The days of uploading songs to Soundcloud blindly and having them go viral are long gone. If you don't have that many followers and you don't have a strategy behind your releases, it's almost impossible for your music to reach as many people as you want. So what can you do to help increase your play count and in turn start gaining followers?
Every single major release has an entire strategy behind it. Labels have entire teams working on release strategies and that's exactly why labels can get their music out to so many people, because they know what they are doing. You can too, just follow these steps and you can drastically increase your reach.
- Who do you need to know for your launch?
Look to build relationships with people before the release. This includes artists that can share and repost your music, labels you may need to contact to get involved, bloggers that can write about the release, repost channels that can bring the song to their audience, and if you have a budget, there are people you can pay to repost (because unfortunately there are a lot of networks that will repost a song in exchange for money). Make an excel sheet and create a list of these contacts, and also get out of your comfort zone and start building these relationships. The more friends you have in the industry the better.
- Execution plan
This is an actual strategy for how you want the music to be released. Perhaps you want to build awareness via social media. Maybe you want to make a music video, or team up with influencers and have your song in their videos, etc. Or you could also announce a teaser of the song a week beforehand, and each day building to the release you build more hype with different avenues like videos or interviews.
- Have a visual component. Make or hire someone to make unique artwork for the release and have it prepared by the release date.
- How are you releasing the song?
Are you just uploading the song to Soundcloud? Are you making it free for DL with a repost or a subscription? You can even do giveaways with the track for everyone who downloads or buys it getting entered into a raffle to win something. These are all things you need to think about. Try to get indexed on more blogs, get Hype Machine involved as much as possible.
Are you going to be getting the song onto digital distributors such as Beatport or iTunes?
- Stay involved in social media, and be consistent. Having a consistent social presence is essential for releases as well as the brand in general. Make sure to create a lot of content, try to keep it interesting and see which pieces get the best reactions, and follow through with them. There is a lot of experimentation that goes on here, but as you track your progress and analyze reactions, you will learn and become an expert in no time. It just takes the effort to actually go back and see why a certain post did well.
Post Launch Plan
- It's natural for a track to get more plays within the first few weeks of release, but what can you do to keep that hype going? Maybe you have a few remixes that you stagger to release after the song comes out in order to keep the momentum. Songs can continue to get plays consistently for a long time if you keep awareness high and focus on momentum.
- Get involved with your fans, create a conversation between yourself and your audience that will get them more involved in your music. You can do that by responding to Soundcloud comments or on Facebook/Twitter and all other social media sites. People love to feel involved, and they also love to have an actual conversation with their favorite artists. This is how you build a genuine fan base so make sure to stay active. We are in a digital, social age after all.
- Look at how well the release did. What did you do right and what did you do wrong? Which strategies went well and which ones didn't? Soundcloud, YouTube, and Facebook all have amazing analytics that show you exactly when and where people were engaged. Look at exactly which social media posts did well and try to figure out why. Take everything you learned from that release and adjust your strategy for the next one, and keep learning. Each time you release a track you will learn more, and you will gain a larger following, so stay consistent.