I have a love for music, many of my friends, cousins, my uncle and even my brother is actively doing music. I am not into music; I’m more like a marketing guy. So few months ago two of my close friends came to me and shared their first music recording. The song was very good but they were just starting out and looking for a way to expand. I kept thinking is there something which I can help musicians out? Why not write a detailed post for anyone to promote their music from the ground up? Let’s do it! So this evening I wrote down all the ideas floating around my head related to music promotion.
I checked online for some helpful resources about this topic, I found a very interesting beginner’s guide, 14 Ways to Promote Your Music and another one which is for advance music publicists: Self Promote Your Music. Anyways let’s begin how you can promote your music both offline and online.
1. Redefine Your Image as a Musician
You have to work out an image which you will show to the public. For this identify which genre you are performing. Sometimes it is hard to figure out yourself because in the beginning you are doing a lot of different songs in different genres. Give your CD to a DJ and let them sort your album. This is how you will find out your exact type of music and which ones are getting popular. If you are doing hard rock, then expect that a lot of guys will be your listeners. So for them you may want to create a tough image. If you are singing romantic songs, then expect a mix of emotional boys and girls to become your fans. In that case be polite and sensible.
Always remember that you are a performer and you have to build your image. Everyone loves music and everyone is doing it, so why people should listen to you? You have to make yourself a brand. See how KISS made them unique with their signature makeup and costumes? If you are a band, then create a serious code of ethics on what you should wear, what should you do and how the image of each member will be.
2. Build Your Own Street Team
It is very hard to promote music on your own so this is why you have to create a team. By default your close friends, brothers, sisters and their friends will be your die hard friends. Form a street team with them. Make sure you have 10-20 people in your team. The more you have, the harder it will be to manage. For many artists, these are your first few fans who loved your music. You have to keep them with you. These people will promote your music for free; some will want to have free CD’s and tickets to your concerts. Some will do it for excitement and for the sake of experience. Just make sure they are motivated, take care of these people. Your street team will help you to promote music in the beginning of your career, when you have less money to spend.
Few examples of using a street team are to spread the word about your music to their friends. Have them your song set as their phone ringtones. Get their help to post flyers and bills about your concert, stickers, lyric pages and yet more to come… keep reading!
3. Look Out For Places Where You Can Perform Live
Check out local websites, groups and facebook events where you can perform live. Connect with the organizers of the music concerts and ask them if you can perform your music over there. You can also create a self organized event in a school ground, theater, park or anywhere possible. Again use your street team to help you on this. There could be local fundraisers and gatherings around your place, keep an eye for these events and help them. You never know, you may get attention from a producer and get a deal. Just keep singing. The bonus here is you will increase the number of your fans once more and add more people into your street team.
4. Use Six Degrees of Separation to Connect With Media Personalities
This is the law of nature; you are connected with anyone and everyone through 6 or less connections. This means I am connected with a random citizen in Africa through my existing network of people. Use your street team, your friends, fans to connect with radio jockeys, news reporters, celebrities of your field. Then approach them with your music. If your music is great, you should get a mention. In the beginning you have to get press to cover your music + do viral promotion. Rinse and repeat until you sign up for a major deal.
5. A Nice Trick to Have Your Song Featured On the Local Radio
Scan your local radio stations if there is any show that features new talent. Identify which RJ or DJ plays your genre of music. Using 6 degrees get in touch with an RJ and ask them to play your music. Another nice trick you can do is to use your street team to call/text the radio shows requesting your song. Do this on random times and do this as long as you have to. Do the same for all of the radio stations that plays your song. This will make your song to play many times and more people will listen to your song as it will go up in the charts.
6. Promote Your Music Using CD’s
In the starting phase of your music career you would want to give away profit. Have some of your CD’s for free promotion. Sign these CD’s and give them for free to your audience. You can also mix your own CD with few popular songs from other singers; don’t forget to put your own song in this mix CD. Form connections with other singers and ask them if they could add a demo of your song in their album. This can do wonders as you are gaining exposure from another fan base. You may need to add their demo song in your album in return, but it’s best for both.
7. Print Flyers, Posters, Song Lyrics & Distribute Them
Use flyers, ads and song lyrics for promotion. You can also print posters to a concert or your album. Again use your street team to help you on this promotion. When printing, make sure that you use a printing house, otherwise if you like to print using your printer, that’s more expensive. Use less colors and designs, just let the word out. Ask the local print shop if they would like to be your sponsor. Again use free tickets, CDs and anything you can use to bribe them. Remember if people like you and your music, they will love to help. Print song lyrics, most people will love your words (if they are very good) and like to hear the song.
8. Setup an Official Website
You have to setup a website for many reasons. You have to keep a destination for your fans to find info about your next concert, single or tour. You will need a place to put bio about you, pictures so the press will find them easily. You need a website so music producers can get in touch with you easily. It’s not that expensive to setup a website. You will only need to spend 4-9 dollars a month for hosting your website. (I recommend Hostgator) You don’t have to hire a designer; you can create a simple website using the page builder tool found in your hosting account. When you have your own website, you then can put it on tee-shirts, social media profiles, business cards, CDs and in other marketing materials.
9. Use Branding
If you want to stand out apart from your music, you have to create a memorable identity. As a solo singer you are the brand. If you have a band, then the name of your band is the brand. Choose colors, clothes, style, facial hair, CD cover and website design according to your branding. You don’t have to spend much energy or money into a logo, just use what you have now. Additionally it is better if you can have your brand name printed on tee-shirts and let your street team & fans to wear them. There’s another cheap way to achieve this. Buy one color t-shirts and use a permanent marker to write your brand name or website address on them.
10. Use Facebook for Your Music Promotion
As mentioned earlier, you can use facebook to find local events where you can play live. Maintain an active facebook profile and connect with your audience. There are 3 types of people to connect: your fans, other musicians and business contacts. Build your network and use that to expand your reach. You can use facebook pages and groups to announce news about your new single, album or latest concert. Use facebook as a viral promotion tool. Post your songs and videos and let your fans share it. Connect with your fans and talk to them. Be humble with them so they will like you more. Additionally you can also use twitter to connect with your fans and find out about local happenings.
11. Online Video Sharing Sites to Promote Music
Take your song to the next level with a video. YouTube and other video sharing sites help solo singers and bands to promote themselves. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a professional video. You can use Windows Movie Maker to create a video for your music using pictures. You can create a slide show like video. See what HAC has done with his recording that brought a lot of views to this simple slideshow music video:
If you want to get creative then use your phone or any simple video camera and shoot yourself singing the song. Use good locations in the park or restaurants which are obviously free or cheap. Use some nice video effects like vintage films effects to make it look like a good one. Again use your street team and online connections in social media to help spread your video. The thing is don’t push it. Upload it and share with your friends, if the video is great, people will naturally share it.
12. Celebrity Promotion Method
Remember 6 degrees of separation? Get in touch with other big celebrities or singers and form a good friendship. Sing your song with them, if they like it then ask them to sing with you. Have a simple music jamming. While they are singing your song with you, record it on video and post it on YouTube. This way people will see the video by searching for that celebrity + you and your music will get spotlights. See how my uncle did with one of his celebrity contacts. This video yielded a lot of views and hits for the band:
Additionally you can use that celebrity name for your press release campaign. Such as one of your celebrity friend would like to perform with you on stage on a concert. Write a press release where the headline is about that big celeb. This way you can cash in lots of media attention to that news which also features you.
13. Audio Sharing Websites, MP3, Downloads & iTunes
Post your singles on audio sharing and download websites. Don’t think about music piracy and all that. For a starter all you need is to get your music heard by lots of people. Search in google for sites where you can upload your tracks and offer as downloads. Now when they list your music, you promote those links. The more people who access your music, the more buzz you will create about you. There are sites such as iTunes where you can put your music on sale. Such reputable store will make you look professional. CD Baby is an online store where you can sell your CDs online. Look for other related stores and list your music for sale.
14. Setup an Email Newsletter System
This one is a must have for all the musicians. An email newsletter system lets you collect your fan email addresses and email them when needed. When you set up a newsletter your fans will sign up to get in touch with you. For concerts and latest releases you can email to your fan base and they will be notified. This is very cool because this way you can hold on to your fans and let them know about you whenever you want. See how MC Yogi did this with his email marketing. Every time he is up for a concert or new single, he emails his fans.
Setup an email newsletter system; I suggest you use Aweber that costs only $19 a month. With just a fraction of cost you can stay in touch with all of your fans.
15. Perform Your Music Live Using Video Streaming Services
You can use a video streaming website to perform live. You can also stream your practice sessions. Livestream is a service that lets you stream videos to your audience online. All you need is your laptop and an internet connection to stream. You can also stream your concert for them who couldn’t attend it. Here use your existing fanbase and social media connection to promote your live music.
16. Build Connections & Network with Them
To succeed in music industry you have to connect with a whole lot of people. You have to print your business cards and get ready to give them to potential business leads. Be open and social; don’t be hesitated to meet with new people. Try to be with lots of people and form good friendship with them. After each visit you will bring home lots of business cards, write them down in a diary or database and keep up with these people. Connect at social media, email or call them when needed. Use these connections to get in touch with other connections. Ask their permission if you can put them in your mailing list or invite them in your tours, it’s all depends on the relationship.
17. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
“If you don’t ask then the answer will always be no”
Keep that in mind and make sure you approach to potential record label owners, producers and business leads. They are here to make money and so are you. The only reason you are networking with these people is to get a big break. Don’t think about what they will say, some will be polite and some will be rude but you have to keep trying. If you don’t ask you will never get a chance. Keep your CD with you and have a press kit attached to it; you don’t know when it will be the time.
18. Learn How to Write Press Releases
You will need a lot of press coverage to make it to the top. A press release is a well written article for the news. Journalists will write these for you but if you want to streamline the process you can learn to write for yourself and send them to news agencies. Take a look at this article from my friend Dana Willhoit: How to write a press release and also check out her full blog for more PR tips.
19. Take Good Care Of Your Street Team
Majority of your music promotion I outlined here will be achieved by your street team. This is why you must take good care of them. Make sure you appreciate their effort by thanking them on stage and also personally one by one. These people love you and your music very much so be kind to them. Return the favor by offering free pass, CDs and tickets. You can also thank them using social media or by linking to them using your website. Remember that they are your first few fans, keep them with you forever.
20. Learn How to Let Go Your Favorite Song
This happens a lot; you put your heart and soul to a song, finish recording it, launch it but no one takes it as you expected it to be. This is natural, accept it. If your audience doesn’t like it, then you should not push it. Learn how to let go your favorite song, and write new songs. As CD Baby founder Derek Sivers said, you have to write a song everyday and hope some of them will become a hit. The faster you forget about a song the sooner you can work on a new one. Take a look at the animation, “If it’s not a hit, switch!”
21. Hire a Publicist When You Can
Promoting music is not easy; it takes a whole lot of time. Being a musician is a full time job, doing music and then promoting is a lot of work. So when you are ready and have the money, hire a good publicist to handle the promotion. A publicist will have existing connections in media, will have experience and can give you ideas to market your music. Put some money out for your publicist and let him/her do the job. Use your time to fine tune your music and interact with your fans. If you need some help with your music publicity campaign you can also get in touch with me.
Have Your Say
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All You Need to Know About the Music Business: Seventh Edition - The definitive, essential guide to the music industry, now in its eighth edition—revised and updated with crucial information on the industry’s major changes in response to rapid technological advances and economic uncertainty.
Through seven editions and twenty years, All You Need to Know About the Music Industry has been the essential go-to reference for music business pros—musicians, songwriters, entertainment lawyers, agents, concert promoters, music publishers, record company execs, and music managers—as they try to navigate the rapid transformation of their industry.