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Written by Ramsey Brown.
Many artists are naturally humble when it comes to their work, which is a great thing… to a certain extent. Creative types often find it awkward or uncomfortable when it comes time to promote or brag about themselves, but the truth is — getting out of your comfort zone is a big part of making it in the music industry and if you aren’t willing to openly promote your music, then who will?
For musicians, it can be thoughtless to create a beautiful masterpiece in the comfort of their own studio. This is a complex task that many people couldn’t even begin to imagine doing. However, when put in a crowd of people and asked to network and discuss their musical accomplishments with others, they become squeamish and uneasy at the thought of doing so.
This is very typical for music artists. Making a great song is one thing, but sharing it with the world is another. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the artist is unconfident about their music, but bragging about your own achievements seems like an extremely cheesy and haughty thing to do.
It’s great to be mindful of this, because it’s true nobody likes an arrogant or conceited person. Although, there is a happy medium artists must find between being overly cocky and being overly modest. You should always be proud of your music and want to share your craft with the world. You may find it embarrassing to self promote, but unless you have an extravagant amount of marketing dollars to spend, your music won’t reach the masses without doing so.
Sure, it will still be overwhelming and even embarrassing in a way for many artists, but once you decide to embrace the uncomfortableness of your own self-admiration, you can approach it more gracefully in the future. To help you in this journey, we’re here to share 10 proven self-promotion ideas for musicians to consider when looking to stand out in this oversaturated industry.
Self-promoting can be the key to unlocking many opportunities in the music industry. If you want to succeed in this business, take note of these ideas so you can begin building a bigger name for yourself and sharing your music with the world.
Think of a promo package as your complete portfolio based on which your entire future will be based on. When thought of in this way, you will begin to understand the importance of it. Before you can start with your self-promotion practices, you need to have a promo package that you can submit to potential prospects and also to have in mind when the proper self-promotion opportunity arises.
Here are some of the things your promo package should include:
A short (500 word or less) artist or band bio
Any up to date press releases or media coverage
Links or lists of all your best albums or upcoming songs
Professional photos of your band or yourself
You can either get your promo package written by a freelancer or you can easily write one yourself if you have the proper skills and knowledge to do so. Again, your promo package should be thought of as a portfolio to summarize your career, so this is something that should be put together with great detail and thought behind it.
Your promo package can also be a music one-sheet. Check out our check-list on how to create a winning music one sheet or promo package here.
Whatever you do to promote yourself should always align with your goals and what you are looking to achieve in the future. It’s great to have big aspirations and aim high for yourself and your career expectations, however, if you are a musician who is just starting out, make sure you are not covering too much expertise at first. You’ll want to set reasonable and attainable goals in order to set yourself up for success in the long run.
A great way to find out and identify your goals is to research other artists. They usually have specific campaigns going on for certain aspects of their careers, such as a big tour or album drop. When thinking of what your goals are and how you should promote them to others, don’t go too broad with your statements.
Narrow your self-promotion down to specifics that will better resonate with others rather than spilling a huge load of information onto someone about your entire career at once. You’ll find that promoting a certain event, single, or campaign will make a bigger impact on a person rather than giving them an overall breakdown of who you are as an artist.
Depending on your goals, you can build up strategies that will work more so in your favor. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Talk to people both inside and outside of your circle about specifics you are looking to achieve in the near future. You may find by doing so, someone you are speaking to can provide you with an opportunity or leverage to help you accomplish your goals sooner.
Targeting the right audience can be the make or break factor in successful self-promotion. If you are a rap artist, you probably don’t want to waste your time and money running ads to people over the age of 50 or in a town where the majority of people listen to country music.
With that said, any promotion is good promotion and don’t overlook any opportunity to share your music with others — you never know who you can convert into being a fan. However, it’s important to be realistic about your audience and understand the type of people who are the most likely to engage with your music.
Once you have your promo package and goals set, you can begin looking for the right audience to target moving forward. Reaching out to people via social media, print publications, radio advertisements, or just face to face can be a great way to build buzz around your brand.
There are many websites that you can utilize in order to better understand your audience and know how to properly target them. Check out some of these music analytic tools and trackers to easily see your fan demographic so you can then develop a plan to infiltrate them properly
Understanding your target audience not only helps for more efficient promotion, but it can also improve the likelihood of you getting more gigs, selling more concert tickets, gaining more fans, increasing your listeners, and overall gaining more buzz around your brand.
This is where you need to find your competitive edge. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
What is it that you offer that other musicians don't?
How can you go the extra mile to satisfy your fans?
What's so unique about your music or band?
Is there anything specific you are trying to promote?
The more curious you make people by giving them stories and unique characteristics about your music, the more people will be interested and want to hear more. There’s thousands of artists out there who promote themselves daily, so if you want to stand out from the overwhelming competition, find your specific niche that you can share with others to make a lasting impression.
As you go through the struggles of being a beginner artist, you will inevitably stumble upon many people who are already experts in the industry. These people can be an extremely useful and a secret weapon to skyrocket your music career.
Ping them with your promo package to spread awareness about your music and always ask for feedback so they become involved with you and your progress. Whether you are self-promoting to solely build buzz around your brand or you are promoting your next big show to sell tickets, it’s always great to use the leverage from your network of industry professionals to help spread the word and receive advice. Which brings us to our next tip...
It is quite surprising to see how much you can get by simply asking for it. Remember, the embarrassment is just in your head and you should never be ashamed to ask for help. The more you really reach out to people and grab onto opportunities, the better your results will be. As the saying goes, you never know if you don’t try.
You can’t assume that other artists got fame handed to them on a golden platter. It takes a lot of hard work, hustle, and grind to achieve success in this industry. Most people that you reach out to for assistance will appreciate your effort and even feel flattered that you are coming to them for help. If someone is in a position to offer you something of value, take the chance to seek that out.
The worst thing to happen here is that you will get a no, but again, you will never know until you try. In the unlikely case that you do get denied for help or a favor, don’t get discouraged — just simply take it as something that wasn’t meant to be and move on to the next.
It seems contradictory to what this entire article is about, but even when you are self-promoting and hyping up your music to someone, you still want to remain humble and not overly sell yourself to the point where you come off cocky or arrogant.
When making connections with people, it’s important to come off as genuine and speak to them in a way that shows you care about their thoughts and opinions. Even if you just won a Grammy, you never want to boast or brag about your biggest achievements. A good rule of thumb when self-promoting is to use it as an opportunity to hype up your art and not just yourself.
There is a fine line between bragging about yourself and being proud of your accomplishments and sharing that with others. In order to not cross this threshold, keep the focus strictly around the music and sharing your passion for it with others. The moment you catch yourself saying ‘me’, ‘my’, or ‘I’ too frequently is the moment you may want to step back and take some of the attention off of yourself.
Fans are ultimately what keep an artist afloat, so it’s extremely important to show them the utmost gratitude and appreciation. At the end of the day, fans will organically do the promoting for you. Whether you have a fanbase of 50 dedicated fans or 5 million, you should never forget the initial fans who were there from the start.
Continue interacting with your followers all throughout your career, even if you are an artist who has made it to the big leagues. A loyal following will hype you up much better than you could ever do by yourself. When you continue to engage with your fans, it will keep them loyal to you and increase the chances of them sharing your music to others.
There are many different ways to connect with your audience and show them that you appreciate their dedication towards your music. Incorporating thoughtful practices will prove to be well worth it in the long run — whether it be a simple shout out on social media or a free show. Little acts of showing appreciation will go a long way for you and your career.
Social media is armed with countless strategies to help you have a better impact without actually breaking your bank. If you aren't sure how to get started, make a list of all your favorite artists' social media accounts and research the type of content they post, their aesthetic, and how they interact with their audience.
Building a solid social media profile can quickly snowball to having a massive fan base with whom you can share details about your latest or upcoming releases, back-the-stage shenanigans, and use hashtags to build a community of your own.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can also use paid ads to promote your upcoming gigs or music and get exposure from different channels.
In this competitive industry, you need more than just your music to stand out from the rest. Remember, when you are competing for the shine, you need something to prove that you are unique and different from everyone else. Simple things like sharing stories can be a great way to trigger the emotions of your followers and make people interested in you as an artist.
When you are self-promoting yourself on various channels, think about sharing content that is not just music related. When you get personal with your audience, it shows that you are more than just an artist and that you are an actual human being just like them.
Start incorporating personal information into your promotion and let your personality shine through content. This will help your fans and viewers relate to you on a deeper level and will also give you a unique edge beyond just having great music.
Showing people that you are more than just your music is a great way to promote yourself on and offline. Think of this as branding for your personal company; expressing your style, elements, tone of language, and core values will allow your audience to understand you better and thus better sell your product to them.
Instead of just focusing on your music, you also need to look for other ways to make an impact with your messages, cut through the surface-level connectivity, and really understand your audience.
Even though self-promotion can be an unpleasant experience for many artists, especially if you are extremely humble or introverted, you must come to the realization that it is a necessity in order to move past the competition in the music industry.
There is always someone who is willing to out-hustle the next person in order to make it to the top — you should always aim to be that person. Self promo doesn't have to be tacky or conceited when done in the right way. Hopefully you will find these tips and ideas useful and incorporate them into your promotion strategies moving forward. Good Luck!
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