Making great music and loving what you do is important. It’s why you do what you do. But as an independent artist, it takes a lot more than writing and recording songs, or releasing albums to be successful. It also takes marketing skills and a business mindset. The internet is also full of vague marketing tips for independent artists.
Marketing may not be the most glamorous work or the most fun, but knowing how to build hype for your brand is key for indie artist recognition and growth. I recently spoke with RMR’s CEO and Founder Mitch Pfeifer about how to turn up the noise and build brand awareness in today’s digital age. Below is a collection of important marketing tips for independent music artists and how to build hype for your brand.
Choose Your Media
What’s your best song? Not your favorite, but your best. The one everyone who hears it says, “You’ve got something there.”
The right song can get you a lot of attention fast, especially if you promote it well. Use that song, and specifically that song’s hook, as a jumping-off point to build hype for your brand. Consider using this part of the song to craft a creative video, dance, or social media trend.
Post on SoundCloud
SoundCloud widgets are easy to share and rank higher on popular online music engines like Hype Machine than other types of links. Use SoundCloud links to submit to music blogs, radio stations, reviewers, newsletters, and whenever sending music via email.
Respect My Region’s founder, Mitch Pfeifer, shared that “Soundcloud is still a valuable place to host your music for free, and they even offer distribution plans now for artists looking to take that next step. While it’s not the platform that may solely launch your career like it could 5-10 years ago, it’s still a valuable resource.”
Create Shorter, More Dynamic Content
In the digital age, it’s not 15 minutes of fame, it’s 15 seconds. In this case, your whole marketing campaign could and probably should swirl around a dynamic hook. The key is to get 15 seconds of music or video that people want to share. If you don’t have a video for the music, make one. Shoot your own clip, or use copyright-free, public domain footage.
The clip should encourage viewers to do one or more of the following:
- Share on social media
- Post their version of the video
- Answer a question
- Vote in a poll
- Do a TikTok Challenge
- Post comments
- Submit a caption
- Do a duet
- Make a response video
- Participate in a dance contest
- Re-post with a hashtag
Once you start brainstorming and posting your clips, you might find that the musical moments your current fans love are different from the ones that go viral (if they do). In any case, your song doesn’t have to be a full-blown masterpiece, but it needs to be a cut above the rest. This is one of the more important marketing tips for independent artists in our current day and age.
Build Hype for Your Brand
Once you have your media, your SoundCloud links, it’s time to dive into the deep end. This means posting across multiple platforms daily and submitting to music-specific mediums as often as possible.
Stick to one song at a time, and mostly to the clip of the song for social media. People these days have short attention spans, and there is a LOT of content out there, so keep it short and sweet.
If you’re promoting an album, you might want to still stick to promoting one song at a time. Otherwise, new listeners and professional media platforms could easily get confused. Making things difficult for influential people is the last thing you want but at the same time, it is important to clearly communicate that you have multiple songs, videos, or projects.
Respect My Region’s COO and Head Editor Joey Brabo says that “each new song you put out should have its own press release and dedicated press run.”
Post on Social Media
Social media platforms offer some of the best tools you can use to build hype for your brand. Use your song clips for all social media posts (except YouTube). Post the full video to YouTube, and if you don’t have a video, just attach a copyright-free photo.
Mitch Pfeifer, RMR’s founder, told us that “YouTube should be the home for your highest quality content. Then, you screen record and edit clips of that main piece of content to post on TikTok, IG Reels, Triller, Facebook, Twitter, etc.”
Here are some goals for social media:
- Get likes, comments, shares, and re-posts of your content
- Create paid ad campaigns
- Go viral
- Interact with fans and followers
- Jump on a trend
- Create a new challenge or trend
- Tell a story a piece at a time
- Build an interesting grid
Check out this article for more information on posting to social media.
Repeat the Message
You’ve got your hook and your video clip. The best way to make sure people remember you is to pop up again and again. But make sure you keep it fresh.
Switch up your tactics, and approach each social media platform with their unique algorithm in mind. Use images, video, storytelling, music, lyrics, hints, teases, direct requests (“Listen to the new song on…,”) links, reviews, quotes, ranking, placements, and whatever else you can think of to keep fans engaged and sharing your stuff.
Aside from social media, you can use a variety of print and online media to build hype for your brand. Get your song on indie radio stations, submit to music blogs, create and send press releases, and get playlist placements.
Submit your music to relevant companies, non-profit organizations, clubs, or specialty groups for exposure or potential sponsorship. Join a professional music organization like NSAI for Country and Americana artists or ISSA for hip hop artists.
Set Up Spotify
Before releasing new music, set up a Spotify pre-save campaign. Spotify ranks songs according to stream-to-engagement ratio, meaning the percentage of people who save your music to their playlist, queue, or library.
Creating a pre-save campaign can boost your ranking on Spotify, and by proxy, the number of times your song gets played. But it can also spur Spotify listeners to take action and incentivize followers on social media to order your next release before it’s even available. And it’s FREE.
Once you’ve got some momentum going, continue to build the hype by releasing follow-up tracks. Whether you’re releasing singles or albums, new content can keep your audience’s eyes on you.
- Release a follow-up single (after the first single and before the album release.)
- Collaborate with another artist. This gives both of you cross-exposure to each others’ fans.
- Put out a live recording or acoustic version of your song.
- Cover an existing song and put your own spin on it.
- Release a “B-side” – tracks that didn’t make the album cut.
- Make a remix.
Sign up for our email list to get free resources like this list of music blogs to submit to.