Ever since Napster and 56.6K modems meant MP3s could be traded easily, the ball ache of major label politics has never seemed less of an obstacle for getting your music to the masses.
Now with “web 2.0” it’s even easier to get your music out of the studio and in to peoples’ ears. Thing is, there’s so many people doing it now your masterpiece will most likely get lost in the sea of heavy metal parrots, and tweens with rich parents – unless that is, you learn to use social media effectively.
It’s not as easy as uploading a track and tweeting about it, there’s an art to self promotion. If you’re going to release your stuff DIY and want people to find it, you’re going to have to do all the promo work a label would normally do for you too.
This kind of stuff is hard work, especially on a zero budget. Last week I wrote a piece on how to promote your music with social media. At the end I alluded to the fact there were loads more tips where those came from. I wasn’t lying, here’s part two of the list with more tips on how to promote your music with social media.
Don’t be scared of streaming
Ignore the haters like Thom Yorke – there are benefits to getting your music on a streaming service. It’s not going to buy you a mansion, but it’ll get your music in front of more and more people while paying you a bit of money.
If you’re putting your music on SoundCloud so people can stream it for free, why not put it on Spotify too? Least then you’ll get a little bit of money from it while people are enjoying your tunes on one of the biggest streaming services in the world.
And don’t forget, streams on sites like Spotify and Deezer now count towards track rankings on the UK’s Official Chart.
Don’t like Spotify? You could also upload to YouTube and turn on the ad options. It’s free and can also help you make some cash out of your hard earned efforts. Although if your music is an unauthorised mashup/remix you’ll soon see the copyright holder taking that cash instead.
Do some traditional networking
If there’s one thing social networks are good for, it’s networking. It’s kind of in the name.
Follow bands on Twitter and Facebook from your region’s scene. Keep an eye out for people looking for support bands. Be ready to send them a link to that awesome website you’ve made filled with examples of how you’ll tear the stage up and bring in more punters.
Keep track of bigger bands that do national tours. They might be looking for a place to crash when they hit your town. Offer your floor then play them your demo while they sleep for some subliminal support.
There are loads more opportunities out there ready for you to jump at, promoters looking for new bands, festivals advertising chances at opening spots, radio stations looking for playlist suggestions, magazines looking for demos to review – just make sure you’re looking and ready to reply so you don’t miss out.
Make friends with a DSLR
You may be all about the music, but online it’s all about the images. All the major social networks are making big images prominent on profiles and news feeds. That means, if you’re going to make it online, you’re going to need to have nice high quality images of you doing what you do.
Yeah your camera phone may have a 41 megapixel camera, but in the low light of a gig it’s still going to look shit and without a decent lens the huge sensor will just show up loads of noise. You can’t beat the crystal sharp image from a DSLR.
Still in college or school? Make friends with a photography student and ask them to do a photoshoot. It’ll help you make your profile pop and it’ll help bulk out their portfolio. Too old to hang around educational establishments without raising eyebrows? Get in touch with a photography night class and see if anybody is looking for some experience.
When it comes to gigs, you’ll probably find one or two wannabe David Walas down the front getting some shots. They’ll be online by the next day and you’ll find any pictures of you if you’re monitoring your mentions. If they’re decent, get in touch and see if they’ll let you use them on your site to show everyone how awesome you look on stage.
New DSLR cameras like the Canon 70D are great for creating film-esque HD video too. Find someone with a camera (or buy your own) and it’ll really make the difference to your next YouTube upload.
Get a decent website
Think a BandCamp profile is the only website you’ll need? Think again. The best way to make the most of being online is to have your own bespoke website. It’ll work as your “one pager”, your musical CV, merch store and tour diary all in one.
Yeah you may be making loads of awesome noise on SoundCloud, animating the shit out of gig gifs on Tumblr and posting some retro filtered pedal porn of your new Big Muff on Instagram, but not everybody has access to these sites. Everyone with the internet has access to a website, and thanks to social plugins you can bring all your online social content into this home base automatically.
Look you can embed all sorts of social musical awesome on a website
A good website needs to look great on desktops and mobiles. It needs to have social sharing built in and it needs to be loved by search engines. Luckily this has never been easier with something like WordPress.
Hosting is cheap, domain names cheaper and a great looking website theme can be as little as £20 from Themeforest.
Seem too much like hard work? Make friends with someone that knows how. They might even have a DSLR.
If you’re proud of it, put money behind it
Back in the day an artist would save up everything they didn’t spend on booze and rent to help cut a sweet demo in a local studio, produce a shit tonne of tape copies then help fund the postie’s pension by mailing it to every muso, radio station and A&R scum they could find the details of.
Now people still save for the demo, but think the promotion ends with a free SoundCloud account and a couple of tweets. The day of the record label is numbered, which means their promo budgets are going too. If you’re making awesome music put your money where your mouth is and advertise it to the right people.
Did you know Facebook only shows page posts to, on average, 5% of your total fans for free? If you want to reach more you got to pay. Do a sponsored post ad campaign and use targeting to reach people that say they like bands that are similar to yours. It doesn’t cost the earth and can give you great results, especially if you’re linking to your latest gig details or EP to buy.
Do you think all those “viral” videos blow up because normal people stumble across them? Think again. Marketing agencies pay companies big money to ‘seed’ them to ‘influential’ bloggers so they make it look like it had an organic explosion.
You might not have that kind of money but even with a budget of £250 you can make sure your new DIY music video gets a decent exposure on YouTube through targeted adverts. And not just by targeting 25-35 year old males in Shoreditch either, although that might help.
Don’t under estimate Facebook
Facebook is dead thanks to your parents trying to get all NSA on your life or socially unstable friends sharing more medical problems than Embarrassing Bodies – or so you might think.
Thing is there’s still a huge audience of normal people on the network. Normal people that like music and tell Facebook exactly what kind of music they like.
That makes it a very powerful advertising tool with highly defined targeting options. That means ads for your EP, when done right, can be shown to only the type of people you want to be clicking on them – stopping you wasting your hard earned money on people that only listen to Capital.
These are just some ways you can use social media to help get your music more exposure but they aren’t a magic silver bullet. You’ll need to make sure what you’re promoting is worth listening to. The only time shit music sells is when you’ve got deep pockets there to polish the turds.
If you like the sound of some of these tips but haven’t a clue where to start. Get in touch and see how I can help.