25 Ways to Promote Your Music

bandliveimageBelow you will find twenty-five ways to promote your music. You will be able to use these to reach new people. Find what works best for you. Don’t think you have to accomplish everything on this list. Think of it as “What can I do the best? Will I be able to execute on a high level? Is this what I want to be doing?” This article also assumes your music has been recorded, mixed, and mastered by professionals as well as your music is “good” to someone just hearing it for the first time.

  1. Document your studio time – To help raise awareness, what’s better than showing the creative process! You can let your fans behind the scenes. If you don’t want to reveal it all, then don’t. You can create a short film to promote the roll out of your new release. Learn how to shoot and edit video. Self-produce! If you can’t, then find a friend or professional to help you with it.
  2. Shoot a music video – This one seems obvious, but lots of bands with great music put out a lyric video that isn’t up to par with where they want to be. Shoot a music video! Get it out there! Music videos don’t have a high ROI, so you’re going to want to invest in it like another piece of promotional material (flyers, posters, etc.). Think big here!
  3. Make your website your home – This is where you’re going to be directing people to that haven’t heard your music or catering to people that have become fans. This is your home base. Make sure it looks great, feels great, and is fully functional. You will be able to list tour dates, sell merch, post news, run your mailing list, and more. You’re going to need some great band photos at the very least, so make sure you work with talented photographers in your area. Your website is your business card, your press kit, and your store all in one.
  4. Book your hometown strategically – Don’t over play, but make sure to play where you can make new fans. If you can land a spot on a few dates of a national tour where the bands are the ones you want to play with, then don’t overthink it when it comes to your headlining show in a month. You can see how many of those fans of another artist come to your gig. Your goal is to sell out your hometown every single time. Be the kings of your city.
  5. Print T-shirts and other merchandise – Everyone has a band T-shirt. Make sure to create awesome designs and use comfortable clothing. You can print dad hats, sweaters, koozies, bracelets, jackets, and whatever else your fans will buy. The people that rep your music the most will also be a great source of promotion.
  6. Make sure your music is available on streaming services – This may seem as a no-brainer, but there are artists out there not utilizing all streaming services. This means Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon are not the end all be all. Use SoundCloud. Use Bandcamp. Use YouTube. There are so many ways that a person can listen to your music. Make sure it’s easy for someone who just uses YouTube to hear all your music. You’re going to do it or someone else is going to rip it and upload it. Either way, capitalize. YouTube is the second largest search engine.
  7. Go on tour – Make sure you don’t go into huge debt here. Make sure things make sense to you. Don’t get yourself too psyched out though. If you truly want to be in a career situation with music, then you’re going to risk it. You’re going to go out there and play shows that you’ve been promoting. You’re going to want to stay out there. The road is your best friend.
  8. License your music – There are many ways to land a sync. You’ll be able to feature your music in a TV show, movie, commercial, or a video game. You’ll have to find the right company, music supervisor(s), and attorney to work with. You’ll have to make sure your songs are registered with a PRO. You’ll have to make sure you have the instrumental version of your songs. Don’t sell yourself short. Research this topic and use it to the best of your abilities. If you don’t know, ask questions. This could be the most perplexing part of the industry if you don’t educate yourself before diving in. Also, it can be financially rewarding if done right.
  9. Flyer at big shows and festivals – Find out where your fans are. Find out who your fans are and go where they go. Let’s say your band takes influence from Real Friends. You’re going to want to go to their shows and promote at the end of the night when everyone is heading for the door. Bring sampler CDs for people to listen to. You can use USB drives if you want to. Go to other shows in the scene. Using this example, go to Vans Warped Tour. Hand out glossy postcards. Raise awareness! When doing this, make sure you’re polite and respect other people’s space and time.
  10. Support local music – Go to all the shows you can in your local scene. Help spread the word about music coming out of your city. Make friends. These are going to be people you’re going to see quite often. You’d want them to support you, right? Support them. Help bring people up. Don’t just sit at home and tweet about shows coming up. Go to them. Be a leader in your scene.
  11. Press physical copies of your music to give out for free – Kanye West’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ just went platinum by streaming only. You don’t have to have CDs anymore. If you want to promote your music, you’ll want to have something to leave someone. Yes, they can check you out on Spotify, but having this physical item may help them remember to later. This does not mean to give it out to every single person you see. Be strategic. Find out if they’ll even, truly, listen to what you’re handing out.
  12. Print posters to hang up – You’re going to want to have visually stunning album artwork and great band promotional photos. Don’t print 1,000 posters of something that people are just going to glance by. You’re competing with cell phones, other people walking by, other posters, and everything else in a person’s line of sight. Hang these up places your fans will go. You’ll know where that is by knowing who your fans are. Use these to promote a show, a tour, a new single, your record, or any other news item you may want to promote. Be tasteful, don’t hang them up where they’re a waste of space.
  13. Use social media – This is a huge place of interest, and I could never begin to explain it in a quick paragraph. You’re going to want to come up with a strategy that works to create new fans and then connect with them and the fans you make in-person. Don’t spam anyone. Make sure you have high-quality digital media. This is your online platform. Make it thought provoking and rewarding to keep an eye on. Use them all: YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more. Create a community online. Give, give, give, and entertain!
  14. Play acoustic – Everyone loves acoustic. If you hear a great performance, you’ll be apt to check it out in the future. You can play at a coffee shop, skate shop, guitar store, a venue, a bar, an open mic, a writer’s round, and pretty much anywhere else. A hit song can be stripped down to its acoustic form and be just as moving as the studio version. Be able to show off your versatility in this form as well. Make it a point to use your acoustic option to play quick radio interviews, surprise appearances, and online.
  15. Help a non-profit – Figure out what cause you want to support. Help them. Get other people to help them. Document the process. Don’t give up the fight! Your music can help spread the word about a worthy cause. Do something great!
  16. Print stickers – Give your stickers out for free. Post them where there are other stickers at venues. Give your stickers to your fans. Give them to people who love to help spread the word. They’ll end up on laptops, cars, guitar cases, and more. Make sure your logo (or other sticker artwork) is awesome and is clearly legible.
  17. Start an email list – A mailing list can go a long way. You can see open rates and click rates as well as push news to people that want to hear about it. You can create special mailing list only merchandise sales. You can help use your mailing list to create an open line of communication to your fans outside of social media.
  18. Reach out to radio stations – If your music is great, then it won’t be hard to land a couple stations. If you’re new to pitching to radio, it may be hard to break through. You’re going to want to stay professional and persistent. Perhaps your best start is at college radio. There are also great online radio stations like idobi that are places of interest. Spotify playlists are becoming a vital resource for new music discovery. Find what works best for you. Cultivate working relationships. Tune in to what you’re going to pitch to. Find out who’s spinning what.
  19. Reach out to music publications, online and offline – You’re going to do research to know your targets. Send a professional email their way. Don’t forget the music blogs. Don’t forget the podcasts. Don’t forget your local free entertainment zines. There are an enormous amount of great people writing about music. Find out how to get on their radar. Have a story. Document to show the reality. Promote to show your vision. Music publications want a story. Give them one to write about.
  20. Start a street team – You can do this via email. Start collecting street team members and put them to work. Give out rewards such as concert tickets, merchandise, and online acoustic performances. Make this personal, engaging, and effective in each city your street team members are in. These are your most die-hard fans. They’re willing to spend time helping promote your music. Make this interesting, and you could see exponential growth.
  21. Record acoustic versions of your full-band songs and/or record a cover song – You may be thinking, “What should I do this for?” Three things: 1) You get to promote new music to those who loved your biggest song in a new way 2) You can put out a deluxe edition including these songs and perhaps a new full-band song or two 3) The cover song can be put out for free to help promote your original music and/or collect emails. Either way, make sure to have some unreleased material in your bag of tricks. It will help continue the momentum.
  22. Buy advertising – Whether this be on Facebook or a full-page spread in a music magazine of your choosing, make sure you’re going to see somewhat of a return for your money. You should base these around releases of perhaps a music video, tour dates, a new record, or all of these combined. Make sure when you’re buying ads that you’ve got something going on where new people could find this engaging and want to find out more. Don’t buy a Facebook ad and hope people react and just “fall in love with your music”. It’s going to be tricky if you’ve never done this before, but you can always make sure to do your research and ask questions with your peers.
  23. Have a song with a guest vocal – This could be a revisit to an old song on your record or a whole new song all together. Find the right fit: someone who believes in your music as you believe in theirs. Cross promotion is great, so make sure you do this in a well-thought manor. Perhaps having another local artist is the way to go. Perhaps having a big name in your genre is the best route. Only you will know.
  24. Release a music documentary – This can be your way to document your journey. If you do this, you’re going to be releasing something you’d want to see yourself. Don’t think this isn’t a massive project: it is. You’re going to be competing with other music documentaries, so make sure you’re going to pull some heart strings and get people to believe in your cause & come to your shows. You’re going to want to work with a crew on this one, so find the right producer/director and staff to make this all go down smoothly. You want this to be cinematically stunning.
  25. Book shows in your area – Help bands and artists thrive by putting on shows. It’s going to be a lot of work, but you’re doing this to help the music scene in your area. You’ll be rewarded for your hard work through seeing bands come on tour and do great things because of the show you booked and the relentless work you put into the show. If you want to, add your band to some of these shows. Help other local artists by adding them to touring band’s shows. Word will get around in your area of the industry that you’re a hard worker and put on the best shows in your city. Don’t over-saturate your time or efforts. If it’s only a show every two or three months, then so be it.

There are many other ways to promote your music, but this is a great starting place. Don’t give up on your dreams. Always keep pushing. Don’t let other people get to you. Success will come through time. If you write and release great music, then your only setback is you not doing the work. Word hard, be awesome, and never stop.

This article was originally published for ENDER, written by Jan Powers.