Okay, we need to talk about this: being an independent artist in 2021 is not just about making music; it’s also about how you promote your music and therefore, making engaging Instagram posts and stories, organizing them in a publication calendar, creating listening and forwarding links, sending emails, putting videos on YouTube, sponsoring them with Google Ads… In short, I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.
And when you are working alone, it’s not easy! Indeed, all these things require very different skills and sometimes softwares that may seem complicated to use! That said, it is a reality that we are faced with and the purpose of this article is not to expose the problem, but to propose solutions. I’m Theodore, editor of NewTone media and I help artists in the development of their project, so I’m going to list some essential tools to best promote your music!
Tools to organize your musical promotion:
Before you even think about releasing a single, it’s important to ask yourself how you’re going to promote it… and over what time period! There is a bad habit among independent artists, which consists in releasing songs as soon as they are ready. It’s tempting, because you’re in the euphoria of the creation: the single is good, you want to show it to your public right away!
But, in terms of strategy, to make your music known quickly, is an extremely weak move. Indeed, the more you think that your track is good and will please your public, the more important it is to plan its release and thus… to postpone it! Let’s be clear: under 3 weeks, you won’t have time to promote your music. What will you use this time for? To budget, to prepare your press campaign, your communication plan on social networks or to create your ads. That’s how you can boost your visibility, your notoriety and increase your audience! Indeed, if your single is as good as you think it is, it deserves to be heard by many people!
- Project management tools: Trello, Asana, Monday…
- Tools to contact the pros and promote your music
- Tools to promote your music on Instagram (and other social networks)
Is it good? Do we agree that we need to get a little organized? Then let me tell you about “Trello“, an extremely convenient and instinctive online project management tool. Obviously, depending on your taste, you can also check out Monday or Asana which perform the same functions. The usefulness of these tools is that they allow you to organize yourself to make sure you don’t forget anything and thus, make the most of your musical release.
With Trello, you can brainstorm and store your ideas. Once in place, you can easily organize them. The tool works with tables, lists and cards. I recommend that you use one table per release or per release period. For example, create a single chart to organize the entire promotion of an EP. For a series of singles, it will be more interesting to put everything on one chart as well.
The best way to organize your chart is to start with 3 lists of tasks: to do, in progress, completed. This way, you will be able to quantify the work to be done and visualize your progress. In addition to these lists, I advise you to create at least 2 others:
- The first one is your publication calendar. It will be used to store all the posts you plan for your different social networks during your promotion period. That way, every day, you’ll only have to post without thinking about the descriptions! In addition, planning your calendar in advance will allow you to imagine a consistency and a common thread for the promotion of your music. In terms of digital marketing, it’s perfect to create expectations and reach your community!
- The second one is gather all the useful assets: listening links, press photos, passwords, etc. No need to waste time searching your computer for essential information!
Within each list and for each task, you can create a card. These cards are very customizable and you can add a deadline to them and labels to recognize what they are and separate the press mailing from the social media promotion. At this point, I don’t need to remind you about the long list of things you have to do to promote your music: you already understand how important it is to get organized and to be able to complete everything.
Note also that these project management tools make even more sense when there are several of you managing your project. This way, you will be able to communicate easily despite the distance and always be aware of the tasks that need to get done.
In addition, you’ll be able to connect Trello to other essential tools to promote your music, like Google Drive. This platform, like all other clouds, will allow you to store all the files related to your project. Audios, teasers, press photos, press releases… The more you organize them properly in an online folder, the easier and faster it will be to share them! Instead of uploading an attachment or creating a transfer for each submission, you’ll only have to generate a simple link.
Speaking of links, we need to talk about a few other tools that will allow you to contact the pros when you promote your music!
As I said, a drive is the basis and it’s, in my opinion, more practical than a WeTransfer or a Smash. But when you send a video or a single to media outlets, you don’t want them to be able to download it… I often receive files to download however, there are much easier solutions for everyone! Let’s not create suspense: these are private Soundcloud links and unlisted YouTube videos. The people you contact will have access to your content in one click and infinitely, without an expiration date. On your side, you’ll only have to use the same link each time you send an email; and for your recipients, they won’t have to download your file within 7 days.
Speaking of emails, if you’re at the stage of targeting a large quantity of professionals to promote your music, think about using automatic mailing tools! Mailchimp or, even better, Sendinblue (because it’s French!) are references in this field. You will be able to create different lists of contacts in order to personalize your mails and schedule your mailing in advance so that the timing is perfect! On these tools, everything is customizable! You will be able to choose the subject of the email and create a graphic, interactive email body with different links. In addition to the contact action, Sendinblue will allow you to create an electronic press kit with professional aspects. However, be careful: just because you can include everyone in your mailing list does not mean you should. Stay relevant in your targeting of contacts. In addition, try to add more personalized emails to your campaign, aimed at the media and professionals you want to reach in particular.
You probably already know: music promotion mails often go unanswered. To increase your chances, it’s important to pitch your single well; but to get a guaranteed response, you can use Groover. Indeed, the platform allows you to reach media, radios and music professionals who will be able to give you a constructive feedback on your musical project, and relay it if they like it. I had already written this article to explain how to optimize your Groover campaign with rap media but these advices are valid for all musical genres! Today, Groover is an essential tool to promote your music independently, but it’s important to master it well.
Whether it’s in an email, on Groover, or in your bio on platforms, it’s important to gather your music around a single link. With Linktree, you’ll be able to gather all the streaming platforms in one link (but usually your distributor will provide you with one as well). But on top of that, you can customize everything and add links to clips or interviews. With Plu.us, which is my favorite, you almost create a real website, very interactive and complete. Even with the free version, you can add clips and playlists to be viewed directly without changing the app. The features of plu.us are numerous and its interface is particularly engaging: when someone clicks on your link in the bio, they’ll immediately want to slide through the different sections to listen to your tracks and watch your videos. And that’s what makes it an important tool to promote your music!
Promotion today is a lot of digital marketing. A flaw I often see in independent artists is the tendency to under-communicate. Under the pretext that they are not followed enough, they prefer to remain humble and discreet on social networks. Often, they explain to me that they want to avoid spamming their community… This is the proof that they go against the rules on Instagram, TikTok or Twitter! Indeed, these platforms value their active users: the more you post, the more visible you are. And the less you post… the less you’ll be able to tell your community to listen to your music project!
So the rule is: create content. Of course, you’re not a graphic designer and you don’t have Photoshop (plus, it’s expensive). Well, there’s Canva and Mojo! The free versions of these two tools will allow you to easily produce visuals that you can post in your story or in your feeds.
Canva is ideal for static content. For example, you can use it to announce the date of your project. If you search the platform, you’ll find hundreds of templates to inspire you. If you have a logo or a graphic identity already defined, you can easily integrate them to the visuals on Canva!
Mojo is a must for stories, or for animated posts! Just like on Canva, there are many templates available. There is even a “showcase” section dedicated to self-promotion. Among the templates in this category, there is one that was created especially for artists who release a new single or project. All you have to do is add the cover, change the date… and off you go! With stories like this, you’ll be able to impress your community and make them really want to listen to your track.
To go further, it is always a plus to create video content for your community. They will be able to identify you better and sometimes project themselves in you if they see you on video. On your side, the video leaves much more space to express your identity than a graphic visual. Moreover, on all social networks, videos have the best engagement rate. So they are also the best way to grow your community.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know what to do in front of your camera. So if you’re stuck for inspiration, do what you do best: perform to your music! And Triller is the perfect tool to turn your performance into an Instagram & TikTok friendly video. Obviously, I invite you to let your imagination run wild but if you don’t know how to do it, here’s an idea. Take a song you’re promoting, and do 3 playback video takes. On the first one, you sing all the lyrics. On the second one, with other attitudes, you give only the backs or the atmospheres. On the third one, focus on your gestures to give even more body to the video! Triller will take care of the editing, and it’s done!
To reference your videos or your posts, it is important to put hashtags. It can spoil your publication if there are too many, we agree. But in terms of gaining visibility, it is essential! Try to do it at least until you reach 1000 followers if you’re below that. To find the right hashtags for you, focus on the obvious, i.e. your music style, your country and your city. To generate other hashtags, you can try a site like this one.
The challenge of digital marketing is the same as that of marketing in general: visibility. As you can imagine, posters in the subway are sold at a high price because there are a lot of people passing by every day. Sponsoring your posts or videos works the same way! On a virtual place of passage, for example the instagram stories, your advertising spot will be displayed. The advantage here is that you can target the people who will see your ad so that they are likely to be interested. Among the mass of people who will see your ad, a more or less high percentage will be attracted by the content you have proposed to them: they will like it, comment on it, subscribe to you… And without these ads, who knows how you would have managed to reach these same people who, sometimes, come from a different city than you?
You’ve understood the issue of ads, which we manage via Facebook Business for Instagram, Google Ads for YouTube (and TikTok for Business for TikTok). I recommend you this blog post that explains perfectly and step by step how to proceed to make a good publicity to promote your music.
I will add only one thing: these tools are expensive and you have to use them moderately and gradually. There is no point in spending 150 euros on Google Ads to reach 10,000 views when you only have 500 followers on Instagram: it is not credible. Moreover, there is a big chance that the engagement (likes, comments, subscriptions) will not follow the views. So you risk having a video viewed thousands of times for a few seconds, without it generating any real interest. So I advise you to make your advertising budgets before you start promoting your music, to make sure that they will be balanced with your visibility level and the global budget of your promotion.
Most of these tools are free or very affordable to start with. As a freelance artist, you should see them as allies for your development. They will all allow you to significantly improve your professionalism, your visibility and therefore your credibility! Of course, using them requires some extra work outside of studio hours; but without it, you reduce your chances of getting your music heard!
So, in order to promote your music well: get organized, contact the pros for your notoriety and create engaging content that you can sponsor to improve its visibility. You’ll see, you won’t feel so alone when you communicate! To go further and if you find it difficult to do everything alone, don’t close the door on the idea of surrounding yourself. As a team, we go further!
– Written in its original version by Théodore De Newtone and translated into English by Betty Gonzalez Gray –