Ultimate Guide To Music Marketing For Independent Artists

Music marketing is the process of promoting and selling music to audiences. It involves a variety of strategies and activities aimed at increasing the visibility, awareness, and sales of singles, EPs, and albums.

Here’s a quick overview of the key component of music marketing:

Brand Development: This involves establishing an artist’s identity, which includes their image, style, and the message they want to convey through their music.

Promotional Activities: This includes a wide range of tactics such as releasing singles, music videos, and albums, as well as conducting interviews, performances, and tours.

Digital Marketing: With the rise of the internet, digital marketing has become crucial. This includes social media promotion, email campaigns, and digital ads, as well as leveraging streaming services and platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.

Public Relations (PR): PR efforts involve managing the artist’s image in the public eye through media coverage, press releases, and events.

Merchandising: Selling branded merchandise is another important aspect of music marketing, which can increase revenue and promote brand loyalty.

Fan Engagement: Engaging with fans through social media, fan clubs, meet and greets, and interactive experiences can help build a dedicated fanbase.

Data Analytics: Analyzing data from sales, streaming, and social media engagement helps in understanding audience preferences and tailoring marketing strategies accordingly.

Partnerships and Sponsorships: Collaborating with brands or other artists can expand an artist’s reach and provide additional marketing channels.

The ultimate goal of music marketing is to connect the artist with their target audience, build a fanbase, and drive revenue through music sales, streaming, concerts, and merchandise. Effective marketing strategies are tailored to the artist’s music genre, brand, and audience demographics.

In this comprehensive guide on music marketing you’ll learn everything you need to know from high level strategy to actionable tactics.

P.S. For some harsh truths about music marketing and promotion, refer to my article Why No One Cares About Your Music.

Do You Need A Record Label?

A record label is a company that distributes and promotes music. Depending on its size, a record label may also invest in artists, get involved in music production, and help develop artists’ careers over time.

I’ve independently released music and also with over four record labels. Each method has its pros and cons. As an artist, you should assess your strengths, weaknesses, and goals to choose the right path.

It’s evident that a record label isn’t necessary for releasing music. In fact, many of my top songs with millions of Spotify streams were self-released!

To learn more about what a record label does and whether you need one or not, refer to my article called What Exactly Does A Record label Do For Artists?.

How To Release Music Independently

Here are the 15 best steps you should follow if you want to properly release your music as an indie artist:

  1. Determine your definition of success as an indie artist.
  2. Create a 6 – 12 month release plan.
  3. Prepare your social media & artist profiles.
  4. Prepare your music for release.
  5. Get set up for music distribution.
  6. Schedule your music for release.
  7. Submit your music to Spotify’s editors.
  8. Register your music to collect royalties.
  9. Schedule social media posts to promote your music.
  10. Set up digital ads to find new fans.
  11. Email your fan mailing list.
  12. Add your new release to your own Spotify playlist.
  13. Engage with fans and listeners in the first 28 days.
  14. Use analytics to adjust your release plan.
  15. Analyze what worked & didn’t work for your release.
  16. Get ready for your next release.

For a detailed guide on releasing music independently, based on my 10 years of experience, check out my comprehensive guide: How To Release Music Independently.

And if your main goal right now is to improve your Spotify numbers…

I’ve broken down exactly what you need to do to get 1 million streams on Spotify based on my previous experience getting 2.5 songs to the 1 million stream mark on Spotify so far: 5 Steps To Get 1 Million Streams on Spotify.

Music Release Plan Template

Having a release plan makes sure that your hard work pays off and that you can gain new fans and followers.

I’ve created this music release plan template based on what I’ve personally learned releasing over 50 songs and getting over 6+ million streams on Spotify.

A screenshot of my Spotify streams as of March 10, 2023

Music Release Checklist

Digital platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal have drastically changed the music release process.

To make things easier for you, I’ve developed a music release checklist that focuses on the 7 critical steps for properly releasing your music:

  1. Submitting your song to a music distributor
  2. Pitching your song to Spotify editors
  3. Preparing video assets like social posts and ads
  4. Preparing your website or music link
  5. Scheduling Facebook ads
  6. Scheduling social media posts
  7. Monitoring, engaging and analyzing your release’s performance

For a detailed look at these 7 steps to optimize your music release, read my article: Ultimate Music Release Checklist. 🙂

How Often To Release Songs: 5 Best Ways To Maximize Your Music

New artists should aim for 6 – 8 releases yearly, spacing them out every 1 to 2 months.

Releasing singles rather than albums is the recommended strategy. Limiting releases to 6-8 a year allows 1 – 2 months for promoting each one.

The key is balancing frequent releases with ensuring high quality and proper promotion for each song.

Refer to my article, How Often To Release Songs: 5 Best Ways To Maximize Your Music, for 5 tips on determining your release frequency.

How Much It Costs To Release A Song

The cost to record and release a song from scratch varies, ranging from $0 to over $2,500, covering recording, distribution, artwork, and promotion.

Your costs depend on the tasks you can do yourself versus those requiring a professional’s help.

Over the years, I learned to handle all tasks for recording and releasing music. Now, I spend only $100 – $200 per release, mainly on Facebook and Instagram ads.

For complete beginners guide on this topic, refer to How Much It Costs To Release A Song (Beginner’s Guide!).

The Best Music Marketing Tools & Resources

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 6,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist:

Free Checklist I Used To Get 3,000,000+ Spotify Streams: You can get your 7-step check list for FREE by clicking right here.

Music distribution: To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

Royalties & publishing: For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Analytics: Spotify For Artists is a service created by Spotify to help artists keep track of their stats, promote their music, and control their overall presence on Spotify: Spotify For Artists – App & Dashboard Guide

For a more complete list, check out my 11+ Best Music Artist Resources & Tools article. 🙂

I’m admittedly quite cheap, so all of the tools that I recommend are cost-effective, completely free, or have a crazy amount of bang-for-your-buck value.

Music Branding: 4 Quick & Easy Steps to Build Your Artist Brand

Branding is essential for any modern music artist who wants to achieve proper success. By developing your artist brand, you’ll be able to discover more opportunities to make a splash in the music industry, connect with your potential audience, and make the most of your music releases.

The 4 steps to developing your artist brand are:

  1. Identifying Your Audience
  2. Identifying Your Brand Values & Story
  3. Communicating Your Brand
  4. Consistency In Branding

For a more detailed look at the 4 steps of music branding, check out my full article on Music Branding for Artists.

How To Build An Online Presence As A Music Artist

A musician’s online presence is made up of 3 parts:

  1. Website
  2. Social Media
  3. Digital Ads

Being active with all 3 helps develop your brand and grow your fanbase by giving potential fans a reason to follow you.

To learn how you can build out these key component of your online presence in 6 simple steps, refer to my article called 6 Steps To Build An Online Presence For Musicians.

The Best Ways To Promote Your Music For Free

I’ve discovered 3 effective ways to promote your music for free:

  1. Build an audience on social media platforms.
  2. Pitch your songs to playlist curators and music channels on YouTube and Soundcloud.
  3. Release music every 1-2 months so you can trigger algorithmic playlists and gain momentum

If you are focused on increasing your Spotify streams and monthly listeners, there are specific Spotify algorithmic playlists that you can focus on to push out your music to more potential fans for free.

If Apple Music is more your focus, then you’ll want to spend some time learning about Apple Music Discovery Stations.

Just remember that Free music promotion takes consistency over time for results to begin to show.

To learn more about the details for the best ways to promote your music for free, read my 6 Best Ways To Promote Your Music For Free article.

#1 Way To Find A Target Audience For Your Music

The best way to find a target audience for your music is by first using the Facebook Ads platform’s interest-based targeting to find people who listen to similar music and then using Facebook’s Lookalike audiences to leverage the Facebook algorithm to automatically find even more targeted fans.

While age, gender, location, and income were key in 1960s advertising, like for selling cigarettes, today’s artists benefit more from targeting fans interested in similar artists and genres.

To learn more, read my complete guide called #1 Way To Find A Target Audience For Your Music.

Facebook Ads For Musicians

For the last 6+ years, I’ve used Facebook Ads to expand my fanbase and is big part of how I’ve been able to get over 6 million Spotify streams to date.

These ads are especially effective for directing targeted listeners to Spotify, aiming to activate Spotify’s algorithm for additional free streams.

I’ve put together this completely free course to show you how you too can use the power of Facebook Ads to grow your Spotify streams and actually get your music in front of fans.

Struggling To Get Spotify Streams From Facebook Ads?

Did you know that it is normal to see a drop off of 40% – 60% from Facebook conversions to Spotify streams?

Even with that accounted for, many artists struggle with the problem of seeing nice numbers in the Meta Ads Manager but seeing that turn into 0 Spotify streams.

I’ve uncovered a simple fix for this and teach it in a free article and video tutorial called Solved: No Spotify Streams From Facebook Ads.

Social Media For Musicians

The 3 techniques you need to master to effectively post to social media as a musician or artist, especially if you dislike social media:

  1. Experimentation
  2. Batching
  3. Scheduling

Using these techniques, you can develop an effective social media strategy for your band, producer, or artist page. This approach ensures a growing, consistent online presence with minimal stress and time waste.

To learn more about this, refer to my article called 3 Best Social Media Tips For Musicians.

5 Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians

The best social media platforms for musicians are:

  1. Youtube for evergreen content & SEO
  2. TikTok for virality & organic reach
  3. Instagram for developing fan relationships
  4. Facebook for its advertising platform
  5. Twitter for networking and communicating

To learn more about these social media platforms and how you can leverage them as a music artist, refer to my article called 5 Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians.

WARNING: The Downsides of Social Media for Music Artists & Musicians

Although social media can be a useful tool, there are several overlooked reasons that social media can truly be bad for artists and musicians.

I’ve found that the 6 reasons that social media is bad for artists are:

  1. Reach throttling
  2. Lifecycle of a post
  3. Little longterm recommendation
  4. Wasted time and energy
  5. Clowning around
  6. Not all social media platforms have scheduling

To learn more about these 6 reasons, refer to my article called Pros and Cons of Social Media for Music Artists & Musicians.

How To Promote Your Music On Instagram

To effectively promote music on Instagram, create a recurring content strategy. Balance valuable posts with promotional ones and use a content calendar for planning and accountability.

While posting multiple times daily is tempting, it’s often impractical and inefficient for most artists.

For a full guide on how to to master Instagram as a musician or artist, refer to my article called 8 Best Ways To Promote Your Music On Instagram.

How To Start A Music YouTube Channel

Start and grow a YouTube music channel by posting videos regularly (1 or 2 times per week). These should be videos viewers want, providing value through entertainment, education, or both.

To learn more about how to do this, refer to my article called How To Start A Music YouTube Channel.

TikTok For Musicians

Artists should ideally publish content on TikTok 3 to 5 times weekly. Over time, you should experiment with, analyze, and adjust your content to gain increasing exposure.

To learn more about how you can create content that kills it on TikTok and how you can develop a strategy based on how the TikTok algorithm actually works, read my article called TikTok For Musicians.

Top 11 TikTok Ideas For Musicians

The 11 best TikTok ideas for musicians and music artists are:

  1. Use “Hooks” In The First 5 Seconds To Capture Your Audience’s Attention
  2. Optimize Your Content Through Experiments & Analysis
  3. Use TikTok Hashtags For Musicians
  4. Use The Same Song In Different Ways
  5. Repost Videos From Other Social Media
  6. Use Duets As A Form Of Collaboration
  7. Go Live On TikTok
  8. Create Behind-The-Scenes Content
  9. Post Cover Songs Or Remixes
  10. Use Trending Content (But Stay On Brand)
  11. Use The “Scheduling” Feature To Save Time

To look at these 11 ideas in more detail, refer to my article called Top 11 TikTok Ideas For Musicians.