While simply uploading music and hoping for the best works out for some, most musicians need to promote their work if they want to make their mark with audiences. Music promotion is a broad term that covers everything from urging fans to listen to new music over social media to launching a costly professional PR campaign. Professional music promotion efforts aren’t cheap, and it’s common for the world’s biggest music stars spend millions of dollars to get the word out every time they put out new music. But if you constitute the vast majority of very broke musicians, you’ll need to find inexpensive ways to promote your music. Here’s a few tips to help get you started:
Start by writing a compelling story about your music
Your music might be brilliant, but it won’t get the mileage it deserves without a compelling story to accompany it. The story surrounding your music is the one you’ll tell in your bio and the pitches you’ll send out to blogs, radio, and press outlets. Who are you, why do you make music, and why should the world care about it? Before you can promote your music, you’ll need to take some time thinking about what’s story-worthy about it.
Align and update your visuals to go along with your story
Streamlining everything from your band photos to the banners that show up on your social media and streaming pages is important for music promotion. This seems like obvious advice, but it’s something lots of musicians don’t pay much attention to. Things like consistent color themes and interesting band photos end up being hugely important in terms of letting your fans know that you’re up to something they should care about. Consistent visuals also play a huge role in terms of appearing professional and serious to the people you pitch your music to.
Narrow down a list of playlists, radio, blog, and press outlets to pitch to
Now comes the unfun part. Musicians often pay thousands of dollars to have professional PR teams pitch new music because of the lengthy arsenal of industry contacts they have at their disposal. But more important than contacts are the proven relationships PR folks have with blogs, writers, and radio curators. Instead of aiming to pitch to everyone under the sun, you’ll have the best shot at narrowing down a short list of people you think will have the best chance at liking your work. Some musicians play the copy and paste game when it comes to pitches, but many in the industry will spot a form email a mile away and will ignore it. Your best shot at getting a positive response is to be personal and genuine in the way you tell the story behind your new music every time you reach out to someone. For radio stations and some press outlets, you’ll need to send physical copies of your new album along with a press kit that includes a press release, track listing, and photos of your band.
The time and work it takes to promote music on your own is a massive investment, but for many struggling musicians, it’s the only way to gain traction with audiences. In 2019, there’s more music available for people to listen to than ever before. If you want the best chance at people listening to your work, you’ll have to promote your music in a meaningful way either on your own or through professional means.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.