Indie artists who find success always learn quickly that success is tied to how much work they put into spreading their music. You always have to be doing something to promote or market yourself as a musician. You have to build your team of videographers, graphic designers, promoters, and other individuals. Also, you have to see social media not as a timewaster, but as a networking and self-promotion app, and engage in traditional marketing. Follow this roadmap to set yourself up for success in the music business.
Build Your Team
As a musician, you need a professional website, graphics to go with your releases, music videos, sound engineers, and all kinds of artistic professionals. Where do you find these people? I’ll tell you where many of them hang out: on a dating app. Bumble is a dating app with its own section, Bumble Bizz, dedicated to business networking. From my experience, it attracts a lot of creatives.
On Bumble Bizz, you match with people by swiping like any dating app. In one week, I match with at least one graphic and web designer, several videographers and photographers, and even sound engineers. Also, an alternative to Bumble is Shapr, a dedicated networking app that allows you to filter for the type of people you’d like to meet. Creatives are fewer and farther between on Shapr, but you can target them.
Otherwise, build your team out of your own network. Ask for word-of-mouth recommendations from friends. Post on social media that you’re looking for these people—many of them are already there and waiting to find gigs just like yours. Also, Music Connection boasts a slew of free directories for everything from A&R directors to sound mixers. Spend some time on the internet and IRL, building your team from the best of the best.
Treat Social Media Like A Job
There is no bad social media for a musician to be on. Even networking in the music business on LinkedIn can produce results. Also, Tik Tok is a great new place to showcase your music by putting it in your videos. But there is one social network that stands out above all others: Instagram.
On Instagram, you can take steps to grow your account with the right followers, those who are likely to become fans. This article will tell you exactly how to do that. It is methodical and hackable. Furthermore, Instagram DMs have become the new cold email. Introduce yourself to your followers and ask them to listen. Do not ask for feedback, it’s straight-up needy and will get you ignored.
Instagram only allows for a link in one place to start, your bio/profile. But this is all you need. Make posts directing people to the link in your bio, which should be a LinkTree or other platform for hosting multiple links. The magic of LinkTree is that one link hosts all your links. They click on it and can choose from things like Spotify and Apple Music, Facebook and Twitter, and your website.
When you’re growing your following the correct way, the people you attract will be naturally inclined to check out someone’s music over Instagram.
You can really maximize clicks to the link in your bio just by growing your account and posting. One important tip: Use what’s called a Call-to-Action, basically asking people to take some Instagram-specific action. This can and should be as simple as “Hit the link in my bio”, and can be done on every social network.
One important note on Instagram: Go to your settings and make sure you are set up as a business profile. This way, you can track the reach of your posts (how many times they’re seen), the number of clicks you get to the link in your bio, and all kinds of other useful information. Part of running your music like a business is measuring your effectiveness.
Share Your Story Everywhere
You’ve got to know who you are as an artist to sell yourself as an artist. Start by thinking about your brand: how can your logo and visuals convey your sound? This can even extend to how you dress. Fortify this by listing some adjectives that describe your sound, what music means to you, and who you are as a musician. Finally, break your journey into the music business down into easily digestible sections of a story.
Once you have your story articulated, share it! It’s easy to get email addresses from your fans as a musician. Ask for them over social media. Comb through your followers and ask if they’d like to subscribe to your mailing list. Also, collect them at your merch table, or with a website like CDBaby or Bandcamp. Once you have them, tell your story over email. Break an anecdote from your life into three-five emails and send over the course of a week. In the final email, direct them to a single.
Telling your story this way will increase streams.
You can repurpose your emails into social videos and stories, feed content, or website pages. Tell your fans your artist’s story on your website. Use your captions and video to convey anecdotes from your day-to-day as an artist. Your fans care about what goes on in your life, and since people love a good story, sharing your story is a great way to find and create new fans.
Make a Plan
Like any business, a music career needs a plan. A business plan encompasses a marketing strategy, articulating elements of your brand, and research and analysis. That might sound boring, but it’s important (and it can actually be pretty interesting). Start your business plan with what you intend to accomplish with your music. Set your goals and include a description of yourself as a musician.
Next, research your genre. Find out the demographics (age, gender, race, etc.) of the people who are into your genre. Learn what you can from articles online about the genre’s scene. Then, turn your research to look at some artists in your genre. Check out what they’re doing with their websites, on social media, and listen to their sound. Finding out everything you can about your genre’s scene from a business standpoint is crucial to crafting your roadmap to success.
Now take that research and make a marketing or promotional plan.
Include what we’ve already discussed: How you’re going to tell your story, how you’re going to make social media work for you. This doesn’t have to be a formal document. Just list some bullet points with what you’re going to do to promote yourself.
For example, you could have an influencer strategy where the social media famous essentially review your song on their platforms. A quick note: This is different than paying for a promo. A professional can find you influencers with real following and engagement. Paying someone with 20k followers for a story shout-out does not net the same results as a real influencer. This is the kind of thing you learn with experience, so I’ll leave you with this: Whatever you’re going to do to promote yourself, do some research, talk to some industry experts, and dive in and learn as you go.