The subject of this blog post might seem absurd to music creators. How can I start promoting my music before I even have music??? 

Please indulge us and suspend disbelief for a few minutes while we explain ;)

The thesis is simple: You can start promoting yourself and your music long before having a full release-ready track. Taking a page from traditional e-commerce, we know that building an online presence that is SEO-friendly takes time. Waiting until you have a release ready to figure out your online presence will likely result in an uphill battle for your first single. 

Here are some actionable steps for you to start getting set up and ready for your first release, whether you plan on releasing next month, or next year.

  1. Build a unique brand and find your positioning: Even before having any finalized tracks, you already certainly have a style, a genre, and some artist names in mind. 
  2. Find your Artist Name:  If your name is James Johnson, and you were thinking about making that your artist name, perhaps you would like to do some research beforehand. If there are three other James Johnson-named artists on Spotify, that means that it will be much harder for prospective fans to find you. Research deeply before settling on your artist name, because once it's set, it's hard to rebuild from scratch. Find a name that represents you, but that is catchy and memorable for your audience. Quirky names can work for some genres, like 'Crazy Frog' in EDM, or theme-centric names like  'MercyMe' for Christian music. Take inspiration from other standout artist names in your genre.    
  3. Come up with your Elevator pitch: What is a four-word phrase that describes you or your music? Phrases like "Jay-Z meets Trap" really place your style. Think about what your superpower is. What really makes your music stand out? Is it your voice? Is it the lyrics? Sharing snippets of your music with friends and initial fans will help you get to it. And that should help you not only direct how you market your music, but also how you make music. 
  4. Understand the landscape & communities: Where do you fit in the music landscape? What scene does your music belong to? Is there an adjacent scene that you like better and that would require minor tweaks to your musical style? Selecting your music scene determines many things– where you perform, who you collaborate with, and the size of your audience. Consider all the options before settling in. You can easily browse online communities like Sub-Reddits, to gain a better understanding of the above. Similarly, if there are music venues locally in your area, frequent those to get even more insights.
  5. Start building an audience: Once you have figured out Step 1 above around branding and positioning, you can start finding and engaging your prospective fans! That way, when you release, you can short-circuit the fan-acquisition process. 
  6. Find your peers: Which artists are most similar to your style? Whose fans would most likely appreciate what you are delivering? Optimize for traction, vibe and, if possible, by geography. In short, find artists that are hot, make people feel what your music makes them feel, and if they are from around you, even better, because there is a local fanbase to piggyback upon!
  7. Build playlists for future real estate: Start creating playlists featuring your peers, and keep that playlist fresh with tracks that are popular and growing. Promote that playlist and grow the followers on it. Make sure to include your branding and artist name in the playlist name! This will start a natural association between your name and your preferred genre / scene. Once you have a booming playlists with thousands of monthly listeners, you can release your music via these playlists, and will drive immediate traction to your tracks. 
  8. Create more content: Taking a page from the above playlist playbook, start creating blog posts and content about your chosen scene. Having a mailing list for fans of Pop Folk music in Brooklyn will come in handy when you have your music ready to go.  
  9. Do Dry Runs with Throwaway Artist Names: Unsure about your tracks, or positioning, or images? Spend a few hundred bucks to test, test, test!

Setting up an early track for release with the first draft of images is easy. With $48 on Songtools, you can set up a Playlister Club campaign and start getting IMMEDIATE feedback on your track's Engagement, Branding, and overall production! Using our tools like Playlistability will give you a great sense of which geographies are most likely to accept your track based on algorithmic matching. 

If you already have releases: You may feel like the above doesn’t apply to you – but that’s totally not the case. The same concepts are very relevant if you are working between releases. Specifically for you, here are some tips that you can use to stay “top-of-mind” between singles:

  • 1. Engage with your existing audience: Stay connected through social media, email newsletters, and live streaming events. Building a strong relationship with your fans increases the likelihood of them spreading the word about your music.
  • 2. Collaborate with other artists: Seek collaborations with artists who complement your style. Joint tracks, features, or remixes introduce you to new audiences. Collaborations have become increasingly popular, with 22% of the top 100 songs in 2020 being collaborative efforts.
  • 3. Remix and remaster your existing tracks: Revisit your older material to give it a fresh appeal. Experiment with remixing, remastering, or reimagining your previous tracks. This rejuvenates your catalog and attracts renewed attention from listeners.
  • 4. Leverage music licensing opportunities: Explore licensing your music for film, TV, commercials, or video games. Licensing placements boost exposure and provide opportunities for your music to be discovered by new audiences.

  • 5. Perform at live events and local gigs: Seek opportunities to showcase your talent through live performances. Engaging with a live audience helps you connect personally and build a strong reputation as a performer. Live events and local gigs create opportunities for networking and gaining exposure.

Releasing music blindly and hoping for the best should be a thing of the past. 

Plan ahead, and use SongTools to get smart before releasing your masterpiece.


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