Music promotion is an interesting thing.
On one hand, it could be considered the antithesis of what it means to be a musician.
Creating music is art. Promoting music is business.
But nowadays, musicians who want a shot at earning their way into the music scene full-time need to understand how to do both… and how to do them both very well.
The good news, however, is that the internet has made promoting your music much easier than it used to be.
And in this post, you are going to learn how to promote your music the right way.
A lot of what you need to do can be accomplished with zero money. Boom.
And one of the best lessons to be learned about music promotion in the modern world can be learned from one of the most successful bands of all time… the Beatles!
But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
In this post, you’ll learn 9 steps to do this:
- Stop Thinking of Music As A ‘Product’
- Create a Publishing Routine
- Embrace SEO
- Start Streaming
- Use Social Media
- Build A Direct Distribution Channel
- Start Other Revenue Streams
- Work Hard Like the Beatles
- Stay consistent… Do Not Give Up!
It isn’t easy. But this is what it takes to succeed in modern times if you want to promote your music for future success.
Step 1: Stop Thinking of Music As A ‘Product’
You need to understand is that music is not a product anymore… it is content.
There was once a time when you could consistently sell records, cassette tapes, or CDs to fund your musical endeavors.
But those days are gone.
Yes, you can still get paid for Spotify plays, you can still sell vinyl, and you can still monetize your YouTube… but these things do not start to bring in any meaningful, consistent money until you have already established your core audience.
You only need to connect with 1,000 people who love, love, love what you put out!
If the goal is getting your music in front of people, and finding the best ways to promote your music, then the idea of treating your music like a product online is a dated idea from the music industry of yesteryear.
And this dated ideology will literally work against you.
Step 2: Publish More
If you really want to succeed at music promotion, you need to publish as much music as possible.
In the Beatles’ day, this was accomplished by performing live.
For you, it is accomplished by publishing music and/or related content online… on YouTube, on social media, in blogs, in podcasts, etc.
If you truly want to succeed, the days of spending a year slowly recording an album that sells millions of copies are virtually over.
Instead, embrace the new way of the working-musician’s music industry by creating and publishing music as often as possible.
In fact, online marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk has even proposed, more than once, that musicians should be releasing a song every single day.
This does several important things.
- It helps you to grow your fan base.
- It teaches you how to make better new music.
- It forces you to keep putting your music online, and keeps you from stalling and not publishing out of fear.
Start Your Own Home Studio
Nowadays, if you don’t set up your own home studio and take direct control of your music creation processes… you are going to lose.
This is the cold, hard truth.
When you start churning out as much music as possible, you will level up your chances of succeeding by drastic amounts!
So set up your own home studio.
Make good music, make as much of it as possible, level up as a musician, put in the hard work, put in the hours, and publish as many songs as you can, as fast as you can.
Step 3: Embrace SEO
The biggest three online SEO content mediums are a WordPress blog, YouTube, and podcasting.
YouTube is the best one for music. But a WordPress blog will give you incredible power to start building an email list, and will do the most to help you turn your content into a business.
If you really want to succeed in a big way, you can start strong with one (a YouTube, a blog, or a podcast).
But eventually, you will need to master and conquer all of them.
For best results, divide and conquer. Get your band to work together to start publishing content to all three mediums.
Here are some ideas for how to make this work.
Publish music videos. Record live songs and publish them. Record music and shoot simple videos, or create lyric videos.
Challenge yourself to publish a new song every week!
But you can also publish other things to YouTube. Do song reactions of other bands in your genre. Document your studio journey with tips and tricks.
Teach other bands how you are marketing your music, to help them in their own musician promotion goals.
All of this will help you to build up your own audience!
On A WordPres Blog…
Talk, write, and create about music you are passionate about. Talk about the state of music in your genre. Document your recording process. Create roundup posts of songs in your genre.
Check out this post. It gets 5,000 organic traffic hits per month!
If you were publishing blog posts like this, you could be getting your music in front of 5,000 new potential listeners every month!
You can also weave your own music into blog posts that talk about other music. Check out how this writer does it with his books.
His posts are helping his audience… and he is also promoting his own work in a super-tactful manner!
On A Podcast…
Start a podcast where you interview other bands in your genre. Document your own journey as a band or musician. Interview other producers who are producing music like yours.
Not only will you be learning and growing relationships… you will also be creating awesome content that will help people to find you and your music!
Not sure how to publish a podcast to all of the different podcasting platforms? Use a super simple and free service like anchor.fm!
Plus, all three of these platforms will be building an audience at the same time… and this is an audience that you can monetize later on as you promote your music, get more fans, and build your online business!
Step 4: Start Streaming
Getting your music onto platforms like Spotify and Pandora is super difficult without a distribution service.
But luckily, services like DistroKid can help!
For just $20, you can upload unlimited songs to all of your favorite streaming platforms automatically for an entire year!
You can get your songs onto Apple music, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon, Google Play, Tidal, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Deezer and 150+ more!
It is so easy. The hardest part of all of this is literally making the songs!
But then again, that is where the art is!
Step 5: Use Social Media
Social media is also free, unless you are running paid ads.
For best results, divide and conquer again!
Get your drummer the band’s Twitter login. Get your bass player to take Facebook, give Pinterest to your keyboard player, etc.
Start learning about how to use these social media platforms to drive traffic to your band website.
Best Social Media Sites To Promote Music And Bands…
- Pinterest lists
How To Use Facebook…
Create a page for your band.
Constantly document your band’s progress, share new music, and share other content that would appeal to your target audience… such as reviews of other songs in your genre, your thoughts about similar music, etc.
Do giveaways, contests, and lives.
Make sure to engage your audience! When you get comments on your content, make sure to respond to them and keep the conversation going!
Join groups that are relevant to your style and genre!
Make sure that your Facebook posts are not just clones of your Twitter posts! Try to keep things unique!
How To Use Instagram…
The thing that most musicians do not realize about Instagram nowadays is that it offers a lot of features!
You can post live videos from shows, you can tag venues and other bands you are performing with, you can use hashtags to do hashtag research and make sure you are popping up in the right circles, etc.
Make sure to share your stories on Instagram. These can be videos, text photos, music, etc.
And of course, as with all social media platforms… publish every day, and do it often!
How To Use Twitter…
Share not just your content, but also other people’s content. This is a bit of an unwritten rule of the Twitter world. When you share other people’s content, they will be much more likely to share yours!
Try to keep Twitter separate from your Facebook and Instagram. It is tempting to want to syndicate everything (which is absolutely fine in the beginning, and is much better than nothing).
But if you can manage to keep all of this content unique, you will create a more personalized experience for your fans.
Also, don’t be afraid to make your Tweets a little crazy! Try to really shake things up and do things differently!
You only get so many characters. So stand out and really project your own personal flair through those words.
How To Use Pinterest…
To win on Pinterest, you need to publish consistently. Update weekly at least. Daily is even better!
Make sure to allow pins on your boards. This will let your fans interact more with your content.
You can post about all kinds of things on Pinterest. You can also link to your other social media sites, and to your website!
Post about new songs, band photos, ideas for band promotion, pictures of your instruments, stage set-up ideas, gig ideas, tour promotion, venu shots… literally anything that will create entertainment and/or value for your fans and audience!
Step 6: Build a Direct Distribution Channel
If you really want to learn how to promote your music, and get your music in front of fans in a HUGE way, you need to start an email list.
An email list is the only reliable way to connect with your followers directly, 100% of the time.
It is a direct-distribution channel.
The best way to do this is to funnel all of your traffic from podcasting, YouTube, your blog, and social media to a landing page that connects to an email marketing platform.
Then, you offer a free lead magnet in exchange for your fans signing up for your email list.
This ‘free thing’ could be a new song, a story behind the song, a special acoustic session, your top-ten list for helping other bands with ways to promote their music… or whatever you think your target audience would want the most!
Engage Your List
Start sending out emails as your list begins to grow. But you make sure that these emails are full of awesome things that your target audience would want!
The email newsletter is dead!
Instead, focus on delivering value, value, value!
Step 7: Start Other Revenue Streams
At this point, you might be wondering how your band can make actual money.
Well, at some point, your band will sell merch, get paid for live shows, and might even be able to sell physical albums, vinyl records, etc.
These prospects grow as you get better at promotion and gain more fans.
Remember… you are racing to 1,000 true fans who love you so much that they will buy everything you put out! That’s the golden metric!
But in the meantime, you can also use a method that most bands and musicians never tap into.
Document everything you do… and then create online courses to help other musicians promote their music just like you.
You’re already in the trenches learning it and doing it, right? Well, why not get paid to teach others how to do it as well?
You can use awesome LMS systems like Thinkific for this.
Build courses about how to mix your own music, how to promote your music online, how to build a WordPress blog for your band, how to use YouTube to promote your music… anything that you can think of that might help other people like you!
Step 8: Work Like the Beatles
I’m going to shoot you straight on this.
The internet is the great equalizer. It gives small-time musicians the power to work their way up to the very top.
But it requires you to work like a dog for it.
There is no such thing as an overnight success.
The sooner you understand that, the sooner you will actually be on your way to succeeding.
Nothing Trumps Hard Work
“Hamburg was really like our apprenticeship…” George Harrison would later say about the band’s ‘baptism by fire’ experience during their residency in Hamburg.
A lot of people think that the Beatles just blew up and got famous overnight. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Before the Beatles ever had a TV show appearance or a hit single, they spent years playing scrub gigs in Germany… performing nearly every night of the week, for up to 7 hours a night!
But they did it because they understood how important it was to their future success. They were honing their craft, working hard, and building the foundation for what would later become the colossal success they are known for today.
But in the beginning… it was all work, learning, and honing their craft.
It All Started In Hamburg, Germany…
In August of 1960, the Beatles arrived in Hamburg, Germany, to begin their stint at a seedy strip joint called The Indra.
It was in the infamous red light district, in Hamburg’s St. Pauli quarter… on Grosse Freiheit, just off Reeperbahn.
The band had a contract; to perform six nights a week, 30 hours a week in total.
Their lodgings? Well, they stayed at the Bambi Kino.
This was a theater near the Indra. Their bunk rooms, which were dingy little rooms behind the screen, were actually storerooms next to the ladies restroom!
During this time, they learned millions of songs. Often, they needed to be on stage for hours at a time.
They played four sets between 8 PM and 2 AM on weeknights. On Saturdays, they played five sets between 7 PM to 3 AM. And on Sundays, they played six sets, from 5 PM to 1:30 AM.
And they hardly got paid anything.
John Lennon said an interesting thing in Anthology, years after the occurrence.
“In Hamburg, we would play for eight hours, so we really had to find new ways of playing. We got better and got more confidence, playing all night long. It was handy, them being foreign. We had to try even harder, put our heart and soul into it, to get ourselves over.”
The Beatles played in Hamburg until April of 1962. During this time, nobody really knew who they were.
They were virtually unknown!
And yet, they played more music during this year and a half than most bands play in their entire existence!
You Must Ask Yourself… Why Would The Beatles Do This?
Most bands would never stoop to this level. Most bands would stick their nose up at playing just one gig in a place like this!
And yet, the Beatles dedicated almost two years of their life to it… doing something most bands would never do.
And they went hard at it… sometimes gigging for 7 hours a night, getting paid diddly squat!
Step 9: Stay Consistent… Do Not Give Up!
This is the hardest step, my friends.
It’s easy to sit down, create some music, post it to social media, get high off of your 10, 15, or 50 friends who thumbs-up it, and then call it a day.
But the real struggle, and the real path to success, lies in doing the things talked about in this post… over, and over, and over again… day after day, for 1, 2, 5+ years.
The Beatles… 30 hours a week, working like dogs for fans who had no idea who they were…. All for the sake of leveling up, honing their craft, and investing in their future.
This is why the term lifestyle business is so on-point. Because you literally need to make it your lifestyle.
This is how to promote your music, win fans, and succeed.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. You won’t get 50,000 fans after posting 10 songs!
You’ve gotta create, build, and scale.
And you have to do it day after day.
The musicians who do this, who dedicate their lives to their craft, like the Beatles did… they are the ones who will actually build a sustainable business and succeed with their art in the long run.
It is super, super simple.
Remember… 1,000 true fans, who love what you do!
It just takes a lot of work, and a true willingness to succeed at all costs… doing what few others are willing to do.