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Indie Musician? Music Marketing Must Drive The Play Count

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Indie Musician? Music Marketing Must Drive The Play Count
Indie Musician? Music Marketing Must Drive The Play Count

In this article, Mark Knight, founder of Major Labl explains why music marketing is only effective if it drives the play count for indie musicians.

Focusing on the things that matter

As an indie musician, it’s important to remember you are only successful if people listen to your music. It feels like an obvious point, but far too often musicians and managers get distracted by the promotion and forget that listening is the end goal.

For many musicians, success is the press feature, the blog review or the local radio station play. But the true measure of success should only be, the impact these things have on the play count. How many more people listened to your music as a result of this press attention? If the play count doesn’t rise your music promotion isn’t working.

Spotify: The biggest radio station in the UK

In the UK, Spotify is where the largest number of people listen to music. Comparatively, Spotify is actually the most listened-to radio station in the UK and has been since 2017. So how are you doing? If you see ‘under 1,000 plays’ next to your track, you have work to do.

Indie Musicians. Focus on the play count.

It’s easy to see why the play count is overlooked. Everyone dreams of fame, but the sad reality for unsigned musicians is you rarely get fame-building press attention. Nobody puts an unsigned artist on the front page of YouTube, an advertising billboard or the front cover of Rolling Stone. Instead what you actually get is features on niche blogs, niche radio stations and offers to perform live in niche venues.

I recently worked with an artist that had 12,000 Facebook followers, a healthy amount for an independent artist. Facebook insights told me that her organic weekly reach was 1,247 people.

This means before even spending a penny on promoted posts or Facebook Ads she could be reaching over a thousand people on her own page every week. When I reviewed the last 15 posts on her Facebook artist page I found 80% were about live shows and a community radio station feature, and there was only one link to hear her music.

Ask yourself… If you could tell 1,247 fans someone every week for free, would you focus on the things everyone can do, IE listen to music on Spotify or the things few people will do (attend a gig, visit and read a blog, or listen to a niche community station). Getting this balance right is important.

Use social channels to make you bigger not smaller

I’m not saying live, radio or blog promotion isn’t important for an independent artist, but it’s how you use these channels to make you feel bigger, not smaller. If you are an unsigned band or an independent artist I can almost always guarantee the live audio or video from a gig posted on Facebook will reach more people than the number that attended your physical show. You could also add Facebook Live streaming shows to your tour calendar, allowing all of your fans the chance to watch, wherever they are. Posting this content also provides you with an opportunity to share a link for fans to check out the studio-recorded version on Spotify.

Use promotion as an excuse to share your music

Likewise, why not share the good news about your radio play by including a link to hear the track on Spotify. Finally, if a blog has given you a great review use their quote or endorsement as an excuse to post with a link to Spotify.

Start promotion on the channels you can control

So before you spend money on the channels you can’t control, (radio, press and live) focus on the channels you do control (social media).  

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