With so many ways to promote your music online — and only so many hours in the day — how do you decide which platforms are worth your time and energy?
If you try to promote your music through every channel available to you, all at the same time, you’re going to spread yourself too thin and eventually burn out. On top of that, you’ll end up frustrated that all of your hard work across all those different platforms hasn’t actually amounted to much.
So rather than attempt the impossible, you should focus your efforts on a handful of platforms where your existing and potential fans are most likely to spend their time online. (And, you know, the platforms that you actually enjoy using — or at least don’t despise.)
Here are some of the best ways to promote your music online:
Section 1: Owned Properties
Social media is great, but remember that those pages are essentially rented, not owned. So if Twitter suddenly ceases to exist, all of your followers go with it.
For this simple reason, you should start with the channels you can call your own. Treat them as the hub where your fans can always find the most up-to-date information about you.
This should always be priority #1 (and we’re not just saying that to toot our own horn). An official website gives your fans a place online where they know they can find you, no matter which social networks come and go.
2. Email List
Unlike most social media channels that 1) use an algorithm to determine what content gets delivered to fans (hint: your content may not get seen!), and 2) require someone to be online at or around the time you post, your emails are guaranteed to land in your fans’ inboxes. A regular monthly newsletter is a great way to keep them informed about all things going on with you and your band.
Speaking of all things going on with you and your band, consider starting up a blog for a regular, longer-form glimpse into your world. Your posts could include recording/touring diaries, lyrics, your creative process, album reviews, or even more personal entries about your life as a musician.
4. Electronic Press Kit
In addition to the fan-facing endeavors above, you’ll also want to consider your industry-facing presence online. An electronic press kit, or EPK, is essentially a résumé for your band. It should include your up-to-date bio, music, photos, videos, tour dates, press coverage, links, and contact information. This is a great resource to have on hand as you book shows, shop demos, or even when you just want to connect with others in the music industry.
Section 2: Community Building
Once you’ve established your online hub, it’s time to develop your fanbase and nurture the sense of community. The following platforms are some of the most popular, but they’re certainly not the only options to achieve this goal.
As you probably know, Facebook is by far the biggest social network of them all, and is often seen as the standard for where you should be online. However, as Facebook’s algorithm has evolved over the years, it’s become increasingly difficult to get content seen by fans organically. By some estimates, organic Facebook reach has plummeted to as little as 2 percent of a page’s fanbase. You have the option to pay for your posts to be seen by more people, but keep this all in mind as you figure out which platforms you want to invest your time and money in.
If you do decide to go the paid-post route to promote your music, you’ll need to get really comfortable with Facebook Ads Manager. It’s a powerful tool for creating, managing, and measuring Facebook ad campaigns, but it definitely has a learning curve. As long as you dedicate some time to testing and optimizing, Facebook ads can be a rather budget-friendly way to promote music online.
Twitter is a jack of all trades for real-time updates. Depending on what kind of news your fans want, it can be a great outlet for posting setlists, sharing thoughts on relevant trending topics, hosting question-and-answer sessions with fans, and much more.
Owned by Facebook, Instagram is the standard for photo sharing, and it’s an excellent way to visually build your brand as a musician. Plus, it’s super easy to cross-share your Instagram posts on your other social media pages, which is a nice time-saver for when you’re on the go.
If you have a little money to put towards growing your Instagram presence and you’re already familiar with advertising on Facebook, you’ll be happy to know that you can promote Instagram posts through Facebook Ads Manager in the same exact way that you’d promote a Facebook post. All you need to do is link your Facebook page to your Instagram account, and you’re set!
If your target audience skews younger, Snapchat can be a fun and effective way to connect with fans. The app’s focus is on storytelling through short, timed photos and videos. It tends to feel more casual, in-the-moment, and personal than other social media platforms, which can lead to some unique marketing opportunities that don’t necessarily feel like “marketing.”
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Section 3: Amplification
Some platforms don't require as much active engagement, and are really more for amplifying your music, videos, and news to ensure that you're out in front of your fans (and new potential fans) when it matters most.
9. Streaming Services
Getting your music on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal is the best way to make sure your fans can listen to your music exactly when they want to. Also, getting your songs added to streaming playlists can work wonders for your music career. There are millions of playlists out there for every type of sub-genre, mood, and activity imaginable, so it’s a great opportunity for you to reach the right audience at the right time.
YouTube is still the number-one music streaming service on the internet and the second-largest search engine. It’s one of the easiest ways for fans to share your music on other social networks, leading to a greatly expanded reach beyond your core fanbase.
Similar to YouTube, SoundCloud offers an incredibly easy way for fans to share streaming audio of your music on most platforms. There is also quite a large community of regular users and curators on the platform, so uploading your music here could be another solid avenue to gain visibility.
Bandsintown is the largest concert discovery platform, offering an easy way to get your tour dates out in front of all of your fans. Using the Bandsintown Manager app is a simple way to get your tour dates posted to your Facebook page and Website and amplified out to all of your other social networks.
13. Music Blogs
Seeking opportunities for album reviews, concert reviews, interviews, or guest blogging is a great start. Look for music blogs that feature similar artists in terms of both genre and prominence, and make sure you’ve taken the time to craft a pitch that will catch the blogger’s attention.
Any of the above platforms will get you well on your way to an established presence and a growing fanbase, but there are obviously tons more out there. You should always be on the lookout for new and creative ways to promote your music online.
But don’t forget that it’s all going to feel pretty aimless unless you set clearly defined targets, regularly check your analytics, and actually use what you’ve learned from the data to make more informed decisions about how to promote your music.
Lisa Occhino is the founder of SongwriterLink and the Director of Marketing & Communications at Soundfly. She’s also a pianist, award-winning songwriter, and graduate of Berklee College of Music.
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