Music is part of what holds human history. Long before we had written words or petroglyphs, we had songs. Music carried all of human history for centuries, allowing us to retain what we knew collectively. Whether it is telling a story or creating an atmosphere, music is still one of society’s essential components. You deserve to make money as a musician for your contributions. Let's take a look at 15 tips to successfully market and promote your music!
1. Find Your Tribe
Finding the people who will love your music is paramount to your success. If you don’t get it into the ears of the people who will love it, your music will sadly hit the trash can. Seeking out artists who produce music that’s similar to yours can clue you in to how you can reach cherished fans—the sort who will bang your music until their speakers give out.
Generation-Z, a digitally aware and super-niche horde of consumers, is on the hunt for endless hours of music, whether streamed, downloaded, or purchased on vinyl and other classic media formats. I have a stack of records atop the record player in my office, cranking out tunes as I write.
2. Finding Your Tribe In The COVID Era
Finding the right people was a little easier pre-COVID. Bars, concerts, live collaborations, street performances, and countless other means helped artists shred their way into the history books. Currently, we live in a world where it can be dangerous to leave the house.
The world is hectic, but people are still trying to live their lives; we just go about it differently than we used to. Zoom concerts, aggregated on the Billboard website, are only one example of how things are changing.
3. How Social Media Can Help
Social media allows you to research other musicians. Instagram and Facebook offer live performance options, and TikTok provides a platform for creators to connect to their viewers and fans deeply. When you use these platforms to publish your music, you’re both helping bolster the viewership of content creators and beginning to build an audience of your own.
That audience will eventually pay you for your content, music, and merchandise.
4. Spend Time Learning What Your Audience Wants
To connect with your loyal fans, once you’ve established a fan base, you’ll want to spend time interfacing with them to gain insight into what they like and what they don’t. By spending time connecting with fans, you’ll grow relationships and develop a broader creative foundation at the same time.
You don’t necessarily need to let fans dictate the direction you choose to take your music, but you can involve them with things like the creation of merchandise.
5. Best Ways To Learn About Your Audience
There are countless ways to learn about your ideal listener—checking out radio stations in your genre, watching live streams from competing artists, even doing outreach to fans directly. You’ll also learn a lot about your fanbase when you start booking interviews and carrying on with other outreach tasks that come along with marketing your music.
It’s worth noting that a lot of these tasks are handled by a manager, someone who has the expertise and connections to help book gigs, distribute your music, and more. There are, however, plenty of artists who have made their own way in the world; whether relying on connections or not, artists like Tech N9ne have carved out their name in the history books.
6. The Power Of Listening To (And Watching) Your Competition
When you watch your competitors, you can identify what their audience internalizes; this is easier than ever, with many concerts happening exclusively through online media like Zoom.
7. Set And Focus On Your Metrics—Two Or Three Is Enough
When you want to make a splash, how do you know when you've succeeded? You should pick two or three measurements for success, based on what you want to achieve. If you’re looking to amass a large audience, metrics like follower count and listener count might suit your purposes.
If you’re a more niche artist, metrics like percent of content finished (YouTube) and engagement rate might be better ways to measure your success.
8. What Metrics Should You Avoid?
There’s no hard and fast rule for which metrics to avoid because some metrics apply to some people while they’re irrelevant to others. If you aren’t botting followers or listeners, those counts may be worth tracking.
Social media experts often tout that “vanity metrics such as follower count” should be avoided like the plague, but the truth is, they still hold relevance. You just don’t want to rely solely on vanity metrics to determine the success of your business.
Remember, your end goal is still money in the bank. Viewer counts can even help you figure out how much money you can make, based on past sales.
9. How To Set Your Key Metrics
Setting key metrics is easy; you just need to determine what to track, and then figure out what that matches up with on the platform(s) you wish to use. Likes on Facebook aren’t necessarily the same thing as a like on Instagram. “Liking” a page is more akin to following a business or location in comparison to merely liking it.
Conversely, many core features that you might want to measure, such as shares, are available on the vast majority of platforms, both on and off social media.
10. Listen To What People Are Saying
So, you’ve been listening to your fans for a while, and you’re pretty on-point when you create new content, but your audience growth has hit a plateau. To pass that threshold, you’re going to need more information—info that you can get by listening to new artists and audiences. If you’ve already established a fan base, you can probably start booking collaborations.
Great collaborations benefit both artists and often introduce new fans to both collaborators. Collaborative efforts have to fuse the style of both artists to prove optimally successful. If the art from a collab isn’t on-point, it can reduce the initial collab’s profitability and serve to hamstring the artists’ fanbase growth.
11. Social Listening, And How To Do It Without Thousands Of Dollars
If you Google “social listening,” you’re going to find many expensive tools and consultancies—you don’t need them. You’re not an international corporation with millions in revenue. All you need to do is:
- pay attention to what people are commenting on your music and videos
- pay attention to what people are saying about the music and videos of similar artists
- be involved with your music community
Search for things that people mention you, your competitors, or your discography or creations in. You can sift through the results on your own or request your manager to perform this sort of research regularly.
12. Building A Marketing Campaign Around Your Buzz
Once you know what people are talking about, it will be way easier to make new content and market your content. Good marketing:
- understands the target audience and what they want/need/like
- knows when they need it
- knows when to give it to them
- successfully provides it to them at the right time
Simple, right? I know. Marketing can be much more complex, but you can get started with those four basics, provided you don’t have a manager taking care of this for you already.
13. Be True To Your Brand
Dr. Dre and Eminem covered this in their 1999 smash-hit release “Forgot About Dre” on his album, 2001. Another artist who touched on this was Tech N9ne, in his 2011 banger, “Love Me Tomorrow.”
You need to know who you want to be and stick to that. If you progress five years down the line and decide to switch from making music for a super-niche audience to a mainstream audience, your fans will probably be upset. It’s not uncommon for fans to start tossing around insults like “sellout,” and accusing you of abandoning your brand.
These things happen because people feel alienated—alone—because you’ve just effectively left them in favor of a larger crowd, which usually occurs when a brand wants to make more money.
14. The Buzz Is About You So Build It Accordingly
As an artist, you’re at the center of the spotlight. Don’t be afraid to capitalize on that. The chatter will follow you as you keep creating. The hype is about you and your content. Old-school marketers love to say things like, “You need steak if you want to sizzle.”
If there’s nothing of substance, people won’t be likely to hand over their hard-earned money. Effective marketing can only push a lackluster product (music) to a certain extent; people need to find value in the product itself.
15. Define And Uphold Your Values
The best way to stay true to your brand is simply by jotting down your values and ideals as an artist. As you progress, you’ll have opportunities to alter your brand, but it can sometimes be expensive. However, you’ll never succeed until you’ve at least tried.
- Don’t be a sellout.
- Don’t write off opportunities if they align with your brand.
- Buzz will follow your art as you make it.
- Know who you want to sing to.
- Make a list of these things; you can use this list to make money.
Use these skills to create beautiful music-related income. Whether you’re hitting the high-notes as a singer or producing trap beats, marketing and promoting your music is totally possible.