To build an audience for your music, it isn’t enough simply to post your tracks online. You need to market your music online, which is an active process that requires ongoing dedication across a number of platforms.
In this guide, we will cover the holistic approach that you need to master social media music marketing.
1. Integrate your approach across many platforms
One common newbie mistake is to pick a channel on social media and focus on it 100%. For most aspiring musicians, that channel is SoundCloud.
The problem with this approach is that each social media platform is just a tool in your marketing toolbox. You cannot build a foundation for success with just one tool. Posting on SoundCloud is not a comprehensive social media marketing strategy.
A complete social marketing campaign needs to incorporate multiple platforms. Don’t just use SoundCloud. Get active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Link up your profiles and send traffic between them. A lot of your followers on one site will also be present on other social media sites and will want to follow you on all of them.
On Facebook, you can even set up apps that allow FB followers to interact with the content you post on SoundCloud, Twitter, and other sites. They can do this without ever leaving Facebook.
Pay close attention to design when you set up each of your social media profiles. Make sure you are using consistent imagery, fonts, colors, and branding across all of them. If you can, try to use the same name and logo everywhere. That way followers will be sure they have found you.
You may be familiar with the Gestalt principle that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. That applies to marketing too. Each of your social media efforts augments the power of the rest. This focuses your marketing efforts into an influential beacon.
2. Develop a marketing persona
While you are setting up your social media profiles, you should also be identifying and studying your audience. Many new musicians approach their art without even considering this. They figure, “I will just do my thing, and the right people will find me.”
But who are the right people? At some point, you need to figure that out. Otherwise you cannot market to them. Marketing isn’t just shouting into a void and hoping for the best, but rather it’s a conversation.
Hopefully by now you have some fans. If you do, seek them out in person at shows and online. Learn more about their demographics, their interests, their habits, and their values.
If you don’t have many fans yet, look for bands which are similar to yours. What are their fans like?
Use what you learn about your current and potential fans to creating a marketing persona. This is a snapshot of your “average fan.” This is the person you will have in your mind when you are developing your marketing campaign.
Say for example that you make electronic dance music. Nielsen reports the following data about the average EDM fan:
Combining this data with your personal research, you can construct a fictitious persona:
- The typical electronic music listener is male.
- He is probably in the 18-24 age range.
- He is most likely white.
- He is well-educated.
- His total household income ranges anywhere from $25,000-$74,000.
Julian Black is a 23-year-old university student who lives in Los Angeles. He is studying to become a computer programmer and is well financed by his family. This gives him extra money to attend EDM festivals on the weekends. On weeknights, he goes clubbing. This is the major activity which he does with his friends to relax and meet new people. At school, he listens to electronic music while he studies. He does a lot of commuting and listens to his music while on the go as well.
Now when you plan out any promotional strategies, you don’t need to think in general terms. Instead, you can have Julian in mind when you are writing posts, designing marketing materials, and running promotions.
3. Follow the 70-20-10 rule
How do you actually distribute your time and effort when you are marketing?
One of the most common newbie mistakes is to spend it all pushing products. Desperate for sales, every post you make says, “Buy our album, buy our single, buy our tickets, buy our ____.”
The problem is that this is just shouting at people. There is no conversation, and marketing needs to be a dialogue.
For this reason, you should follow the 70-20-10 rule:
70% building your brand or “telling your story”
All of this content is promotional, but not blatantly sales. Your goal is to tell a story about your music. There are all kinds of forms this can take. Share pictures and videos of performances and jams, blogs about your tours, and insights into your lyrics. You can even send a message of appreciation to your fans.
The goal is to make your listeners want to be a part of your story.
20% sharing and cross-promoting other artists
As an artist, you rely on a network of giggers, fellow musicians, sound engineers, radio DJs, graphic designers, and others. Promote the albums, art, and events of the people and organizations that you care about. Some of these people may be established connections. Others may be connections you want to make. Make sure, however, everything you post is consistent with your message.
10% self-promotion and selling
In other words, only one out of every 10 posts you make should actually include a direct call-to-action to buy something. If done in moderation, you can make a direct ROI from your social media following. There are ways to go about this without being too obvious. For example, post a poll asking listeners which song off your new album is their favorite. You do not actually tell listeners to buy the album, but the only way they can participate is by doing so.
4. Use quality visuals and art
Nothing grabs attention and motivates followers to get involved like stunning visual content. Consider these impressive stats:
On sites like Instagram which focus almost entirely on visual content, strong images are a must. And even on SoundCloud, you will find that it is important to success. This comes back to the gestalt principle. Your marketing campaign as a whole is about crafting and selling your brand identity. You must do that with consistency across all channels. That means you need quality graphics for all your social media properties.
It is worth taking a moment here to talk a bit more about the principles of graphic design. Many musicians want to put together their own art, logos, fonts and graphics. They see this as integral to their artistic integrity.
But when we are talking about design, we are going beyond subjective aesthetic principles. Graphic design is not an exact science, but there are certain objective principles at work based on human psychology. Certain layouts are clearer, grab the eye, and communicate more than others. Certain typefaces are easier to read and can be used to evoke a particular message.
If you can afford it, it is worth it to invest in working with a great graphic designer. Find someone who relates to your vision and knows your target market. A professional designer can ensure that your visual content is tailored to the cultural lens and mindset of your average listener. This will make your posts stand out from the flood of amateur visual content!
5. Interact with your fans in a meaningful way
Social media is supposed to be social. It’s a two-way street, a give-and-take relationship. So many artists complain that nobody is paying attention to them. But when is the last time you paid attention to your fans?
What is great about the 70-20-10 rule is that it puts you back on track for meaningful interaction. Only 10% of your posts are blatant self-promotion, so that means you have 90% with which to interact.
By nature, all the posts you make promoting fellow artists and others in your industry are examples of meaningful interaction. However, you should also interact directly with your fans. Look for ways you can do that with that 70%.
For example, take the time to respond thoughtfully to comments from your fans. Say more than just “thank you.” Actually respond specifically to their comment and address them with their name. You can also visit your fans’ profiles. Maybe some of them are musicians too, and you can comment on their tracks. Or you can comment on whatever other creative content they produce.
There are lots of other ways you can do to meaningfully interact as well. One idea is to say show your appreciation by each day selecting a fan of the day. You could also try giving away free music to fans who regularly support your music.
6. Post consistently while maintaining quality
One of the hardest parts about running a social media campaign is staying involved. It can quickly turn into a full-time job if you are not prepared.
How often should you post? If you look around for suggestions, you will see many different timeframes recommended. Many people feel you should even post daily on all of your social media sites.
This may not be realistic given your time constraints however. So I would suggest you simply pick a schedule you can commit to and stick with that: reliability trumps frequency.
To make this easier, you can use a scheduling app like Buffer. This allows you to sit down and draft up all of your posts for the day or the week at one time. You can then pick a schedule of days and times for all your posts to go live.
Keep in mind that while you should post often, you need to keep it all relevant to your original intent. If you post just anything, you will not craft a message. You may also come across as spammy, which can cause people to un-follow you.
7. Optimize your profiles
I have talked a little bit about setting up profiles on different social media sites and making sure they are consistent. But one thing I haven’t discussed is ensuring that they are optimized for search.
If you haven’t yet, you may want to pick a page name which contains relevant keywords. These pages tend to rank higher in Google search than those which do not. Of course, as you are a musical artist, most people will be searching for you by name, so you can probably just go with your artist name.
The meta-description Google defaults to for Facebook results is generally the start of your bio, so have that in mind when you write yours. For Twitter, on the other hand, Google usually does not show the bio. Instead it shows a snippet from a recent tweet.
Note that you do not need to have keywords or phrases in your name, bio, or username for Twitter to pull up your profile on relevant internal searches. If you regularly make tweets which are relevant to a particular keyword, your profile may show up near the top.
On all your profiles (SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), keep your username as simple as possible. Stay away from dashes and other special characters. These make it hard to find you.
On every site, make sure you have a logo that displays clearly. Add in your social links and the link to your website. Provide contact information for bookings and press inquiries. Take advantage of special features which certain social media sites provide. SoundCloud for example allows you to highlight tracks. This pulls them to the top of your profile.
8. Build a promotional email list
Social media is all the rage in marketing these days for one simple reason: it is public. When success stories happen, they are often dramatic. Even if they aren’t, they can be made to appear dramatic.
This may lead you to think some old-fashioned marketing methods are dead, like email marketing. But email marketing is actually alive and well. In fact, it is arguably still the most powerful method you can use to promote your music. It just doesn’t get the attention because all of it happens behind the closed doors of peoples’ inboxes.
Just how effective is email marketing?
Seriously, if you don’t have an email list for your music, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
How can you build your email list?
Well, think about the marketing emails you opt into. Why do you sign up for company newsletters? In most cases, it is probably to snag discounts and special promotions.
So that is how you build your own email list: incentivize it. Promote it on your website and across social media channels. Use strong calls-to-action. Actually ask people to subscribe. Offer customers a cool freebie if they sign up, like a new track or a track of their choice. Routinely send out coupons, previews, and other cool stuff to your subscribers to hold their interest.
This is how you counteract the fact that organic reach on social media sites is starting to dwindle.
Keep in mind that most people who subscribe to email newsletters do not read or respond personally to them. They assume you are sending them out in bulk (which you probably are, even if you are segmenting). If you do attempt to write someone directly, they likely will not reply.
- 77% of consumers say they prefer opt-in email marketing over other means of advertising.
- You can expect an average ROI of $44.25 for every dollar you spend on email marketing.
9. SoundCloud is the king of social media music marketing
Hopefully you now understand why it is so important to maintain a presence on many different social media sites. But if you are going to choose just one to join, it should be SoundCloud. This is where people go to listen to music.
Because organic growth on this music-sharing platform is no longer what it once was, it is important to give yourself an extra boost if you can. Consider buying plays and followers. This will provide you with social credibility where people subconsciously take you and your music more seriously. This in turn will kickstart and accelerate organic growth.
When you purchase plays and followers, make sure that you are buying them from a company that knows what they are doing. Purchasing plays and followers has gotten an unfair bad rap over the years. This is because many companies spam fake plays and follows. When this happens, everyone can see it. Often they come from new accounts. This is a dead giveaway.
Pick a company that uses only older accounts with filled-out profiles and plenty of activity. The new follows and plays should all be drip-fed so that everything looks natural. Do this and you will build a real organic following swiftly.
For more information on effective marketing tactics for SoundCloud, don’t miss this resource “Creating a Marketing Plan for SoundCloud.”
Many musicians who are new to marketing think that a marketing plan just consists of one thing. They post a bunch of tracks to SoundCloud and walk away. Or they spam Facebook with posts that say, “Buy our new EP!” over and over.
But the key to successful marketing is having a holistic plan. This plan should incorporate many creative efforts across multiple social media sites.
It takes a great deal of time and effort to market your music successfully. You will probably spend as much time marketing as you do creating. So be prepared for a long journey ahead. But with determination and a growing loyal fan base on your side, you can succeed!
- Get active on SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Unite your efforts across many platforms.
- Develop a marketing persona. Understand who you are selling to.
- Follow the 70-20-10 rule. The vast majority of your posts should tell a story about your music, not tell people to buy this or that.
- Post professional-quality visuals and art. Work with a real graphic designer if possible.
- Interact meaningfully with your fans. Treat marketing as a two-way conversation, not a one-way street.
- Post consistently while maintaining quality. Get a scheduling app to make this process more efficient.
- Optimize your profiles for search.
- Build an email list with calls-to-action and promotions.
- Purchase plays and followers on SoundCloud. With this valuable social proof, you can finally start building an organic following.