Sean John Combs used to be called the best self-promoter of all time, and all he had to do was go by “Puff Daddy”. And “Diddy”. And “P. Diddy”, and”Puffy ” and “Sean John”.
Now, if you’re an independent artist it’s increasingly hard to get even a single name out there, so we put together a guide to help you promote your music independently in this super competitive landscape.
The raw deal? Self-promoting is a full-time job and, sometimes, a thankless one. However, you do have more tools than ever to get recognized as an artist.
Which channels should you promote your music on?
There’s no way to succeed if all you have is a cool band name (or multiple names) and the same few songs posted over and over again on all social media.
You have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each channel.
For example, Facebook and Instagram are for talking to people who are already your fans.
You want to focus on platforms that will show you to viewers that aren’t already following you. This can mean Spotify or Apple Music, the places where growth really matters, but also your social handles on TikTok and YouTube.
However, YouTube is a beast to tackle, favoring long-form content and catchy thumbnails, and the efforts you spend creating YouTube content should be better invested well, in making great music.
To promote what you have, we recommend TikTok because it has the lowest bar to entry and its algorithm will push you in front of users if you upload daily content.
Growth hacks to promote your music independently
- Follow the Pareto principle (80-20 rule)
You’ll quickly burn out if you try to be a social media expert on top of being an artist. Instead, follow the 80-20 rule, which says that 80 percent of outcomes depend on just 20 percent of inputs.
Basically, that means that the most plays, fans and subscribers will come to you from a single platform, so you should focus on that. In 2023 and beyond, that platform is TikTok, since it has the largest audience in the world and the lowest barrier to entry.
Plus, you can always re-upload those TikToks to YouTube shorts and other channels afterwards. It’s about maximizing what you have, not spending weeks creating new content instead of music. As for where people listen to your music, each region has a leading platform and you should focus on that. If where you’re at no one uses Apple music, focus on Spotify and vice versa.
- Tap into different markets
- Use third-party sites to get added on playlists
Once you have a good handle on your TikTok and your audience is growing, you can think about boosting your Spotify in other ways too. You can use platforms like Submithub to get feedback on your music and hopefully some reviews. If you have a budget for self promotion, sites like Boost Collective can help get you added to Spotify playlists.
- Learn how the music business works today, not how it used to be
Just take this artist for example, who had 54 thousand Instagram followers and still struggled to reach 3,000 streams for a song. Until he somehow ended up in Rolling Stones Magazine. How did he do it? A lot of effort and building a campaign with multiple tactics.
Jesse Canon’s book Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business, has to be in your hands if you want a chance to grow as an artist.
If you’re more of a visual learner, channels like Burstimo or Adam Ivy on YouTube have an incredible amount of content you can get value from.
However, we strongly recommend getting that book, since it really is the ultimate guide to promote your music independently. It’s written by a producer and renowned music marketing expert with lots of real world information. More importantly though, it’s updated every year with current insights, from how to promote merch to details like why you should let people download your songs on Bandcamp for free.
Yes, it’s to get their email address and zip code wink wink
His number one advice though? Consistent, sustained promotion is the only way to make it.
We can only agree with that and wish you the best in promoting your music.