September 22, 2021

Best strategies to promote your music in 2021

You are about to release a record you know has great potential to make it big if it reaches the right audience, but how will you make it happen? Music marketing and how to promote your song is something that a lot of upcoming artists struggle with and it can be very demotivating when you spend hours upon hours creating the best music you can, only for it to not get heard. So what strategies can you use to reach new fans? How can you use these techniques in a cost effective manner?

Well, it is these questions that this post aims to shed some light on. Let’s begin.

First of all, perhaps the most important step in running a successful music marketing campaign is to identify and construct a detailed plan ahead of release. This plan needs to take into account things such as who your audience is, what type of promotion can work well (are there any similar artists to you who have blown up lately? How did they do it?), set up a network of playlist and publication curators, reach out to YouTube repost-channels, to align uploads, conduct market research, ensure that your music is the best it possible can and much more. Your in-depth action plan will allow you to know exactly what to do ahead of release, so that you do not get stuck when your song is out and live. The team at Nightstorm Digital usually recommend artists to establish a list of playlist and other curators early on, so that once your song is out, you already have contacts in place that you can reach out to.

Now, paid marketing is something that is widely discussed when it comes to the promotion a song. Does it work? How much does it cost? Is it hard to run? Yes, paid marketing can be an essential tool to boost your exposure, and it does not have to be expensive to run and maintain. The key when it comes to running paid ads on platforms such as YouTube or Instagram is that you constantly optimize your campaigns in order to reduce costs and increase conversions. To do this, start by setting up several different ads that run with small budgets (10 or 15$…). You want to set up multiple ads that use different parts of the song, another cover art or video, a new format and so on. This will allow you to gain insight into what type of ad is working the best. Perhaps the ad where you show how the song was made in a quick and concise manner is converting the best. Good. Now reallocate funds from the other campaigns into the one that is performing best. This will allow you to minimize the resources wasted on poor converting campaigns. Which platform that works best, Instagram/YouTube/TikTok… is hard to say as it depends on what music you’re making, who your listener is and many other factors. However, that being said, a combination of several platforms can work very well, such as Instagram and YouTube. A benefit with YouTube is that you can choose certain videos or channels to place your ad on. This allows you to tap into already existing audiences by finding artists that are similar to you and who’s fans you think will like your music. The key here, is not to target artists that are brining in millions of views, but rather smaller, more indie artists. The reason for this is because these artists usually have fans that are intrested in music from upcoming artists such as themselves, they may be more likely to engage and interact with new artists that they come across, either through ads or organically.

Another question that we often get asked is whether you should run paid campaigns for pre-saves (songs that have not yet been released). Pre-saves are in some circumstances a contributing factor to editorial playlist placements and other algorithm based decisions. But the truth is, unless you expect to be able to gain hundreds of pre-saves, they will do very little effect. In addition, pre-save campaigns are usually more costly than sending users straight to released music. This is because many people are not willing to take the extra steps required to pre-save music from a artist that they have most likely never seen before. Due to this, pre-save campaigns often require extensive retargeting and as you might guess, can become costly quickly. If you are working with a restrictive budget, it would in most cases be better to focus those funds on promotional efforts once the song has been released. We will not go into too much detail in paid PPC advertisement in this post.

Playlists. Do they help? Yes. If they are real, then they do. Playlist placements is in most times a great way to quickly gain exposure for your music. They allow for your music to be placed in a, in most cases, fairly well-targeted audience base. The problem is however, that a lot of playlist placements that you receive by paying various services are often fake and use bots to fabricate streams. Sure, it might look good on your page, but that’s about it. There is no real growth involved. That is why we highly recommend that certain practices and steps are taken before paying curators to be featured in order to reduce the chances of being featured on a fake playlist. Unfortunately, Spotify does not provide much insight into the data behind playlists, such as average play time and other engagement analytics. One thing we can look at though is the growth patterns. By analyzing the growth patterns of playlists, we are able to see roughly how “real” the playlist is (you can use www.chartmetric.com for growth analysis). How? Well, if a playlist has achieved authentic growth, it would usually appear to have a steady increase or decrease in followers (yes, playlists can shrink as well) with no major spikes. If the playlist is fake however, you would usually notice a very sharp increase in followers and then no further increase or decrease. This usually indicates that whoever controls that playlist has bought bots. One way to find playlist curators is to use websites like www.submithub.com , www.musicgateway.com , www.labelradar.com and many more (most of these are free to use, with additional priced premium features available).

While you are running paid marketing and using various techniques to land playlist placements, it is paramount that you perform regular content uploads and updates on social media platforms. Use platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube to your advantage by building your brand image through well-thought out posts and videos. Are you unsure with what to post? Share insight into how the track was made (production, audio mixing, vocals…), share your journey (what was difficult/easy/enjoyable…), upload good quality photos that reflect the aesthetic you want to showcase etc… Build a brand through relatable and unique stories and approaches. Use Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and TikTok to create catchy videos and form viral-like content that you encourage fans to repost and share. Host competitions where you offer rewards with prizes (does not have to be cash prizes), such as exclusive merch, signed CDs, or other special gifts. Respond and engage with your fans and followers, host polls and Q&As and collaborate with other artists, producers and creators.

Hopefully this short post allowed you to get a better understanding of what you can do when it comes to promoting your next single. If you have any questions or wish to reach out to the Nightstorm Digital team, please do so by visiting the Contact page.