For the vast majority of artists, the days of getting discovered by a record executive in a smokey bar are gone, and it’s not because most bars are smoke-free nowadays. Record companies, much like fans, are turning to the Internet to discover new talent. They are all competing to find that next big sound, and getting to them first. In fact, there are entire jobs within record labels that are dedicated to looking all over the Internet to find new artists to add to their rosters. Because of this, it is critical to promote your music online.
Why Promote Your Music Online?
The brutal truth is, if you aren’t online, you’re missing out. Let’s take a look at some stats on Canadians as it pertains to their Internet and music listening habits.
– 88% of Canadians use the Internet.
– Canadians spend on average 24 hours a week listening to music.
– 70% of Canadians listen to music online.
These numbers are huge! Clearly, having an online presence is NOT an option. With 88% of Canadians using the Internet, and 70% listening to music online, it’s a total no-brainer. The thought of having to promote yourself and your music online can be completely overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be hard, or take up too much of your time.
Where Should You Be Promoting Your Music Online?
There are no shortages of websites and social media platforms designed to distribute and promote your music, so it can be really confusing and stressful to decide where to put your efforts. The reality is, there are a few obvious places where everyone should be, and the rest are dependent on your audience or desired audience, and genre.
Social media is one of the most obvious places to be in order to promote your music and your brand. Chances are you are already doing this, but there are definitely some strategies you could be using to make sure you’re reaching as many people as possible. Facebook, for example, you’re going to want to make sure you have a public brand page that anyone can “like” – not a personal profile where people need to send a “friend request”. If you’re thinking “duh!”, great, you’re one step ahead!
With Facebook, you’re going to want to fill out the about section with as much information as possible. The information you put there is used for search results, both in Facebook Search, and Google search. This will automatically put you above the rest since most people don’t take the time to fill it out. If you’re sharing great engaging content on Facebook, they can go far and reach a lot of people.
The biggest issue with Facebook is that, unless you’re spending money on advertising, growing your audience can be slow and discouraging. Even spending $5 a week will really help your growth. Otherwise, you’ll be doing a lot of work without seeing the benefits as quickly as you would like.
Twitter is my personal favourite social network for musicians and music festivals. This platform works best with live events, and is perfect for the music industry. Every city, music festival, music venue will have a Twitter handle and branded hashtag to use. People love tweeting along with concerts and music events. For example, tweeting along while you watch the Canadian Country Music Awards, or the Grammy’s will grow your audience and increase your reach.
Instagram and Snapchat are other great social platforms that are just on fire right now. Both lend themselves perfectly for broadcasting content of performances and live events.
The most important piece of advice I can give you, is to make sure you’re filling out your profile about sections as much as you can. Search engines like Google use this information to decide what to put in their search results. The second biggest piece of advice I can give you is to make sure you’re including your website and links to other social accounts on your profiles. Again… if you just said “duh!” that’s great!
I know, I know… YouTube is a social media platform and should have been included in the last section, but it’s so important, it needs its own section for tons of reasons. First and foremost, Google owns YouTube. Google really loves to promote itself in the search results. So you’re more likely to show up in Google searches when you use Google products like YouTube. Again, make sure you fill out your profile and use really high quality images for your profile picture and cover photo.
But, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) aside, publishing videos on YouTube give you amazing content to share on your other social platforms. From official lyric videos, music videos, announcement, and covers of songs, the types of content to share here are almost endless!
As with the other social platforms, make sure your profile is completely filled out with links back to your website and other social media platforms. You’re also going to want to make sure you’re using a full description for each video and using take, and Twitter Cards to send people back to your site.
Online Music Streaming and Distribution
There are a lot of artists who are boycotting the use of Spotify and other streaming services for music distribution, but the reality is, this is where more and more people are getting their music, and it’s effectively reducing the amount of piracy in the music industry. You have to respect artists like Taylor Swift for boycotting these services and using their voice against unjust payment, and rights for artists, but until you reach that level of celebrity, you need to be on these services in an effort to promote your music (arguably, even with that level of celebrity they need to be on these services too… but that’s another conversation).
Being on Spotify, in my opinion, is all pros an no cons. It allows you to get paid (albeit minimally) every time your music is heard. It also allows you to share your favourite music from your favourite artists with your fans by creating playlists and sharing them via your other social platforms.
Now – getting your music on Spotify can be a little tricky. You can’t just put your music up there by yourself, you need the help of either a record label, or digital distribution services and aggregates, like CD Baby. But once you’re on, it’s pretty easy to manage and use – especially if you find your way to a Spotify support person. Side note – It sounds like I’m endorsed by Spotify… I assure you I’m not… I’m just a big advocate.
iTunes and Google Play
This one needs no explanation. If you have a single that is being released, you need to have it available for purchase on iTunes AND Google Play. These two make up the world’s largest record store. It’s where most people go when they want to buy music (I know some of you just laughed when I said “buy music”, but I swear tons of people still do it). Getting your music on these services is easier than getting it on Spotify and other streaming services, but it definitely isn’t a walk in the park. You may find it helpful to have someone help you with this.
The really cool thing about getting your music on iTunes and Google Play is that you can optimize your files and your listings so that they will show up in Google searches too. It’s a bit of a secret that most music promoters don’t tell you, or even know how to do.
Are You Sure I Really Need To Promote My Music Online?
YES! YES! YES!
There really is no option. With 70% of Canadians listening to their music online, it’s a total no-brainer to be in as many places as you can be. Obviously, there are countless other places to be online. The above are simply the most common, and my personal favourite ways to promote your music.
That being said, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. If you don’t have time to invest in all the outlets, then don’t be on all of them. Choose a few and do them exceptionally well. The only thing worse than not promoting your music online, is promoting your music online half assed. It can be incredibly overwhelming to think about promoting your music online, so don’t stress out! If you need help, I’m more than happy to jump in with you and help you get heard.
Song of the Day
I’m all about sharing new music that inspires me, or helps me get through the workday. That’s why each blog post includes a song that I’m really into right now, in the hopes that it may do the same for you.
Little Big Town – Better Man