Promoting Your Music in the Streaming Era: A Guide for Artists
We live in an age of streaming music and digital platforms that provide endless opportunities for artists to share their work. As singers and musicians, we no longer have to wait for a record label to discover us or rely on traditional media to promote our songs.
We now have the tools to build our own audiences, share our music with listeners around the world, and even make a living from streaming and downloads. In this guide, we’ll walk you through strategies for promoting your music independently in today’s digital era using platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and beyond.
We’ll show you how to optimize your profiles, increase streams and followers, land playlist placements, and ultimately find commercial and creative success as an artist. The opportunities have never been greater, so let’s dive in and get your music in front of more ears.
The Rise of Music Streaming Platforms
As musicians, we’ve never had more ways to share our songs with the world. Streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube have given us huge platforms to promote our music.
The Power of Playlists
Getting added to popular playlists is key. Curated playlists are an easy way for listeners to discover new music, so pitching your songs to influencers and playlist curators is worth the effort. Build relationships, see if your style matches their playlist, and submit your best work. Even smaller playlists can lead to new fans.
Engage Your Audience
Use social media to spread the word about your new release or playlist placement. Post on platforms where your followers are, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share a sample of the song, behind-the-scenes footage, or any visuals that capture the vibe. Ask your fans to like, comment, and repost. Their reactions and shares increase your visibility to new potential listeners.
Collaborate for Cross-Promotion
Team up with other artists in your genre. You can co-write songs, feature on each other’s tracks, form a remix partnership, or just cross-promote to each other’s audiences. Duets and collaborations tend to get more attention, so working with another artist is an easy way to gain new listeners. Tag and mention each other when you post, and encourage your fans to follow the other artist. It’s a win-win.
While streaming may have disrupted traditional music sales, it has given independent artists more control and opportunity. By maximizing the capabilities of these platforms, you can build your fan base and get your music in front of more ears than ever before. The future of music is wide open, you just have to go out and claim it.
Utilizing Social Media to Connect With Fans
We’ve found social media to be one of the best ways to connect directly with our fans in today’s digital age.
As independent artists, we rely heavily on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to spread the word about our music. By posting regularly and engaging with followers, we’ve built up solid fanbases on each network.
On Facebook, we share photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes footage to give people an inside look at our creative process. We also post updates on what we’re working on and any shows we have coming up. Engaging with fans in the comments and even hosting the occasional Facebook Live session has allowed us to strengthen our connection with listeners.
Instagram is ideal for sharing eye-catching visuals like photos of us in the studio, new merch, or candid tour shots. Short video clips of new songs or works-in-progress also help to build excitement. The stories feature is great for giving a more authentic, unedited glimpse into our day-to-day.
Twitter allows us to directly interact with fans through replies, likes, and retweets. We frequently share thoughts and opinions, promote our latest releases, and live-tweet during shows. The casual, conversational nature of Twitter makes followers feel like they’re communicating with friends rather than just a band they like.
While social media can be time-consuming, the ability to cultivate personal relationships with fans makes it worth the effort. The connections we forge on these platforms have been instrumental in building our loyal following, and will continue to be a vital part of our success as artists. What better way to spread your music than through the power of human connection?
Uploading Your Music to Major Streaming Services
Uploading your music to major streaming platforms is crucial these days. As artists, we want our songs to reach as many ears as possible, and streaming services provide that access.
Spotify reigns supreme for streaming music, with over 300 million users. To get your music on Spotify, you’ll need to go through an aggregator like CD Baby, TuneCore, or DistroKid. They’ll get your music into Spotify’s system so listeners can stream and download your songs. The process is pretty straightforward—just provide some details about your release like the album name, release date, genre, and cover art. Then upload your music files and pay a small annual fee.
Once live on Spotify, encourage your fans to follow you as an artist so they get notified whenever you release new music. You should also create playlists featuring your songs to share with listeners. Playlists are a great way for people to discover your music.
iTunes and Apple Music also reach hundreds of millions of listeners. The process for getting your music on Apple Music is similar to Spotify—go through an aggregator, provide details about your release, upload files, and pay a distribution fee. Apple Music has a huge catalog of songs, so make the most of any opportunity to promote your music like being featured on the New Music Friday playlist.
YouTube Music has over 2 billion monthly users, and many people use it to stream music for free. Uploading your music to YouTube is easy and free. Just create an official artist channel, upload your music videos, live performances, lyric videos, and album tracks. YouTube Music organizes all of these into an artist profile that fans can follow to stay up to date with your latest releases.
By distributing your music across major streaming platforms, you open yourself up to new listeners across the world who otherwise may never discover your songs. While streaming may not bring in huge revenues, the exposure can lead to other opportunities like live shows, merch sales, and building your fan base. The more places people can find your music, the more chances they have to become lifelong fans.
Promotional Strategies to Get Your Music Discovered
As independent artists today, we have so many ways to get our music in front of new listeners. Here are some of the strategies we’ve found most effective for promoting our songs and building our audience.
Leverage streaming platforms
Streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube are essential tools for discovery. Make sure you distribute your music to all the major platforms so listeners can find your songs wherever they stream. Optimize your artist profiles and song metadata to rank higher in search results. Run paid advertising campaigns to reach new potential fans. Offer exclusive content or deals to entice people to follow you.
Build your mailing list
An email list is one of the most valuable assets you can have as an artist. Start building your list early by offering an incentive for people to sign up, like a free download. Engage with your subscribers by sending a regular newsletter with updates, new releases, tour dates, and behind-the-scenes content. An engaged mailing list can become your most devoted fans.
Collaborate with other artists
Collaborating with other artists is a great way to tap into each other’s audiences. Look for artists in a similar genre or with a comparable sound. Reach out to set up co-writing sessions, feature on each other’s songs, post joint content on social media, or even embark on a co-headlining tour. Cross-promotion to each other’s followings can introduce you to new potential fans.
Play live as much as possible
Live shows are still one of the best ways to build a dedicated fan base. Play at venues in your local music scene, and then branch out to surrounding areas. Meet and engage with fans after shows. Sell merchandise to help fund touring and turn new listeners into paying fans.
Record your live performances to share across your social media platforms and capture the energy of your shows. Live videos and behind-the-scenes content from tours help to strengthen your connection with both existing fans as well as new ones discovering you for the first time.
The key is trying many different promotional strategies, seeing what resonates most with your fans and what helps you find new listeners. With persistence and consistency, you can get your music discovered. Keep creating, keep engaging, and keep sharing—that’s the formula for success as an independent artist today.
Monetizing Your Music Through Streaming Royalties
As independent artists today, we have more opportunities than ever before to get our music in front of listeners and generate revenue from streaming. While streaming may still feel like small change, those pennies can add up over time through streaming royalties.
Distribute Your Music Widely
The more streaming services your music is on, the more chances for people to discover and play your songs. Don’t limit yourself to just one or two platforms. Upload your music to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, and Napster. The more streams you get across these services, the higher your streaming royalties.
Build Your Monthly Listeners
Focus on gaining more monthly listeners on each platform. Release a steady stream of new music, promote your songs on social media, pitch to curated playlists, and engage with your fans. The higher your number of monthly listeners, the more revenue potential from streaming royalties.
Monetize Beyond Just Streams
While streaming royalties are one source of income, look for ways to generate revenue from your streaming listeners. You can promote ticket sales to your shows, sell merch on your website, get brand sponsorships, or use your streaming numbers to help land licensing deals. Convert your streaming fans into paying fans through these other channels.
Check Your Statements Regularly
Streaming services report streams, listeners and royalties on varying schedules. Be sure to log in to each service regularly to check your statements and numbers. Look for any anomalies or issues and address them quickly. The more you stay on top of your streaming stats and payments, the less chance of missing out on royalties you’re owed.
Through persistence and consistency, we can build up our streaming royalties over time. While the payments may start out small, they will grow as we expand our reach, gain more listeners, and find additional ways to monetize our music beyond just streams. The opportunities are out there; we just have to actively pursue them. Keep promoting, keep engaging, and those streaming pennies can turn into dollars.
So there you have it, our best tips for promoting your music in today’s streaming-centric world. While the days of handing out mixtapes on street corners or playing gigs at your local dive bar hoping to get discovered are largely behind us, the opportunities for connecting with new fans and building your audience have never been greater. Between social media, streaming platforms, and digital distribution, you now have the tools to spread your music far and wide.
The key is using them strategically and consistently to raise awareness of your brand, release new content, engage with listeners, and ultimately keep people coming back for more. It may seem daunting, but with some time and dedication any artist today can achieve success and longevity. The future of music is wide open if you’re willing to put in the work. Now get out there and share your gift with the world – you’ve got this!