As an independent artist, you may not have the same resources to make it big in the music industry as your major label-backed counterparts do. But in the modern digital landscape, it’s easier than ever to make the world hear your music – all you need to do is take action!
In order to help you start off on your music marketing journey and select the best options, we’ve compiled a list of 8 ways to promote music independently that actually work. Follow this guide to reach a wider audience and attract new fans.
#1. Create Artist Profiles
Making your music available to stream and easy to find is the foundation of your online presence as an artist. This is how others, listeners and journalists, can quickly discover and share your work. The majority of streaming services provide platforms that were built specifically for musicians – they’ve got marketing resources and monetization tools you can benefit from.
For example, after you sign up to Spotify for Artists, you can submit music to Spotify playlists and increase your chances to be organically discovered by potential fans. You also get to view your analytics and make some coin off music streams. Join Spotify for Artists, Tidal for Artists,
YouTube for Artists, Amazon Music for Artists and Deezer for Creators. Claim a profile, fill it with photos and relevant information, and upload your music for the world to hear. You can also verify your artist profiles to let everyone know you are the real deal.
#2. Build a Website
Another step to putting your work on the map is creating a website. Nothing fancy or complex is required! A page with a simple design and some information relevant to your current and future fans are all you need. You don’t have to hire a web developer either, there are tons of free website builders like Wix, GoDaddy, Weebly and Site123.
Add your artist bio, a discography, links to social media handles, artist profiles, new releases, and tour dates. It’s always a good idea to create or link a merch shop on a site so that fans can buy your stuff directly from you. Even such extremely artist-friendly platforms as Bandcamp take a portion of the money you earn, and have a minimum payout threshold you must reach before you can get even a penny. Skip the middleman who pockets a percentage of your sales!
#3. Prepare a Press Kit
An electronic press kit, or just EPK, is an essential tool for introducing your music and what you are about. EPK must include all necessary information for immediate coverage of your new release, event, etc.
Add a biography and make sure to mention your background, a description of your music style and vision, as well as influences, achievements, shows at notable venues or with other notable artists. It’s recommended that you write at least a couple of paragraphs — even better if you can provide both long and short versions of your bio.
Got any press quotes or testimonials? Include them! They catch the eye of promoters. Get short extracts from favorable reviews and put them above your biography. Don’t forget back them up with links to the sources.
Professional high-quality photos of your or your band are also a must for an EPK – promoters will use them for social media posts and posters. Photos with faces attract 11 times more attention and engagement than designs and abstract pictures.
Another media recommended to be included in an EPK is a PNG image of your logo. Promoters and venues use logos on various promotional materials for events. If you’ve got any good quality videos from your live performances, add them too – even simple YouTube links will do.
And last but not least, is contact information. Specify your preferred point of contact and include alternative ones – emails, phone numbers, social media profiles, and all that jazz. Once you’ve completed your press kit, put it on your website or at least create a Dropbox link that you can send whenever there is a request or suitable occasion.
#5. Create Short-Form Content
Short videos have been dominating social media for a few solid years already and it doesn’t seem they are going away anytime soon. Originated on Snapchat, short-form content migrated all the way to Instagram (Stories and Reels) and YouTube (Shorts).
People love this type of content because it requires a bare minimum of attention to get entertained. TikTok in particular has proved to be extremely good for musicians in terms of promotion. So much so, that major labels push artists to create TikTok videos as a part of their marketing strategy.
The music industry is oversaturated – with so much talent and music at our fingertips, it’s hard to stand out and get someone to listen to a whole song, let alone an album. At the same time, 15 to 30-second parts of songs go viral all the time, bringing artists tons of streams, high chart positions and fame. Now is the time to jump on the bandwagon and create short videos featuring your music.
Pick the catchiest, most interesting sounding parts of your songs. Add your song chops to Instagram and TikTok as your original sounds so that others can use them and bring organic reach, attract new listeners and potential fans.
#6. Post Regularly
All your efforts to establish an engaging presence on social media can go down the drain if your posting schedule is inconsistent. Even if it goes viral, you still need to keep your audience entertained, otherwise fans will just switch attention to other artists. What’s more, the algorithms of social media platforms favor those who stay active and show their posts higher up in the feeds.
It may be hard to keep up with music creation and other things going on in your life to also not forget to post something on a regular basis. Make things easier for yourself – get a scheduler for Instagram and other platforms. Plan at least a couple of posts per week and gradually increase the number of publications over time.
If you don’t know what to post, divide what you already have into smaller pieces. This way your followers will get digestible portions of information and you will post more often and improve your music marketing game. It’s a win-win!
#7. Pitch to Music Blogs
Sitting around waiting for the world to notice you won’t bring you success. Be proactive – reach out to bloggers and journalists for press coverage. It’s worth it to spend your time finding blogs tailored to your music genre. There are too many music blogs to count, with some of the most influential being FACT, A&R Factory, TheMusicNinja, XXtrawave, Earmilk and HighClouds. Pick the ones whose you’ve got some common ground with, such as musical preferences that align with what you are making.
Show that you put in the work – adapt your pitch to the guidelines and specialties of each publication, writer or journalist, and reference their posts on releases similar to yours. Never send a group email because it’s a tell-tale sign that you don’t care where your music is covered as long as it is somewhere, anywhere. Multiple addresses in a BCC field are considered to be a huge red flag.
Make your pitch personalized, concise and to the point. Attach your EPK and add links to the most successful songs or the ones most fitting for a certain publication.
#8. Collaborate with Others
One of the effective ways to promote your work is by making industry connections. And it’s not just networking but collaborating with other artists and getting on music podcasts. Both provide opportunities to grow your fanbase and make your name known to audiences you otherwise wouldn’t reach on your own.
Contact other musicians with an idea to create a song together or get featured on their track. You don’t have to only collaborate with artists of the same caliber and music style! Feel free to connect with musicians out of your genre and create a song with contrast in delivery and sound.
Try to secure an interview at least on one of your local podcasts or even start your own podcast and talk about your work, experience in the music industry and where you stand (both in the music industry and your life journey).
Overall there are many promotion channels for musicians in addition to the above – you can create email marketing campaigns, run contests and giveaways on social media, get paid ads, and tour extensively to connect with your current and potential fans one on one.
The truth is, even the 8 ways of this article can be a struggle to execute on your own, especially if you are just starting out your music career and have a day job. As you progress on your music journey, consider building a team (even the smallest one) to take some tasks off your plate.
Don't try to do everything at once from scratch – the most important thing is to stay creative and consistent both in music making and marketing. Small jabs will slowly but surely lead you to your goals!