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How To Promote Music Independently In 2023.

Updated: Sep 19, 2023


How To Promote Music Independently In 2023.
How To Promote Music Independently In 2023.

If you are an indie musician, here is our guide to promote music in 2023.

1. Write, record and produce the highest quality music.

Everything starts with incredible music. Remember, nobody listens to bad music twice, so it's important to get it right. In reality, your first song is highly unlikely to be your best song, so keep writing and honing your craft. Even if you can’t afford a studio to record your music, you can add a little sparkle, by paying for someone to mix and master your music.

2. Perfect your brand image.

First impressions count, and unfortunately, 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. This will help visitors and potential fans know they have found the right image and give them a great first impression. There are a couple of options to create a professional image:

Create your own look
  • You can now shoot HD photos on a smartphone. Choose Portrait mode and play around with the Aperture or F-stop settings to get a professional background blur.

Use Canva
  • Use stock images, or upload your own images and size images for each format required. Canva even has its own AI artwork generator now, so it’s never been easier to create bespoke artwork

Use a freelancer
  • Head to Fiverr and hire a professional designer to create your basic assets. Logo, profile picture, banners, release artwork

Before releasing any music ensure you have created branded content to fill these online spaces with consistent imagery. Here is a size guide for all the content you need to make.

  • Spotify: Profile picture, top banner, about image

  • Facebook: Profile picture, top banner

  • Instagram: Profile picture, Story highlights cover images

  • TikTok: Profile picture

  • YouTube: Profile picture, top banner

  • Twitter: Profile picture, top banner

3. Set up your Facebook Ad Manager Account.

*You will need a Facebook artist page to set up a Business Account to advertise across Facebook and Instagram. The benefit of using the Facebook Ad Manager over promoting posts directly from your app is the ability to retarget previous engagers. Visit Business.Facebook.com to get started.

4. Build a simple website.

Use Wix or Squarespace to create your own simple, professional website. Assuming it is indexed and optimised correctly, your website should guarantee you a top spot on Google search and provide a central access point to all of your social pages. Crucially it also allows you to collect 1st party data (email addresses) the best way to escape Apple Privacy laws! Finally, it provides a point of engagement - allowing you to retarget visitors once you have installed the Facebook Pixel.

On your website look to create a hidden landing page containing all your key links, post this into your Instagram and Twitter biographies (Don’t give all your traffic and data to LinkTree!)

Your website should include the following:

  • About page/bio

  • Music page with Spotify players and links to your Spotify account

  • Mailing list sign up

  • Hidden links page (like Linktree but on your own website)

5. Connect Your Facebook Pixel To Your Website.

Visit the Events Manager within your Business Facebook account and follow on-screen steps to set up your Pixel and connect it to your website. Once the Pixel is installed you will be able to retarget anyone that has been on your website or anyone that has specifically visited your links page or music page with Facebook, and Instagram ads.

6. Create Custom and Lookalike Audiences.

Within the Facebook Ad Manager visit the Audience tab and look to build custom audiences. Custom Audiences allow you to retarget anyone that has previously engaged with you, your pages or your content.

Here are some essential custom audiences to create immediately

Video:
  • Anyone that has watched 50%

  • Anyone that has watched 75%

  • Anyone that has watched 95%

  • Anyone that has watched at least 15 seconds ThruPlay

Instagram:
  • People who follow your account

  • People who have engaged with your content

  • People who have visited your profile

Website:
  • All website visitors

  • People who have visited your landing/links page


7. Create a TikTok account.

Unlike Instagram or Facebook, TikTok provides genuine organic reach. At any time your content can reach way beyond your existing followers and fanbase. So take advantage of this free reach to build an engaged audience.


8. Learn from the best.

Follower @creators on Instagram to stay updated on best practices and get posting tips and tricks. Follow best performing artists on TikTok like willcullenofficial alexanderstewart jvke or Connor Price .

9. Create layered content to maximise engagement.

Just posting your live performance clips or music video clips onto TikTok or Instagram doesn’t work music alone is not engaging especially if nobody knows you or your songs. Here are six ways to add layers to your content to make it more engaging.

  1. Bring someone else into your content, show people reacting to your music

  2. Look to add some kind of visual consistency so people recognise your style

  3. Collaborate with someone else to benefit from two fan bases

  4. Add subtitles to hook people in to encourage viewers

  5. Format content to fill the space properly, don’t post a square in a Story

  6. Perform covers to build engagement

10. Create a hook to grow your mailing list

As an independent musician, it's easy to collect followers when you should be creating 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 to encourage people to sign up. Here are 10 ways to collect first-party data and meaningful engagement.

  1. Run a sweepstake or competition

  2. Offer coupons or discount codes

  3. Share personalised recommendations

  4. Earn loyalty points

  5. Provide VIP treatment

  6. Share valuable information or insight

  7. Entertain with a fun quiz or questionnaire

  8. Invite consumers to make content

  9. Create an NFT with rewards beyond music alone

  10. Talk to your fans!

11. Establish both a Bonfire & Firework content strategy.

Independent musicians frequently fall into the trap of only posting on social media when they have a new release (Firework) for the remaining 10 months of the year they fall silent. This is counterproductive, maintaining momentum is critical to growth. So block produce and schedule content to keep your social channels buzzing between releases. (Bonfire) You can also reshare old content. Remember music is still new if you have never heard it before. Read more about Bonfire Strategies here

12. Record benchmarks.

Make a note of key metrics before you start promoting. These could include: Spotify followers, monthly listeners, save rate, (the percentage of Spotify listeners that actually save your song, (anything above 10% is good!) Facebook and Instagram followers, and website traffic. You want to be able to understand how the release has impacted your growth.

13. 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. Build a hook or story into the title to inspire blogs to write about you.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. Create and test your ads.

Create two or three different video ads to help promote your new release. 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 75% of your ads. If your ad is too short, engagement won’t mean too much.

17. Save your money on a full-length video.

There is little point in spending thousands of pounds on a full-length music video only for it to sit on YouTube with no views. Only make a full-length video when you have built an engaged fanbase who will actually want to watch it. Instead, use your budget to create tons of short-form video clips and use this content to build your fanbase first.

18. Focus on post-release not pre-release.

Lots of artists fall into the trap of creating lots of content to say a new release is coming, and almost no content when the song is actually out. Make sure your balance of content is weighted towards post-release when fans can actually listen and you can actually earn money from it. The simplest way to get listeners is still to send a direct message to anyone that has previously messaged you with a link and an invite to listen. Make this part of your launch day plan.

19. Monitor performance.

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.

20. Learn from each campaign.

Record your campaign results versus your pre-campaign benchmarks to understand what worked and where improvements are required and aim to beat them with your next release.

Need help promoting your music?

Major Labl offers a FREE webinar showing independent musicians how to plan their next release. You can also book a paid consultation.


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