Once your song is released, how will anyone know? It’s time to reach out, and let people know. “Music promotion”, as it is popularly known, has become a sort of slimy phrase. When you think of promoting your music, does it make you cringe? Does it get you excited? What do you think of, exactly? A barrage of social media posts asking, or telling people to listen to your music? Perhaps getting your music on the radio? Playlists? TikTok, Triller, or YouTube videos? Playing live (in-person, or live-streaming)? Rest assured, understanding, and putting into practice “how” to go about promoting your music is an ever-changing deal. Even now with one of my upcoming single releases, I’m scouring articles (both past and new) to gain insight on the two or three ways I should be focusing on promoting my music. To that, I’d like to share my perspective/thoughts.
Let me ask you this…how have you discovered the music you know and love? There’s a good chance you heard the song somewhere (radio, TV, streaming playlist, live performance), and you enjoyed it. Or perhaps someone recommended a song, or artist, to you. How often do you click on a post or link from an artist you don’t know who just says, “Hey, check out my music?”. I bet not often, if ever.
As much as I’m curious about trying out different forms of promotion as they come out, I’m most interested in what will work in the long-term, to establish a true connection with someone else, who will enjoy the music I’ve created, and how the connection will be mutually beneficial.
It’s important to understand how you come to know about new songs and artists (as a consumer), because this is a good indication of things you may want to explore. I mention as a consumer because as creators we tend to check things out because we want to see how other creators are doing things. Some of the songs we listen to we might not be true fans of, but rather want to hear how something sounds for comparison, etc. So, when thinking about this, try to think purely as a music fan.
As you start to explore and understand how music reaches you, you may find you do not want to pursue certain avenues for one reason or another. This, my friend, is research. Take radio for example. Radio is the first promotional avenue many artists think of when thinking promotion. Why? I believe because it’s understood that if one is listening to the radio, a) They are a music fan; and b) Radio is segmented into formats (Pop, Country, Christian, Rock, etc.). If one is listening to a specific station, they are likely a fan of that style of music. Radio has a built-in target audience (those likely to like what you do).
But how much do you think it costs to get your song “promoted” to radio stations? A Google search will return countless articles and perspectives on the subject. I encourage you to check out this article from Rolling Stone. It discusses the “common” practices used by record labels and radio promoters, and the immoral and illegal nature of such practices. I’m sharing this just to shed light on it and to provide context. Many don’t realize just how music gets on radio or used to get on radio. Even nowadays unless you have a significant budget to promote yourself to radio stations, and consider that there are no guarantees of being played on the radio, is it worth it?
Perhaps playlists then. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most all the music streaming services have thousands of playlists with followers who enjoy the music already featured on the playlists. There are many companies that offer “Playlist Promotion”, and resources such as “The Indie Spotify Bible” and others, that will show/guide you how to reach out to playlist curators and possibly have your song featured. (Fun fact: If you sign up for Spotify for Artists, you can submit your song directly to Spotify editorial team, for a chance to be featured on an official Spotify playlist). Yet I ask again, is it worth it? What are you really gaining if you get featured on a playlist? Keep in mind, these are questions you need to ask yourself, because you may find there is a legitimate reason to promote your music in these ways. I don’t believe we take as much time to think these things through, and we end up wasting money in certain areas because we haven’t taken the time to consider and understand all options. I hope this post encourages you to thoroughly think through the different avenues of reaching potential fans of your music.
Let’s use an example…Say you do have the money to spend on radio promotion, and/or money and time it takes to promote your music to streaming services’ playlists…how will you connect directly to the listener who hears and loves your song(s)? Do you expect them to reach out to you on social media? How do you establish a relationship with your potential music fan? How do you grow beyond someone saying, “I love this song!”?
Only you (and your manager and broader team, if applicable) can determine how to best reach your potential music fans. Understand that there are tens of thousands of songs being added to streaming services every day, and many of the teams and artists behind these songs may be spending a lot of money hiring promotional services, or spending a lot of time promoting themselves, all vying for spots and attention in someone else’s domain.
I encourage you to think in this way…how can you do what others aren’t doing? When I started out as an artist, I thought following and doing what major artists were doing would work. However, they have hundreds of thousands of dollars behind them, and I did not (still don’t). So, what DO I have, and you have? The ability to reach potential music fans directly. We can engage in more personal conversations, and truly be part of a music fan’s life. We are more than our songs. We are people behind the songs who can connect with other people.
As previously mentioned, I continue to keep an eye out for what music promotional tips and tools I should focus on, and there is a gentleman named Brian Hazard who shares fantastic insights on his music promotional experience. Worth favoriting his site, Passive Promotion.
Embrace who you are, where you are in your career, and connect with potential music fans in the most organic way possible. It starts with the reason you wrote your song. (Your “Why”!)
What To Do With Your Song Next? – Part 7 will be focused on Reaching Out To Your Potential Music Fans. Indeed, reaching them is one thing. Reaching OUT to them takes it a step further.
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