From music aggregators to streaming platforms, music influencers to your artist website, music discovery starts with a plan.
In the last article in our get heard and seen series, we talked about all the third-party websites you can target to get your music heard. Now, let’s flip the idea on its head and focus on the sites you control and submit your music to and show you how you can promote your music, get it heard, and generate plays.
In many ways, your music discovery campaigns should all start with the sites and services you control. After all, if your fans look you up because they discover you through a streaming site, an MP3 blog, the radio, or video, they’ll usually wind up on your website or one of your social sites.
But there are other sites where you can post your music which can get you discovered by new fans, including remix sites, audio hosting sites, and sites hosted by social media influencers. We identify six categories of music sharing and social sites to consider posting your music.
- Your website. Your website is the best place to highlight the music and content you want people to hear and know you by. It’s also your key home base where you can promote your patronage site, sell physical music products and merchandise, and direct visitors to subscribe to your newsletter and social profiles. It’s the one place you have full and total control, so use it and feature your music so they can discover and listen to it. Nearly every other place you would put your music limits how you can promote yourself and your merch and music, so it’s worth it to create your own site.
- Social media. Social media is where your content can go viral, and so it’s one of the first places you should share all of your new content, news, and info.
- Audio content sites. Audio content sites are those sites where you upload your music so you can embed it on other sites, such as your own website. But many of these sites have become destinations of their own. For example, SoundCloud allows you to upload and share your music with fans, but also allows you to create your own page and profile.
- Social media influencers. A single post by a social media influencer using or sharing your music can reach many new listeners. Many influencers are within reach either by directing them to your music or sending it to them. While many are pay-to-play (they make their money promoting you to their fans), there are also services that will help connect you to them.
- Remix sites. Remix sites allow musicians to post their stems and source tracks to their site so other artists can remix it freely. By allowing others to remix your music, you can reach new fans. It also creates new content that you can share with your existing fans.
- Recorded and live music archive sites. There are many sites on the internet which allow you to post your music for historic/archival purposes and make it available for others. Some of them have devoted followings for live music recordings.
Prep steps to get your music heard
Before you begin, you’ll want the following at-the-ready:
- Profiles and streaming platforms. Before you target the third-party sites mentioned above, you’ll want to have some other music discovery steps taken care of, like getting your music on streaming sites. That way, if any of your songs get coverage, your new fans will be able to find your music. And, don’t skip putting your music up at your own website, social media sites (through your profile or posts), and your video site as well. After all, if you do a great job getting people to talk about you, your new fans need to be able to find you and subscribe and listen.
- 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 that media and influencers can use for their coverage.
- Links to all of your sites and profiles. Make sure you have a link to your sites and profiles that media and influencers can use for their coverage.
- Simple tracking system (spreadsheet). You’ll need to keep track of who, where, and when you sent your music and any supporting material (press/media materials such as a fact sheet or your bio). You can use simple spreadsheets, such as the free Google Sheets.
How to make money
By getting your music posted, you’ll boost your chances of reaching fans. This can boost your streams and increase the number of people buying your merch. So, make sure your music’s available on all of the streaming sites and that you have merch to sell, and prominently feature patronage if you have an account.
You also make money from your music via royalties, so register for all the royalties owed to you, including signing on with a performance rights organization as a songwriter and publisher, SoundExchange, and 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 your music onto each of these types of outlets.
1. Post your music everywhere you want to reach new fans
- Your website. Post your music using embedded video or audio players. You can use options from Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, as well as html-based players. Consider creating playlists of your music to keep fans listening. And don’t forget to highlight your merch, social media, and anything you’d like your fans to do.
- Social media. Post new songs, content, entertainment, and info on your social media profiles and ask people to share it. A single post can reach the world. Video attracts attention more than any other multimedia format, so use that whenever you’re able to.
- Your audio content sites. Sites like SoundCloud allow you to share your music with fans, but always check the musician agreement of these sites first, since some are not favorable to the musician. For embedding, use sites that have an ad-supported option to let you share in the income, such as Spotify.
- Social media influencers. Network with influencers and see if you can get them to fall in love with your music and post to their fans, or use paid influencer websites like Songfluencer to pay to get your music featured.
- Remix sites. Post your music to sites like ccMixter and share the links with your fanbase to see what other people can do with your music. Some musicians have entire albums of remixes done by other artists. Note that the agreement from these websites may have you give up some of your rights to your music — that way others can more freely work with it. ccMixter, for example, requires any music you upload to be released under a Creative Commons license.
- Recorded and live music archive sites. Sites like Archive.org allow you to archive your music by posting it to their site so others can hear it (usually with low sound quality). There is no revenue associated with this, but it’s posted here just so you know of the option to reach new fans. If you have a live show, consider declaring yourself a “trade-friendly artist” through one of the available sites that cover it. There are fans who simply love going to shows by trade-friendly artists so they can make their own recordings and trade these among themselves or post to sites like eTree. The fact that your live shows becomes part of their community can attract new fans.
2. Collect the links where your music has been posted and share with fans
If you add your music to your website, live music archive sites, and others, share that with your fans!
3. Post to social media and ask fans to share
Since these postings are mostly under your control, don’t forget to announce it. For example, if your music is now available on a remix site, let your fans know via social media.
4. Keep tracking where you’re talked about
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.
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.
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New music royalties: The Mechanical Licensing Collective and what it means for you
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