Updated: Apr 13
Major Labl founder Mark Knight, provides the ultimate checklist to help independent artists promote their music more effectively in 2021.
Record and produce the highest quality music.
Even if you can’t afford a studio to record your music, you can add a little sparkle, but paying for someone to mix and master your music.
Perfect your brand image.
First impressions count, and people do judge a book by its cover, so don’t start promoting any music until you have a consistent, professional image across all of your social media channels. (You should have a Facebook artist page*, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube as standard, consider TikTok if you are happy to appear on camera).
Set up your Facebook Business and advertising account.
*You will need a Facebook artist page to set up a Business Account to advertise across Facebook and Instagram. This will allow you to create audiences, run ads, install your pixel and set up conversions. This is a vital step in your promotional journey. Visit Business.Facebook.com to get started.
Build a simple website.
Use Wix or Squarespace to create your own simple, professional website. Your site should include: Links to your social pages, a form to collect emails, a Spotify follow button and Spotify music players, a biography, and high-quality photos (consistent with the images on your social pages). Your website plays a couple of important roles. 1) Assuming it is optimised correctly, it will a top spot on Google search 2) It provides a central access point to all of your social pages 3) It allows you to collect 1st party data (email addresses) 4) It provides a point of engagement - allowing you to retarget visitors once you have installed the Facebook Pixel.
On your website look to create two hidden landing pages - one pivot page containing all your key links, post this into your Instagram and Twitter biographies (Don’t give all your traffic and data to LinkTree!) and one landing page to promote your next release. This page just needs your release artwork and two buttons, one for Spotify and one for Apple (Connect it to your pixel to monitor conversions).
Identify and build audiences.
Install the Facebook Pixel on your website. This will allow you to track and retarget anyone that visits your pivot page, landing page or any website visitors. Website visitors are likely to be among your most engaged and interested audiences, and now you have a way to retarget them. In addition to tracking website visitors, you can also create Custom audiences to retarget anyone that has engaged with you on Facebook, or Instagram or anyone that engaged with a previous ad campaign. We also recommend creating some Saved audiences to target fans of similar artists you might enjoy your music.
Create content to build an engaged fanbase.
Don’t collect followers, create fans. Use content to build an engaged audience before you even think about paying to promote your music. Remember a Like is easy to do and is a very low-level form of engagement. Create a mailing list and provide prizes and rewards encouraging people to sign up. People that sign up to your mailing list are likely to be more engaged than someone that Likes a post. Use Engagement ads to attract new fans, and retarget existing ones. Talk to your fans, remember when you attract a new follower the work begins not ends. Until they are coming to all your shows, buying your merch and saving your music they are not fans.
Start to plan your release.
Aim to create a minimum of 20 pieces of social media content for Facebook and Instagram. Use Facebook Creator Studio to schedule posts across a 4 week period. (post-launch) Split your content between Hero (big idea) and Hygiene (my single is out now). Remember if you just sell at your fans for 4 weeks straight, they will switch off
Make a note of key metrics before you start promoting. These could include: Spotify followers, monthly listeners, save rate, Facebook and Instagram followers, website traffic.
Make use of pay as you go PR services
Services like the Right Chord Music Indie Collective or Musosoup allow you to submit your music once in return for the chance for your music to be featured on multiple blogs. Now you only pay for guaranteed PR coverage.
Allow time to distribute your music.
Send your music to your distributor at least 5 weeks before release, this ensures you have the greatest chance of being included on the Spotify algorithmic and editorial playlists.
Create an artist playlist.
Create a best-of playlist and add your new single at the top. By directing fans to a playlist you could get 5+ streams for the price of one. Once your new single has sufficient streams to appear in your top tracks, redirect the link to your profile instead, this helps you pick up more followers.
Create and test your ads.
Create two or three different video ads to help promote your music. Remember your first job is to stop people from scrolling. 80% of people view social media with the sound off, so engage their eyes first and give them a reason to stop and click. Ensure you have ads that work in Story and Feed formats. Look to create ads 15/20seconds long. This allows you to retarget only those that have watched 95% of your ads. If your ad is too short, engagement won’t mean too much.
Connect your landing page to your Pixel.
Connect your Pixel to your website landing page and use the Facebook Event manager and Facebook Pixel helper plugin to test and ensure a Conversion is recorded when anyone clicks on a button to listen on Spotify or Apple.
From launch day run your Conversion ads.
Run conversion ads for at least 4 weeks from launch day. Up weight your spend in the first week to give yourself the greatest chance of triggering the Spotify algorithms. The ads should drive people from Facebook or Instagram to your landing page and then on to Spotify. By going via a landing page you can remove a lot of fake bot traffic that blights Facebook Traffic ads, it also means you can retarget anyone that lands or clicks on your buttons.
Continue to build engagement.
Promote a post on your wall to drive further engagement during the campaign. As this pool of engagers grows, you can retarget them with your conversion ads. Engaged audiences result in cheaper conversion rates.
Download and check the Facebook Ads app to monitor the performance of your ads and make targeting changes as required. For example, turn off any ads that aren't performing and focus on the target audience that delivers the best results.
Learn from each campaign
Record your campaign results versus your pre-campaign benchmarks to understand what worked and where improvements are required.
Need help promoting your music?
We can help! Major Labl offers training sessions for anyone wanting to learn how to do it yourself. Or we can run campaigns for you. Visit our homepage to read more and apply.