Are you an unsigned, independent artist or band? This guide provides information on the various steps you can take to promote your music and expand your fanbase.
How To Get Your Music Heard
So you have some music available, and you want to get it heard. The 1st question is, what stage are you at?
- I have some tracks and am looking to get some feedback that will help me to progress to the next level
- I think I have produced some of my best work and am just looking for avenues to promote my music and build my fanbase
Fiverr - if you are new to Fiverr, it is an online marketplace where users offer various services for the price of $5 (~£3.20 or €4.50). There are numerous services offered that will help you to get exposure for your music. A few examples are:
- I will send Your Music to 300 College Radio Stations for $5 - a user who runs a music promotion company and specializes in promoting music to US College Radio Stations. For $5, your music will be sent to 300 different stations.
- I will send your song to 1000 music bloggers for $5 - another user running a music promotion company who has worked with the likes of MTV and XXL. For $5, you get 1 of your songs sent to 1000 music bloggers.
- I will tweet your message to 255K Hip Hop followers for $5 - For $5, you will get 3 Tweets from the @HipHopGoldenAge account which has an audience of hiphop fans with 60% being US based, 15% being UK based and 25% in the rest of the world.
- I will promote your band, act or music project to my 800,000 facebook music loving fans for $5 - This service is offered by unsigned music site Music Crowns. For $5, you get promotion on their Facebook page which has over 800,000 likes, and also on their Urban Music Crown and Rock Music Crown pages if they are relevant.
Get airplay from radio stations that specialize in independent music. These include:
- Radio Airplay - This radio station offers 10 free plays every week, after which you can pay for more. You can choose which popular artists have fans that you think may like your music, and they will play your music to listeners of those artists. The music uploaded gets played on Internet radio station Jango. Get an extra 100 free plays when you use this link!
- Earbits - Earbits is an online radio station playing purely independent music. Submit your music and if it is approved, you will receive free airplay on their stations.
- BBC Introducing (UK Only) - championing unsigned artists, BBC Introducing offer the opportunity to get your music played in one of their 30 shows across the UK as well as on their Introducing stages at major UK festivals including Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds Festivals.
Contact Music Blogs - Bear in mind that music blogs are constantly receiving emails from artists looking to be featured so you need to stand out. Here are some tips to help:
- Show knowledge of the blog - do your research and make sure they cover your genre of music. Don't just send a blanket email to hundreds of blogs, find a writer who you think will be interested in you, contact them directly and address them personally.
- Keep it friendly, have some personality, and tell an interesting story. Check out our article on writing the perfect artist bio for more information.
- Keep it short. With the number of emails journalists have to go through, you won't get much time to make an impact so keep it brief but punchy.
- Make it easy for them. Include a link to where they can stream your music online, and include links to your website and social profiles.
- Make the most of LoudUp - read more about how to use LoudUp to increase your fanbase.
How To Get Your Music Reviewed
Getting your music reviewed is great for a few reasons:
- When you are starting out, it can give you critical feedback that will help you to progress as an artist. Are people hearing what you want to convey? Do they like your music? And what can you improve? While friends and family are great for getting some initial feedback, they will usually be prone to just telling you what you want to hear and sometimes, you need an external party to give you honest detailed feedback. This is where getting a professional review is perfect.
- Getting great feedback from external parties is great for your press kit and will give you credibility when trying to contact journalists and radio stations in the future.
- Getting a review featured in a popular publication can help you to expand your fanbase.
Audiokite - Audiokite will send your music out to potential fans who will listen to your music, and then send you honest, detailed feedback. You can target the listeners by genre to ensure that you are getting feedback from your target audience. You will receive a detailed report covering aspects such as lyrics, vocals, instrumentation, sound quality, and more.
The service is currently limited to listeners in the United States, but there is no restriction on where you are located as an artist or band. Each response costs an average of 41 cents.
You can use the responses you get to help you to fine-tune your tracks, to help you to decide which tracks you want to release as singles, to assess the commercial viability of your music, to reach new listeners, and to find out which demographic respond the best to your music to help you to optimise your marketing.
- Fiverr - we mentioned Fiverr in the How To Get Your Music Heard section, but there are also some great options there for getting your music reviewed, and for just $5. The services range from users who will get your music reviewed by an A&R department at a record label to users who will review your music and publish it on their blog. Click here to browse the music review services available. Make sure to find a seller with great reviews from other buyers, make sure that they have good knowledge of your genre, and make sure that you are happy with the blog where the review will be posted.
How To Create A Website
Is it really necessary to have your own website? The answer is most definitely yes! While having profiles on social networks are great, it doesn't match having your own website. Firstly, having a website gives you a professional appearance and creates a great first impression. Secondly, you have full ownership and complete control over it - it's yours! You decide how it looks so you can reflect your brand and personality with complete freedom. Decide on the layout you want, structure the site how you want, and include the content you want displayed with no restrictions.
So now you know why you need one? How can you create one? It's actually not as difficult and expensive as you might think. There are the 3 main things you need:
- A domain name - e.g. google.com, loudup.com, myband.com
- Web hosting - this is a company who will provide you with storage space on their server where your website files can live
- Design/Content - this is what people will see when they go to your website. We highly recommend using Wordpress to manage your design and content as they make it easy for you to set up your website and keep it updated without any coding. You just install Wordpress, choose a theme, and then start adding content. It's really that easy. You can start simple and then add plugins to get additional features such as photo galleries, integrating your twitter feed, adding an event calendar, and much more. Best of all, it's FREE!
- Step 1 - get a domain name and web hosting. You can actually get both of these from the same provider and we recommend Hostgator for this. Why? Their prices are incredibly affordable, and their support is excellent! They offer 24 hour support 7 days a week by email, phone, and live chat so you know they're available and ready to help if you run into any problems. Their plans start from just $3.45/month (~£2.60 or €3.06) and this includes a free domain name, automatic Wordpress install (just click a button and it's done!), unmetered bandwidth and storage space, and unlimited email addresses! Sign up for a hosting package and free domain name at Hostgator.com, and use coupon code 'CJSAVE25' to get 25% off!
- Step 2 - install Wordpress, install a theme, and then start adding content! Hostgator offer video tutorials to make it easy for you to follow the steps required at: http://support.hostgator.com/articles/video-tutorial-system#wordpresssbs.
How To Sell Your Music
There are many music distribution services that will help you to sell your music in major digital stores such as Amazon, iTunes and Google Play as well as making it available in streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, Rhapsody and more! Here are a few that we would recommend:
- Spinnup - Launching in 2013, Spinnup is the new kid on the block. Owned by Universal Music, this service has a unique offering in that as well as distributing your music, they have a team of scouts who have links to A&R teams at both Universal Music and Island Records (UK). These scouts will listen to the music uploaded and provide feedback. If they like your music, then they may contact you to ask if they can work with you. Their pricing structure is based on a flat annual rate of €9.99 (~$11) for a single, €19.99 (~$22) for an EP (3-6 tracks), and €39.99 (~$45) for an album (7-14 tracks), and you keep 100% of your sales revenue. Sign up using discount code "spinnaffiliate" to get a free single release.
- Tunecore - Founded in 2005 and with over $36 million in artist's earnings in just the 1st quarter of 2015, TuneCore is a major player when it comes to distribution. Their pricing structure is based on a flat annual rate - $29.99 for an album, and $9.99 for a single for the 1st year. After the 1st year, the price for renewing an album goes up to $49.99, and for a single, the price stays at $9.99. There are also 2-year and 5-year subscriptions available. With TuneCore, you keep 100% of your sales revenue.
- CD Baby - As well as offering digital distribution, CD Baby also offer physical sales so you can also use their service to sell CDs and vinyl, both through their website and in over 15,000 stores worldwide. Their pricing structure works as follows - you pay a one-time $49 fee for an album distribution, or $9.95 for a single. You then pay a 9% royalty on your sales revenue. For CD and Vinyl sales, they keep $4 per unit sold to cover their costs.
BandCamp enables artists to sell their music and merchandise online via their website. As well as digital downloads, you can sell physical goods such as CDs, vinyl, t-shirts, posters, tickets, and more. With various pricing options available, you can list your items at a fixed price, set a minimum price with the option for fans to pay more, or give away items for free in exchange for an email address. Their fees are 15% on digital products and 10% on physical products.
How To Use LoudUp To Increase Your Fanbase
LoudUp is a music social network so we're here to help you to make the right connections. But how can that help you to promote your music and expand your fanbase? Well...we're glad you asked!
Networking with other artists seems to be one of the most underrated aspects when it comes to marketing music, but when it's done right, it is one of the most effective!
Do you have the same people coming to your gigs all the time? You can change that. Start by connecting with other bands who you think your fans will appreciate, and whose fans would also appreciate your music. You can gig together, your fans will get to hear some great new music, and you will gain some new fans in the process. It's a win win! Or maybe you want to expand your fanbase to other cities. By connecting with bands in those cities, you can trade gigs - invite them to perform a set at one of your gigs in your city, and then perform with them in their city. This can also be extended to cross-promoting each other's music and videos on social media. Makes sense right? You will also be able to learn from each other's experiences - what is working, what isn't working, new opportunities available, and much more!
So how do you get started with LoudUp? Here are the steps to setting up your account as well as some general tips to help you to get noticed by the music fans on the site:
- Sign up and create a free Artist/Band profile
- From the menu, go to My Account > Manage Profile. Click on the 'Get to know me' tab and add a bio and your musical influences. Click on the 'Look at me' tab to add some pictures to your profile. Click on the 'Hear me' tab, connect to SoundCloud, and add some music to your profile. If you have any videos on YouTube or Vimeo, you can add them from the 'Watch me' tab. If you have any upcoming gigs, you can add them from the 'See me' tab, and finally if you have any music available for purchase online, you can add it using the 'Buy me' tab.
- Once your LoudUp profile is set up, it will be searchable based on genre and location. We change the order of the artists displayed every day so as long as you have some music available on your profile, you have a chance of appearing in one of the 1st few pages so that potential fans can find you quicker.
- Image matters! If you don't have a decent profile picture and a bio on your profile, most fans won't get as far as listening to your music. A high-quality profile gives the impression that you put the same amount of effort into your music.
- Personality matters too! The music industry is crowded, and you need to make yourself stand out. What makes you different? What is interesting about you? Rather than just having a generic bio on your profile, try injecting some of your personality. Potential fans should enjoy reading it and it should make us feel like we're getting to know you. We know this takes more effort than a simple copy and paste job, but it's worth the extra effort. Building a real connection with your fans will help you to build a devoted fanbase who will actually come to your gigs and buy your new single. Read more bio tips at How to write a killer bio.
- Check out the other artists on the site and when you find some that you like, connect to them by hitting the 'Plug In' button on their profile, posting a comment on their wall, or sending them a private message.
- Get involved in the discussions and join the community. Introduce yourself in the introductions section, use the promote your music section to tell us more about your music and why we should check you out, and then join the other discussions. Share your opinions and experiences and connect with other users.
- We regularly rotate the featured artists displayed on the home page so as long as you have good quality music and pictures on your profile, you have a chance of being featured!
- Check out the upcoming gigs on the site. Attending gigs is a great way to connect with other artists, promoters, and venue owners.
- Take a look at our unsigned guide for advice on areas that will help you to develop as an artist or band. Find out how to get discovered, how to make money from your music and more!
- Lastly, don't spam users!! Some artists think it's a good idea to just send messages to fans with a link to their music. This is pure laziness and a waste of time! The standard response to this type of behaviour is who are you and why do I care? Followed very quickly by a delete. This type of behaviour is also likely to get you banned. Don't waste your time. There are no shortcuts to building your fanbase but the steps above will certainly help you out!
How To Create A Music Video
There are many reasons why the importance of having a music video can't be ignored. YouTube is a huge player when it comes to online music discovery, and many artists have been discovered purely because of YouTube. In addition, Facebook are heavily prioritising videos in their news feed. Scroll down your news feed, and you'll see just how many videos appear and start auto-playing! So how do you actually go about creating a music video? We created a whole article about this covering steps such as deciding on a concept, and the process of planning, shooting, and editing a music video. You can find it at How To Create A Professional Music Video On An Independent Budget. Alternatively, you can hire someone to create it for you. Here are a couple of options:
- Fiverr - If you have a simple concept like a lyrics video or an animated video, then Fiverr is a good place to start where you will find sellers offering to make videos at prices starting from $5. Make sure you do your due-dilligence and read reviews to find a seller that will be a great fit.
- Radar music videos - Radar will connect you directly to a director who will help to make your dreams a reality. You create a brief detailing exactly what you are looking to create and your budget, and then directors will send you a pitch, and you then decide who to commission for the project.
How To Create A Mailing List
It's great to build your following on social networks, but nothing beats having a mailing list where you can contact your fans directly. You can send updates on your tour dates, new merchandise, or just let your fans know what you've been up to. At LoudUp, we use Mailchimp for our mailing list and wouldn't hesitate in recommending them. If you have up to 2,000 subscribers in your list, then it's completely free (up to 12,000 emails/month) and it integrates well with other systems so you can add a signup form to your website and Facebook page!
How To Market Your Music
If you are interested in learning about music marketing, we recommend the book Your Band Is A Virus which provides excellent, actionable advice on viral marketing for your band. It will teach you how to promote yourself effectively and get the right exposure.
For more music promotion ideas, take a look at How To Promote Your Music On A Shoestring Budget