Want help marketing your music in 2022?
These marketers are worth following.
Look, there are a ton of voices out there claiming to have expertise – to the point that it’s kind of obnoxious, right?
As the founder at Two Story Media (a music PR agency), I’ve engaged with a ton of them (I feel like I’m signed up for 8,000 music marketing newsletters) and tested a bunch of their strategies. This list is my attempt at filtering through the noise to showcase some of the people I’ve found most helpful in the industry.
Before I dive in, some quick hits:
- Best blog: Ari’s Take (Ari Herstand)
- Best YouTube channel: Indie Music Academy (Ryan Waczek)
- Best newsletter: Passive Promotion (Brian Hazard)
Okay, let’s break things down in a little more detail. Here are the top music marketers to follow in 2022. I think if you track with these people, you’ll have pretty well-rounded industry knowledge – and hopefully be well-positioned to grow your own fanbase.
1. Ari Herstand
Primary platform: Ari’s Take
Claim to fame: Ari’s made a long-term career as a working musician and literally wrote the book on the music industry (How to Make it In the New Music Industry… I accidentally ended up with two copies. That was a mistake, but reading the book is definitely not).
Why you should follow Ari: Two words: depth and passion. Read / listen to / watch anything Ari puts out, and you’ll see what I mean. Ari is anti-fluff. I’ve contributed to his site, and I can tell you editorial standards are high. Respect.
His post reviewing the top music distributors is legendary for its detailed breakdown of the pros, cons, and features of each platform. His book dives into virtually every area of the music industry (including a literal neighborhood-by-neighboorhood breakdown of where to live in LA or Nashville). His podcast has covered every topic from NFTs to microsync licensing with experts across the field.
He’s even helped craft legislation in California that cleaned up the AB5 bill so musicians can perform and get paid (I understand about 12% of what went into that, but he’s got a great article on it here.)
Bottom line: It’s so clear that Ari legitimately cares about musicians, and it’s equally clear that he knows a ton about the music business. If you want to know more about the music business, too, you should follow him. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you can sign up for his newsletter.
2. Omari (Nathaniel Moore)
Primary platform: OmariMC.com
Claim to fame: Omari is kind of the guy when it comes to actually doing music promotion. His company has worked with 17,000 artists on promotional campaigns and helped major labels like Capitol Records and Universal Music Group.
Why you should follow Omari: He’s an expert at all things music promo and he’s incredibly innovative.
I first stumbled onto Omari four years ago; I was scrolling through my ultra-lame Facebook feed when I stopped to watch his video on avoiding playlist scams. It was super solid, and it convinced me to give him a shot. Since then, I’ve run multiple campaigns with Omari, and they’ve all returned legitimate results. That led to me signing on as an affiliate with his agency.
It’s been a fun ride and I’m pretty confident it’s only going to get better; every time I talk with Omari, I come away impressed with his forward-thinking ideas. (He just launched his own crypto coin, for example.)
If you want to track with what Omari’s doing, I’d recommend subscribing to his podcast, No Nonsense Music Marketing. Most episodes are like five minutes, and, as the title suggests, they’re no nonsense / straight to the point on a bunch of good topics.
Bottom line: If you want to know about Spotify promo, social promo, or anything innovative in the industry, you should track with Omari.
3. Ariel Hyatt
Primary platform: Cyber PR
Claim to fame: Ariel is the founder of Cyber PR music (one of the most respected indie PR firms out there) and the author of five bestselling books, including The Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity. (I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read it. I should.) Basically, she knows how to get indie music covered.
Why you should follow Ariel: Read this interview Ariel gave to Disc Makers and I think you’ll get the idea. Ariel is a) highly knowledgable about music PR, and b) highly bullshit-averse.
I love her take on the PR industry and her willingness to say uncomfortable truths: “If you have zero followers on social media, your website looks like crapola, and you’re not dialed up around the net… That should come way before you start with PR.”
Bottom line: If you’re thinking about working with a PR firm (or if you want insight on how to manage your own press), Ariel is the #1 person I’d recommend following.
4. Brian Hazard
Primary platform: PassivePromotion.com
Claim to fame: Brian’s the guy behind Color Theory, a synthwave project that’s been placed in the Just Dance and Rock Band video games, won John Lennon’s Songwriting Contest, and gotten played on MTV. He’s also an awesome marketer.
Why you should follow Brian: He runs his own music marketing campaigns, and each month(ish), he does a detailed breakdowns of his tactics that is always super helpful.
I think I found Brian when I was googling how to set up Facebook ads; he’s written on the topic a bunch of times and has spent tens of thousands of his own cash testing different strategies. His approach was literally the blueprint I used when I started running my own ads. (It worked pretty well, although things have changed a lot since 2018.)
Since then, I’ve tracked with him closely and learned a ton. (I asked him to review my book when I put it out in 2020 – he politely declined but was super nice about it.)
Another awesome thing about Brian: He’s not trying to sell you anything. No course, no consulting offer – nothing. He’s literally just putting his knowledge out into the world.
It’s really cool.
Bottom line: Honestly, if you sign up for just one marketer’s newsletter on this list, I’d recommend this one. You won’t get comprehensive thoughts on every music marketing topic under the sun, but you will get to walk with a successful artist / marketer as he runs real campaigns. (And it’s only sent once a month.)
5. Ryan Waczek
Primary platform: Indie Music Academy
Claim to fame: Ryan’s a successful indie musician (his music won an Emmy!) and he’s helped 50k+ musicians grow their fanbases with his YouTube content.
Why you should follow Ryan: He has the 11,243rd coolest hair in Nashville.
Sorry, I’ve made that joke a lot and I still think it’s funny. In all seriousness, here are two huge reasons to track with Ryan: 1) he’s super helpful and 2) he’s likably humble.
He’s clearly an expert on the music business side of things (check out his breakdown of royalties, for example), but he communicates things in a simple, easy-to-understand way.
I first got in touch with Ryan a couple of years ago when I was ramping up the marketing side of Two Story Melody; I’d seen one of his videos, hopped on his email list, and then responded to something he sent out. We had a quick conversation, and since then he’s become one of my good friends in this space. I just worked through his Music Selling Through Storytelling course, and it’s great – if you want to learn how to connect with your fans and sell your music without being cringe-y, that course is as good as it gets.
Bottom line: If you want to simplify the process of growing your fanbase, follow Ryan’s YouTube channel.
6. Rick Barker
Primary platform: RickBarker.com
Claim to fame: Rick was Taylor Swift’s manager until 2008 and he’s done consulting for major labels.
Why you should follow Rick: He’s good, especially when it comes to social media.
Most of Rick’s content is educationally focused – meaning that he sells a bunch of different courses, and from what I’ve found, they’re all solid. I’ve put into practice the things he teaches in his social media course, and the tactics work. His larger courses often incorporate other experts from around the industry (the course that I think is his flagship offering has a video module with Omari, for example, where they talk about Spotify promo).
But that’s not to say his free stuff isn’t good. I recently watched a free, hour-long webinar he gave on the topic of releasing music, and I came away with three drop-dead tactical things I wanted to try. (Did you know you can run pre-save campaigns after you release a song? I guess I knew that if I’d thought about it… but I’d never even thought about it.)
Bottom line: If you want to grow your social media following, Rick’s a good resource to check out.
7. Adam Ivy
Primary platform: Adam Ivy (YouTube Channel)
Claim to fame: Adam has a great voice and talks fast while still managing to say pretty good things. He’s also a working producer and has collaborated with G-Eazy and ModSun.
Why you should follow Adam: I’ll be honest, I don’t think Adam’s style is for everyone; it can come off a bit hype-y for my taste at times. But I also recognize that some people need the hype to get inspired to take action, and beneath the slick setup, Adam offers a lot of good info.
From mindset videos (like “Stop Feeding Your Ego”) to tactical music business videos (like “How to Split Music Royalties Without An Accountant”), he’s got content on pretty much every music marketing tactic under the sun.
If you’re interested in working more closely with Adam, he offers a course called “Sell My Music Masterclass” every few months or so. You can join the waitlist here.
Bottom line: If you need to be talked out of your rut, watch some Adam Ivy videos, then go take on the world.
8. Todd McCarty
Primary platform: Heat on the Street
Claim to fame: Todd was the GM of indie label Fearless Records and a former VP of Sales at Sony Music.
Why you should follow Todd: Todd has a really cool blend of indie expertise and big-time-label expertise, and he’s very tactically minded; you won’t get any fluff from his stuff. Check out his deep dive on Spotify Marquee costs to see what I mean. Todd works with a bunch of acts one-on-one, and he pulls campaign data from that work to offer insight and hard numbers in his content.
It’s good stuff.
(Also, side note: I got a kick out of putting Todd and Adam Ivy back-to-back on this list – stylistically, Todd is kind of the opposite of Adam.)
Bottom line: If you want tactical advice from someone who’s been on both sides of the indie-label spectrum, Todd’s your guy.
9. Tom Dupree III
Primary platform: Tom DuPree III (YouTube Channel)
Claim to fame: Tom has experience as a label artist, but left that life to go indie and document the journey of building his fanbase.
Why you should follow Tom: Tom takes a similar approach to Brian Hazard – he’s living the life of an indie musician, documenting what works and what doesn’t, and sharing it along the way. (I’m a sucker for this approach; it’s a breath of fresh air in a fake-guru-saturated world.)
“You won’t find any advice here without personal action to back it up,” he explains on his website. “If it’s on offer, it’s because I’ve done it.” He also offers one-on-one consulting, a course on Spotify growth, and a community membership.
I found Tom when I was working on setting up Facebook ads; his videos walk through screens in his own account, and he’s got a knack for explaining things in a simple, easy-to-understand way.
Bottom line: If you want to join an indie artist as they test marketing strategies (and learn a bunch along the way), follow Tom’s YouTube channel.
Final thoughts: This list is incredibly subjective.
There are a bunch of people I almost put on here (Leah McHenry, Michael Walker, and Damien Keyes come to mind – and there are plenty of others). Don’t take this as the set-in-stone truth or a dig at any person not listed. Just take it as a place to start if you want to learn more about music marketing.
All right, that’s all I’ve got. Now get out there and market your music – and good luck!