As a small artist or band, it can be unrealistic to dish out your own money to promote your music. However, there are a number of free ways you can find new listeners and potential fans.
This article goes over seven different organic ways you can promote your music and reach more ears.
1. Be Active on Social media (Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook)
If you want to organically promote your music nowadays, you absolutely must be on social media. This includes Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.
When it comes to Twitter, you should ideally be posting multiple times a day. Every tweet doesn’t need to be a promotion for your new album, however. In fact, you shouldn’t promote your music too much at all on Twitter, or you risk losing followers by coming off as a spam account. Pin a tweet about a new your song and include links in your bio. Try to engage on other people’s posts and keep your own tweets related to your day-to-day shower thoughts and music generally.
As for Instagram, it can be a lot more difficult to share quality photos daily, but the more often you do, the quicker you’ll attract new followers (that hopefully check out your music). In my own experience starting a clothing brand from scratch, I shared interesting photos and videos once a day. Within a month, I had 1000 followers with an 8% engagement rate on posts (aim for between 3.5% – 6%+). However, this took a lot of work, so find a posting schedule that works for you. I hope to do a post just about Instagram in the near future, because I have a lot of tips that can’t be summed up in this article.
TikTok is a wild beast that’s trickier to tame in its adolescence. Right now, it’s huge for blowing up new music – like Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road. However, making your own music go viral can be really difficult, especially considering how new the app is. Regardless, I recommend downloading it right now (literally) and setting up your profile. Try to create quirky, light-hearted posts that relate to or include your own songs. Look at other TikToks that are trending and get inspiration for your own. Also, it’s critical to include relevant hashtags, so be sure to add them to every video!
My next statement might make other marketers cringe, but here goes. You aren’t going to get organic traction on Facebook anymore. You just won’t. It’s become a great platform for people that have a bit of money to spend, but the organic reach is almost non-existent. I wouldn’t put any of your effort to posting here. However, I do see value in at least creating a page for your band or yourself as an artist. Spend some time carefully filling out all the details, including links to your music, a detailed description, and a profile picture. Otherwise, set it and forget it.
Sorry other marketers.
2. Post to YouTube
Another organic way to create a fan base and spread your music is to post videos to YouTube frequently.
Similar to social media, staying active on YouTube by sharing weekly videos and engaging with people in the comments will help you organically grow. The goal is to be authentic and let the people that listen to your music see a more intimate side of you. In the music industry, personality is sometimes 90% of what a mainstream artist is selling, so sharing that aspect of yourself is sometimes a necessary evil to growing a fan base.
Create a channel, add a profile picture and a banner image, and get to filming. You don’t need a fancy camera these days either – your smart phone will work just fine.
If you aren’t sure what you should be posting, I recommend uploading music videos, lyrics videos, acoustic covers, videos about your music making process, behind-the-scenes clips at gigs, and anything else related to your music.
In addition, be sure to always let viewers know where they can check out your music by providing links in the description.
3. Develop a Website
Developing a website is great for SEO (search engine optimization), which is what Google uses to determine where you rank in Google searches. It’s also perfect for showcasing your music, merch, upcoming shows, and social media links all in one place.
If you really want to boost the likelihood that people find your site (and your music), start a weekly or bi-weekly blog on your new website. You can write about the inspiration behind certain songs or even recount stories from old gigs.
4. Do Collaborations
Collaborations are an easy way to reach new listeners that are already fans of whoever you record with. Because you will be exposed to a new group of listeners, it’s a good idea to try to team up with someone who has similar fans that may not have heard of you yet. You don’t need to necessarily have the same style as the other artist, but you want their listeners to be interested in checking out everything else you produce.
However, this is easier said then done. Depending on how small of an artist you are, it can be difficult to strategize a way to record music with someone else – especially if you live in different areas of the world. There are a lot on online resources out there that will help you make online collaborations easier, like Splice for example.
If you’re interested in more tips about collaborations, check this article by Spinnup.
5. Reach Out to Bloggers and Playlisters
Another way to organically get an audience is by reaching out to bloggers and playlisters.
Don’t fall into the trap of sharing your stuff with every single promoter you come across. Not only will you be wasting your time, but it can come across as spammy and annoying.
Instead, do a bit of research and look for people that write about or curate music that’s similar to yours. For example, don’t send links to a rap blogger when you produce country music.
When looking for writers and creators to contact, here are a few ways to reach out. The most common methods are through email, Twitter, and Instagram. You can find relevant people by searching for Spotify playlisters or music bloggers on Twitter, and most of them will tell you how to contact them in their bio.
Two Story Melody has a really good article about how to pitch your music to bloggers and curators, and they even provide a template!
6. Book More Gigs
Gigs are great way to expose your music to new, potential fans, but it’s not as easy as just booking an appointment online for a slot on Friday at 10PM. It can take some work and luck to successfully land gigs, but it can also be well worth the effort.
Open mics are always a great place to get started. Have a friend record your set and use that video when applying to scheduled shows. Then, you need to make a list of smaller venues that you want to perform at and get in touch with their bookers. DIY Musician has a great article on booking your first gig and even includes an email outline.
The more gigs you book, the more people will hear your music.
7. Create and Share Flyers
While online marketing helps you capture a larger portion of your target audience, don’t be afraid to do some traditional promotions.
One idea I suggest is creating an 8×10 flyer for your music or album and putting it up in local coffee shops. A lot of cafes have bulletin boards by the cream and sugar where they allow people to leave postings. From my own personal experience, I always look at what’s on the board while I add half-and-half to my coffee.
In 2020, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to create a captivating flyer. Check out Canva for easy-to-use templates and design something on brand. Technology is a godsend in this millenium, isn’t it?
Pro tip: Include QR codes on the poster that link to your music on Spotify, iTunes, and any other platform you’re using. This way, anyone who wants to check out your songs can just take a quick picture and have your collection pop-up on their phones instantly. There’s no need for them to remember to look you up later. I recommend this site to generate QR codes.
Organic Marketing Ideas for Music Promotion: Recap
Overall, there are so many ways you can promote your music and grow a fan base without having to spend money.
- Stay active on social media.
- Post to YouTube frequently.
- Create a website and blog.
- Try doing collaborations with other artists.
- Share your music with bloggers and playlisters.
- Do as many gigs as you can.
- Leave flyers at coffee shops and around town.
Once you start getting some organic traction, you can consider spending some cash to reach even more people. If you haven’t checked out my article on paid promotions yet, you find it here.
Please feel free to share some of your own free marketing ideas to promote music in the comments!