Making music is hard – but sometimes for producers, the hardest part comes after that – promoting it and getting it heard by the right people. In this article, contributing author Angel Lebailly shares a few clever tips on getting your music heard by more audiences without spending a single cent.
Before we get into ways to promote your music for free, there are two core requirements that producers might want to tick off:
- Have created outstanding and memorable music in your own style (downtempo, rap, house and disco, hypnotic techno—any genre as long as it’s consistent with your identity) and with your preferred tools.
- At least considered getting your music signed to a label that represents your style. This will definitely make you stand out. Read these tips on how to send your demos to record labels to get signed. Being signed isn’t a requirement of promoting your work, but it has a ton of promotional advantages.
You’ve got tracks finished and ready to share, but now what? How can you get more listens on your amazing work? Here’s five great ways to promote your music that cost you nothing but time:
1. Build A Network + Find Mavens
When I met blond:ish back in 2012, they told me that their best advice for DJing and producing as a business is “You gotta have a network and play with it.”
This advice naturally begs the question: “How do you build a network?”. Forget about getting trashed at a party, attending every possible music event or club nights, and talking to any random promoter out there who will secure you a gig or two. At the end of the day, none of these methods are sustainable: you want to keep making great music without getting tired promoting yourself too much at the wrong places or to the wrong people.
A network is made with time and consistency. Don’t spend too much time focusing on linking up with famous artists you admire – they are often too busy working on their own music and sharpening their artist profile. Instead, be strategic. Focus on connecting with tastemakers within genres — both artists and consumers who are “mavens”. Mavens are information specialists – they know who is doing what, and have a good pulse on the things that are happening in a scene. Finding mavens often opens up a wealth of information – such as the bookers of various clubs, which parties are likely to look for new producers, which festivals are getting hyped, etc.
Mavens are charismatic and boast many followers and can often be seen at parties or holding positions as club owners, promoters, music PR, or music journalists.
2. Use Social Media Efficiently
Social media can be a pain in the ass. With so many tools available and so much time to spend (or to waste) on these platforms, it’s easy to end up over-promoting incorrectly. So what are some clever social media activities that will help you spread out your songs to a better network? Here’s three ideas:
- Find the secret Facebook groups for your type of music. Nowadays, big public Facebook groups won’t work. You can try, but it’s likely that you will reach “non-niché people”, hence, the audience won’t be interested in your music. Instead, hunt down a private Facebook group that focuses on your genre of music.
- Live stories are cool for your followers and a great tool to spread the news about new music you have produced or cool upcoming projects with producers’ friends. Yep, anytime you are at a gig, don’t hesitate to play live on social too. Use the Live Feature of Instagram or Facebook. Be a storyteller both online and Live. Alternatively, if you can’t be bothered, just record a 1-min video and add to your stories on Instagram.
- On Reddit, you will find people who are actually searching for you! Using the same example of being a deep hypnotic techno producer, you might want to hunt down and engage in conversations on threads like: Good Hypnotic Techno to Listen To While High, Deep Hypnotic Techno, In Desperate Need of Slow, Deep Hypnotic Techno, and so on! On Reddit, self-promotion is treated differently in different subs, so make sure you read the rules.
Be creative and do your research. People want to hear new music, you just need to find the place where they are waiting for you.
3. Do Your Research + Get The Right Gigs/Labels For Your Type of Music
When you play, you get the chance to share your new music. While it’s critical to work on becoming a good performer by playing shows often, it can be just as important to focus on quality, appropriate gigs for your style and genre. There’s nothing worse than playing a gig where no one is excited to hear you play because you’re the wrong act for the show.
Don’t panic hunting down gigs – instead, take your time to strategically craft your sounds and a plan. Where would you love to play next? What would be the ideal next three months for you as a producer?
Got new music? Congrats! Once your new EP is out, share it with your favorite producers, too. Register to Juno Download, Kompakt FM, Native Instruments, Beatport, and Bandcamp newsletters—and every possible newsletter relevant to you. Look up for the contacts there and ask to be featured. Remember, unless you’re already a famous producer, you can’t have what you don’t ask for.
I researched promoters, parties, venues, and artists I loved and directly talked to them and said: “Hey, I’ve been following you for a while and love your concept, venue, etc. I’m coming to town next and I’d love to play. Can we arrange a gig? That would be super awesome!” This way, you’re in control of your own destiny. The venue and the line up are consistent and tailored to your style of music, so you can play in the right places to the right audiences.
4. Find The Magazines + Influencers Who Are Looking For You
Not only is it important to super-target the people you want to share your music with, but you should also find the best music magazines and publicists out there. Sending out a mass email to every press email you can find will not work.
What if you wish your music to be heard by more people in your niche? Start contributing to various music publications that appeal to you. Research small blogs even and build up your own list of contacts. Say “I was impressed by the quality of the interviews and posts on your blog. I’d love to ask for a favor, can we mention my new EP in a future interview?”
When you are a big artist, you’ll get plenty of requests that you won’t even be able to fulfill. But when you are a great producer with cool music and you need to build up your brand even more, be personal and reach out to people who interest you directly. This will almost always be more effective than a mass message.
5. Get A Residency On A Radio / Podcast Show
Another free way to promote your music by to get a small residency on a radio show or friend’s label podcast series. Get a regular appearance to get extra promotion for your music. Just record a podcast and create a small story behind your set: why did you choose these tracks? When and how did your record the set? Here are some examples of great podcasts for inspiration.
But if you are a smaller artist, think outside of the box. Why not record your own podcast shows and publish them to your Instagram or Facebook Live? Create a small Boiler Room versions of your own DJ mixes, and actually, invite some DJ friends to join you. The more people, the merrier. Record the small podcast series and publish them to your Mixcloud, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or Reverbnation at specific dates so your followers know what to expect next.
If you follow the advice I’ve shared in this article, you’ll start to really learn what works and what doesn’t in terms of music promotion. It will be different for every genre and artist! Remember to always to polish your sounds and craft your art both as a DJ and producer first. Once you’ve got that locked down, the right promotion style comes next.