Third-party websites — including blogs, music review sites, and even non-music sites — can help people discover your music. Target these sites to get coverage and grow your audience.
There are a staggering number of places on the web to get your music heard and discovered these days. There are music review sites; music and MP3 blogs; social, news, and entertainment sites; and tons of non-music related sites that could post your music. In our continuing “get heard and seen” series, we’re diving in to explore how to get your music discovered and heard.
Since there are so many sites that feature music, we’ve categorized them into six types below. Getting your music on these various third-party sites requires planning, strategy, and effort, but any time you get coverage is an opportunity to grow your fanbase. Plus, you can build off each success to create additional opportunities for discovery.
Six types of web sites that might host your music
- Music review, music discovery, and music magazines. These are sites that live to deliver great, new music and help others explore the best of what’s out there. Magazines and music review/discovery sites exist for every genre and style of music. Of course, you should target those sites that match your genre, style, and mood to get it in front of the right audience for your music.
- Music and MP3 blogs. Music and MP3 blogs curate different types of music for their listeners. Music blogs have been around ever since music became available as MP3s. There are sites covering every genre, and you can often get your music added and heard by the blog’s audience.
- Social, news, and entertainment sites. Music is written and talked about all over the web. You can find music, arts, and culture articles, reviews, and feature stories across various newspaper/media sites, social sites, entertainment sites, and more. Not all of them are national in their coverage. Many of these are regional or tailored to particular cities, making it easier to get coverage and get your music heard.
- DAW, synth, and plugin vendor features. Music software and equipment vendors love featuring artists that use their products in videos, blogs, and press/media releases. Such coverage can have far-reaching implications for your music if you’re selected and featured.
- Specialty music stores. There are stores that specialize in every music niche and genre. Each one of them can cover and feature artists and their music to boost sales.
- Non-music websites While calling something a “non-music website” may seem extremely general, these sites can often be your best choice to target since they’re not overwhelmed by music entries. Since they don’t normally feature music, by reaching out to them, you can stand out from the pack. If you can find a way to get your music to a site that’s somehow relevant to your music or message — even if it’s just one song — they just might want to feature it on their site. Case in point: Our band once wrote a song inspired by a board game. We contacted the manufacturer and shared our song with them, and they ended up posting it, getting us tens of thousands of listens because it was so different from their usual posts.
Prep steps to get on third-party websites
- Update your profiles and get your music on streaming platforms. Before you target any type of website, you’ll want to have some other music discovery options in place, like getting your music on streaming sites. That way, if any of your songs get featured, when readers and listeners want to hear more, they’ve got a place to find you. This includes posting your music on your own website, places like Bandcamp and SoundCloud, and videos as well. Once new fans discover you, you need to give them options to subscribe and hear more. None of that is possible if you aren’t set up and ready-to-go.
- Links to the music. You’ll need links to all the music you want potential third-parties to feature so they can listen and easily post the file to their own site.
- Bio. Make sure you have three versions of your bio handy for submitting to these sites: one sentence, one paragraph, and one page.
- Picture Make sure you have a link to images sites can use with their coverage.
- Quotes and links to prior coverage You’ll may want to show where else you’ve been covered and list some quotes from reviews so curators can see what people say about you.
- Links to all your sites and profiles. Provide links to your sites and social media profiles so you can get that info out to new readers.
- Simple tracking system (spreadsheet). You’ll need to keep track of who, where, and when you sent your music and any supporting material. A simple spreadsheet works fine, such as Google Sheets (which is free).
How to make money
By getting your music posted and heard, you’ll boost your chances of reaching fans, which can boost your streams, music sales, and merch sales. So, make sure your music’s available and have merch to sell. You also make money from your music via royalties, though this depends on which site picks up your music. In general, you should register for all the royalties owed to you. This includes your composition performance royalty organization (PRO) for the songwriter and publisher, but also SoundExchange and the MLC (check out this article for more about the MLC).
For more detailed info about how royalties work and the 14 registrations you should do to protect your music and ensure you get all the money that’s owed you, see the “Licensing and Royalties” chapter of our book, Making Money With Music.
How to get played
Once you have royalties set up and have your music and bio ready to go, here’s how you can get played on each of these types of third-party sites.
1. Make a list of target places to submit to.
There are many ways to try to determine what sites to target, but one simple way is to choose an artist who is similar to your style of music and figure out where they get played and covered. Those should be first on your list!
- Music review, discovery, and magazines. Each of these sites has their own submission guidelines, and the most popular ones, such as Pitchfork, are jammed with people applying to get their music covered. The smaller the niche, the easier it is to get covered.
- Music and MP3 blogs. Check out Hype Machine for an entire universe of music and MP3 blog sites, sorted by genre. Each of these sites has their own submission guidelines, and some are very informal, just needing an email. Others require pay-for-play, and thus are likely the worst targets because it will cost you money (and because these sites often make their income through musicians rather than listenership and fans).
- Social news and entertainment sites. Be on the lookout for sites that match your audience by searching artists similar to you and finding out where they received coverage.
- DAW, synth, and plugin vendor features. Check out your favorite software or music vendor to see if they cover artists similar to you, and see if they are interested in doing a feature. This can often lead to sponsorships as well.
- Specialty music stores. Make a list of all the stores, online and offline, for your genre. Reach out to the owners to offer interviews, special access, and early releases. The more focused the niche, the easier it is to get to know them.
- Non-music websites. Most sites, stores, and blogs are thrilled to find music related to their topic area and this can be a surprising way to easily get in front of hundreds of thousands of potential fans. And they don’t have a submission backlog! Catch their interest by sharing something their audience would like.
2. Submit your music to your targeted list
Once you’ve done your research, completed your target list, and updated your spreadsheet, it’s time to start submitting (and adding the dates of when you submitted to your spreadsheet). If they have submission instructions, be sure to follow these instructions carefully, since bypassing their process or not providing something could get your submission ignored.
3. Keep tabs of the submissions
After submitting, keep track of the responses in your spreadsheet. Some are automated systems, but if a person gets back to you, be sure to use good PR techniques like being politely persistent to increase the likelihood of being played.
4. After being played/featured or added to rotation, send a “thank you” message and track the plays
Unless you are doing an in-person performance, you may never know when you were covered! Either way, create search alerts with your artist name, and the name of the songs that are part of your music discovery campaigns. You can do this with services like Google Alerts.
What to do once you’re played
When you catch that you’ve been played:
- Share on social media. Don’t forget to share the news with your fans!
- Send thank-you’s and update your spreadsheet. Always send a thank you to anyone who posts your music. Don’t forget to add these folks to your media list, as they’re going to be the most excited about your next release.
- Ladder up and out. Be sure to publicize and use your success as a reason to reach out to more places to cover you, especially the ones that haven’t picked you up yet. Each coverage you get builds momentum and can be enough to convince others to give your music a spin, which grows your audience and your name recognition. Then, the next time you drop a new track, the world will be excited to play and hear it.
Read the rest of the “Get Seen and Heard” series.
Authors of the critically-acclaimed modern classic, The Indie Band Survival Guide, Billboard Magazine called Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan “the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” Their latest book, Making Money With Music (Macmillan) and free Making Money With Music Newsletter, help all musicians — from startups to pros — build a sustainable music business so you can make money in today’s tech-driven music environment.
Build Your Music Career One Small Success At A Time
5 reasons you need a music artist website
New music royalties: The Mechanical Licensing Collective
How to generate music marketing, promotion, and publicity opportunities
How to promote a release and sell your music, Part 1