Self-promotion can often be as challenging as the making the actual music (…and arguably more so.) Once you’ve given yourself the basic set up, what can you do to promote your music with a bit of edge?
1. The ‘Other’ Social Media Accounts
So you’ve already registered your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/YouTube/Soundcloud/Spotify/iTunes accounts. Good! These industry standard music promotion vehicles are definitely valuable tools to have and will keep you busy as the main drive of your promotional work.
But what channels might you have overlooked?
If you want to give your presence as an artist something extra, why not take a leaf out of musical legends Thom Yorke and Michael Jackson’s book for inspiration.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a multi-million dollar budget, there are low-baller options. Consider starting a blog (which you can often integrate as a subpage on to your existing website) or a photo sharing account on a platform such as Flickr. By regularly sharing and posting about the subjects that interest you most – as niche and technical as you like – you’ll strike common ground with others who might be tempted to check out your style.
Similarly, a photo diary of your last tour, for example, will give people a visual impression of your musical aesthetic and encourage them to press play on your latest track. The best part is, you can use your established channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote traffic to your ‘less conventional’ accounts for those interested in learning more, and in return the those persons initially pulled in by the technical aspects of your blog can check out your main accounts – it’s one hand feeding the other!
2. Pimp My Website
At some point, if you’re serious about promoting yourself as a professional musician, you’ll probably have to stick your hand in your pocket for a basic outlay of branding and web design. At the minimum, you should have business cards, custom artist logo and typeface, be regularly updating your social media accounts and own a personal website that contains news and gig information.
If you’ve outgrown the limitations of the basic web-hosting service platform that you started on, it might be time to think about investing in a proper ecommerce hosting site, giving your own platform from which to sell records, merch, and tickets without having to rely on third parties. Plus, you can integrate it with your website or blog (if you have one), so your internet presence will be coherent and easy to follow. Setting up a mailing list is also a good idea to keep followers updated where and when you’ll be appearing next.
Savvy self-promoters will already know that the success of any talented musician often hinges on being in the right place at the right time, so taking every available opportunity to ingratiate yourself with industry connections (fellow musicians, promoters, journalists and label owners) is key.
Doing the same online requires a little more know-how of where to look. Aside from the odd reply on Instagram or the standard practice of email outreach to professional music websites and blogs that you wish to feature on, there are other surprising ways out there to promote yourself.
Behind the memes, community forums such as Reddit, for example, have active and knowledgeable music communities where you can engage with other musicians and fans. And then you can look at memes.
4. Alternative Partnerships
Even if you normally operate as a solo artist, occasional collaboration with fellow musicians is the logical conclusion for many. It opens you up to a whole new crowd of potential gig-goers who might not have known about you before and brings in new fans along the way. (Plus, making music with your mates is fun, amiright?)
But beautiful things can also happen when music collides with other branches of the arts!
For example, fashion and music have gone hand-in-hand for years; The Sex Pistols & Vivienne Westwood, Daft Punk & Saint Laurent, Kanye West &… everyone. Think about your vast creative network and let your imagination run wild with ideas to collaborate with all the artists, writers, dancers, designers, photographers, and filmmakers you may know.
Maybe it’s conceptualizing a live set to accompany a six-course taster menu at a friend’s restaurant launch or a fresh and innovative score for a gallery opening. Any idea that is fresh and innovative will pull the crowds out of curiosity alone, but will also show off your versatility as a musician… It’s win-win.
5. Design an Electronic Press Kit
An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is basically a way of presenting your info online, in an attractive package. You can use a template (readily available online) or make your own. Ideally, the perfect EPK should contain:
A great intro – where you’re from/who inspires you/where you’re going
Your contact details (naturally) with a link to you social media and ‘name.com’ website
Images of you/your group (… good thing you set up that Flickr account!)
Details of the next live gigs
Working music links- YouTube videos, Soundcloud, Spotify/iTunes
Once it’s all neatly packaged together, you can get emailing with one simple all-encompassing document! Since most music blogs will only feature artists they feel fit with the style of their site, reach out to those that fit with a succinct but heartfelt message.
Finally, remember this advice: keep on pushing. In the words of “rags-to-riches” poster girl, Nicki Minaj: “Your victory is right around the corner.”