12 Ways To Attract More Listeners To Your Music
Finding an audience for your music in the internet age can be a daunting task. It’s easier than ever to create, release, and consume music with streaming and online collaboration. In 2021, Spotify told the world that they have 60,000 new songs uploaded everyday. That’s a lot of music. There is lots of amazing music out there that is simply lost in the fray. This article will give you some tips on how to cut through the noise and find an audience for your music.
1) Leverage Social Media
This may sound like a no-brainer, but there are lots of artists that aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunities social media presents. While Facebook is focused on personal interaction, Twitter on conversation; Youtube, Instagram, and Tik Tok are the most effective places for new artists to find an audience. Instagram’s culture is very focused on creative expression and artistic pursuits, making it a great place for musicians to market their music. Tik Tok has popularized approachable, low production content, and has become a great tool for getting new music discovered on a budget. Youtube has become a great place for long form vlog style content, and it has recently launched a stories type feature that allows users to upload shorter, Tik Tok style content that has the potential to go viral quickly. Here’s a few simple principles no matter what platforms you end up going with:
- Grow your following
Engage with your friends, fans, industry peers, and people that inspire you. Don’t just post about your music, let people in on what’s going on behind the scenes. If you have a show, let people know in at least one post before the show. Get video and pictures of the show to post afterwards. If you feel confident enough, you can even livestream your show. These days, the saying “Pics or it didn’t happen” applies especially to the music world.
- Document the writing and recording process
Most people don’t know how the recording process works and how long it can take. Knowing how your music is made, why you made it, and how hard you worked on it gets people excited for the release and invested in the song(s).
You don’t have to hire a professional photographer/videographer to document the process. Spur of the moment video and pictures are great for letting people into the process, and taking them through the journey of creating a record.
- Promote the release date
Make sure to let people know that you are releasing music at least a month before it comes out. Count downs, pictures of the recording process, or track previews are a great way to get people excited for your new music.
- Post About Success
Did your song get on a playlist? Did someone share about your song in their story and tag you in it? Did you reach a significant number of streams? Posting about these accomplishments is a great way to thank the people that are taking the time to listen to your music. If someone posts about your song and tags you in their story, repost it to your story. If you get featured on a playlist, share that playlist in your story. Playlists grow through featured artists followings. If you reach a significant number of streams on a platform (whatever number you find significant) thank your listeners in a post. Also, if you are featured in a publication, let people know! These achievements let your followers know that they aren’t the only ones that like your music.
2) Use a distributor
These days, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of platforms out there for people to consume music. Coordinating the release of your music on each of them manually is a huge task, and can lead to premature or delayed release. A great way to bypass this and save time is to submit your music to a digital distributor that will simultaneously release your music across all platforms on a set date. Here are a few common options:
1) CD Baby – The longest running of the list. They don’t have any yearly fees to keep your music up, just a one time upfront payment and 9% of royalties.
2) Distrokid – They cost $19.99 for unlimited albums and songs and give you 100% of your royalties. For full pricing details, create a DistroKid account. They are also partly owned by Spotify.
3) Tunecore – The second oldest digital distributor. Like Distrokid, they don’t take any of your royalties. They offer a first year special on album pricing ($29.99), and $49.99 for each following year. They also have separate prices for singles ($9.99/yr).
Here’s an in depth article from Ari Herstand that reviews all of the big ones including the three listed here.
3) Release A Single first
Let’s face it, it takes a lot of work to make music. When you release singles, it allows you to release music more frequently, and spend more time promoting each song. When physical albums were being sold, people were forced to consume the songs they didn’t love along with the ones they really liked. With streaming, if someone doesn’t like a song there are millions of other songs at their fingertips. For this reason, even major artists are opting to release more singles than full albums.
Many streaming platforms don’t give you access to their promotion tools until you’ve already uploaded music. For this reason, if you release a full album right off the bat, there’s a good chance that streaming platforms won’t notice it.
Also, streaming platforms like Spotify make you choose one song per upload that you want them to promote. This means that they will prioritize one song on your album to push to playlists and new listeners no matter how many other songs are on your album.
Most playlists are only interested in adding singles. When you submit songs to playlists they only care about your best song, and usually don’t even consider multiple submissions at once.
4) Plan Ahead
Make sure to submit your songs to streaming platforms at least 3 weeks before your release date. This gives these platforms time to analyze your music and try and figure out similar artists, listeners that might be interested in your music, and playlists that your song(s) would fit on.
When you upload your music with ample time before your release date, it also gives your listeners the opportunity to “pre-save” your songs. Let your listeners know that they can pre-save your song and follow your artist profile.
Pre-saving is when someone tells a streaming service that they want a song to show up in their library as soon as the song is released. The more people pre-save a song, the more people will have your song in their libraries to stream immediately when it’s released, and it’s an easy way for streaming platforms to see that there is interest in your music before it goes live. In order to let people pre-save a song, you have to create a pre-save link with your distributor. If you choose to create a pre-save link, make sure to share it with your following.
With that said, pre-saving can be confusing for listeners, and there are times where someone can try and pre-save it won’t work.
While pre-saving a song allows it to show up in your library, following an artist allows all of their future songs to show up in your library. For that reason, getting someone to follow your artist page on a platform is more powerful than a pre-save.
Platforms that allow listeners to follow artists will have a follow link that you can share with people that will allow them to follow you.
It can be difficult to get access to your artist profile when you are releasing your first song, so in that case, a pre-save might be your only option, but if you already have access to your artist account, a follow campaign is probably best.
5) Submit Your Songs To Playlists
There are lots of playlists that accept free submissions. Here some of the best places to submit music once it’s released:
SubmitHub is a database of playlists that accept submissions and a portal for submitting your songs.
Similar to SubmitHub, Soundplate is a huge database of playlists that allow submissions.
3) Indie Momo
6) Reach Out To Music Blogs and Reviewers
A positive review of your single or album can help you attract listeners and gain validity in the industry. Here is a list of 18 indie music blogs that you can submit your music to today.
SubmitHub also allows you to submit to blogs.
7) Create A Lyric Video
Consistently creating content that can be found in search engines and be consumed by your following is extremely important for you to find new listeners, and keep your listeners engaged. While a music videos can be extremely pricey and time consuming, lyric videos are a great way to add a visual element to your songs and increase their reach. There are lyric video makers like Animaker and LyricTV enable you to make lyric videos for free or cheap. Or you can have a custom lyric video created for you at Airgigs.
8) Release Alternate Versions
Acoustic versions can sometimes do better on streaming than the fully produced version, and are usually much less time consuming and expensive. Another great way to find new listeners and engage current ones is to release remixes of your songs.
Remixes are much less expensive and time intensive than releasing a brand new song. AirGigs has lots of world class producers offering remixing services.
Remixes are especially effective for non-electronic artists and bands that are looking to have a broader appeal. When someone remixes your song, it enables you to capitalize on their fan base to attract more listeners. Here’s a few examples of successful bands that have taken this approach:
- Alternative pioneers Alt-J released four different remixes of their song “Deadcrush.” They also released “Summer Remix EP” after their breakout album “Awesome Wave.”
- Alternative rock band Mutemath has released successful remixes of their song “Monument”
- Folk singer songwriter Josh Garrels released four different remixes on his “Love & War: B-Sides & Remixes EP.”
- Coldplay released three different versions of their song “Lost” – a full album version, a stripped down piano version, and a version featuring rapper Jay-Z.
In a world where it can be unclear what will work and what won’t, giving your songs multiple chances to catch on could be the ticket to their success.
9) Do a Livestream
Doing a livestream before your song is released to talk about the song and answer questions about the song, and even do a performance of the song is a great way to build anticipation. The production value doesn’t have to be anything special, the point is just to let people know what’s coming. Doing an acoustic performance of your song on your livestream is a great way to let people in and get a preview of what’s coming out. To a lot of people, producing music is a mysterious art, and doing a simpler version of a fully produced song can help them appreciate the released version, and showcase your talent.
10) Reach Out To Local Publications
Competing for press on a global scale can be difficult, but if you live in a small city, or a suburb of a larger city, chances are better that you will be able to find an outlet that is willing to release a favorable piece about your project. Also, getting local buy-in is going to have more direct impact on your ability to sell tickets to shows than many online blogs will be able to.
11) Have a Listening Party
A listening party is a great way to get your community to support your music. Find a good location, make sure there will be good food and drinks, invite your friends, and share your song(s) with them before they are released.
12) Play A Release Show
Releasing new material is a great reason for people to come out to a show. Pick a venue that is small enough for you to pack out in your home town and try and find another artist/band that can help you draw in new fans. If you’re brand new and are finding it hard to book a venue, throw a house show. If you don’t know anyone with a PA there are lots of places you can rent one from like Guitar Center.
These are just a few ways that you can make sure your songs get the best reception possible. The industry is always changing, and with that, new opportunities are being created, and the status quo for releasing music is being challenged.