How To Promote Your Music Career
This blog post will give you an insight into how to build a long term successful career in music, without the need of monetary investment.
When people talk about marketing and selling they might discuss paid advertising or paying someone working in PR to promote your music. This can help, but its much less important than the methods discussed in this blog post. I personally know music producers who have risen from being completely unknown to being signed to Major Labels and Publishers. I know producers that went from no online presence to having millions of soundcloud streams. They all did this without spending, they used the methods I describe in this blog post. I have also witnessed a fairly talentless singer invest a considerable amount of money on his career and it only brought short term benefits.
Start By Making Amazing Music
What is a hit song? Can it be defined? Chart-topping hits throughout history have covered the entire spectrum of variables… Great singers, lousy singers, big production, simple production, complex chord progressions, simple melodies etc. There are no rules that define what the public will accept as a hit song. Max Martin (the songwriter with the third-most number one singles on the chart, behind only Paul McCartney and John Lennon) gets close to a definition with these wise words:
“I think that a great pop song should be felt when you hear it. You can hear songs that are technically great, songs that tick all the boxes. But for a song to be felt, you need something else. It’s incredibly important to me that you remember a song right after the first or second time you hear it. That something sticks to you, something that makes you feel: I need to hear that song again. That’s fundamental. Something you want again. And again.”
Image used with the permission of RJ Andrews
So before you begin marketing your music, be confident that when you release it people will say “I need to hear that song again!”. The brutal truth is that your social media efforts, your style, your website won’t give you results if the music isn’t good enough.
Learning To Sell
Like it or not, we’re all salespeople. We want to move people with our ideas and make a difference, regardless of whether we are selling a product or an idea.
Selling is an art and a science. You CAN learn how to make your message clearer and more persuasive to get more results. These results might be getting a booking for a live show, adding another subscriber to your mailing list or getting a world renowned DJ to play your song in his set.
Your pitch needs to be simple, clear and focused on the big picture. It needs to be positive and exciting for the recipient but without too much hyperbole. People zone out if you stuff your request with ‘Amazing, Incredible, Awesome etc’. Get your targets attention with your fantastic song, but be reserved about wanting their help. Let the music do the talking. Never seem as though you are chasing the target as any signs of neediness in your pitch will make you seem undesirable to work with. This doesn't mean you should be arrogant or try to be dominant in the situation. Here are some examples of how you should and shouldn't reveal what you’re after…
Bad Request: “I really need you to play my track on your podcast. I worked really hard on it and it’s much better than some of the other tracks you play”.
Good Request: “I’ve attached my latest track that I believe would work well in your sets. Thank you for taking the time to listen.”
Understand your target’s perspective to move them effectively.
If you are pitching to a Label, you need to be attuned to what they are looking for. If you are trying to get a DJ to play your track, you need to understand their taste in music. Knowing what your target is looking for allows you to tailor your pitch to specifically match their needs, therefore improving the chances of them collaborating with you. Sending out a generic message to a list of contacts you know nothing about will only get you a reputation of being a spammer. Taking your time to connect with people will make the difference between a successful pitch and a short, non-prosperous career.
The best way to get someone to listen to your music via email:
- Make sure the name of the file you send is professional. Don't send a file labelled: FINAL_Mix42MoreHiHat_16bitMaster.Mp3. The format should be something along the lines of ‘WRITER - Track Name (publisher). Mp3’. The latter is far more inviting and says a lot about your organisational skills.
- Keep it simple. Send one song.
- Either attach an MP3 to the email or send a private Soundcloud link (enable downloads). The recipient doesn't want to have to download a file to their computer. They want to quickly preview the track to determine if they like it or not in the shortest amount of time possible.
- The subject line has to be punchy and engaging. Perhaps mention a previous achievement as well as your intention, for example: ‘Beatport Top 10 producer offers new track’.
Keep track of who you send your music to and follow up after 3 weeks with a polite email asking whether they’ve heard it or can offer any feedback. If they don’t reply to your follow up then it’s likely that they weren't interested in your music. This can be quite frustrating but it’s the nature of the game and we have to suck it up and move on. If you get a negative response, don’t retaliate in anger. Take the criticism in a constructive way and use it to fuel your ambition.
Dealing with Rejection
Even platinum selling artists receive rejection. There are countless stories of how artists faced a long struggle to get to where they are. Their grit and determination were fundamental for their success.
Rejection, false promises and disappointment are all part of the journey. To overcome adversity we must learn from our failures and try again with an improved perspective.
The greatest songwriters may have one hit for every one hundred songs they write. Don't be disheartened if your writing standard fluctuates. Listen objectively to your music and be brutally honest with yourself. Is this track an excellent display of my musical talents? Could this open new doors for me? Would the songwriting and production impress my favourite artists? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then get back to the drawing board and work hard on whatever you need to improve.
Don’t be an island. Get out as much as you can and meet other people in the industry. Music Networking Events are held all over the world and they allow you to connect with other Writers, Singers, A&R, Managers, Labels, Lawyers and other professionals that you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with. Attending these events and seminars will also help you stay current with trends and aware of what the industry is looking for. Show your face enough and eventually, you will become friends with the people you’re looking to connect with (which is important as people want to work with people they like).
Here is a list of some of the best music networking events around the world:
London: Nottinghill Networking Event
Ibiza: International Music Summit
Amsterdam: Amsterdam Dance Event
Miami: Winter Music Conference
Creating great music with other artists is an effective way to tap into each others fan base. Though when one of the two collaborators has a much larger fanbase than the other the benefits aren't mutually equal… So why should they collaborate with you? If your songwriting and production are excellent, they will want to associate themselves with you regardless of how many potential sales and streams you can offer. If you can improve your studio skills to a point where you have commercially successful artists lining up to work with you, you will see your fan base rise exponentially.
But don’t limit yourself to only working with people with a large fanbase. Work with as many talented people as possible. Not only will this help you learn from them and be an enjoyable experience, you may have made a connection with a future star.
Getting your music heard by the right people under the right circumstances is crucial to progressing your music career.
Music blogs are constantly looking for the next amazing undiscovered sound to present to their loyal followers. Research which blogs are sharing the genre of music you are creating and make the connection. Getting on the right blog at the right time can lead to one of those rare overnight success stories. Even if your fan base only sees gradual growth from blog support it’s still a channel you need to tap into.
Submithub.com have streamlined this process by connecting you to the appropriate labels and blogs for your style of music.
Getting your music featured by TV shows, adverts or other media outlets can give you amazing exposure to a huge audience. Like the Blogs, TV companies are always on the look out for amazing music to accompany their shows or promotions.
The Music Gateway (along with many other websites) allows you to create a profile and pitch your music for media placement opportunities.
If you’re a singer or musician, get out and perform. If you’re an electronic music producer, go and play your music in clubs. Playing live will give you an incredible insight as to how your music is received. The general public will be far more honest that your friends and loved ones. You’ll either get the feedback you need to improve or the affirmation to be confident that your material is awesome.
There are many platforms for distributing your music; iTunes, Youtube, Spotify being the major players. They’re great for showcasing your music and video content, but your audience may want to have a deeper understanding of your art.
As explained by Simon Sinek in his book ‘Start With Why’, “People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it”. People love stories. It gives them a strong emotional connection to ideas, brands and artists. If your message is it to ‘Make banging tracks so I can DJ at massive festivals’ you’re unlikely to resonate with anyone. Think about why you’re making music and the effect you want your music to have. Portray the message of your purpose succinctly on your website.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
How can you rank better in search engines such as google? Here are a few pointers should help you along the way…
- The number one thing Google is looking for is site authority. This means that your website is trustworthy and popular. You increase your authority by having other authoritative websites organically linking to your website. To do this, create amazing and engaging content that people will actively want to share.
- Make your site easy to use, understand and navigate.
- Think about the keywords you have on your site. What might your fans be searching for? You can use Googles Keyword planner to see the average monthly searches of a phrase or keyword.
These are some of the fundamental tips for SEO. Click here to check out Moz.com for more detailed information about SEO.
According to Campaign Monitor “Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter”. If you have the intention of growing your fan base, making more sales and getting more streams, your mailing list will be an asset. Social Media is glamorous and should be used to share news, show your presence and enhance your branding. However, focusing all of your efforts on Socials would be a mistake.
An email address is a very valuable thing. To receive someone’s email address you have to give them something of value in return. You could offer one of your unreleased songs, an EP or even behind the scene footage of a rehearsal or one of your shows. A sign-up form that says ‘Sign up to receive updates’ is boring and won’t capture their attention. Something more like ‘Get Exclusive Unreleased Music Now’ is more likely to engage your online visitors.
Send your subscribers great content to keep them wanting more. Share your best new tracks and tell them about your exciting upcoming shows.
Mailchimp is an excellent platform where you can automatically send your new subscriber’s digital files when they sign up. It’s also free up to 2000 subscribers to help you get started.
Great music and a great attitude will open many doors for you in the music industry. When these doors open you need to know how to truly connect with the people involved and solidify the relationship. As your contacts and network grows, so will the amount of opportunities that present themselves to you, and your career will progress exponentially.