The music industry has transformed with the expansion of technology and culture. In 2021, recording a song is possible using a smartphone in your bedroom. With the accessibility of recording equipment, there is an ever-increasing sea of music waiting to be discovered.
Read on to learn about the numerous avenues available to promote your tracks and creative tips to get your music heard in 2021
6 creative tips to get your music heard in 2021
No longer can you rely on your songs alone to gain a following and get your music heard. Social media and streaming services, along with cultural shifts, have altered the playbook for spreading your tunes to new people. The following tips can help capitalize on tools available to all bands and get your music heard by new fans and record labels.
1.) Establish a brand
While the music is paramount, you need something to separate yourself from industry peers and stand out to people. Building a brand establishes an image and creates an experience for your followers that expands beyond your sound. If you’re struggling to find your brand, think about what makes you different and your target audience. Build your brand and story around the characteristics and personality traits that make you unique.
The beauty in creating a brand is that you determine how you want to be perceived. Whatever you land on, weave it into everything – from album art and merch designs to your social media and real-world persona.
If you don’t have one, get a professional website – your digital footprint in an internet mobbed with artists trying to gain support. Make sure to include your most important information on the site – a well-written bio, all of your music, any tour dates, and links to all of your social media profiles.
There are several ways to incorporate a merch store into your band’s website so people can grab apparel and spread your brand organically. Most importantly, include your contact information so fans, fellow musicians, labels, and any other industry professionals can reach out to you.
2.) Be present on social media
It’s 2021 and online presence is as important (if not more) as in-person. Social media profiles serve as an extension of your brand and an opportunity to expand your fanbase worldwide. Much like practicing your musical craft, consistency is key for social media presence. Pick the platforms you want to focus on and post regularly.
You can schedule posts in batches so they’re planned out in advance and avoid the daily hassle of ideating content. While platforms like Facebook have native scheduling capabilities, there are countless apps available to schedule posts on any platform so you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to post every day.
So, what should you post regularly? Anything, everything! Share a mix of content and differentiate your posts across various platforms. Incorporate brand image in every post so you have a cohesive online presence.
The key to social media is interactivity. You have the tools to engage in personal conversations and interact with people across the world, use them to your advantage. Share and repost any content that your fans post about you. Interact with fans by responding to their comments and direct messages to create meaningful interactions.
3.) Create an email list
Your social media profiles and professional website are entry points for people to discover your music. Foster a meaningful relationship with new fans by creating an email list. Offer an exclusive product in return for their email address to expand your list. It can be an unreleased b-side or an exclusive music video, get creative and find a product that resonates with your fanbase.
Once you have addresses, start sending regular emails. Whether monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly, establish a cadence so you consistently interact with the most dedicated segment of your fanbase. Include a call-to-action in every email to give them a purpose, ranging anywhere from a limited merch release to a self-curated playlist of your favorite tunes that gives followers insight into the music that inspires your work.
4.) Make a demo
If you haven’t yet recorded and released music to the public, make a demo to share within the music industry. Demos have changed over the years and a cassette tape will no longer cut it.
You should include 2-3 of your band’s best attention-grabbing tracks. Whether you’re sending it to a record label, a manager, or a publication, you have to make a strong impression in a short period of time.
Professional studio recordings aren’t necessary to make a strong impression on a demo. The listener isn’t looking for production quality and a raw, self-recorded demo showcases your authentic sound.
In addition to your tunes, you’ll want to package a brief band bio and easily accessible links to social media profiles. If you have them, include professional photos, music videos, and any notable press.
5.) Conduct promotional outreach
Music publications, blogs, podcasts, and radio stations have established followings interested in music. While social media provides the potential to reach new people, promotional content places your music in front of a relevant audience ready to find their next favorite band.
Put together a brief press release and send it to blogs that appeal to your target audience. You can find contact info for these publications and radio stations by going to their social media profiles or website.
Keep your outreach message brief. Your music should never be more than two clicks away from the person reading your message. If it’s difficult to navigate, you don’t stand a chance. So, keep it simple and only provide the necessary material – your tracks, a brief bio, and links to your social media profiles.
6.) Play live gigs
The pandemic put a hold on live gigs. As vaccinations roll out and venues come up with safe, socially distant setups, gigs will gradually return. When they come back, shows serve as the best way to share your music with other bands and their fans.
Within your local scene, gigs form a community of fellow musicians and a foundation of support. When larger touring acts come to your area, you may have the opportunity to open for them and expand your local fanbase.
It’s not in your best interest to play the same city every weekend, so expand to surrounding areas and regions. You can exchange shows with bands from other areas, where they set up a gig for you in their area and you reciprocate in your hometown.
How to increase your reach on different platforms
Streaming platforms transformed the music industry and the strategy for getting your music out there. Physical and digital sales are no longer the primary distribution source for your tracks.
Spotify and Apple Music, video streaming platforms like YouTube, and other streaming platforms like Soundcloud are the new golden ticket for spreading your music to new listeners. Read on to learn how you can maximize your reach on each respective platform.
First and foremost, you have to get your music on Spotify. There are several distributors you can use to upload your tunes, including CDBaby, Distrokid, and Tunecore. Along with distributing your music to major streaming services, distributors offer analytics and insights to track your performance on Spotify.
Once your first song is live, claim your Spotify for Artists profile – a free offering from Spotify that allows you to customize your artist page with a biography and photos. As with distributors, Spotify for Artists gives you detailed analytics for all of your releases.
Once your profile is complete, consider curating a Spotify playlist of your favorite tunes and other local bands. Creating a playlist allows you to network with other artists and give your fans an inside look at what inspires you.
Playlisting is a major component in getting your music heard on Spotify. Using your artist profile, you can submit unreleased music to Spotify’s editorial team who will review and consider your tunes for officially curated playlists. Outside of their official playlists, pitch your tunes to independently curated playlists using third-party services like Soundplate and Submithub or directly contacting curators.
Actively promote your Spotify profile to fans and followers. When you release new tracks, it’s automatically added to your followers’ Release Radar playlist and may be featured on their homepage. Embed Spotify follow buttons on your website and social media so listeners can easily follow your profile.
While Spotify is known as the leader in music streaming services, YouTube is the most popular platform users stream music on. However, you want to diversify your YouTube channel to include different types of video content. Some examples include;
- Music videos
- Lyrics videos
- Live performances
- Cover songs or remixes
- Important updates
Categorize your YouTube content into relevant playlists so people can access the different types of videos individually.
Soundcloud serves as an online music community. It’s a hotbed for independent artists and a great way to share your music with fellow creators. Utilize the platform’s tags to place your tracks in front of the appropriate audience.
Since it is a community, interact with other users on Soundcloud and build your own network of musicians who double as listeners and supporters for your project. Use the re-post feature to share other artists’ work with your followers. Not only will you show your fans what type of tunes you’re listening to, but you’ll help support fellow artists and live into the community aspect of music.
How to get your music heard by record labels
Despite the common belief that record labels hold the key to your success, independent artists can prosper without a label in 2021. However, it never hurts to have the support of a partnership with the right record label.
When reaching out to labels, do your research. If you’re a rock artist, it doesn’t make sense to reach out to a label that focuses solely on EDM or hip-hop. To find the best label for your music, look at labels that artists in your scene have signed to.
Many labels will have a specific demo submission process or policy, so follow the respective policy for each label. If they ask for a demo with two songs and nothing more, don’t send your full promotion kit – just the demo.
Once you’ve submitted your demo, give the label a chance to review. They receive submissions every day and may take a while to respond to yours. If you still haven’t heard back, you can reach out to check on the status of your submission. Some labels will explicitly decline follow-up communication in their demo submission process. Make sure to review their submission policy to ensure they allow follow-ups.
Alternative options for getting your music heard
As an artist, you may think the only way to make a living in the industry is to sign to a label or blow up on a streaming platform. While it might not seem as glamorous, you can license your tracks to T.V. shows, video games, commercials, and more.
This spreads your songs to people through mediums not traditionally occupied by independent artists. Additionally, artists featured in commercials and T.V. shows can capitalize from that exposure to build towards a career in touring and releasing original music.
How can you get your music in commercials and video games? Work with a music licensing agency like Marmoset to help get your music noticed and create income. Visit Marmoset to learn about the artists we work with, like NomiS, and their experience with music licensing.
What is the best way to get your music out there?
Streaming, touring, licensing, and more – there are countless avenues to promote your songs and get your music heard. Above all, the best way to get your tracks out there is to write great music. While promotion and branding help spread your music, you need a product that will sell itself.
Dedicate time toward songwriting, practicing your artistic craft, and honing your sound. That way you can be proud of the work you’re showcasing and confidently pursue a career in music. Once you find your sound and compile a portfolio of songs, use these tips to promote your tunes. If you have a body of work and are interested in licensing your tracks, contact Marmoset to learn more about our services.