Promoting Your Music – A Beginner’s Guide
The music industry is in poor health at the moment, as the combined impacts of covid, Brexit, and the cost-of-living crisis decimate music publications, resources, and opportunities across the board.
With independent music publications stretched, it’s harder than ever for the upcoming musician to get heard; what can you do to increase your exposure ahead of your next release?
You won’t get far into any advice forum, roundtable discussion, or think-piece on coming up in music without encountering a central premise in modern music: if you’re not online, you won’t succeed. This applies multiply; not only do you need to have an active social media presence to grow your fanbase, but you also need to be actively participating in music media to remain relevant.
Whether producing live sessions for YouTube or behind-the-scenes vlogs for TikTok, you need to maintain a constant online presence, especially when it comes to releasing something new.
Drawing up a social media schedule and making your content/assets in advance will be a huge help in managing this. Not only will you grow your fanbase, but also increase your stature when it comes to music publications – increasing your chances of coverage.
While ‘digital’ is undoubtedly the state of things to come, and a necessary area in which to consolidate your musical presence, there remains a lot to be said for physical media and PR. While near-unfathomable levels of reach can be attained online, none of that reliably translates to more fans and more ticket/merch sales without creating a real, tangible connection to the individual first.
In this way, physical media comes into its own. Whether a well-designed release poster pasted up in your local independent venue or a quirky band-logo sticker surreptitiously snuck onto signs around your city, physical forms of media can create stronger impressions than digital presence – and in a more targeted fashion, to boot.
But all of the above needs to be in service of one central thing, above and beyond the release date of your next single: your shows.
Mechanical royalties and live performances have a symbiotic relationship with one another, where gig attendance fuels sales and streams and vice versa – if managed perfectly, that is.
As it happens, the live industry is the most profitable part of the music. If you hope to turn a meaningful profit from your latest release, your best bet – without a major label to back you up – is to play as many shows as you can. The sales you make at the merch table are largely free of mitigating costs, unlike streams and sales through other online platforms. You keep everything you make after-tax, meaning you get the biggest slice of the pie.
Of course, not many of us are in it for the money. Many of us are out here just to get heard, and maybe break even if we’re lucky. The industry is indeed tough at the moment, and that fact isn’t likely to change soon. But if you have the drive to keep going, you will find the people who want to hear you.