How to promote your music OUTSIDE of blogs: 5 artists share their advice - Part II
Tried and tested tips and advice from some incredibly successful independent artists, Part II. Also checkout Part I for more even more insights, featuring tips by Darce, Ryan Kershaw, 1000 Beasts, Mathman and Craic Boi Mental.
We revisit one of the most pressing challenges that independent artists face when releasing their music in today’s industry. Getting any bit of traction on your releases can be a huge struggle - especially if you are relying solely on high profile music blogs. Although these are incredibly valuable resources - relying on them as a sole means of launching yourself as an artist simply isn’t enough. In an effort to demystify this process we asked some independent artists who have had HUGE success in this area to share the fundamentals that have helped them get to where they are today.
Producer, Musician & Composer
✅ You have nothing to lose by playing live
Play as much as you can to get your name out there, meet people and get better at playing live. I started out playing open mic nights, which led me to meet future band mates, my manager and so many other amazing people who I’ve worked with along the way. At shows now, I get people telling me that they saw me play years ago and who listen to my music and support me as an artist to this day. Playing often when you’re starting out is the best way to build a fan base.
Secondly, reach out. There are plenty of acts on the scene willing to give a new artist a support slot or even just some advice. Similarly, there are some great DJs who not only support new acts but actively seek them out to shine a light on. Check out Mathman’s sound advice on contacting shows and presenters and get mailing. What have you got to lose!
Producer, Musician & Composer
❌ Don’t limit yourself
Radio – DJs like Dan Hegarty in 2FM and Michael Carr from 96fm are genuine lifelong music fans who are always looking for something new to play so send them on any demos, EPS, songs you got going. Radio may seem old school these days but the listeners are out there and you’d be surprised how accessible these DJs can be.
Social Media – I find that Twitter is a great way to build a rapport with journalists, DJs and bloggers, whereas I have been using Facebook and Instagram for more sponsored campaigns for releases, videos and gigs. I’m still figuring out TikTok but I can see the huge reach its having for music.
Email –Build yourself a good mailing list through your website, merch etc. and you’ll be able to connect directly with your subscribers any way you wish – you could send them a demo a month with a view to crowdfunding production of the tracks, give them a heads up on upcoming gigs, merch, anything! I used to contact subscribers via email lists gathered from bandcamp downloads, but I have to rethink this now keeping GDPR in mind.
Videos – It’s getting cheaper to make videos these days, and you don’t need to make a full scale, story driven CGI spectacle to grab people’s attention these days. It could be a single shot, a gif, a performance video – something shot on your phone – just start recording and get the videos out there.
Syncing – If you can get in touch a music sync agency/agent this could open you up to the possibility of syncing in ads, TV, even film. Avant Music Port specialise in music supervision and sync licensing in Ireland and are very approachable.
Gigging – Gig as much as you can, where you can – get support slots with acts that fit your style – if you have merch bring some along – get second hand t shirts and print your band name on them, anything!! If you’ve started to get a lot of streams check where those streams are happening (Spotify for Artists has some great analytics for this) and try to visit those places, if they’re not too far away.
Playlists – Start by making your own playlists on streaming sites – it could be your influences, your touring partners – it can be a good way for fans to discover new artists and you could be discovered that way too. Now getting listed on the big Spotify playlists is still a bit of a dark art (and a whole other article) but start by making your own and spreading the word that way.
PX Music Founder, DJ, Artist Manager & Recording Engineer
✅Package yourself well
What’s often forgotten and overlooked is the power of a professional EPK (electronic press kit). This is essentially a word document normally exported as PDF which is distributed by email. An artist EPK would generally consist of one page containing:
- One or more high resolution artist photos that the receiver may use.
- A paragraph introducing the artist for anyone who may not have heard of them before.
- Quotes from any media sources referring to the artists or their projects.
- Hyperlinks to all the artists current content and social media accounts.
- Contact information and information on any upcoming releases or events.
This PDF document can then be distributed to your complete mailing list or sent directly to potential clients and associates for redistribution. The above information can also be changed in future for a single release or other project. Just change the photo to the image associated with the new release, write a new piece to use as the intro and add links to the new release or private links if you are sending this pre-release date.
Distributing through the correct channels is another one. Many artist managers and independent artists now rely on large distribution companies such as Distrokid, Tunecore and CDBaby to correctly distribute their music. Although this is proven to be a simple solution to getting your track onto as many platforms as possible with the least work, it might not make your music as accessible as you think.
When distributing through these companies you are submitting your track to streaming services but this makes it impossible for someone such as DJ’S and radio presenters to download the mp3 or WAV to play using CDJ’s or DJ software.
To overcome this I would strongly recommend all independent artists to set up and start using a Bandcamp account. This is free to set up but will take a 15% share of all sales that you make through the platform. Bandcamp lets you sell your music straight to the customer without the use of a middle man to do the distribution for you. As an artist manager I can say that we have received far more revenue through Bandcamp sales than we have ever made to date using all streaming services combined. This also asks the buyer to leave an email address which starts to build your mailing list that you would send the above EPK to.
Founder of Outsiders Ent, Rapper & Music Producer
❌ Don't sell yourself short
My advice on promoting music would be utilising a single social media that you enjoy being on. Never forgetting that you as an artist are the business and trying to present yourself as such consistently. A simple thing a lot of artists seem to not do as often as they should is to champion their own work. Talk to people, let them know where they can find you and your music. Do shows, interact and meet with people to create meaningful connections with them. Most importantly always share your work, ask friends to help you do the same, and never stop working.
In fact one of the key reasons we began Outsiders Ent was to do more. We wanted to get involved in a lot of aspects around music and help shape the Irish music industry into a legit helpful industry that funnels real talent. We wanted to champion the creatives, that was one of the key reasons behind the Outsiders Fest earlier this year. We have done a lot of things passionately and have lost a lot of money in the process, but we believe that we are helping push the industry forward slowly. But we had to at some point begin to shift our focus so that we can be helpful for the long term. Sustainability is key, don't sell yourself short. Some opportunities are worth it and others aren't. Learn how to say no.
Musician, Singer & Songwriter
✅Remember why you do this
In my opinion, one of the most important things about pursuing a career in music is holding onto what motivates me in the first place. The reason I make music or write, is to process what goes on around me. Being an artist makes me feel like I have full-time permission to be myself, while trying to make the world a better place.
I strongly believe that any person working in any field has the power to do those things. So really, it's the way we do things that counts. I want to be compassionate as much as possible (to myself and to others) with my work, not just with the shows that I play but even when it comes to posting stuff on social media. We process so much information online, so I don't particularly want to add to any noise. For example, by being kind with my words. Eg. Not self-deprecating, not bragging, but also putting myself in the viewers' shoes when it comes to timing posts. For example - it could be 5pm on a Monday and might seem like a time when people would look at their phones - so maybe that's when I'll post about an upcoming gig.
Another one is not over-posting, because it's kind of stressful to do that anyway. Here's a fun fact: social media freaks me out. Words like "marketing" and "social media strategies" make me uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure no artist wants to feel like a product themselves - but our work is something we are sending out to people, so authenticity is vital. So is taking our time. I heard a great quote a while ago saying "Artists are not there to give people what they want, Artists are there to give people what they need." This helped me, because a certain amount of pressure comes with presenting our creative work to people and of course, secretly wanting approval. Honestly though, it doesn't have to be so daunting. It might sound cliché but approval does come from within. In a nutshell: check your intention, post with a purpose, trust your intuition & be yourself.
Also checkout How to promote your music OUTSIDE of blogs: 5 artists share their advice - Part I for more even more insights, featuring tips by Darce, Ryan Kershaw, 1000 Beasts, Mathman and Craic Boi Mental.
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