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21 Ways to Promote Your Music Independently: The Ultimate Guide

A majority of people pick up a microphone, an instrument or produce music for a hobby. Most will never pursue it any further than that. But if you’re reading this guide, then you have a spark that can’t be burned out. You believe you can make a future out of your music, and I would love to show you how to get started.

How does one go about promoting their music independently? 

In this extensive guide, I’ll lay out 21 ways for all successful musicians to promote their music online:

  1. Create A Music Website
  2. Create an Exciting Online Community
  3. Use the Power of Social Media
  4. Share Your Music on Digital Platforms
  5. Post Videos on Video Sharing Sites like YouTube
  6. Create an Email List
  7. Promote Your Music Using Paid Advertising
  8. Record A Music Podcast
  9. Create “Behind the Scenes” Content
  10. Live Stream Your Music
  11. Record Music Tutorials
  12. Network with Music Influencers
  13. Play at Different Music Festivals
  14. Reach Out to Your Fans
  15. Release Your Songs Slowly
  16. Get Out There and Play
  17. Sell Your Independent Artist Merchandise
  18. Collaborate with Other Musicians
  19. Send Your Music to Bloggers, Online Playlists, and Press Outlets
  20. Crowdfunding for Musicians 
  21. Use Contests to Engage with Your Fans

By following the 21 ways listed above, you can evolve your passions from a hobbyist to a full-time musician. To have success making music in this day and age, you have to step outside the shoes of being a musician and be comfortable with thinking about your music as a business.

Many, if not all, of your favourite musicians, started off knowing nothing about promoting their music. If they were to start over from scratch, they would surely agree to the methods we have laid out. As important it is to have a quality song, you’ll also need brand recognition to sell it. 

With all that said, let’s start mapping out your road to success!

1. Create A Music Website

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A musician is only as strong as their brand name. 

Think about it: your music is a product that you have to prove its worth and establishing a website catered to your music is the perfect way to start. 

A music website will act as your central hub: merchandising, services, tour dates, social media links, etc. Everything that is associated with your brand should be easily accessible through this site. If the design causes issues for those using it, you will receive a bit of blow-back. 

Spending the time to polish the layout and ease of access will demonstrate great value to your cause. 

Bandzoogle is a great toolkit that will allow you to quickly build, manage, and promote your music website. They also provide an easy way to create your online store, so you can sell your music and merch to your fans.

Many of your audience will appreciate an independent artist that takes the extra effort to craft a brand for themselves. Previously stated, the market is cluttered with others striving for success. A music website will help you stand tall against the competition as having a professional website will show that you’re serious about your artistry and music.

2. Create an Exciting Online Community

A brand name is essential for the musicians to establish themselves, but it can be entirely pointless without a dedicated fanbase. 

There’s a strong connection between a musician’s success and their audience. In essence, they’re the lifeblood of your career. 

Build up an online community so you can engage with your audience and turn them into your loyal fans. Use platforms like Patreon and live streaming websites to create a space where your fans can interact with you.

When you’re in a budding community that loves your brand and your music, you’ll be able to share your tracks and monetize your music more effectively.

When a song resonates with your super fans, they’ll cause a chain reaction where they tell others about you. You’ll see your fan base jump from single digits, to double, and even triple. 

It should be noted that an exciting online community can be seen as a double-edged sword. We need your audience to elevate our status, but we also have to cater to your audience’s growing expectations. 

With so many people to impress and win over, it can be daunting not to get consumed by their expectations. By striving to find the right balance, you can find success without overwhelming yourself.   

3. Use the Power of Social Media

As an aspiring musician, a prominent social media presence is crucial for promoting your music. Before the digital age, musicians would have to hustle at different venues to catch their lucky break. Now, stardom is achieved with a quick upload and word of mouth. 

There are so many platforms out there at the moment. Rather than spreading yourself too thin and joining all the different social media apps. You should strategically pick the two that most fit within the age demographic that you’re aiming for.

Social media is key to promoting every possible niche. Dieticians and Fitness Bloggers use these sites to promote their latest creation or next workout regime. A musician can leverage the same luxuries. 

Want to generate anticipation for your next song? Post an image of its cover art. Finalized the release date? Make daily posts counting down the days till it drops. Whatever tactic needed to put yourself out, you can do it with the power of social media.

4. Share Your Music With Music Streaming Services

With all this hard work placed on branding, we can’t relax with music production. We still need to create the content. Popular Music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music deliver us another outlook to define and promote our music. 

With these platforms, you can distribute your songs online and earn royalties from your music. 

promoting your music on these platforms isn’t as simple as going to the app and uploading your song online. You’ll need to work with a music distributor or a record label to add and sell music with all the different music streaming services. 

I recommend using Distrokid because they charge a low yearly fee of $19.99 while offering unlimited music uploads for one independent artist. Unlimited uploads are crucial because if you have many songs that you would like to upload online, the fees and rack up pretty quickly. 

In terms of Spotify, their algorithm will design a playlist catered to your most listened songs. Understanding this algorithm is crucial to have your songs appear in these playlists, enlisting more people to your fanbase.

These digital platforms also enable us to study the analytics of our songs. Features such as total listens, monthly visits, demographics, all are available to you. Attention to analytics will help you keep track of how you’re engaging with fans. All the numbers and stats will be valuable information to polish your presence for future releases. 

5. Market Your Videos on YouTube

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Over the years, Youtube has positioned itself as a powerhouse, ranking #2 only behind Google. With all the traffic coming to Youtube, there are viewers consuming a lot of content.With such an easy basis to gather listeners and support, it would be foolish to neglect it. 

Similar to the quality placed on your music site, you want to apply the same practices into your YouTube channel. Ensure that you fill out the video description, keep your videos at HD quality, and use many tags to increase the odds of showing up in search results. 

We can’t say this enough; all these avenues to promote your music must be presented at the highest standard. Anything less will turn away newcomers from taking your passion seriously. 

Read Next: How to Choose The Right Song For Your Next Cover

6. Create an Email List

While social media is an excellent method to connect with your fans, sometimes there are too many different apps and posts that might distract your fan base from reaching your announcements. Instead of seeing a post from your artist page, your audience is swarmed with baking videos and advertisements. Entertaining yes, but useless in the grand scheme of things.

An email list allows direct contact with your fanbase. Through email, information regarding tour dates, interviews, new merchandise will be easily accessible. With how much we regularly check out emails, there’s a low chance that your messages will be missed. 

Through your music website, you can have visitors submit their emails via an email platforming service (MailChimp, GetResponse, to name a few). These services will compile every email under a singular list, allowing you to quickly send important information at any time. 

As you’re collecting more emails on your music website, you can write a series of automated emails that engage with your audience. You can promote your music by including content like exclusive welcome videos, songwriting experiences, and even your personal stories in your music journey. 

The main goal with the initial emails is to create a relationship with your audience and bring them from being a casual listener into a loyal fan that will support your music and your promotions. 

When you leverage the power of email, you can strategically market your music without needing to hard sell your loyal followers. You’ll develop a relationship so that your supporters will want to purchase your music and invest in your music journey. 

7. Promote Your Music Using Paid Advertising

Many of the digital platforms we’ve listed not only allow you to post your content but also enable you to post advertisements. Starting as an unknown talent, I recommend that you start paid campaigns only if you have your content and product setup or else you’ll just be wasting money. 

Make sure you have proper marketing content ready to be pushed out like photos, your tracks, proper descriptions and website. 

As you design a campaign, decide exactly who it’s aimed towards, established fans, or potential prospects?

For potential fans, examine the analytics of the people who have already liked your content. Factors such as gender, age demographic, locations, interests are all vital data to target new fans. 

On the other hand, the ads targeting your established fans should be those that will send them directly to buying your albums/songs. Since they already like your social media presence, it’s safe to assume they’re the most willing to buy your music.

By examining these analytics, it’s easier for you to set a budget towards your ad campaign. It’s easy to get overly ambitious with your ads, only to receive five more fans for the cost. 

We highly recommend setting a low budget where you only increase it if you start to gain positive results from it. Anything else will set you back on resources for future projects.   

8. Record A Music Podcast

Nowadays, podcasts have grown in popularity, allowing fans to gain an insider perspective on different subjects. Cooking, fitness, movies, video games, there’s a podcast for just about everything. 

Music is no different. 

YouTube and blogs can be consumed in a few short minutes. On the other hand, podcasts can go as long as 2 hours, and people are willing to listen to them in their entirety. 

A podcast shows the audience’s willingness to invest their time in you entirely. As a result, you have to fill that time with quality content. The subject for your podcast can vary, one will be dedicated to your views on modern music while another can focus on discussing your gear and why you prefer certain brands over another. 

The goal is to promote your talent and music, but it shouldn’t come off as selfish. The podcast should find a way to add value to the music community. Before you dive into creating a podcast, listen to a few popular ones, paying close attention to the comment section. It’s here that you understand what the audience enjoys about it, which you can use when creating your own. 

9. Create “Behind the Scenes” Content

Everyone loves a good underdog story. Successful independent artists or performers are often placed on pedestals, admired from a distance. Truth be told, they are ordinary people like anybody else. You can show this notion through “behind the scenes” content.

It’s easy to get caught up with what you’re supposed to post and make sure everything is perfect. But it doesn’t have to be. The key to good behind-the-scenes content is to simply “document”.  

You’re trying to highlight the human connection of your process. You can include content like:

  • Build-up to the main events
  • Your daily rituals
  • Music making process
  • Meet-ups with other musicians
  • Your Music tips and tricks

“Behind the Scenes” content will genuinely capture the difficulties with your passions. Nothing is more heartwarming than witnessing success after experiencing an obstacle after obstacle. This scenario will earn you respect and admiration for your hard work.   

10. Live Stream Your Music

Often, it’s challenging to persuade a venue to have you perform in front of an audience. A venue would be taking a financial risk for supporting an unknown, and some may brush you off for someone more established in the community.

This scenario was common before the digital age. Now, not so much. Many popular platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Patreon have the functionality of allowing channels to host a live stream with their audience. 

Adding live streaming to your music marketing strategies will showcase the extra mile you’re willing to take for your audience. When you also consider these live streaming platforms as a global service, you’ll be able to promote your music independently to a new demographic that may have been inaccessible by playing local venues. 

Over time, you should strive to play at massive festivals for thousands of people. Till the opportunity comes, you can take the time to optimize your scope. 

11. Record Music Tutorials

In your attempts to promote your music, you have gathered a wealth of information about the music creation process. In essence, you can be seen as a wealth of knowledge that can educate others on their journey. 

Why keep that knowledge to yourself when you can assist those who may look up to you?

Whether you’re a singer, instrumentalist or music producer, you teach beginners who are hoping to start a new hobby, how to do exactly what you’re doing. 

Creating a video series based on your creative process. Your fans will appreciate learning a new skill and you’ll build a stronger connection with your fans. Even if you think you’re not fully “polished” yet, you can detail some of your struggles which will increase your relations with fans and others alike. Even for those skeptical to start with their music journey, they will admire your hard work and dedication to achieve your status.  

12. Network with Music Influencers

You will quickly develop a love/hate relationship with influencers. When an influencer speaks their mind, their audience tends to move accordingly to their opinion. If an influencer has negative feelings towards your music, you better believe that their followers will hum that same beat. 

As a result, you need to develop a positive relationship with as many influencers as possible. Make sure to provide value for others first before asking for anything. If you’re reaching out to someone with a higher follower or subscriber count, see if there’s anything you can help them out with. They’ll appreciate your help and you’ll build a better connection with them.

Although networking is important, don’t go overboard with your influencer network though. You want to select those that popularize in your niche and genre. 

It wouldn’t be effective for a fashion influencer to be suddenly dropping praise for a rock album. Established the terms properly between both parties, and you will quickly gather new fans overnight. 

13. Play at Different Music Festivals

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Now I did mention that live streaming is a perfectly good substitution for playing at small venues. But definitely never dismiss the chance at playing at massive festivals if the chance presents itself. 

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve stumbled onto a random set, only to fall head over heels for the unknown talent. The same phenomena can occur during your set as well. 

While attendees for music festivals mostly go for the headliners, playing in the opening sets can help with setting up the mood and warming up the audience. Playing these earlier sets can be your golden opportunity to promote your music independently and turn onlookers into fans. 

Nothing sells a brand better than performing live and opening yourself up to others in the process. The extra benefit of attending music festivals is to flex your talents during a live setting. It’s easy for us to perform our best during a controlled environment during our live streams and videos but the same can’t be said about a live performance. 

You need to be at your A-game to ensure that everything works out perfectly. If it does, this will only give you more props within the community as the headliners will undoubtedly bring attention to your hard work.  

Read Next: When Is It Too Late To Start A Singing Career?

14. Reach Out to Your Fans

We may have hammered this point numerous times but you should always show appreciation to your fanbase. Their dedication allows a musician to continue perfecting their craft, knowing that somebody is wholeheartedly enjoying their content.  

You don’t have to devise a massive gesture of kindness. Little acts of kindness will show the acknowledgment you have towards the fanbase. You can leverage your social media accounts to accomplish this via shout outs, Q&A sessions, spontaneous giveaways – anything that will get your appreciation across. 

A personal favorite of mine is commenting back to fan responses on your social media accounts. Offering direct feedback to specific community members will demonstrate your willingness to spare time for your fans. A simple “like” and quick comment can brighten up your fan’s day.

Another personal gesture that you can do is organize live meet and greets.

Every musician has a little bit of downtime during their travels, either stopping at a local hot spot or prepping at the next venue. So while you’re getting comfortable, why not use this opportunity to interact with your fans. 

Kind gestures performed online will leave the fans a bit wanting more since there’s no face to face interaction involved. Live meet and greets, on the other hand, is where true kinships are formed.

Taking some time to chat with your fans is a golden opportunity to show how much you’re willing to give yourself to your fanbase. Merchandise giveaways, the occasional selfie, or two, will help turn your regular fans into superfans. 

Show appreciation to your fans as much as you can because they’ll be the ones supporting you and your career. 

Your audience understands that a musician’s routine is quite strenuous. So, seeing them take time to pay us back is a huge courtesy that goes a long way to establish loyalty between musician and fan.

15. Release Your Songs Slowly

As much as you want to quickly dish out music for others and promote your music, sometimes it’s beneficial to take a step back and slow down. Remember, your music is an art and should be treated that way. 

There’s this perception that constantly being fed new releases will diminish the taste after a while. An independent artist that releases their music on a week to week basis may have the reputation that they’re delivering a rush product. Doing so will only hurt their reputation in the long run.

While we are a generation that enjoys instant satisfaction, a spoon-fed approach will help us savor the product even more. By taking a considerable amount of time refining your next song, you’ll generate hype and suspense when it comes time to release

The announcement will be an event due in part to your fans eagerly waiting months for any announcements.

Slowly releasing your songs can also be beneficial to your mental health. By avoiding the need to publish a song at a regular interval, you escape the impending sense of “burn-out.” 

As a musician myself, nothing is more disheartening than seeing a musician lose their spark. Time is a valuable asset to a musician, take full advantage of it while you can. Experiment with your genre, remaster old albums, implement new instruments, whatever it takes to keep your passion burning strong.  

16. Get Out There and Play

We’ve discussed numerous ways for you to perform for an audience, digital, or at a high-end venue. If we were to go back to the roots of music promotion, nothing beats going to your local park, setting up your gear, and just start playing. You don’t need to have an intended audience in mind. The mindset is to simply play for yourself and enjoy every moment of it. 

On YouTube’s trend page, we often see links to inspiring Subway performances of an unknown musician performing heartwarming pieces. These videos generate so much publicity that it’s hard to avoid it even if you tried. As an up and coming musician, this can be a great chance to market your music and build a fanbase in the local community. 

Before you go out there and use this music promoting strategy, you need to be prepared for any negative experiences that might come your way while playing. More often than not, you’ll occasionally get hagglers who will poke at your performance or even be completely ignored throughout the entire day. 

Regardless of this possibility, you should always show joy and pride when you perform. Treat your performance as a learning lesson and build a thick skin which will not only be important in music but also other areas in your life. Some onlookers will appreciate your efforts, and that is enough to make the entire venture worthwhile.  

Read More: 11 Easy songs to play and sing guitar at the same time

17. Sell Your Independent Artist Merchandise

A supporting fanbase will do everything in their power to increase recognition of your brand. T-shirts, hoodies, stickers – fans will easily drop $20 or $40 dollars to wear these items with your branding. 

There’s something surreal with witnessing people walking around with your logo. For you, the fans are now a walking billboard for your brand.  They’ll be the ones helping you promote your music.

You can capitalize on this sentiment by selling these items exclusively from your website. You’ll be amazed at the increased traffic your site will experience for those looking to buy your merchandise. 

To start selling your own merch, you’ll need two things: 

  1. Good designs
  2. An online store

You can either start by designing your merch yourself or hire the services of talented artists online. One of the best websites where you can find great artists and designs for a fair price is on Fiverr. 

With Fiverr, you’ll be able to quickly choose the best freelance artist that fits within your needs and budget. There are tons of artists to choose from, and they all post their portfolio so that you can look at their work and decide if they’re style works with your brand. 

With creating an online store, you can easily do so with the built in feature in Bandzoogle.

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To continue to leverage this, you can establish merchandise booths at all your performed venues. Countless times, fans have stood in merch lines for 30 minutes just to buy a shirt. If you want to increase fan incentives, some artists will personally work at the booth, interacting with their fans as they come and go. 

18. Collaborate with Other Musicians

Working with other musicians can be a great music marketing strategy not only for yourself but also for your counterpart. 

Rather than viewing them as your competition, you can think about what you can learn from them and how you can complement each other. Each of you can offer opportunities that the other may lack. 

If you’re an artist that focuses primarily on hip-hop beats or digital instrument tracks, it may serve you to work with someone who can play an instrument or demonstrates a tremendous vocal range.

Collaborations of this nature serve to expand your genre without having to reinvent yourself. A collaboration will show a willingness on your behalf to evolve, which your fans will appreciate. 

The collaboration can also put you in a position to improve your production schedule. Everybody has a unique way of working on their projects. Some will prefer one software over another while others will have clever hacks to work efficiently. By working with others, you can pick up on their methods and implement them towards your creative process. 

19. Send Your Music to Bloggers, Online Playlists, and Press Outlets

Even with your best efforts, sometimes you need to outsource projects to others to get the publicity necessary to succeed. Bloggers, online playlists, press outlets are incredible 3rd parties to promote your music independently. 

As an unknown brand and musician, you will have to be persistent and punctual with your proposals. These sources will love to see you succeed, but as they’re swarmed continuously with similar pitches, they need a sound and an identity that will truly stand out. 

Before you start submitting proposals, reexamine your musical identity, and see if your brand will be compatible with these sources. 

  • Is my story distinct enough?
  • Does my online presence demand interest from others?
  • Am I coming in with a decent-sized fanbase?

These are the questions 3rd parties, and you should be asking during the proposal process. If you can nail these qualifications and more, you will find more success than failure. While you may not discover gold the first time, persistence will eventually bear success with your pitches. 

20. Crowdfunding for Musicians 

Crowdfunding may be a new term for a few of you. Essentially, it’s a way to raise funds through the contributions of others. Sites like Kickstarter, indiegogo and Patreon have flooded the market with raising funds for a cause. 

As an aspiring musician, you know how difficult it is to make an initial living off it. That’s excluding the cost needed for new equipment, studio rentals, and fees for maintaining your site. All these essentials will quickly eat away your budget. 

Crowdfunding sites will give you extra leverage when investing in these items. We should clarify, though, don’t treat these sites as asking for charity. Most successful crowdfunds will give incentives/rewards for those who donate. Exclusive content such as private Q&As, free merch or monthly live streams will be the perfect reward for those supporting your passions. 

21. Use Contests to Engage with Your Fans

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People love winning free stuff, that’s a universal fact that no one can deny. Fan engagement via a contest follows the basic tenant of equivalent exchange. They receive a prize for their involvement while you gain popularity and new followers, which is a win-win situation for everybody. 

There are many formats that the contest can take. A personal favorite is to challenge the fans to make a music video based on a new song. The reward can be that the winning submission will become the official music video plus free tickets to your next local concert. 

This contest is great for many reasons:

  1. This allows your fans to stretch their creativity and work outside their comfort zone.
  2. Each submission will spur curiosity from others to either create their rendition or share the contest with others.
  3. The winner can leverage this opportunity to make a career out of this publicity.

You can also host giveaways for your merch or even work with brands to give away their products. If you have a budding and engaged community, there are many brands that would love to work with you and provide their products for you to talk about.

By doing this, you’re not only strengthening your brand, but also building a good relationship with other brands as well. 

Final Thoughts 

For you growing up in the digital age, the means to share your music is near limitless. But don’t confuse mass accessibility with easy promotion. Merely posting your music online will not gain your instant popularity. You’ll need to put many hours and a ton of faith that your music will resonate with others. 

As we mentioned previously, these 21 methods will put you on the right path towards successfully promoting your music independently – no need to fumble around with another scheme. What you need to focus on is to develop a brand that others will crave.

Turning your musical passions into a lucrative career will be difficult in the beginning as there are so many other aspiring musicians out there.

In the end, no one can condemn you for taking the path least traveled. Give your music career a hard shot and don’t let the naysayers tell you otherwise. 

As Arthur C. Clarke once said, “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” 

As the dreamer, you owe it to yourself to discover those limits yourself. Who knows? You may surprise yourself with how much your passion will resonate with others. Either way, there’s only one way to find out is to put in the work.

Do you want to improve your singing and learn how to hit those high notes without straining your voice? CLICK HERE to get a FREE trial with 30 Day Singer!

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