Music promotion 2022 - The complete guide
So you have finished your track, what’s the next step? Is it to wait for it to get blown up on TikTok? The answer should be no - you promote it. Often enough, we learn about music promotion through random Youtube or TikTok videos with the objective of getting our music heard by more people.
Even though it is not wrong, the goal for music promotion for an emerging artist is being identified by music industry professionals (label, publisher, booker,...). As you progress more as a musician, it is essential to be surrounded by professionals if you want to become a great artist, as they will provide structure and stability for your career.
Now, it leads us to the question of how you can get signed by a record label? The answer is simple yet complicated - growing a fanbase in which music promotion and networking play a large factor in this. To learn more, checkout our article on how to get signed to a record label. Nevertheless, if you want to promote your music, that is the two main tasks for you.
1. Grow your fanbase
You need a fanbase to become an artist. To some degree, fan bases act as fuel for an artist’s career. As a result, music promotion plays a key point in growing your fanbase. Since fans are the ones who pay to listen to your music, go to your concert, and buy your merch, you want to promote your music in a way that attracts more fans to your works.
To do that, here are the two approaches you can follow: building your identity and knowing which music marketing plan and channels to use.
1a. Build your identity
Nowadays, it’s not only your music that the fans look up to but also the way you express yourself. Hence, an artist's brand identity plays a crucial role in attracting the right audience into becoming your fan. People buy into the reasons why you do it than the actual what you do. By establishing your brand identity, you answer the reason why you’re doing music that sets you apart from other artists.
Brand identity for artists can take the form of your aesthetic, your music style, the way you dress, and how you present yourself on social media. Similar to Billie Eilish’s “sad aesthetic” through her songs, clothes, and social media presence, a clear identity should be something that you want to aim for to grow a fanbase.
Moreover, the key in building and maintaining your brand identity is to stay consistent and authentic. By doing so, you solidify the reasons why people should follow and listen to your music. Learn more about building an identity.
1b. Choose your channels
After you finish building your brand identity, the next step is to know where your fans are located. With the various social media platforms available, allocating where your fans are and targeting them with content can be difficult without a proper strategy.
Think of your promotion plan as if it is a digital marketing plan. To strategically choose your promotion channels, there are two major factors that you should consider: your audience’s persona and what community they align themselves in. In terms of building your audience’s persona, you should map up what kind of characteristics your fan might possess which narrow down your target area.
Are they someone who takes pride in finding indie artists? What is their lifestyle? Do they stream music in their free time? Knowing your audience’s person is the first step to determining which channels to interact with your fan.
The second step is all about the community you want to engage with online. As social media continues to be an important tool in cultivating your fanbase, there are many communities out there that you need to specifically target. For instance, if your fan’s persona is a hip-hop lover, you wouldn’t want to miss TikTok and Soundcloud as the two have become platforms where people discover new hip-hop songs.
Even though it’s important to spread your influence to all of the platforms you can get your hands on - you should have one to two platforms where you would be the most active in terms of sharing your music and building your identity. Learn more tips on how to digitally promote your music.
1c. Understand how Spotify works
According to The Verge, Spotify has the largest market share among global streaming platforms which makes it the biggest streaming platform in the globe. Thus, you need to understand how Spotify works as it’s likely to be where your fans stream your music online. To learn more about Spotify, you can check our review on Spotify Ads. Here are the two Spotify features that you should know by heart: Spotify Ads Studio and Spotify verification.
Similar to every other streaming platform, Spotify offers a service called Spotify Ads Studio which allows individuals and businesses to promote their products through a 30 seconds audio ad that can be played in-between songs or a 30 seconds video ad in exchange for 30 minutes of ad-free listening.
Hence, this opens up an opportunity for independent artists to promote their tracks based on the audience’s location, demographic, and music preferences. With the ability to target audiences based on music tastes, Spotify offers the artists to promote their music through genre targeting - allowing you to specifically target your potential fan.
To better accommodate the artists, Spotify launched a platform called “Spotify for Artists” which allows you to get verified on Spotify. More than just a little blue tick on your profile, getting verified on Spotify offers you many benefits including appearing more professional toward your audiences and attracting playlist curator’s attention. Moreover, the verification opens you to more features that you couldn’t access without that little blue tick. To get verified, you need to open an account for “Spotify for Artists” - it is as simple as it sounds.
With all the materials you have right here, it is time to kick start your music campaign and build your fanbase. For more information on how to run a music campaign, you can sign up for our newsletter.
2. Start your networking journey
Now you have a fanbase, but the record labels wouldn’t slide to your DM that easy. You have to stay proactive and start networking within the music industry. To learn more, you can read our article on how to build your network in the music industry.
2a. Understand how the industry works
In every industry, there’s likely a gatekeeper - meaning the person you need to pass through before you can enter the industry. Luckily, thanks to the internet, the role of gatekeeping slowly diminished due to the transparency and accessibility the internet offers. However, in the music business, the role of music gatekeeper, A&R (artists and repertoire) representative, is still impactful - only the way they function has changed considerably compared to the past.
We can define an A&R representative as someone who works under a record label to find new talents. After they find talent, they are likely to assist you throughout the production and promotion process. Before the pandemic hit us, A&R reps used to scout talents through music festivals and concerts.
However, after the pandemic, most A&R reps look for talents through social media platforms such as TikTok or Youtube. Thus, it is essential to build up your social media presence. A great way to start your journey is to build an electronic press kit that is ready to present to an A&R representative. To learn more, check out our article on what to prepare before you reach out to an A&R rep.
2b. Build your Electronic Press Kit (EPK)
A press kit is a pitch about yourself as a musician. Thus, its usage doesn’t limit to only A&R representatives but you can also present it to booking agents, music bloggers, etc. There are two types of press kit: physical press kit and electronic press kit; but in this article, we will only cover electronic press kit.
You can view your EPK as a resume that covers your biography, photos, recent releases, past shows, and contact info. With this information, the viewers decided whether they will book or invest in you. A properly done EPK can help advance your career. Hence, you must highlight your unique selling point as a musician through your EPK. Check out our article on how to build your own EPK.
2c. Make the most of networking platforms
In the past, networking in the music industry was more of a word-of-mouth thing where you know some people and they will introduce you to the right people. Thus, it’s purely based on luck and whether or not you’re a social butterfly at networking events. In the present day, some platforms help you network within the music industry.
For example, Groover is a platform that allows you to work with music curators, music blogs, and professionals. By employing these platforms, you’re taking an initiative to reach out and connect with professionals that can eventually help you in the long run.
2d. Focus on distribution
Without a doubt, distribution is also a part of a networking effort. A Spotify playlist curator wouldn’t just stumble across your song and thought it would be cool to add your song to their playlists. To get into a playlist, you have to pitch your song at least a week before its release date.
The benefit of getting into the playlist is straightforward - you will get discovered by more listeners. As a result, you want to network and connect with the right playlist curators that have a similar genre to yours as it increases the chance of a listener converting to a fan. Some distributors, like Spinnup, allow you in addition to distribute your music to be spotted by professional actors of the sector, Universal Musical for this distribution platform.
3. Fund your music campaign
At first glance, you must have thought of streaming royalty from Spotify or Apple Music as one of the ways to fund your campaign. However, it is no secret that Spotify doesn’t pay that well for a small artist.
As Spotify’s payment model is almost a secret, we can only give an estimated number which can vary based on your location and your distribution contract with Spotify. According to Business Insider, Spotify pays artists between $.003 and $.005 per stream which requires you to have 250 Spotify streams for a dollar.
Hence, here are three different ways you can generate funds for your ad campaign: perform at concerts/clubs, produce music ads, and sell merchandise. Learn more with our guide on how to make money as an independent artist. Once you've finalized your fund, you can check out our article on how to run a music campaign.
3a. Perform at concerts/clubs
Performing at concerts/clubs is not only a way to earn money but also a way for you to build a fandom and connect you with A&R reps. To some degree, it’s a way for you to both promote your music and fund your campaign. Moreover, besides the clear monetary benefit, regularly participating in concerts or club performances can help to expand your networking opportunities.
3b. Produce music ads
Producing music for commercial use can be different from doing your tracks but don’t let that hesitate you. As every business needs to do advertising, there is a high demand for music ads. Thus, that is where you can fill in the demand by producing music ads and earning some money to run your campaign. To start with music ads, you need get some knowledge about music licensing - check out our simple guide on music licensing for independent artists.
3c. Sell merchandise
Selling merchandise of yourself can be a way to both fund your campaign and solidify your branding and fanbase. You can sell from cups that have your iconic phrasing to t-shirts with your face on them - basically anything related to your identity and branding. Even though this method wouldn’t work for every artist out there, it is still a great and straightforward way to generate money for your campaign.
Every strategy needs a goal. Hence, for an upcoming artist, the end goal for music promotion should be getting signed by a record label. To help you reach your record deal faster, you can run ads for your music using music promotion services like Base for Music - generating sponsored campaigns across social networks such as Facebook, TikTok, Youtube, and Spotify.
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