How to promote your music: 4 independent artists share what worked for them - Part III
Tried and tested tips and advice from some incredibly successful independent artists, Part III. Also checkout Part II and Part I for even more insights, featuring tips by Elaine Mai, Bantum, Sean Murray, Outsider YP, Farah Elle, Darce, Ryan Kershaw, 1000 Beasts, Mathman and Craic Boi Mental.
Ever wonder why some artist’s releases do so well? Here we demystify the process by talking to some independent artists who have done incredibly well commercially, and what their advice is.
✅ It’s important to not only be present online, but also on the ground; at gigs, events, showcases
Before I started releasing music commercially, I used social media platforms (especially Twitter) to build a network of artists who are similar to me. I am a queer artist who makes pop music, so I sought out fellow queer musicians and peers whose music I admired so I could support them, and in turn hope that they could support me and my music.
This not only increases your social media metrics, but also builds a community of artists to potentially collaborate with or bounce ideas off. It’s also important to not only be present online, but also on the ground; at gigs, events, showcases etc. Not only will you meet people who can possibly help your career in some way, but it builds a positive aura around you and promotes healthy socialising between artists and industry professionals.
Aside from practical matters, I whole-heartedly believe that the first and most important thing a musician can do when releasing a project is believe in what they’re doing. To have conviction and confidence in one’s work speaks volumes and exudes from the music and immediately makes it easier to approach media outlets, who are often infamously enigmatic and hard to contact. If you believe in what you’re doing, it makes it easier to handle the rejection you can feel when you begin PR campaigns and realise that 90% of the people who you’re approaching won’t even open your emails.
Sharpson (Double Screen)
❌ Try not to waste all your money on advertising on Facebook or Instagram
It’ll only work if what you’re promoting is relatable and really makes people want to interact with your music. This has worked for me in the past , especially for my music video ‘Why Don’t You Come On Out?’. I threw about 50 quid into it and it went semi viral. But that’s because the video was ‘gimmicky’ and most importantly memorable! The video itself is about a fox, constantly trying to get his friend to go out on a session, even though his friend is at work. I knew that if people saw it, they would be tagging their mates and sharing it, because we can all relate to it! If you’re trying to promote something that’s a bit out of the zeitgeist, you really need to get hands on!
Personal connection is really important. Back in 2018, I went to every festival I could, wearing a sign that said ‘Free Music’ to promote my latest project ‘Sharpson’. I gave out CD packs with a sticker of my logo and my social media URLs. I’d say over a summer I handed out about 1000 CDs.
Did it work? Kind of. There wasn’t definitely a boost in my social media; however now and then when I’m playing a set, someone will request tracks that were on that CD, and nowhere else, so it must have made some sort of impression. I still keep in touch with people who I met through giving them CDs.
This other trick, which I’m extremely proud of, worked really well for my ‘Double Screen’ project. I made business cards that had the title of my latest single, ‘Blood Stream (feat. Blakkheart)’ with a ‘spotify’ QR code on the back that took you to my Spotify account. They were really handy. If someone asked me what kind of music ‘Double Screen’ was, I just gave them a card. Saves me from sounding pretentious, and it also boosts up your Spotify plays tremendously. I have a pretty decent Logo for ‘Double Screen’ so I also put them on stickers, and plastered them all over the country. Never underestimate the power of stickers!
✅ Doing your own PR is really slow at the start but the more you do it, the faster it'll get.
Start off by searching the internet for email addresses of radio presenters, journalists and any other relevant industry professionals. The key word here is relevant, look through a radio stations schedule and find the shows that will play your genre and then email these presenters. Start off the email with a short, to the point introduction of you and your music and make it clear why you’re contacting them. Include a link to a wav or mp3 of your music (not a Youtube link) and links to your social media. You could also leave a link to a promo photo and the artwork for the single or album. Make sure your email is professional, to the point and personalised (don’t copy and paste exactly the same thing to everyone)
Some people like to structure the time they spend doing it by doing a small bit everyday. Personally, I prefer to dedicate full days to it and take breaks every now and again, kinda like office hours. Everyone works differently so find what suits you.
❌ Never be afraid to get in touch with people who you think might like your music.
1. Build a strong relationship with your audience. As a full independent band, we need people who genuinely like and share our music, come to our shows and buy our CDs/merch and download/stream our music. We prefer small,engaged audiences rather than hundreds of thousands views or followers who are not active.
2. Try to make people come to you - not the opposite. This might sound obvious but it is a crucial factor that should not be overlooked - if you find a way to attract people to your music (such as engaging videos,artwork, visuals in general) - your audience will grow naturally. Also never be afraid to get in touch with people who you think might like your music.
3. Nobody is going to do it for you. Although it is true that music labels do have huge budgets and resources behind them to pour into advertising - this does not mean that you should get disillusioned. There is so much you can do as an independent entity - our strongest advice here when it comes to promoting a new release or album is to establish a core routine/framework that you stick to every time and this will make promoting so much easier and more natural. You can add in or take away certain elements to this framework depending on the release - but having this framework established makes the whole thing seem so much less overwhelming.
Also checkout How to promote your music OUTSIDE of blogs: 5 artists share their advice - Part II and How to promote your music OUTSIDE of blogs: 5 artists share their advice - Part I for more even more insights, featuring tips by Elaine Mai, Bantum, Sean Murray, Outsider YP, Farah Elle, Darce, Ryan Kershaw, 1000 Beasts, Mathman and Craic Boi Mental.
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