Whilst effectively promoting music online certainly isn’t a complicated process, it also isn’t a quick or easy one. I firmly believe that successful online music marketing comes down to the following traits:
- A good understanding of your audience and what they want
- A strong work ethic
- Patience & perseverance
This guide focuses on gaining consistent and organic growth to turn your project’s online presence from a ghost town to a thriving community of passionate fans.
Ensure Your Social Media Is Coherent & Easy To Navigate
- Ensure your branding is consistent: Give your audience the confidence they’ve found the right artist by making sure your profile/cover pictures and biography sections are the same on each platform. Additionally, make sure you’re using the same username on every platform to avoid confusion.
- Interlink all of your social media pages: If you’ve allocated a distinct role for each social media channel (which we’ll talk about in a little while), it’s important to interlink all of your pages so your audience can easily find you on each platform. This also allows your overall social media following to grow at a consistent rate.
- Make it easy for people to listen to your music quickly: You’d be amazed how hard it is to actually find some music to listen to on a lot of musician’s social media channels. This is akin to a dinner waiter making you go hunting around the restaurant for a menu; make it as easy as possible for users to interact with your content.
Have A Strong Visual Identity
Indie Panda breaks identity down into two key aspects:
- Sonic Identity: The identity of the music itself (genre, signature traits etc.)
- Visual Identity: The cultural and personable aspects of the project (branding, artist’s personality & lifestyle choices, fashion etc.)
Both a strong sonic and visual identity are required for an independent band or artist’s success. Whilst music consumers form a connection with the genre and thematic content of the music, they also grow a strong attachment to the shared values, personalities and lifestyles of the musicians themselves. Focusing on visual identity when it comes to marketing your music to potential new fans online has two clear advantages:
- Allows potential fans to relate to you on a personal level in a matter of seconds: A band picture showcasing your fashion sense or a tweet making a cultural reference is much more likely to connect with people on a personal level and spark a genuine interest in your project than simply posting a song and asking them to invest three minutes of their time listening to it (with no guarantee that they’ll even connect with it). In addition, keep in mind that most people browse through social media feeds at a time or place where it’s simply not possible to spend three minutes listening to a song (such as waiting in line at the supermarket or using public transport).
- Endless content options: Whilst you might only be able to release new music a few times a year, you can release visual identity-focused content on a daily basis. This keeps your current fanbase engaged whilst also allowing you to market to potential new fans with fresh content each day.
If you leverage your visual identity through your social media content, you stand a much better chance of people connecting with your project enough to take an interest and listening to your music in their own time.
Focus On Providing As Much Value As You Can To Audience & Industry
Us humans are inherently selfish beings; we want to derive as much value from others as we possibly can for the sake of bettering our own lives, but are more hesitant to provide value to others without receiving value in return. The entire reason you clicked on a free article called ‘How To Promote Music Online Effectively’ is because it presented a clear and specifically-tailored offer of immense value without directly requiring you to provide anything in return. Many independent musicians make the mistake of placing too much emphasis on solely deriving value for themselves when marketing their music, which presents a clear conflict of interest:
- The band or artist wants to derive value from people connecting with their music, so they post a track online and beg other people to check it out
- The audience wants to derive value from forming a personal connection with a project that actively betters their lives, not spend three minutes of their time listening to a track for the sake of providing value to the artist when there’s no guarantee it’ll offer them any value in return.
If I’d titled this article ‘It Would Mean The World To Me If You Checked Out Our Paid Products’, it’s pretty unlikely you would’ve clicked on it. If you know that other people only care about deriving value for themselves, use that knowledge to your advantage. Actively take the approach of providing as much value to your audience as you possibly can on a daily basis through your visual identity-focused content. Once you’ve built up some rapport and trust with your audience, they’re far more likely to engage and connect with your music in their own time as you’ve already proved that you can provide them with value on a daily basis. Therefore, they’re happy to provide you with value in return.
Allocate A Distinct Role For Each Channel
Many independent bands and artists make the mistake of creating a single piece of content and posting it across all of their social media channels. This has various disadvantages:
- It’s spammy: If you post exactly the same piece of content across five different social media channels, your audience will naturally fall into the habit of skipping over your posts.
- It fails to take advantage of each platform’s unique features: Different platforms offer different features which can be used to your advantage. Failing to tailor your content to each platform hinders your opportunity to do this.
- It hinders your growth: What’s the point of following you on Twitter if you’re posting the exact same content as you do on Instagram?
Instead, I’d recommend allocating two distinct roles for each platform:
- Style of content: Tailoring your content to take advantage of an individual platform’s features helps maximize both your reach and engagement rate.
- Role in band/artist activities: Instead of posting the same individual update across every social media platform, use a different platform to update each step of an event. This gives your audience a valid reason to follow you on every platform and prompts them to pay closer attention to your content.
Here’s an example of effective role allocation in place for a gig:
- Facebook post featuring the gig flyer & show announcement
- Instagram post to promote tickets
- Twitter Q&A session during soundcheck
- Instagram story updates during the gig (tagging the other bands on the bill etc.)
Create A Diverse Range Of Engaging Content For Each Channel
As previously mentioned, social media users today expect to be constantly entertained and engaged. Providing a diverse range of content has two primary advantages:
- Caters to a more diverse audience: Different people will value different types of content. Posting a diverse range of content ensures you cater to as diverse of an audience as you can.
- Keeps your current audience on their toes: Posting a diverse range of valuable content will give your audience a reason to engage with everything you put out.
Here are a few pointers on creating engaging online content:
- Use video where possible: People buy people, not products. Videos are a phenomenal way to sell others on your visual identity by showcasing your own individual personality.
- Leverage ‘searchable’ media platforms: One issue with platforms such as Instagram and Twitter is that your content will often be buried forever a couple of hours after posting. ‘Searchable’ platforms such as YouTube ensure your media will continue to receive engagement for years to come.
- Leverage interactive tools: Each platform comes with unique interaction tools, from Twitter retweets to Instagram story polls. Base your content around these tools for maximum interaction and engagement.
A vital attribute of unsigned music marketing success is the ability to consistently post content. This works for two key reasons:
- Keeps your project relevant and your audience engaged: In today’s throwaway social media culture, people expect to be constantly entertained and engaged. Additionally, new fans will expect an extensive backlog of content when they first come to your project. Remember you’re not only in competition with other bands and artists, but also brands and companies, social media stars and cat videos.
- Ensures consistent growth: Posting engaging, well-targeted content on a daily basis ensures your project continues to grow at a consistent basis.
Actively Participate In Established Communities
One of our favourite ways of actively growing a social media following is to simply become active in established communities that are relevant to your project (such as a larger band’s social media channels). This is an easy way to place yourself on the map of thousands of potential fans.
When participating in an established community, remember to keep your focus entirely on others; help them out, join a conversation, give someone a word of encouragement. If you engage others by providing value with no expectation of anything in return, they’re much more likely to take a genuine interest in you.
- You will not see results immediately: Growing an engaged fanbase is very much a marathon, not a sprint. It’s likely that you won’t see any true growth for at least sixth months to a year, but you will still have to develop and post a diverse content each day. Focus on long-term sustainability and growth, not immediate gratification.
- You will have to work hard: Whilst successful independent music marketing isn’t complicated, it also isn’t easy. You’ll need to be disciplined enough to put time and effort into it every day.
- The fans come first: You should always strive to make your fans feel like the most special people in the world; reply to their comments, thank them for their support and take a genuine interest in who they are as people.
- Reflect & review often: Never get complacent with your results. Ensure you’re constantly reviewing what is and isn’t working in order to leverage your strengths and work on your shortcomings.