Friendly Advice
Nov 13, 2020

3 Easy Music Marketing Techniques

by
Katie Sabel

If you’re a small musician looking to take off, marketing can seem overwhelming. Maybe only a couple people heard your latest song, or you're not sure how to get your posts the kind of attention you’d like. Well, with these music marketing techniques, you can take your success into your own hands!

In fact, marketing is a concern for all kinds of artists. Musicians, Writers, Painters- you name it! We all grow up dreaming about getting discovered and getting paid to make our art, and not having to worry about any of the rest. Well, now with the power of the internet and digital music platforms, that journey has become more complicated. As much as we may want to spend all day in a studio making things, marketing and self-promotion has become a non-negotiable part of the process. 

No matter if you’ve made two songs or twenty, you’re going to need listeners in order for your career to take off. Unfortunately, texting your friends will only get you so far. If you want to gain a larger following, you’re going to need to put some legwork into marketing. The more marketing tools you utilize, the more people will discover you and help support your career!

Yes, you could spend money on a publicist or a marketing manager, but it’s not ideal. As emerging artists, a lot of us don’t have that kind of cash in the first place. So, here are some easy music marketing techniques to take you from two followers to 2,000. 

1. Get to Know Your Audience

A charismatic singer engages his audience, getting them to clap along with him.
A big part of marketing is tailoring your strategy towards your audience. You wouldn’t give a cat a bone, right?

...or, if you don’t have one yet, it’s time to think about who your audience could be. At its core, Marketing is all about knowing who your audience is, and then tailoring your outreach to those people. 

Some of this will be made easier by thinking about the kinds of people that tend to enjoy a given genre. For example, a classical musician might be more popular with older (or perhaps wealthier) audiences. Similarly, a DJ who specializes in club remixes would be more popular with younger audiences. 

Identifying who fans of similar musicians or bands are can help with this process as well! Our taste is often influenced by what we’ve heard and enjoyed before. If you yourself take style influence from a specific band, why not market to fans of that specific band?

This process of understanding your audience is made easier by music-sharing platforms as well. If you’ve already put some stuff out there, chances are there’s a way to access that kind of consumer data. A lot of sites will make it easy for you, breaking statistics down by gender, area of residence, age, etc. 

Once you’ve got that info (or at least thought about it), it’s time to develop a plan. Where does your audience spend time? What kinds of places do they like to go to? Which sites do they spend time on virtually? Again, this will depend on your audience’s demographics. An older crowd may not be on Tiktok, for instance, but a crowd of 20-somethings definitely could be.

Now you’ve got your first part of your marketing strategy down! If your audience would be likely to spend time in a record shop, why not ask if you can hang up some posters there? If your audience is into Instagram, make an account! Your goal is to market using primarily those avenues that you just came up with. That way, the people who are bound to enjoy your music will be that much more likely to find you, and the people who are taste averse won’t be a source of wasted time and energy.

2. Develop an Online Marketing Schedule

A musician takes a break from audio engineering to make time for music marketing on his laptop.
Think about your favorite musician’s social media account. How often do they post? Once a month? Once a week? More?

The fact of the matter is that in order to market your stuff, you’re going to need to grab people’s attention. As influencers and celebs have shown us, one of the best ways to do that is to post early and post often. It’s a great way to grow your following. For one, people who use social media tend to favor active accounts. And even besides that, people will be much more likely to find your stuff if you post a lot!

Imagine you’re trying to promote a new album, for instance. It’s coming out in a month, and you really want people to hear it close to the release date. (Which, by the way, you should because platforms like Spotify favor music with high engagement in their promotional algorithm). You could post about it once on the release date, but there’s a high chance that your followers might miss that post. If they don’t see that one announcement, they might not even realize you’ve got new music out until weeks or months later.

That’s why we develop marketing schedules! If you know you have a set amount of time before a big date, plan out your posts so that you can use that time to your advantage. Whether your big day is a merch drop, a concert, or an album release, you can post regularly to ensure that people hear about it. 

Getting started is super simple. All you have to do is think about how much time you’ve got before the release, and make a schedule that you can commit to. It could be posting once a week, or once-every-other-day, or maybe once a day in a countdown-type promo! All that matters is that it’s doable, and that it’s semi-regular.

Whatever you decide your marketing schedule is going to be, it’s crucial that you make it fun for your audience. Experts recommend that you go by the 80/20 Rule. In the 80/20 rule, it’s estimated that 20% of what you do is going to result in 80% of your outcome. In other words, if you make 100 posts, you can still make a ton of sales if only 20 of your posts are really about buying your new album. 

Plus, 20% of your posts is all you probably should do for marketing a product anyway. Think about the social media of your favorite influencer. Most of their posts are probably personal stuff- Q+A’s, them filming their day, funny memes they found, and more. Audiences love it! 

At the end of the day, we follow people because we’re interested in their lives. So, let your followers see more than just your ads! Whether you’re about to release something or not, share your life with your fans. It could be anything, from a photo of the sunset you saw, to a video of you messing around in the studio. Point is, it doesn’t have to be music-related, it just has to feel like you.

Besides just selling your own music, having a great engagement with your fans will help you grow your following as well. After all, friends tend to share common interests. You never know when your followers will introduce your cool social media account to someone they know!

Note: Though we talked about social media a lot in this section, again, be sure to tailor your content towards your audience. Depending on your audience, your marketing schedule might look less like a calendar of Instagram posts and more like a weekly newsletter or a blog.

3. Branch Out!

A group of classical musicians markets their group by performing live at a nice restaurant.
Getting a gig is made easy by restaurants and bars that feature live music! 

Now that you’ve got a schedule planned, you’re going to want to try some alternative music marketing techniques as well. That way, you can draw in fans from new places as well as from the word-of-mouth of existing fans! Here are a couple ideas on where you could go from here:

Collabs

Guess what? As much as you’re worried about marketing and getting your stuff out there, so are other musicians! In a collab, you can use the power of each others’ audiences to your advantage. When both your audiences discover the other artist, you’ll both gain followers! For best results, it’s a good idea to collab with a musician or group whose style is similar to your own. You could reach out to friends, or even other small musicians who you admire. It’s always fun to make music with new people!

Live Events

No, you don’t have to produce your own concert- ongoing live events are right under your nose! From bars, to clubs, to restaurants, a lot of businesses hire live musicians for their venue. It’s a great way to get some exposure and play for new people. Plus, you can advertise the event to your existing fans and encourage them to come out and support! 

If you can’t get a paid gig, though, it’s not the end of the world. As an emerging artist, you might need to play a couple of gigs for free before you’ll get paid. That’s ok- you’ll still be able to gain new fans, and who knows? Maybe the venue will let you set up a tip jar!

And More!

Mom power. You can always start small by advertising to friends and family, and encouraging them to share your stuff! We all have to come from somewhere- why not use your current network to your advantage? The power of our Mom’s is invaluable.

Got a website? Having a professional website can be great for people to find you. It’s a handy link to put on fliers, your social media, and more! Websites are formatted so you can include all the important, wordy information that won’t fit in a social media post. Plus, it can be a great way to get hired for future gigs if you include a “Contact” page with a professional email.

Tag, you’re it! Once you're on social media, you may be able to get free promotion by tagging other, bigger accounts in your posts. They may not always repost your content, but if they do, it’s free marketing! One tip for this is to promote brands or other artists that you love. If they see that you helped them out with positive word-of-mouth, they might be more likely to give you a publicity boost via a public thank you!

If this feels like too much to handle, don’t get overwhelmed! Think of these as a list of things to try next rather than a list of things you have to do to be successful. When in doubt, start small! Why not pick one technique from this list and see how it goes? You can always build up from there once you’re ready. Happy marketing!