Technology has certainly disrupted many industries and has forced us to do business differently. And the music industry is no exception.
In this day and age, it’s all about online music. Consumers want instant gratification and so what do they do?
They search online for their favourite sounds, new releases on free music download and streaming websites.
In 2020 and it’s imperative for musicians to have a good online presence – It is a must!
So I decided to put together an essential list of online music marketing tools that you can use.
- Self-Hosted Website
- Online Media and Blogs
- Social Media
- Electronic Press Kit
- Digital Service Providers
- Music Websites
- Google Adwords
If you are planning to shoot music videos (and you should), it’s important to upload them on YouTube first rather than take the conventional route of taking it broadcasters such as the SABC, multichoice, etc.
If nobody knows who you are, chances are your music video might not even air. Taking the YouTube route first allows you to build a following in the form of subscribers on your YouTube channel.
Once that is done and having created an online buzz, then you can consider approaching the broadcasters – but for now just get the online community talking first.
A podcast is audio content. If you are a DJ/Producer, you can pre-record your mixes and upload them on Podomatic for example.
Then you can hype this up by promoting your mix on social media and encourage your followers to download it free of charge.
Which marketing channels you use for this is completely up to you. Podcasts work best if you are planning to create audio content as mentioned.
As a musician, nothing stops you from thinking outside the box. You can create a show for your record label or music band and promote this on your website (by embedding the code) or via social media.
3. Self-Hosted Website
Most Independent musicians that I’ve personally come across don’t really see value of a personal artist website.
But a website is a must and I’ll explain why.
The above platforms which I have mentioned (YouTube and Podcasts) are websites but except that you don’t own a piece of it.
These third-party sites allow you to host your music on their platforms for “free”.
But it’s not really free because when you tell people that “my music is available on such and such as website. Their brand becomes more popular and that’s what they encourage you to do in the first place.
And as a result more and more people flock the site and either sign-up or just visit the site for the latest content.
So it only makes sense that you create your own self hosted website. By self-hosted website, I’m referring to website with your own domain (www.yourartistname.co.za).
I’ve seen many labels and artists taking short cuts and creating a “website” using third-party platforms such as blogger.com and weebly.com and so forth.
There’s nothing wrong with such an approach. But it’s not good enough when you’re thinking long-term.
Third-party sites won’t allow you to create a personalized self-hosted website; unless you can purchase a domain (Wix.com though has an option where you can add a domain).
A personal self-hosted website will allow you to do the following:
- Choose your own hosting company
- Create a unique design and theme of your choice
- Create your own online music download policy
- Build traffic to your own platform (your website of course)
- Build a brand
- Create a long-term asset
4. Email Subscribers
Email subscribers go hand in hand with a website. If you have a website then capturing emails becomes much easier.
But how do you get email subscribers in the first place?
Well first of all, you need to add a subscriber option on your website in order to get other people’s emails.
However that’s the easy part. Most people would not be willing to part with their email address just like that.
So what do you do?
Instead you have to find a way to incentivise your potential followers or visitors. So in other words, you can say to them “in order to a get a free download of my new song, I need your email first”.
That’s sounds like a better proposition don’t you think?
The more emails you collect, the more followers you have.
But it’s easier said than done, because you have to build your website traffic (which is the challenging part) and produce music that resonates with the people (your market to be exact).
5. Online Media and Blogs
Most music online in South Africa is promoted either via online media or blogs. Most of these platforms are called music blogs whether it’s an online magazine or a traditional blog which creates content from scratch.
But in most cases the objective is almost the same – which is to promote artists (up and coming and established) and new music online.
As an Independent artist, online media and blogs came push your career to even greater heights because of the massive exposure you can get.
Most of these online media platforms have huge traffic volumes of visitors each day.
For example if a blog has 50K visitors per day and publishes your artist profile and music that means you will be potentially exposed to 50K people in a single day.
In South Africa and depending on the genre of music of course, you can approach the following websites to promote your music:
- SA Music News
- Underground Press
If you have enough time on your hands, nothing stops you from creating your own blog and promoting your music (using links), shows and written content.
You can do this by setting-up a blog section on your website or you can sign-up for a free account on Tumblr or wordpress.com
But blogging requires dedication because its time consuming and you should only do this if you have the temperament and stamina to see this through.
6. Social Media
Social media is quite obvious and there’s no way I was going to exclude it from the list. Facebook is the largest social media platform by market share.
And it’s hard to argue with that because almost everyone that I can think of has a Facebook account.
You shouldn’t exclude other social media sites though. But focus on where your market or followers spend most of their time. This will also be determined by the kind of music you make.
If your market is on Twitter, then you should focus on promoting and engaging on that platform.
But don’t spread yourself too thin too soon because chances are you don’t have the time and luxury to be on every social media site at the same time.
So be strategic when using social media.
7. Electronic Press Kit
This might not be an obvious choice for most artists but you should consider creating an electronic press kit. An electronic press kit is more like your CV which you use to get the attention of promoters, journalists, etc.
You can read the following post on sonicbids to learn how to create an electronic press kit.
8. Digital Service Providers
In the past music distribution in general was a challenge for many independent artists and labels.
But digital distributors came along and made things easier for the average artist to get their music out to the rest of the world.
Because most distributors will request your business or label details which includes but not limited to the following:
- Label Name and registration number
- Physical or Postal Address
- ISRC Codes
- Back Catalogue (If you do have any but sometimes it’s not a pre-requisite)
A good digital distributor will ensure that your music is delivered and available in most digital stores worldwide on time.
This will give you exposure to a global audience where prospective fans and followers can either download or stream your music on websites such as iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, Google Play Music and so forth.
If you are based in South Africa, you can get in touch with local music distributors. However you are not restricted to work South African distributors and so below is a list of digital distributors that I would also recommend:
- CD Baby
- Label Worx
9. Music Websites
Online music is at an all-time high right now and you might want to look into creating artist profiles on various music websites.
But the word “music websites” sounds so vague and I don’t want to leave you confused, so I’ll explain this further.
Digital Service providers (distributors) provide a distribution service for a fee as explained on the previous point.
But when you create a profile on a music website like SoundCloud the intention (well I assume) is to promote your music and gain a following and not to sell anything.
Besides Soundcloud there’s plenty of music websites that you might want to use for cross promotion as well as building a solid online presence.
Most of these websites also allow you to add links to your personal websites and social media accounts.
You can create artist profiles on the following music websites free of charge:
10. Google Adwords
Before you even consider using Google Adwords, it’s important to understand what you’re really getting yourself into.
Google Adwords is a paid service which businesses and brands use to advertise the products and services.
But you need to have a website in order to use Google Adwords.
My take on this is that paid advertising would be ideal if you have a large following and want to encourage people to buy your music and merchandise on your own website.
However this doesn’t come cheap because you pay (the amount varies) each time someone clicks on your website. And there’s no guarantee that you will generate any sales.
Consider this BUT with caution because you can easily lose capital that you can’t afford to burn. (Take it from me because I know what I’m talking about).
Marketing your music online is a must if you are serious about building a music career in 2020 and beyond.
Technology is changing faster than we can all imagine and some of the things that I have listed above might be deemed redundant in years to come.
But there is no doubt that people prefer online music than ever before. So as an artist or label you have no choice but adapt because that is the nature of the beast (and it’s been like for quite for sometime now).