Music promo ideas you can do right now! Independent artists have more opportunities than ever to launch their own careers without the support of labels or a big budget. While we see more and more unsigned artists breaking through on their own, many new artists don’t know where to start. Young bands have a hard time setting up a successful promotional campaign for their new album. Often it’s a lot of little things that create momentum in the music world. You have your success in your own hands. You can’t assume that the world has just been waiting for your next song and it will automatically become a smash hit. Rather, get to work on some of those “smaller” promo set pieces that can be accomplished without a huge investment of time and money. In this article, I’ve written down 30 music marketing ideas for you to use as inspiration.
How to promote your music the right way
It should go without saying, but first and foremost, your main focus must be to make good music! You can follow the tips and promo ideas below 1:1, but if your track, EP or album isn’t well written, or produced, it probably still won’t succeed. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the best free ways to independently promote your music in the modern music landscape. Let’s go!
1. Make new band photos
Grab a friend with a good camera and do a DIY photo shoot. Have fun with it! What you may lack in photography skills, lenses, or lighting, you may make up for by capturing the perfect moment. Bring a few outfits, or costumes. Once you get past the initial awkwardness of posing for the camera, photo shoots can be fun. And each time you do a shoot, you’ll be able to better define how you want to present your musical identity to the audience. Make sure you take lots of pictures in different crops: square, landscape, portrait, close-up, etc., so you don’t end up resenting yourself.
2. Update your bio!
Make sure your bio and tagline is up to date on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. Social media trends change quickly, so it’s just bad to let this stuff become outdated. However, you should also keep the content on your website current. A refresh takes less than an hour. Check all of your links, too.
3. Create a Facebook ad
you have something cool to promote, promote it on Facebook with ads to build your fanbase. For the target audience, choose people who listen to similar music, or celebrate similar bands. If your fan base is already big enough, you can also choose a “similar audience” as your target audience. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll get a feel for successful ads. It’s good if the ad includes a promotion, so that the ads also refinance themselves for you.
4. Brainstorm your own promo ideas
Take a few minutes and think about what other free DIY marketing ideas you can think of that I didn’t mention in this article. There are super many more ways to give your music more exposure. Many ideas are of course also genre-, or dependent on your image. If you think of a great idea to help other musicians, write it in the comments! Only together we are strong and we can survive in this music industry.
5. Already have a blue check mark?
Want to have one of those “verified” hooks on your accounts? Learn how to get verified on Spotify here. The next important account for you should be Instagram. You can read how to get a blue checkmark there here. Just try it out. If it works, you’re official! If it doesn’t work, you’ll know when it does.
6. Record a “How To” video
Pick a topic you know well and record a simple video. Upload it to your band channel. Maybe it will become a little series. You can make people aware of your music by teaching them how to do something specific: planning a tour, finding a suitable rehearsal room, or dealing with fans in the right way. Actually, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do here on the blog. It’s best to make sure you do a topical one, as these are more often searched for and there probably aren’t that many videos of them yet.
7. Make street music
Street music has the power to turn a flat pedestrian area into a vibrant part of a city. Take advantage of this free opportunity for yourself. Every band should have done this once, as it teaches you super much. Why exactly and how you can do it, I have summarized in this article for street music. There are a few things to keep in mind. Did you know that you are not allowed to play everywhere?
8. Check your analysis
Spend an hour every week checking your most important statistics. Find out who is listening to your music and where. See the analytics in your various accounts, including Spotify for Artists, Apple Music, Facebook Ads Manager, your YouTube channel, and wherever else you can find. Super important is also to evaluate the data from your website. The best way to do that is through Google Analytics. Does your actual audience look like you imagine your audience to look like? How old are your fans? Where do your listeners live? This information can help you in many ways: more targeted advertising, smarter tour planning, and more effective band branding in general.
9. Cover a song with video
Cover songs are a great way to expand your audience and attract listeners to your real music. Keep it simple: grab a camera, pick a famous song, and hit record! Film yourself covering a famous song, and upload it to YouTube, Facebook, and IGTV. You don’t need many cuts. Tip: Choose a song that hasn’t been around long, then you’ll be one of the first! If people like the cover, they’ll download more stuff from you.
10. Get your professional band website built
If you have a good website for your band, you are no longer dependent on other social platforms. By now, a website is part of a band. It is the central contact point for fans, labels and bookers. For this reason, you need to provide these people with the information they need. You can build your website for free on modular platforms. Unfortunately these are not ideal for musicians and most of the time they are not found in the search engines. Since I work in the industry and do nothing but build professional websites all day long, I recently started offering this to bands at low rates. So if you don’t have a website yet, you can find out about it here.
11. Write the song “Merchandise” on your set list.
When your adrenaline is pumping on stage, it’s easy to forget (or easy to ignore) that you should tell your fans about your merch table. So put it on your set list, just like a song. And be sure to announce that you’ll be there after the show. If you’re not comfortable with the straightforward merchandise shout-out, you can always talk about the song you’re about to play and conclude by saying that the song is on the album available at your sales table.
12. Create a Spotify playlist
Create a playlist of songs grouped by theme, genre or region and share it publicly. Feature some of your favorite tracks from other artists and sprinkle in some of your songs. If you want to get extra points, change the playlist every week or create a shared playlist that your fans and friends can edit with you.
13. Translate your lyrics
Use a platform that translates your music into different languages. You can do this for free for your band on Lyricstranslate or Songtexte. There is usually a community there to help you. This is most useful if you have English lyrics and translate them into German. So all the people can read the lyrics again and possibly build a closer connection to the songs, because they understand them better.
14. Stream a concert from your living room
Try out Facebook Live. Pick a time to broadcast a short live set. Promote it on social media a week before. Maybe even let your fans vote for the set list? Not a Facebook user? You can try streaming a live set with other tools like Instagram, YouTube, or Twitch. You can even stream on multiple platforms at once with a tool like Restream.io. It doesn’t have to be fancy – on the couch, in the rehearsal room, on the patio. Play a few songs. Do a Q&A with your fans. Whatever sounds most exciting. Get info on how to host a living room concert here.
15. Make a cool email signature.
Does your email signature say “Sent from my iPhone”? Yes, that’s not enough. Your signature should at least include your name, email address, and website link. Super important to list your social media channels there too. For a bonus, for example, a call-to-action (“Subscribe to our email newsletter”) can serve, inform of a signature banner. Half the battle of the do-it-yourself musician is fought online. Use all your email for that. Don’t waste these opportunities to share your music with others.
16. Hang posters together!
You don’t need to spend the whole weekend putting up posters all over town for your next concert. Instead, find another reliable band that is playing a show at the same time as you. Then ask them if you want to divide the work up by city. Then you’ll save yourselves a lot of work.
17. Refine technique with guitar online course
Besides all this marketing stuff, you can’t lose focus on the essentials. Your music! If the music doesn’t fit, all marketing is useless. So make sure that you always practice regularly and learn NEW things so that you develop further on your instrument. Online courses are super helpful for this. I have compared the best online guitar courses here.
18. Build your email distribution list
Email is still one of the most effective ways to communicate with your fans. That’s why you need to have a way to collect contact information when fans are on your website. Don’t have a website? Then read point 10. Build a contact form on your website so fans can sign up. But remember that everything is GDPR compliant and there is a double opt-in. A big, bold call to action is best: “Subscribe to my newsletter to get tour updates,” or “Join my email list and get a free ebook.”
19. Contact a local band in your scene
By supporting your favorite bands in your area, you create an opportunity to share gigs with each other. So repost their stuff, tag them, or send them an email saying you like their music. Networking is always good and helps you expand your music network. Contacts only hurt those who don’t have them.
20. Record a video where you talk about backgrounds
Shoot a short video (3-10 minutes) where you talk to the camera and show what instruments and effects you use, how you get your favorite sounds, and how it all works in the larger sonic context with your band. Not only will your existing fans love it, but you may be able to attract new listeners to your music who are searching YouTube for information about the gear you’re talking about.
21. Collect info about locations
Make an Excel spreadsheet of venues in your city with all the information another act needs to make smart booking decisions: Venue name, address, capacity, vibe, genre, booking contact via email and phone, etc. Then contact bands in cities you’d like to tour and ask them to trade similar information with you. That would be the free option. However, if you don’t have the patience for this, there is also now a startup called YourTourBase that have put together booklets for this for little money, which can be downloaded.
22. Create a YouTube channel trailer
A channel trailer is the first video people see when they visit your YouTube channel. A cover video is the video that automatically plays at the top of your Facebook page. It doesn’t have to be blatantly elaborate in production. It just needs to show something about you and your music. Give your fans an idea of what they can expect from you on this platform. Make sure it looks good, as the sound is muted by default.
23. Check the actuality of your website
It is the first thing your fans see when they go to your website. So make sure everything is up to date. Are your best press quotes listed? Do new photos need to go up? Are all embedded links, audio players or videos still working properly? When it comes to getting a gig or gaining a new fan, your homepage can make all the difference. Don’t have your own website? Then jump back to point 10.
24. Build relationships online
Stop passively reading or liking things; start commenting! Spend time following new people in the music industry, including other bands, bloggers and more. Get in touch with them on Instagram and Twitter. Leave comments on music blogs and always sign them with your names and band names. Just like the motto: He who writes, stays. Why don’t you start here on this blog article and write in the comments what band you are with and which tip you liked the most.
25. Build up contacts offline
It’s important to build relationships in the real world, too. A conversation over a beer can be a fantastic way to learn from a local music industry professional. So reach out to other bands the next time you’re chilling backstage. You can brainstorm together for your next big show, video shoot or album release. It can only benefit you. And remember, you’ll learn more by listening. So don’t just talk about yourself, take the tips.
26. Create a video poster for your next gig
Use an app like gifX or even editing programs like iMovie, Premiere Pro or Final Cut to edit a short, 15-second video with pertinent information about an upcoming show. Date, time, name of your band, etc., as well as the music in the background. Then post it to Instagram, Facebook, and your website. If your video works well in Vertical View, share it as an Instagram Story as well.
27. Host your music more selectively
There are many ways to host your music online. You should pick the platforms that suit you best. If you’re signed up everywhere, it’ll cost you money and get lost in the shuffle. It makes it especially difficult to promote your music. Here you can find out how to find suitable providers. When you have found providers that fit your image, you can use all your possibilities to push these channels.
28. Post a video premiere on your next release
Promote your music in a different way. Post a video premiere and upload the video as a private link. Send the private link to bloggers and offer them to be the first to cover the video once it is officially released. In return, you will send all your fans to this blog to hear the song!
29. Write a blog article, about the creation of your song.
There’s a lot to talk about. Pick a song you’re proud of, and give your fans a deeper understanding of the things that make that tune so special. Post the article on your own website. Don’t have a website yet? Then go to point number 10.