How to Promote Your Music & Market It Online in 2020

Updated on by Gavin Whitner

A lot of people in the industry still rely on selling physical copies of their albums to make a living. Many up and coming musicians work tirelessly to get noticed by record labels and get that record deal of a lifetime and a chance at a better life.

That said, these days, it’s a bit easier to do this all on your own with much less investment. Even though the competition is fiercer than it’s ever been, you can start selling your music across multiple platforms in just a matter of hours. That is if you have quality recordings.

Start a YouTube Channel

So many singers have had their big break on YouTube, and Justin Bieber is perhaps still the best example.

It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to record a decent quality song. And it certainly doesn’t cost anything to create a YouTube account and start uploading your creations.

YouTube is free to use, which is why it’s a perfect platform for both fans and artists. Another thing you should know is that you can use YouTube to both promote your music and monetize it at the same time.

While you will get exposure if your song is good and more and more people listen to it, you will also get money.

If you join YouTube’s ad revenue program, which you should, once you get enough views, you’ll also start earning money from YouTube.

However, there is a small catch. YouTube loves unique content, which is excellent for you if you don’t want to do cover songs. That said, it also has some weird terms and conditions, which sometimes change without notice.

It can be hard to determine whether or not the people in charge of reviewing user-uploaded content will find your content offensive. If they do, you will probably be allowed to post your music on the platform. However, it won’t qualify for ad revenue.

The best thing is that you don’t need to produce music videos or anything like that to post your songs on YouTube. Therefore, it’s probably one of the first things you should do when you decide you want to start promoting yourself and making your own money.

Create Your Artist Website

It doesn’t matter what instrument you play. If you want to promote your music, people need to be able to find out stuff about you or your band. Through your site, you can sell our music, get a legion of fans, and book gigs.

You may already have one or two songs that are generating some buzz on YouTube or other social media platforms. But, if people Google you and can’t find anything valuable, you’ll quickly fall into obscurity.

For anyone that doesn’t have the time or money to maintain an active social media presence, creating a professional website is the next best thing.

Your website may offer relevant information to people who want to check you out. You can tell your backstory and explain your style. You can also give updates on upcoming releases, shows, and of course, sell your albums and singles.

There are plenty of ways to sell your digital content safely without having to rely on third party services. What’s even better is that if you have a website, you can also start selling merch to your fans. Many famous artists rely heavily on merch sales.

Get Active and Crafty on Social Media

Being active on social media is almost a must, not just for up and coming artists but also well-established ones. The more the fans get to interact with you or hear from you, the more they’ll listen to your music.

It’s even more critical if you’re doing the whole self-promotion thing. That’s assuming, of course, that you don’t already have even a couple of die-hard fans. You need to be active and post on various social media platforms to let those who follow you know when they can expect new material.

There’s no one else to do it for you, no crazed fans to chain spam your songs on every forum, blog, and Reddit thread. With that in mind, it’s also essential to know how to interact with people. You shouldn’t be aggressively promoting your material on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others.

A general rule of thumb is to keep things 80% social and just 20% promotional. No one tunes into an official Facebook page to see what new songs or albums they can buy. Official websites and streaming platforms are for that.

Just keeping people up to date with what’s going on with you, your thought process, what inspires you, or what cool thing you just photographed is going to be more lucrative. Now and then, invite people to check out your song on whatever platform you’re on.

Offering a sneak preview into an unfinished and unreleased song is also a great way to generate buzz and capture people’s interest early on.

Make Your Music Available on Streaming Services

If you don’t want to rely on a label and you want to make it on your own, then you have to sell your music online. Now that you know some of the best ways to promote your music, here’s how you can also start making some money.

People flock to online streaming services. Why? It’s much more comfortable and cheaper than buying every single song or album they like. It’s also a lot easier and more convenient to create playlists, discover new artists, or keep track of what their favorite artists are doing.

To make money off your music, you need to start getting in on the action. Here are some of the more popular streaming platforms and how you can use them to your advantage.

iTunes

Getting your music uploaded on iTunes may not seem like the easiest thing to do. The platform is quite demanding, and the requirements they have of artists aren’t that friendly to indie musicians. That said, you can get your music on iTunes without having to deal with Apple directly.

Apple outsources a lot to various aggregators, curators, and promoters. There are multiple services the likes of Soundrop, TuneCore, Awal, Routenote, and many others that can help you overcome those strict requirements.

Because these aggregators bring in songs in bulk, they have considerable leeway and can easily promote newcomers. Now, not all aggregators will give you the best shot at success. Some cost more than others, and some are more popular than others.

That said, it is probably one of the best ways of breaking into the iTunes marketplace if you’re an unsigned artist.

Last.fm

Last.fm is one of the best platforms to get your music before an international audience while also getting paid. The search or recommendation engine interprets tags and associations loosely. It means that you won’t be as restricted by your genre as you would be on other platforms.

Since its acquisition by CBS, Last.fm also became one of the more stable royalty-oriented music streaming platforms in the industry.

It may not be a lot of money, but it is something, and Last.fm doesn’t care if you’re a signed artist or not. Anyone can join the program.

Spotify

Spotify is perhaps the leading platform for both established artists and newcomers. Getting your music on Spotify is simple. To start uploading or submitting songs, you only have to fill out a quick form.

That’s part of the verification process, and it’s important because once you’re verified, people that listen to your songs will know that you’re serious. It will also add value to your unique artist page and allow you to access various streaming statistics.

Spotify is very competitive because there are lots of artists competing across multiple genres to get on the top accessed playlists. So how can you give yourself a better chance of success?

It’s perhaps crucial to be consistent and release songs regularly. The more material you have, the more chances you have of getting on popular playlists. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can’t always rely on Spotify algorithms to make your music popular.

So, do proper research in your niche. Find the most famous human curators and reach out. If they’re open to pitches, then you might have a chance of convincing them to add your music to their playlists.

Take Charge on Streaming Platforms

When you go this route, you don’t have to rely on others to get you noticed. For example, once you have an artist page on Spotify, you can also create your playlist. You may think that this is an excellent opportunity to put all your songs in an order you feel is right and that people will respond to.

But, that’s not the way to make the most out of your playlist. At least not at first when you’re just trying to get noticed.

When you create a playlist on your artist page, it’s best to use just one or two of your songs. Use the rest of the slots to promote other artists. It will help your playlist to pop up in people’s searches.

And, you will get more recognition, even though by association. Furthermore, some of those artists you decide to promote may be in a familiar situation to yours, or merely grateful. That is a great way to make new connections and perhaps establish partnerships.

Those that you promote might return the favor and thus further increase the chances of your music getting heard.

What’s the Most Important Aspect of Promoting Your Music?

People tend to be too caught up in genres these days. It’s a natural human trait to be set in one’s ways. But times are changing, and they’re changing fast. Not everyone listens to a single genre anymore.

Sure, you may have your favorite genre. However, that doesn’t mean that when you’re in a certain mood or state of mind, you don’t listen to something outside your comfort zone. Do you listen to your workout music when you’re trying to relax or sleep?

So, one of the most important things to remember about promoting your music is never to associate yourself with just one genre. It doesn’t matter if your music strictly belongs to one style. But, as far as promoting goes, you want to reach a vast audience, and here’s why.

Maybe you won’t be able to reach the people you want because there’s too much competition in your genre. Your songs might not make it to the right audience’s ears, or they won’t make it fast enough.

Associating your music with more than one genre and a couple of other artists, moods, or trends will make your music more likely to appear in search results. It will make even algorithms more likely to pick your music and suggest it to interested listeners.

And, it doesn’t matter if only the right people hear your music. It can just as well reach their friends. Think about it. If you hear a song that you know your best friend would like, even though it’s not your jam, you’d probably tell him or her about it.

The same principle applies when promoting your music. Reaching as many people as possible across all genres and interests will give you a better overall chance of success.

Stop Worrying About What Others Are Doing and Do Your Own Thing

When you’re trying to break into the music industry, it can be easy to get caught up in other people’s drama and forget about your goals. If you’re new on the scene, then this is no time to procrastinate.

Instead of rolling the dice on some people that may not have your best interests at heart, you should seriously consider taking matters into your own hands. Promote your music on your own to the best of your abilities and upload it to as many platforms as you can. That way, you’ll allow a wide range of people to hear it.

Remain active, don’t get discouraged, and try your best to succeed. Many aspiring artists don’t make it because they lose hope too soon.

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner
     

    A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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