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How to Promote Your Music Independently in 2021

Independent artists have more opportunities than ever before to launch their own career without the backing of the majors or a big budget.

While we are seeing more and more unsigned artists breaking through off their own backs, many promising new artists out their simply don’t know where to start or how to maintain a successful promotional campaign.

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How to promote music in 2021

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It should go without saying, but first and foremost, making great music needs to be your primary focus. You can follow all this advice to the letter, but if your track, EP or album isn’t well-written, tight instrumentally and professionally produced, you’ll fall at the first hurdle. 

Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at the best ways to promote your music independently in the modern music landscape.

You can watch our Unsigned Advice video or read on to learn more!

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Build a website & mailing list

Creating a slick, professional website as a base for your online presence is vital, but perhaps even more important is building a large & dedicated mailing list.

Your website should obviously include links to your music, bios, images and tour dates, but make sure to also include a mailing list sign up form. Email marketing offers direct access to the inboxes of people most likely to engage with your music.

If a fan gives you their email address, it means they want to hear from you, and a message direct to their inbox about your latest release or upcoming tour is much more likely to reach them than a social post that can be restricted by a platform's limited reach.

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Develop an engaging social presence

The promotional power of social media is no secret. Developing and maintaining a consistent, interesting and engaging presence across Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and even less obvious platforms like Snapchat, is essential. Also, try and keep your profile handles consistent to make things easier for people searching for you online.

There’s an insurmountable amount of advice out there on how to manage your social channels, and things are constantly changing across every platform. Look through some of these helpful resources for more info on how to run and make the most of your social media presence.

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Get playlisted

You can’t afford to ignore streaming and playlisting. Playlists across Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and other platforms reach hundreds of millions of listeners across the globe, racking up billions of streams. Getting your track into a popular playlist can help you rack up thousands of streams. That’s not only great awareness but also royalty earnings in your pocket.

While getting your music placed on curated playlists is great for awareness and credibility, being placed on algorithmic playlists like Discover Weekly can make a big difference to your stream count. So it's worth persusing all possibilities.

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Get press & blog coverage

If your music featured by music publications, whether that’s mainstream mags or niche blogs and webzines, those placements can help build hype and give you the credentials to take your music career up a level.

Hiring a professional PR executive to handle your campaign is generally the best way to get great coverage. But this isn’t always affordable or possible for a new artist with a limited budget. 

Do-it-yourself PR is an option for artists without a big enough budget. But it's important to approach blogger and journalist in the right way. Firstly, you’ll need to create an electronic press release. This should contain all the essential info about you & your music. The resources below offer advice for musicians who want to take PR into their own hands.

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Music videos

An exciting, interesting and original music video has the potential to go viral online, even if the track isn’t a hit.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to creating a video for your latest release. Think about the kind of videos from acts like OK GO and Childish Gambino that have blown up thanks to online traction. They’ve had something unique and intriguing about them, whether that was a deeper underlying message or a quirky theme.

You might want to develop and a standard music video or live performance-based visuals – which is perfectly fine. But investing thought, time and effort into your videos has the potential reap huge rewards.

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Surround yourself with a strong team

You might prefer the lone-wolf approach to promoting your music, but there can be huge benefits to surrounding yourself with a great team of like-minded people. If you have a team of well-connected individuals who are passionate about your music all working in your interest, it stands to reason that your chances of success will increase.

If you can put together a team of friends who’ll help you free of charge, or for a cut of eventual earnings – great! But sometime, you’ll need to acquire the services of professionals to help give you the edge in the competitive music market. Whether that’s a PR person, a radio plugger or promoter/booker, there's nothing wrong with accepting help.

It’s also a good idea to get yourself of a great manager. Again, make sure they’re passionate about your music and believe in you as an artist. A manager who’ll go above and beyond for you is worth their weight in gold.

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Know your audience & focus on your niche

Where and to whom you market your music can make all the difference. Thriving music subcultures exist in all corners of the world, some huge and sprawling, some small and dedicated. Finding, knowing and exploiting your musical niche is key to your promotional campaign.

It might sound obvious (and it should be) but if you’re a metal band, play metal venues, join a metal community and win metal fans. If you’re a rapper, find rap venues, join rap communities and win rap fans. And so on.

But niches aren’t always defined by genre. If your music has more widespread appeal, start locally. People generally want to see an artist from their area succeed. Take advantage of this mentality and grow your fanbase close to home to before expanding nationally or even globally.

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Play live often & make an impact

Obviously this is much more difficult in the Covid-19 era, but gigs and tours offer an invaluable way to connect with fans. Get booked at nearby venues, play awesome sets for local music fans and you'll quickly develop a strong, new fan base. But remember, you have to make them remember you, so be memorable.

Once you’ve built up a local following, you can head out on the road, taking on new music scenes city by city or even country by country. If this sounds too easy & simplified – that’s because it is. Touring and playing gigs night after night is hard work, but if you’ve got a killer live show, the rewards will speak for themselves.

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