If you’re a developing artist, DIY promotion is essential for finding an audience for your music. But in 2021, traditional ways of promoting a new record, like touring, have become complicated and out of reach for many artists. The good news is that listeners are hungry for meaningful music experiences and artist engagement online during this uncertain time. Try these four DIY online promotional tactics to get the most mileage from your releases in 2021 and beyond:
Create an exciting digital release show
Pulled off the right way, live-streamed music performances can be exciting events that motivate your existing fans and earn you new ones. First, you’ll need to think about the audio and visual components of your shows in order to make them look and sound professional. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes for a second and ask what you’d like to see and hear in another artist’s live-stream. In truth, it doesn’t take that much equipment and planning to present digital concerts professionally. Then, it’s time to focus on making the live-stream celebrating your release special. Maybe it’s collaborating with an artist on a special set design. Or it could be as simple as learning a couple of covers for your set. By going out of your way to offer a unique, exciting digital performance for your fans, you’ll be able to bring awareness to your new music in enduring ways.
There’s a lot of promotional potential in contests if you can be creative with them. Contests like offering fans the chance to hear your new record before anyone else or giving away free merch are important for motivating your existing fans more than connecting with new ones in the short-term. However, rallying your audience when it’s time to share new music will end up paying off down the road when your existing support leads to your fans sharing your music and music streaming algorithms taking note of your momentum and providing more visibility for your songs. Contests are an easy and relatively cheap way to get your fans excited. They can earn revenue, increase engagement with your audience, and, most importantly, promote your new releases.
Recommending videos as an online music promotional tactic might sound like common sense, but many artists don’t take advantage of them. Videos streamed over social media and large digital platforms are how countless fans discover and interact with new artists. You can create traditional music videos, video documentation of recording your latest album, or videos that capture live sessions of your performances. The more creative your videos can be the better, but it’s also important to note that you’ll most likely get more promotional power by releasing videos consistently, so don’t just stop at one.
When you create these videos, think about your identity as an artist, what your music means, and the best ways to show your unique personality. For example, humor is great for some artists and bands, but it’s a bad fit for others. Having a good grasp on your identity will help shape your videos and make them more impactful.
Innovate with merch and other offerings
You should absolutely offer updated merch to help promote your next release. However, you’ll get more promotional value from your efforts if you broaden your idea of what you can offer your fans. Yes, offer shirts, stickers, and vinyl records if you can afford to. But also consider building excitement and engagement surrounding your release by offering non-traditional things that align with your unique musical personality. Maybe it’s selling 30-second jingles to finance your album, hand-drawn portraits, or auctioning off personal performances. These creative ideas are usually reserved for crowd-funding campaigns, but they don’t have to be. This is a great opportunity to get listeners excited about your release, define your personality as an artist, and earn some money at the same time.
These are just a few of the many ways you can promote your new music online. While you promote your next release, take note of what works and what doesn’t. That way, you’ll be able to tweak your strategy and focus on what works the best for you and your goals.
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.