know about how to promote your music online, from getting yourself established to maintaining a loyal fanbase:
Are you ready to promote your music?
Am I radio ready?
The first step in this business is to make sure your song is radio ready – which basically means your song has to sound as good as all the other songs on the radio.
If you can spare the cash for your song to be professionally mixed and mastered – great, go for it. If not, or if you prefer to take matters into your own hands, there are plenty of books and online advice to help you out.
Am I camera ready?
The best way to capture people’s attention as they scroll through pages and pages of content is an eye-catching visual. Again, if you can afford professional headshots, you’ve got this in the bag – but if not, there are plenty of ways you can present yourself that will be way more interesting for your potential fans to look at than a standard selfie – like making your band photo into an infographic for free using a program such as Canva.
Where do I post my music for free online?
Before you join the paid-for ‘big league’ streaming platforms of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, explore some of the options to promote music for free online.
You can create a free account and post your music online with each of these platforms:
- Soundcloud: Soundcloud promotion guide
- Bandcamp: Bandcamp Artist Guide
- YouTube: Youtube music promotion Guide
Now you’ve posted your songs online, you can link to them whenever you post on social media. Let’s look at that next!
How do I use social media to build a fanbase for my music?
Put the ‘social’ in ‘social media’
Social media reigns supreme – everyone uses it, which makes it the best place to promote music. At the very least, you’ll need to create a profile – which you post regularly from – on the Big 3 Platforms:
It’s free to sign up to each of these platforms, and while you can pay to run ads, these don’t do the promo work for you – so first you need to get to grips with how to promote your tracks for free on social media. To start with, you need to understand the basics of how to get the most out of these different platforms.
How do I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for music promotion?
There are a few things each of these platforms have in common (don’t be shy with those emojis!), but in order to get the most engagement each time you promote your music in a social post, here are a few things to bear in mind:
|Platform||Content type||Character limit||#Hashtags||Media type||Age group|
|More in-depth||High (63,206)||A couple||Image carousel, video||All|
|Quick, real-time updates||Low (280)||A few||Video(under 2min)||Young (>30)|
|Visual – images and videos||Medium (2,200)||Many||Image carousel, video(under 1min)||Young (>25)|
So once you’re ready to share your track with the world, draw up a strategy to use these differences to your advantage. Tweet updates in the run up to your release with a link to your SoundCloud or YouTube, create a short teaser trailer to share on Instagram, then post your full song and accompanying message on Facebook – making sure you include the handles to your other social media channels as you go!
Engage with your audience
Just as the best performers can whip a crowd into a frenzy from the stage, so too can the most popular social media posts spark conversations which last thousands of comments. If you can create an engaging post which attracts a lot of attention, those people are more likely to come back for more – and will hopefully give your tracks a listen whilst they’re there!
The best way for you to do this is to ask your audience’s opinion, whether you ask them a direct question (e.g. “what’s your favourite TV show theme song?”) or you ask them to vote on a poll (e.g. “which of these TV show theme songs would you like to hear me cover: Friends, the Big Bang Theory, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?”). In fact, mix it up and try both!
Share and share a like
To quote Hannibal Lector, ‘quid pro quo… Clarice’; to quote New Radicals, ‘you only get what you give’.
Social media users operate on a ‘like for like’ basis, so it’s important that you spend time liking, commenting on and sharing content from other artists. Don’t be fooled into thinking they owe you anything – it’s best to earn those shares!
Collaborate with other artists
Forge links, build bridges and network wherever you can – including collaborations with other artists. Not only will this give both of you a chance to connect and share your experiences in the music business; it will also expose both of you to each other’s audiences, making this a definite win-win arrangement.
Whether you decide to cover a duet or even write a new song together, a joint project will allow you to give each other a boost. You should get to know the artist you want to collaborate with first though – a collaboration born of friendship will be much more enjoyable for you to record and for your fan base to listen to than a one-off recording with a virtual stranger. Plus, it could be the start of a strong creative partnership that you return to in years to come.
Paid Ads on Facebook and Instagram
When you think of paid ads, your first thought may be to run for the hills, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth.
As a musician, you’re in an incredibly envious position from a paid advertising perspective. Why? Because you’re able to target a broad audience based on listening habits and favourite artists. This means your cost per click (cpc) can be low – really low!
How do paid ads on Facebook work?
Facebook have made it super-easy to ‘Boost’ your posts, but this isn’t necessarily the best or most cost-effective method of advertising. There are numerous strategies to take, but to get the most for your buck, you’ll need to think like a marketer.
There are a number of strategies to take by making full use of the Facebooks Ads manager. It can be a little daunting at first but stick with it if you can.
In short, you’ll be looking to create a ‘Custom Audience’ based on the demographic of your fans. You can then refine your audience by utilising Facebook’s ‘Lookalike Audience’ tool which takes the data of your existing fans and finds thousands of other users to target with very similar interests.
If you have the budget and the time to learn the basics, Facebook and Instagram marketing is a great place to boost your online presence and grow your following. You can find more ideas on the Facebook blog.
What are some other ways to promote my songs for free?
Find more fans online
In order to know where to promote your music, you need to know where your potential fans go to look for new music – so you can be there waiting to blow their minds!
On Facebook, you’ll be able to find several groups which will be perfect for you to join based on your location and your chosen musical genre – you’ll find anything from ‘Southampton Jazz Fans’ to ‘Derby Metalheads’, and for the most part these groups will open newcomers with open arms (just make sure you read and follow the rules when you join!).
On Twitter, follow musicians in a similar genre to your own – and whenever you see a tweet from them that’s attracting a large number of comments, chime in with your own (though avoid writing anything controversial, or you might accidentally drive new fans away!).
Similarly, take a deep dive into the comments sections of your favourite artists’ music videos on YouTube and join the debate there too. This can show you what people like and dislike about the video they’ve just watched – all useful tips for you when you’re developing your own content!
Cross-promotion with other types of artist
Don’t draw the line at other music artists either! Promote your music by liking, following and engaging with artists from all categories – cast your net as wide as you can, and you could find music fans who may never have found you.
You could, for example, promote and share the work of up-and-coming visual artists, graphic designers or videographers, most of whom would leap at the opportunity to create artwork, band logos or music videos for musicians and singers who are likewise on the rise.
Cross-promotion with other businesses
It doesn’t stop there either – think creatively about other ways to expand your audience and promote your songs by liking and sharing content from local businesses and venues. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Do you have a favourite independent coffee shop?
- Are you a regular at a particular bar?
- Do you frequent a local clothing store?
All places like these are likely to have music playing to entertain their customers – plus they’re all bound to appreciate and relate to the DIY approach you’re taking to your musical career and will want to support you, just as you’ve supported them.
Get yourself some free music promotion by getting in touch with as many of these local businesses as you can and asking if your song can be added to their playlist – and, in exchange, ask your fans to go there for a latte or a t-shirt so they can hear your song playing there in person!
Make your own music website
The internet is where it’s at – ask anybody! It’s easier than ever to create your own music website, which will serve as your permanent home on the internet.
Why do I need a music website when I already use social media?
Having your own music website shows that you’re serious about promoting yourself online – you’ve made the effort to take that extra step towards being a serious musician. This will appeal to your fans and will also impress anyone from the music business looking for a new act!
While Facebook seems to be the go-to platform for music artists to create a quick free profile for their music, it wasn’t so long ago that MySpace held this title! Just goes to show that, while social media platforms come and go, your website will be here to stay.
Also, social media platforms use algorithms to show their users what they think the users will want to see the most, which may stop your own content reaching the top of your potential fans’ feeds. With a website of your own, it’s all about you and your music!
Where can I create a music website?
Well, the good news is, you don’t have to be an IT wizard to build yourself a music website (most of them offer templates using elements which you can ‘drag and drop’ to wherever you want them to go) – and the better news, especially if you’re on a budget, is that your options range from inexpensive to free.
There are plenty of website builders out there which are perfect for musicians who are new to web design. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Bandzoogle – this is favoured among musicians as it’s already geared towards creating a site to host your music, advertise you merch and list your tour dates
- Wix – this long-established and popular all-round builder is generally considered the easiest to customise, plus it offers a free version
- Squarespace – this unfortunately doesn’t offer a free version, but is often said to have the most impressive features
Promote your music online by gradually building a mailing list, or email list. A mailing list is both an effective way for you to alert your fans of any new releases or gigs you have on the horizon and an insight into how many serious fans you’ve managed to amass.
Plug your mailing list at every opportunity:
- Make sure you have a clear ‘subscribe’ button on your website’s homepage
- Mention your mailing list in the bios of your social media accounts
- Include a link to your website in the description of your music videos on YouTube
Email addresses are an incredibly valuable asset – just imagine your fans scrolling through an inbox full of delivery confirmations, only to find a message about a new music video, or newly announced tour dates, from their favourite new music artist (you!).
You can easily manage your mailing list by using an online tool such as Mailchimp, which has a free version to get you started.
Write a blog for your website (Content Marketing)
One of the best ways to promote your songs online is to write a blog using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), then publish it on your band website. Write a blog post about your songwriting process, your experiences performing and recording, or just share your musical opinions – your fans will enjoy hearing what their new favourite musician has to say!
Make your music blogs SEO-friendly by filling them with relevant keywords your fans would search for – e.g. if you’re a country singer, be sure to include such terms as ‘country music’, ‘country and western’ – and this will help your website rank higher in search results.
How do I continue to promote my music online?
Repeat previous posts
Don’t just focus on new music promotion – give your old tracks a new lease of life!
Say you promote a song on social media over the Christmas period. A month or so later, see how many likes and shares your song managed to get, then share it again thanking all you fans for engaging with it.
Just like that, you’ll get some extra views and listens, more shares from your followers, and with any luck a few new fans!
Don’t be disheartened
After all the steps you’ve taken and all the hard work and effort you’ve put into creating your music and trying to make a splash in the vast ocean of the internet, it’s easy to run out of steam, especially if your first few posts only garner a couple of likes each.
Imagine you’re running a marathon, and have hit the infamous ‘wall’ – if you’ve come this far, there’s no point giving up now! Just stay positive and don’t stop trying new ways to connect with new fans – once you break through that obstacle, you’ll be back on track in no time.
Keep up the good work
Once you’ve managed to build up a fanbase who keep coming back for more, you’ve got to resist the urge to put your feet up – the work’s not over yet! By all means, give yourself a much-deserved pat on the back, but this party’s only just getting started.
Now you know how to win yourself new fans and get them to hear your quality content – the only thing left to do is keep doing it! Keep following these steps – keep writing, rehearsing and recording your music, keep thinking of ways to increase your fan base, but also keep engaging with your existing fans so they in turn will keep coming back.