Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
You spend a lot of time and money writing, recording, and producing your music. The last thing you want is to release it out into the world without anyone hearing it. But with so many artists releasing music — especially artists with major-label budgets — it can be hard to be heard and attract new fans. But if you know how to properly and actively promote your music, you can rise above the clutter and boost your music career.
So, how do you promote your song after release to attract new listeners? How do you get your music noticed on the various streaming platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and beyond? Don’t worry. We’ve got 11 ways to help you promote your new music and reach a wider audience.
A good idea when promoting a song — or doing anything, for that matter — is to set goals. After all, “music promotion” is a wide-ranging term, so it helps to narrow the focus a bit so you can work towards your goal.
So ask yourself: What are you trying to accomplish with your next release? Come up with a reasonable set of goals, like “I want to get X plays on Apple Music,” “I want to get on this Spotify playlist,” “I want to get reviewed by X number of bloggers/YouTubers/TikTokers,” or “I want to build my YouTube subscribers by X number of people.” You don’t have to limit yourself by choosing only one goal, but do try to limit yourself so you’re not stretched too thin.
Remember: It’s only by setting goals that you can judge your success once your promotional campaign is over.
Form a music marketing strategy
As the old saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you don’t have a plan for promoting your single, you will struggle to use your time, energy, and/or money efficiently. Furthermore — to quote another old saying — you only have one chance to make a first impression. Your new single is only going to be released once. Make a plan so you can make the most of it.
Your promotional strategy should work toward your goal. For example, if you’re trying to increase your YouTube subscribers, you want to focus your resources towards making videos (yes, plural: the official video for the song, as well as other videos, like live performances, recording clips, interviews, etc.) that resonate with your target audience.
Create a schedule for your music release
You can’t have an effective promotional strategy without first creating a schedule. Choose a date for your single release and then give yourself a month ahead of time to set up and create all your promotional items (e.g., videos, EPKs, etc.). Then give yourself one month after your release date to execute your plan.
Use your song’s theme
Once you’ve got a goal, strategy, and schedule, it’s time to create your promotional campaign to promote your song after release.
Because your endgame is to get people’s attention, you need to be creative and bold with your promotional ideas. A good way to frame your creative thinking is to base it around the content of your song. In other words, consider what your song is about and look to that for inspiration.
Maybe your song is about school. Use school-themed imagery (notebooks, whiteboards, lockers, etc.) in your promotional campaign. Maybe your song is about a famous location. See if you can visit this place and film a video. Or find a humorous stand-in. For example, maybe your song mentions the Grand Canyon, but you live in Maine and can’t afford to go there. Make a video about that. If your song uses sports imagery, like baseball or bowling, host an event/gig at your local baseball field or bowling alley.
If your song takes place during a holiday, event, or season, time the release of your song to coincide with that.
If your song is about relationships (new love, lost love, families, friendships, etc.) try to think of things people do when in these situations and use that for promotional inspiration.
11 ways to promote your song and reach a larger audience
You’ve got all the pieces and thematic ideas in place. Here are 11 ways to promote your song after release.
1. Create an electronic press kit (EPK)
Bands have used press kits since the beginning of recorded music. In the old days, press kits were paper-based — today you can use technology to your advantage and create an EPK.
An EPK is basically a digital résumé full of promotional materials, giving music industry influencers an easy way to see what you’re all about. Your EPK should include your bio, fact sheet, press releases, photos, contact information, social media handles, band website, videos, and any upcoming gigs.
You’re going to send your EPK to any influencers who are going to help you fulfill your goal: bloggers, journalists, playlist curators, venue bookers, agents, record labels, and more.
2. Flyers advertising your upcoming release
Paper flyers are still a great way to promote your music to a large audience. Go to shows by other bands in your area whose music is in your genre, stand outside the venue, and hand flyers to people as they enter or leave the show. Make these flyers simple and eye-catching. Include the name of your song and put a link where people can hear it.
3. Pitch your music to blogs
The best way to reach more listeners is to reach more cheerleaders, and some of the best online cheerleaders are bloggers. I just searched for “rap music bloggers” and found this article listing the best 16 rap bloggers for 2023. Do a similar search for your type of music and start pitching.
4. Pitch journalists
Hit up your local papers, but also more famous rags like Pitchfork, The Fader, Mojo, Consequence of Sound, and more.
5. Pitch playlist curators
Landing your single on a Spotify or Apple Music playlist is a surefire way to boost your streams. Find as many playlists as possible that fit your music and start pitching the curators. Spotify offers solid advice on pitching to their playlist editors, and we have an article that offers up even more.
6. Play gigs
It’s obvious, but gigs are one of the best ways to promote your music. There you can connect with fans, see what works and what doesn’t, and — if your show is on point — get lots of free publicity when your fans livestream your shows. Plus, a live performance is a great way to create video and audio content that you can use for promotion. Gigs are also the best place to meet other artists.
7. Make a music video
Videos are a great way to promote your song after release because you can share them on all your social media platforms. Music videos still have the power to instantly elevate you to pro-level status. And you don’t need fancy equipment to make a great video. Mac Miller used a GoPro and Metric used an iPhone.
8. Make other videos
Don’t just limit yourself to an official music video. Livestream your performances, film your studio sessions, interviews, concerts, etc. The more video content the better.
9. Ask another artist to remix your song
We indie artists have to stick together, which means helping each other promote our music. One great way to do this is to ask your fellow artists to remix your music. (And you should do the same for them.) This is a great way to get exposed to their fans. This is especially great if they are more established than you are.
10. Social media
It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: you’re going to want to shout out every single one of these steps on every single one of your social media platforms. Releasing your song? Social media. Playing a gig? Another social media post. Getting a remix? Post it!
11. Pitch your music to labels
Hey, you never know. Especially if you’ve started to build up a following. A rep liking your music is one thing, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get signed to record label. A rep being able to see that you also have a killer promotional campaign is going to be even more impressed because they’ll know how motivated, creative, and organized you are.
Time to promote your next song
Once your promotional campaign is over, give yourself a month to examine the results, see what worked and what didn’t, and use that information to inform the campaign for your next single.
Try reversing the process
Now that you’ve got some ideas for how to promote your song after release, keep them in mind when writing your next song. For example, if you discover a great location to film a video but it didn’t work for your last song, see if you can write a song around that location.