People started realizing how toxic scrolling culture is. We began to realize how much time we are wasting on these social media platforms. So, why do we have to use them to promote our music? Is it the only way to do that? Of course not!
If you do a quick research on how to promote your music as an independent artist, you will notice that everyone recommends using social media to build an audience. I'm not even sure if it works like this. When was the last time you cared about another artist while scrolling on a social media platform mindlessly?
Globally, we reached a point where average social media usage stopped growing in the last four years. It’s not hard to see that it can even shrink in the upcoming years.
Start from pre-production
I agree that planning your song's marketing before you write it isn't sexy. But if you care about reaching out to an audience and making people love your music, you have to at least keep them in the back of your mind.
I don’t say that you have to create art, like creating a product (even though it’s recommended in many books and blog posts). Art is meant to express ourselves. When you look at exactly what your audience wants, you cannot express yourself.
However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about how you’re going to promote your album beforehand. If you’re going to depend on playlists, you should somewhat fit into those playlists. As a result, you must write and produce songs that are similar to the other songs in the playlists in which you want your songs to appear.
On the other hand, if you want to press your album to vinyl and send it through Bandcamp, you should consider making a concept album to attract an audience looking for something meaningful and original.
Key point: Consider your plans for how to promote your music during the pre-production process, and then produce your music accordingly.
Working with PR Agents
This one is applicable to people who have some money to spend to promote their music. If you can find the right person, they can solve all of your problems. In my opinion, it is much better than trying to learn everything yourself and spending your most precious time on something other than creating music.
There are many PR agencies, but not all of them focus on music. So, it will be better to find someone who has proven their abilities with other artists like you. Also, try to find someone who actually understands the genre that you’re making. It’s not vital, but it would be hard for them to sell something that they don’t even understand.
Before dealing with the PR agency, define your goals and tell them so they can prepare a plan. And be patient during the promotion process, as it can take time to achieve your goals.
Key point: It might be the right strategy to work with a PR agency to not to spend time on marketing as a musician, but you must spend time finding the right company and be patient while waiting for the outcomes.
Concerts are a way of creating connections
Some people like to go to concerts to sing along with their favorite band. I often go to concerts to discover new music. I occasionally check local events and listen to a song by the act to decide if it will be a concert that I can enjoy or not.
Once, I was going to a grocery shopping with my wife, and we saw many people waiting outside of a local venue. We liked how they dressed so we decided to check out the band. We listened to the first section of one of their songs through our phone speakers while standing around. And then, we bought tickets for the concert.
It was one of my best experiences with an opening band. We didn’t even buy tickets for them in the first place, but we loved their show even more than the main band. We even had a chance to have a conversation after the concerts.
Now I still listen to their music and wait for them to organize another concert close to my hometown.
Concerts are not only to nurture relationships with your audience but also to reach out to people who are not aware of you. It is even better if you can find a touring band and be their opening band throughout their tour, so you can reach out to audiences in many different countries.
It is also much better than promoting your music on social media because you create real human connections that will last instead of virtual ones.
Key point: Concerts can be one of the best ways to promote your music without using social media because they allow you to make a genuine human connection.You can reach out to the bands that you think can be their opening band throughout their tours, and you can steal their audience ethically.
You have friends, right?
Many people are afraid of sharing their music with their friends and asking them to do something. I agree that it can be cringe-inducing to copy and paste the same sales pitch to everyone you know. However, you can write to them and ask them to genuinely listen to it and provide feedback. It's also not rude to ask them to share with their friends.
Key point: Your friends and their friends can be your biggest fans! Just don’t be shy about asking them to spend a couple of minutes sharing your music with others.
Blogs and magazines
One of the most traditional methods of promoting your music without using social media is to send it to blogs and magazines that might be interested in the type of music you make. This method still works because people care about the opinions of authorities, and they usually look for other options to discover music than the streaming platforms.
It’s better to have a press release before sending it to blogs and magazines, though. They don’t know anything about you or your music, so you have to give them some background. Some of the most important things that you should include in your press release are:
A catchy headline
Links to your music that they can listen to easily
The dates off your releasing and touring plans
Photos and visuals that they can use in their articles
A complete biography
Links to your website (It’s better to have one)
Key point: Blogs and magazines are still one of the best ways to promote your music, but you must prepare a good press release before sending an email to them.
Create your own email lists
After quitting social media, I became much more of an email person. I subscribe to the newsletters of people I like to follow, and once in a while they send email updates about their blog posts or even tour details.
Newsletters are much better than social media for nurturing your audience. If they want to learn more about you, they can join your newsletter. And you can directly let them know whenever you release new music.
Another good point about email lists and why people continuously recommend using them is that you don’t rely on other companies’ mediums. Bands used Facebook Pages to reach out to their fans ten years ago, but now they have to pay even to only show their posts to those who have already liked their page.
Key point: Email collection has long been a popular marketing strategy for many businesses, and we can use it to connect directly with our audiences. Tell your stories and document your process of songwriting and production. Or let them know about your next release.
Collaborate to reach out to more people
One of the best ways to promote your music is to collaborate with people who have a similar audience. It’s not only good for marketing, but you can also learn a lot from this collaboration.
Look for artists and bands that make music similar to your genre. Start with people who are in your area. Then you can reach out to musicians in other cities and even other countries.
Key point: Collaborating with other musicians is a fun way of gaining more listeners and also creating a network of people that might be helpful for your career in the long run.
Reach out to playlist makers
People have been listening to playlists on streaming platforms more and more every day. They either create their own or listen to the playlists of other people and the playlists of the platforms they use.
Whenever I get influenced by a genre, the first thing I do is search for it on Spotify to find some big playlists that can introduce me to that new genre. Even though I have a lot of playlists that I created myself, I still listen to the workout playlists when I go for a run.
If you can get your music onto some playlists, a couple of things will happen. First, the streaming platform will realize that some people really like your music and put it into some playlists that are similar to yours. So they will think about putting your music on the playlists that have the most listeners. Also, people will discover your music through these playlists.
Key point: Playlists are the new radios, and including your music in them is vital to reaching out to your audience. And there are some websites that you can use to engage with playlist owners.
Many methods to promote your music
It’s understandable that you don’t want to spend your time on social media, but still, you have to have a plan to promote your music. Fortunately, there are many ways to do that, whether traditionally or untraditionally.
Having a plan is important for promoting your music. Take the points that are most suitable for you and prepare your own marketing plan. It’s also better to start thinking about it even in the pre-production process.