TL;DR: These are, in our experience, the 10 best indie music promotion services:
- Omari’s Organic Promotion
- Playlist Push
- Indie Music Academy
- Starlight PR
- Planetary Group
- Independent Music Promotions
- Pressed PR
- Playlist Promotions
- Cyber PR
- Behind the Curtains Media
- Juss Russ Digital Marketing
- Two Story Media
Some background: Making indie music can be really discouraging.
Here’s how it often goes. You put countless hours and basically your entire soul and maybe your firstborn child’s soul, too, into a song. You work it through recording, production, mixing, mastering. You freaking love it. You arbitrarily mark up a release date, blast the news on your socials, and get overly hyped. You wait in eager anticipation for the day to arrive. Finally, release day comes, and… crickets.
Maybe you get a few thousand plays. Maybe you get a congratulatory text from your mom. And then, a week after your song is out, you realize that nobody’s really going to hear it. You check your Spotify Artist stats and see one playlist save. It was you. You saved your song to your own playlist.
Yeah, being an indie artist can be the worst.
The good news is that there are indie music promotion services that can legitimately help. Here’s our review of the 10 best indie music promo services that are actually worth it.
I’m a fan of Omari (which is why I’m definitely an affiliate, just so ya know). He does pretty much everything – Spotify promo, YouTube promo, Soundcloud promo, press releases – and (a big selling point for me) he’s pretty transparent about what you can expect when you work with him. I’ve communicated with him for multiple campaigns and he’s always been very responsive and helpful. You can read our full review of an Omari campaign here – it’s detailed and honest.
It’s also worth noting that he’s a pretty affordable starting point for a lot of indie artists, with Soundcloud promo starting at $47.
For Soundcloud, he reposts songs to hundreds of thousands of followers. For Spotify, he places songs in playlists. YouTube is a little more complicated, with geographic targeting options available depending on your budget.
If you know what kind of promotion you want, Omari’s a good spot to get it. Here’s the link again.
Playlist Push is another good option for indie artists specifically focused on Spotify streams. While they’ve recently expanded to offer Tik Tok promotion, my feeling is that Spotify is their sweet spot. I just ran a campaign with them to drive streams and it was pretty successful – 40k+ streams and ongoing algorithmic growth. Here’s my full, detailed review.
They basically work with a bunch of independent playlist curators to push indie music to the masses – currently, they’ve got 900 curators involved and a cumulative listening audience of over 25 million people. They’re also relatively affordably priced, with campaigns starting around $300 and the average campaign running $450. (Cool bonus because I’m an affiliate: if you enter code CXUFDQ2, you’ll get a discount.)
If you’re looking to get more people than your mom to listen to your music on Spotify specifically, this is a great option. Here’s the link. (And hit that code up to get the discount.)
A third great option for Spotify-specific promotion: Ryan Waczek’s Indie Music Academy. Ryan is my friend, a great guy, and an expert at generating Spotify playlists placements because his curator network is solid. I recently ran a playlisting campaign using his service and totaled 25k+ streams in less than a month.
And, as Ryan’s diligent in noting, those are legit streams. Click on over to Indie Music Academy, and you’ll find a ton of helpful info on how to determine whether playlists have genuine engagement or not. Long-story-short: the Indie Music Academy team filters through Spotify to find lists that are actually ranking in search results, then makes sure that listener engagement patterns match the patterns of, you know, real people (aka not bots).
While Indie Music Academy doesn’t offer the breadth of promotional services that some other companies on this list do, they’re a great option for hands-on Spotify promo.
4. Starlight PR
These guys are a little bigger. Their past clients include a few people you may have heard of, like, I don’t know, Post Malone and Cardi B. And yes, they have a package that starts at $39,999. (Probably better to get a Tesla instead though if you have that kind of cash sitting around.) But they also have starter packages geared toward indie artists that are legitimate and helpful.
Their indie starter package is currently sitting at $479, which, admittedly, is still a chunk of change. But it comes with at least seven blog placements, a press release, and a guaranteed interview spot with an influential publication. Honestly, for all of that, it’s not a bad deal. Here’s the link.
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Song Release Checklist (21 Steps)
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Another big one. These guys have worked with everyone from Ray Lamontagne to Katy Perry to Kings of Leon. But, again, they have promo packages for small, insignificant indie artists like you and me, too. I’ve communicated with Adam, their founder, and I’ve consistently heard that they’re “professional and good to work with” from people I trust.
From their service page:
It doesn’t matter if you’re an established artist, you’re working on your first album, or just recorded your first song in your bedroom – we can find a way to help.
Planetary’s big thing is customization. They don’t sell packages as much as they do services, so you have to have a pretty clear understanding of your needs and goals going in if you want their promotion to be effective. But again, they’re undeniably good.
YouGrow is focused on two areas: Spotify and YouTube. I haven’t run a YouTube campaign with them (yet), but I was happy with the results I got from their Spotify efforts.
I worked with Matt, who’s really friendly, knowledgable, and responsive – definitely a plus on the customer-service side of things. We were able to get my client’s track four pretty solid placements that drove around 10,000 streams. I’ve run campaigns that’ve gotten better results, but for the cost, those results were solid.
And from what I could tell digging into the playlists and streams, the results were real person, non-bot stuff. The song’s algorithmic reach has continued to grow, too, which is a good sign.
Bottom line, if you know you want to boost Spotify streams or YouTube plays, these guys are worth a look.
I like these guys because they focus on “music with depth” – a concept that’s near and dear to my own heart. Here’s how James Moore (I.M.P. founder) describes it:
We only promote high quality, inventive bands and artists. If you are a musical talent who embodies creative gusto and are brave enough to try something unique, then we want to hear from you.
I love that. I guess if you’re intentionally making generic pop music, it may not be your thing. But if you’re putting heart into your music, I think it’s worth a shot.
I.M.P.’s standard campaigns are a little pricier than some of the other options on the list, with traditional packages starting at $795 (although that intro option comes with 10 guaranteed placements, which is solid). But the higher price is justified, because the work these guys do is fairly extensive and hands-on. James told me that they “start (at $795) because in each of our campaigns we reinvest a significant portion back into targeted advertising, sponsored news content, etc. ” So, yeah – you’re getting more than just basic press solicitation.
Bonus: if you mention code TWOSTORY when contacting them, you’ll get a 5% discount. Thumbs up for that.
And again, here’s the link. (Use that TWOSTORY code and make it count!)
8. PRESSED PR
Dawn from PRESSED PR was literally one of the first people I talked to when I started getting into the world of indie music promotion. She’d sent me a request for coverage on a Corey Kilgannon track (which I obviously obliged), and then was gracious enough to jump on the phone with me and talk about how she runs her business. Bottom line: she’s really good.
She does it all: branding, imagery (including live photo work), tour support, and music promo across pretty much every platform. She’s awesome at tailoring campaigns to artist needs, and pretty much every time I’ve been involved with one of her campaigns, I’ve been impressed (very slight pun).
If you’re an indie singer-songwriter, PRESSED PR is absolutely a great choice for promo, and Dawn is a great person.
The name is pretty straightforward – these guys focus on playlist promotion (as opposed to press packages or other social media platforms), and they do a good job, as I can personally attest to.
I ran a campaign through Steven, their PR Manager, for one of the artists I work with. In a couple of weeks, we were placed on three playlists with about 28,000 cumulative followers. Over the course of the following month we accumulated about 10,000 streams for the track we were working on.
Now, a couple of those placements came from international playlists, even though the band was US-based – but the streams were all clearly legit, even if they won’t translate to fans at shows anytime soon, and the playlist all featured English-only tracks. Playlist Promotion requires that artists submit an application, which means that a) they don’t take everyone because they want to ensure that submission fit their network, and b) they won’t just take your money and run (which, sadly, happens too often from some of the scammier promoters out there).
If you’re looking to increase your streams, Playlist Promotion is a service that’s definitely worth looking at. And, since I’m an affiliate with them, you can get $20 off your campaign with this code: 20off.
I’ve known about Shorefire for a while, because I’m on their press distribution list. Basically, that means I get a lot of great emails about great artists from this team, and sometimes I write about their roster (which includes Dave Matthews Band and Jewel). Shorefire is good at PR, no doubt.
But I avoided putting the company on this list for one reason: I had them tagged in my head as a place for signed artists to get publicity – and this list is supposed to be a list of the best services for indie artists.
But, as it turns out, Shorefire does work with indie acts. In fact, Ari Herstand (who’s literally been called “the poster child for indie music”) used the company to run press for his latest album. So, I revised my categorization, and here they are on the list.
All that said, yes, these guys are good. If you’re looking to run a major press campaign – meaning get your work featured in places like Rolling Stone, NPR, Stereogum, and other very-top-tier-outlets – this is one of your best shots. It’ll be pricier than most of the other agencies listed here, but the work will be good.
11. Cyber PR
Cyber PR is a press company, so they’re focused on written coverage rather than driving streams, TV, or anything else.
To be honest, I don’t have firsthand experience with the firm, but I am a fan of Ariel Hyatt. I think I discovered her through a series of interviews she did with Discmakers that I absolutely loved for the honesty factor. A highlight:
“Music PR is not ordering a hamburger at McDonald’s. You don’t say ‘I want onions, take the lettuce off, and add extra cheese.’ That’s not how it goes. It’s all about timing, it’s all about having music that fits into today’s zeitgeist, whatever’s trendy and popular on most music blogs, that’s going to get more PR than something that’s more niche-y or esoteric.”
Ah, so true. (Even if it’s somewhat sad.)
Anyway, from what I’ve heard and seen, Cyber PR is very good at what they do. Notably, they offer a full “tune-up” before running PR campaigns; that positions artists to get more meaningful results than they’d achieve by simply pushing for press.
I’ve featured a few Behind the Curtains artists on this very blog, and I’ve always been a fan of how communicative the team here is.
They basically do everything: Spotify promo, blog promo, radio promo. Like a few of the other agencies here, they’re focused on customized services, and their campaigns are pretty tailored to each artist’s needs. I’d say their sweet spot is medium-sized artists – you probably don’t want to pay up for these guys if you’re just starting out, but if you’re looking to take the next step, they’re a great choice.
Pricing depends on what you want, but they offer flexibility in monthly or pay-per-campaign rates. And here’s the link again.
Juss Russ is another one of the bigger agencies on this list – they’re actually the hip-hop-focused partner service to Artist Sounds. I’ve included them here because, if you’re in the hip hop genre, this is one of the top options to look at.
Like a lot of the other promoters, they offer pretty much everything: Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube, Audiomack, and more. One of their big differentiators is that they operate their own pretty influential platforms (like Juss Russ Radio), so they have some clout in the industry through those avenues. Pricing is the same as it is under the Artist Sounds brand.
14. Two Story Media
Yep, no shame: I’m including my own agency on this list. I’m biased but I think we’re pretty good. Basically, we help artists get featured in indie music blogs (like the one you happen to be reading).
Here’s the background: I started offering music promo services about a year into running Two Story Melody, when I realized that I was getting a tidal wave of submissions and that most of them were getting lost in my inbox. I hated that, to the point that I started offering free consulting to artists that I liked to help them avoid getting lost in the shuffle.
Things developed pretty naturally from there. I’m all about giving music a platform to be heard and understood, and I wanted to help artists avoid having their work fall into a black hole. Providing promo services seemed to be a good way to do it.
So what does that entail? Great question, you. We offer a minimum number of guaranteed blog placements (three to ten, depending on the size of the campaign), EPKs that are phenomenally written (yeah again I’m biased), and a focus on context (meaning we generally work with outlets that’ll listen and respond to your work vs. the ones that just post a link).
Final Thoughts on Indie Music Promotion
Look, the music industry is kind of spammy. There are a lot of people who sell music promotion services and probably don’t really get any results. There’s a lot of confusion around what “music promotion” actually means. A few tips:
Have a goal for promotion going in.
It seems so simple, but so many artists don’t have this thought out and want to pay for promo anyway. If you don’t have a goal, you’re probably wasting money. If you just want to “make it” or “get your music out there,” how the heck will you know if you’ve done it?
Music promo is most helpful when you’re working for something specific – blog coverage, a certain number of Spotify streams, a number of new email list signups. You get it.
Ask the agency or promoter a bunch of questions.
Things like: What artists have you worked with before? How does your process work? What results can I expect? Are results guaranteed? Will there be reporting throughout the campaign?
Basically just make sure common-sense things are covered before giving someone money.
Get promotion lined up before the release.
I get a lot of requests for music promotion from people who are pushing songs that have been out for weeks or months. Look, I don’t think it should be this way, but the reality is that a song is old news two weeks after it’s out. If you want to give yourself (and your promo company) the best chance at actually getting results, line things up a month ahead of time. It really makes a difference.
Promotion really can be worth it. It’s the difference between reaching people and sending a song into the void. After all you’ve put into the music, you owe it to yourself to make it count.
I also honestly think it’s best to choose a music promotion service instead of trying to do things yourself. Doing things yourself is definitely possible, and if you’re strapped for money you may need to go that route. But it’s genuinely depressing. The industry’s standard response rate is between 3-5%. That means that you’re going to have to pitch 100 people and get 97 “no’s” to get a few people to say “yes.” As an artist, that’s a grind, and all of the rejection it involves can have you unnecessarily doubting your music. Also, it can keep you away from what you probably like more: actually making music.
So do promo. And, if you can, hire a good agency to do it well for you.