During the last few weeks, I’ve spoken with a number of musicians and songwriters who are seeking to promote their music; many of them believe that the only way to do this is through radio airplay. I have had some success with radio play having had number one singles across UK and Europe and other singles in the top 10, however I’ve found that there are other ways to promote my work. Diversity in your promotion is important if you want to create longevity in your career. So how do you build a lasting platform?
Longevity comes from having a vision for your work and the opportunity to promote your artistry through a variety of different avenues. Longevity also comes from having a committed, loyal fan base who support new, exciting ventures and want to see you grow and develop as an artist. Before you venture into a plan, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
- What does success look for me?
- What do I want to get out of my music?
- How long do I want to work in music?
- Am I looking for something more long term than a string of number one hits?
- Do I want my fan base and listeners to interact with my music and with me?
In 2016 the way I released music completely changed; a change in circumstances meant that I had to review my work and promotion pattern. This meant that I stopped producing albums and EPs and went back to releasing one single at a time. I had less capital to invest in the music than before and therefore needed to simplify the whole process. I had found that radio airplay didn’t always bring in a committed fan base who were interested in the work.
The biggest promotional tool for an artist is the story behind the song. When planning the promotion of a song I ask myself:
- What do I want my listeners to gain from my song?
- Do I want to challenge people’s thinking?
- Do I want people to ask me questions?
Music can be more than making a commercial track. If we think about the music we return to again and again, it is usually music that has great value to us, that holds memories and helps us process or understand a situation. For me, that is the type of music I want to create.
Here are some ways I have found that I can promote your music for free and gain interest from a potential fan base:
- Write a blog to feature the song. I usually write a blog about the story behind the song; I publish this on my newsletter and across social media. If you want to gain loyal fans, this is a great route because they can immediately understand why you’ve written the song, comment on the blog and they can share it with their friends. It also gives them some insight into who you are as an artist.
- Create a mailing list and email your fan base on a regular basis. Update them with news, interviews, your thoughts on issues that are happening in the industry and further afield. Your fans want to get to know you! Make sure you are consistent in your communication with your fans.
- Join as many music groups on Facebook as you can. This is a great place to post your music and blogs and to gain your followers. It’s a good idea to post in the group using your band or artist Facebook page rather than your personal account. Interact with other musicians and get yourself known.
- Community radio stations love to work with local artists; this is a fantastic way of getting airplay. It’s not the same as commercial radio so you’re not going to get any royalties from it, but you will get some airplay and they like to interview artists as well. I’ve gained new followers by appearing on community radio shows.
- Partner with a local organisation with the view to producing music for them. In 2018 I worked with the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies to create some songs that commemorated the centenary of World War I. I then wrote a blog to go with this song and sent it to our local BBC radio station. The radio station then asked to interview me and played my track live on a lunchtime show.
- Collaborating with other artists is an excellent way to grow a larger fan base; this is also opportunity to try different genres. When you release a joint project, you get the benefits of two sets of promotion. You can learn from the benefit of each other’s experience.
- Do you have other artistic skills? Many musicians also write books or create artwork that goes alongside their music. You can establish a whole new audience by trying a new artistic pursuit.
- Patreon is a great way of gaining new fans and supporters. It also gives the patrons an opportunity to be personally involved and to own a piece of the work too. You can pull all your artistic work from different avenues under one umbrella.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. The current musical climate means we can be as creative as we like with our promotion. There is a real opportunity to make your mark and do something different for catches people’s attention. I’d love to hear if you have had success with an unusual approach to music promotion.
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