Whether you’re a performer, composer, DJ, singer or band, music marketing is essential if you want to successfully sell your music, engage your fans and land gigs. It’s never been easier for musicians to promote their work with new technology continuing to disrupt the industry. Yet musicians still face the challenge of selling and getting credit for their creative work. Gone are the days where we go down to the local record store to purchase the latest album from our favorite singer. We now subscribe to music streaming services and watch music videos on YouTube. So how can musicians make money in this ever changing, saturated market?
If you’re just beginning your career, or even a seasoned professional, there are many ways to market yourself as a musician without having to hire a manager or a marketing agency. We’ll cover the best ways to promote your content and yourself without breaking the bank.
Create a brand
Get on social media
Post to music sharing platforms
Collaborate with music influencers
Partner with a music promotion company
Revisit old-school music marketing tactics
1. Create a brand
You’re a musician. But you’re also a business. Which means you need to create a strong brand in order to stand out from the crowd.
What does that mean? Picture a famous singer you know, say Beyonce. What is the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe words like “extraordinary singer”, but also “fierce”, “empowering”, “Queen Bey”. These elements all add up to form part of a mental image, or brand. Consider what your brand might look like right from the start. Your branding will become part of every single piece of content, and it needs to stay consistent across all platforms and promotions going forward.
Where to start?
Since musicians are creative people already, you might be able to create your own brand yourself without the help of a marketing agency. Even if branding isn’t your forte (pun intended), there are tools out there that provide great templates to get you started.
Simple design tools like Fotor provide excellent templates that you can use as a starting point to create your brand and logo. It can be as simple as your name in a certain font and color scheme that makes up your branding. Bear in mind your genre and vibe of your music when making your brand. A DJ brand for example might include thick block letters and a black and fluorescent pink or blue color scheme. A country singer might have more earthy colors and imagery to match the genre.
Make sure you note down what fonts and colours you have used so that you can use this in your other creative in the future. This will also come in handy when creating your own band merch which we’ll talk about later.
2. Start a website
Similarly, there are some great platforms out there like Squarespace, WIX and Shopify that provide customizable templates to help you make your own music marketing website. You can also go with self-hosted WordPress, using Elementor, Divi and other WP page builders for creating an appealing website. But in that case you’ll need dedicated wordpress hosting like WPOven or Bluehost which has a free trial version.You should use your website to sell your music and feature it prominently on the home page. You should also make the content on your site easy to share, consider installing social media share buttons to encourage your readers to share your content on their favorite social media platforms.
Your website will also serve as a place your fans to view your upcoming shows and buy tickets. Even if you have no upcoming gigs, your music website should contain your contact details or a contact form so clients can easily book you for a private event.
Make sure you keep in mind your brand when creating your website and include your logo, fonts, colours and imagery consistent.
3. Get on social media
Create accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. It might seem like a lot to manage, but you can repurpose and post the same content across multiple platforms by using scheduling tools like Coshedule or Hootsuite. You might create a music video for YouTube, then cut it down and post a teaser 5-10 second clip on Instagram and Facebook, and then Tweet about your new release on Twitter with the link. Email marketing software can be helpful in this part of the process as well.
Build a fan base
If you’re worried about growing your audience from scratch, one hack you can try is transforming your existing personal accounts into your brand account. That way, you’ll keep all your existing followers who are already engaged. This works on most platforms except for Facebook, due to their strict business page policies. Just make sure that whatever you post is on-brand. Change your profile picture to your logo and update your bio / about section to describe your music and what you do. Don’t forget to include relevant #hashtags and emojis 🎧🎶🎸🎹.
Engage your fans
Engage existing fans before finding new ones. Whether you have 5 followers or 500, make them your biggest fans first. Engage them by asking them for input into your process. Try using Instagram’s “ask a question” feature on your story to get your fan’s input when naming your songs for example.
Promote your music
You could promote your upcoming show or album by running competitions to win show tickets or a free signed merch pack. Try live streaming some behind the scenes footage pre-show to build hype.
Paid advertising is another cost-effective way to promote your music. For as little as $10 you can boost your posts on Facebook or Instagram to get them in front of the right audience. Target your campaigns to people who are already interested in your genre.
4. Post to music sharing platforms
In addition to social media, you should be across music sharing platforms such as Spotify or Soundcloud. These platforms are great to not only promote and sell your music but you’re also able to get feedback / see how your fans react to your music.
Before you choose a platform, think about which platform suits your genre and where your fans most likely would be. For example, electronic / house would be best suited to platforms like Soundcloud. Also, consider each platform’s features and cost before deciding.
5. Document everything
These days video marketing is everything. We’re obsessed with finding out more about you as an artist, and there’s no better way to share this info with your fans than through a vlog. It can be a mixture of non-musical and musical content, just document every step of your journey with a video recording.
There’s no need to go out and hire your own videographer and editing team, you can simply record from your phone and stick to these tips and tricks to create the best quality footage.
If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s some music vlog topics to get you started:
Fun facts about you or how your band started
The true meaning behind your song lyrics
A music video for your song
Your favourite things or habits, or even what you ate for breakfast.
Teach us how to play a song (tutorial)
Behind the scenes footage (in a recording studio or backstage)
A recording of your show
Covers and mashups
Clipchamp provides fully customizable templates to help get you started. Simply swap out the audio for your own track and add your band name or logo. Either replace the footage with your own or choose from 40k stock videos if you’re a bit camera shy.
Adding music to your social videos helps to create emotion. If you’re stuck, read this how to guide on easily adding music to a video clip. Once you’ve created your video, you can repurpose it for other music marketing strategies. Post it on YouTube or Vimeo as well as your website, and follow our tips on social media posting we mentioned above.
6. Collaborate with music influencers
Part of your music marketing strategy should be collaborating with music influencers who are big in your industry. Reach out to influencers in your genre and ask if they’d like to collaborate on a track. Even if it’s just a friend, collaborating with a couple of micro-influencers allows you to cross-promote, get exposure on each other’s platforms, and leverage their communities.
Another option is to reach out to certain music podcasts for an interview, nab a feature in a music blog or play live on a radio station. The opportunities are endless.
7. Partner with a music promotion company
Another great way to reach a wider audience is by partnering up with music promotion companies. With their advanced music industry expertise, you can feel confident that you’re doing things right and get additional help along the way. Plus, it leaves you more time to get on with what you do best – making music!
Platforms such as Music Gateway provide a variety of products and services that help create a level playing field of opportunity for creative professionals worldwide. They operate through sync representation (with metadata tools!) and individual projects to get you sync opportunities. You can also work with their music promotion and artist development departments to get professional representation tailored to you.
Now you probably already know that networking is vital to your career in music. You'll also get more opportunities thrown your way the more people you know. Having more connections gives you access to more opportunities and helps pave the way to a successful career in music. A Music Gateway membership also includes access to a global music industry marketplace where you can network and collaborate. You can take advantage of their offerings by signing up for free.
8. Revisit old-school music marketing tactics
Don’t forget about offline marketing tactics that still work really well in promoting your song or band. For example:
Ask if you can pin up flyers or posters at your local music shop or around your area. Don't worry if you don't have a budget for a graphic designer or not a designer. Many online tools can help you to create a flyer or poster online. PhotoADKing will be your hand holding partner as a Flyer maker.
Don't forget to actively build your email list and send newsletters to your fans with upcoming tour dates and music about to drop.
Create and sell band merch such as t-shirts. It’s free promotion when your fans wear them! Other merch could include posters, stickers, phone cases, music lesson videos, and much more. Add a QR Code Generator on your merch to engage your tech-savvy audience.
You can also sell signed physical CDs and vinyls, yes people still buy them! Annual sales of vinyl records in the U.S. have actually surged by 15 times over the last 12 years.