In today’s competitive industry, it’s not enough to just produce quality music; you need to know how to reach the right audience and keep them engaged. Creating an effective strategy is crucial when building a loyal fan base, selling your music, and getting recognized by industry professionals.
As someone who has been in the industry for over a decade, I understand how challenging it can be to keep up with the latest techniques to promote your music. When artists ask me where to start, I always recommend focusing on creating great content, selecting a platform that suits you, and consistently posting every day.
Once you have the fundamentals covered, you can dive deeper into the specifics of music promotion. In this day and age, there are nine top music strategies that will help you make the most of your creativity in 2023 – and I’m here to share them with you.
Streaming platforms have changed the way we consume and listen to music, and there is no way back. Make sure you make the most of what they can offer to you as an artist: Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer are crucial places to discover new music nowadays, and the level of an artist’s career is often measured by the number of monthly Spotify listeners, so understanding how to grow on the platform is really a must-do.
Make sure your profile is optimized, your pictures and links to social media platforms are updated, and you have a verified badge.
Get your music listed on the popular playlists. Playlists are a tool that can help you promote your music without investing plenty of time and money. Some of the playlists have millions of listeners, and being listed on one of these can generate a lot of traffic on your profile. Spotify allows you to pitch your music to playlist curators, and you can also use one of the numerous marketing services that will promote your music and help get a playlist placement, but overall, the bigger presence you have on social media, the higher your chances of being included in one of the playlists.
I feel like I’ve been talking a lot recently about TikTok, but hey, that’s the way it is – we are living in an era where the short format is king. If you are not on TikTok yet, make sure you get there fast. TikTok is one of a few social media platforms that reported growth in 2023 (by 16% from last year), and if you want to stay in the game, you should focus on building your presence on the app.
TikTok offers a wide array of tools for collaborating with other creators and promoting your content, and it’s been long known as a place where musicians can blow up in a matter of weeks. It’s also a platform where you don’t have to take yourself too seriously; make silly videos, record yourself performing to your own music with a front camera, or show behind-the-scenes moments. It’s all ok on TikTok as long as your fans can relate.
What I say here will also link to the previous point: if you want to embrace the power of social platforms, your music needs to be seen, not only heard. You may say you’re a musician and not a performer, but in 2023, the lines between the two are blurrier than ever.
You don’t need a choreographed professional music video to get visibility; while performing a dance routine to your own track can be a way to start a viral trend, I get that you may not be up for the challenge. Start with lip-syncing to your own music or posting videos from live performances. A great thing about video content is that once you build a solid collection of material, you can recycle it in various formats and variations.
Your fans are your most active supporters, and you should be spending a good deal of time connecting with them through various media. Respond to comments and messages, create exclusive content, offer merchandise, and build a community around your music where people feel engaged and have a sense of belonging.
It might sound simple, but creating a community takes time and consistent effort. After many years of running a record label and a community for musicians, I can assure you that supporting your community requires constant attention. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; connecting with your audiences can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your career, and it will allow you to gain valuable feedback on your artistic process.
Community engagement is a crucial component of social and digital platforms, and no matter which platform you focus on, you will have plenty of tools at your disposal to keep in touch with your fans. Programs like “Spotify Fans First” allow you to create a unique experience and reward your most loyal supporters.
There are numerous ways to involve your community; for example, creating or participating in music forums and discussion groups is a beneficial way to connect with the audience on a deeper level. Offering educational materials, workshops, or mentor programs will provide added value for your listeners.
Whichever path you choose, one thing is certain: your audience is a central part of your journey as a musician, and building a thriving community can enrich your experience and bring more exposure.
Platforms like TikTok encourage authenticity; the artists whose music resonates the most with the Gen Z audiences, such as Billie Eilish, Em Beihold, or Loren Gray, do what legendary rockstars did before them: explore themes of mental health, difficult relationships, and emotional struggles while being raw and authentic.
There are many moments in your life, both lows and highs, worth sharing with your fans, so be yourself and be honest. Whatever the experience you had, there are people out there who will be able to connect with it.
It won’t come as a surprise when I say that collaborating with other artists should be high on your strategy list. Working with other musicians not only doubles up your promotional efforts and allows you to reach out to new audiences but also helps you gain valuable insights and share your expertise.
Partner with other musicians on new releases, live gigs, promotional campaigns, or anything else that will allow you to expand your network. While collaborating with a musician who is ahead of you is always a good promotional step, don’t hesitate to get involved in projects with artists on the same level or even slightly less successful; as long as they produce quality content, it may also be beneficial for your career.
You may get lucky and strike a deal with an artist who will help you elevate your career: Lil Nas X had his first single taken down from the Billboard Country Hot 100 chart only to come back with a new version of the same song recorded together with Billy Ray Cyrus and to stay on top of the list for the record 19 weeks.
Some of the greatest songs of all time come from sometimes unexpected collabs, think Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, Run DMC, and Aerosmith, or Linkin Park and Jay Z.
Releasing regular music can be demanding, and you should be excited when you get a new album to share with your fans. Start promoting the new material way ahead of the release date; to ensure you have everything under control, make a list of tasks and channel updates where you will notify your audience. Don’t stop on a single post; each album is an opportunity to create various types of promotional content, such as music videos, shorts, social media countdowns, and sneak peeks.
Publishing a new album or a single is an opportunity to reach out to media outlets, radio stations, and your collaborators to get maximum coverage.
Take advantage of a pre-save campaign; it’s the equivalent of a pre-sale for a physical product and allows your audience to receive the track on their streaming platform profile as soon as it’s released.
The pandemic changed the way we interact with and consume culture and took its toll not only on musicians. In 2020, live performances were an integral part of an artist’s path; today, many musicians focus mostly on the digital realm (and even perform digital concerts), yet the real experience and physical albums still have great value, and many fans are willing to pay more for their favorite album in a vinyl form or the ability to see a live performance of the artist they love.
Playing live is a great way to generate quality content for your social channels and spark a genuine connection with your audience. When a West Coast rapper, LaRussell, started organizing performances in his backyard in 2022, allowing his fans to join a private show for up to 50 people, some of the participants were willing to fly across the country to take part in the event.
You may not have a backyard big enough to host a performance, but performing live, even in small venues, is always a great way to promote your music.
When you start seeing some results after posting consistently on socials and streaming platforms, it’s a good moment to start running ads and give your music a bit of a push. Paid advertising can be an effective way to get to the next level, but it has to be done smartly.
You don’t have to make huge investments from the start. By now, you should be able to identify the content that regularly gets more attention than others; this is your candidate for paid ads. Recycle the extra money you make from running ads and use them to support your campaigns on your most successful platforms. If the music you promote is worth it, the strategy will definitely pay off.
If you have a defined strategy, are producing quality music, and know your audience, these strategies will take your career to the next stage. Depending on the starting point and your objectives, you may be able to expand your audience, earn more through sales and streams, land a few gigs, or even sign a record deal.
If, after months of consistently promoting your music, you still don’t see significant results, look back and try to answer these questions:
- Do I have clearly defined and achievable goals?
- Is my music the best it could be, considering my abilities and circumstances (you’ll probably never think it is, but try to be objective)?
- Do I know what works and what doesn’t in my strategy?
- Am I making the most out of my network?
If your answer is “yes” each time, then keep going, and results will come. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, try to redefine your approach before you release your music. Achieving tangible results takes time, so be patient and don’t give up.
As always, good luck!