Whilst you probably shouldn’t hibernate in your bedroom on your quest to become the next big artist, it is true that the modern age affords musicians far more opportunities to “make it” with nothing more than their talent, an instrument and a laptop. There’s more software available than ever for bedroom producers to make professional, polished tracks with little to no experience (or money, for that matter), and there are more avenues in the online world than ever to help you spread your music as an indie artist.
Of course, the access to all these opportunities means that there are now more musicians trying to make it than ever, which means it seems more difficult than ever to stand out from such an overwhelming crowd of aspiring talent. Still, this doesn’t mean you should give up before you’ve even tried. People still want the same things from music, even if there is a lot more of it and it’s easier to access. You just need to be a little smarter about how you promote yourself in this new age of sound, and here are some tips to help you do just that.
This is the age of content, and people love to greedily consume whatever they can get their hands on, thanks to the internet. As an artist, that means you should be thinking about offering far more than just your music; you should offering visual content too. Perhaps this seems like a gimmick, but given that sites such as YouTube are helping artists share their music far more successful than sites solely dedicated to sound, it seems Google’s video ranking algorithms are a very helpful tool for the indie artist looking to get their name out there. You don’t have to make a work of art, but it’d help to ensure that the video accompanying your music isn’t tacky, otherwise that might reflect badly on you before you’ve even had a chance to prove your talent.
Given that every independent artist claims they’re the best, it’s impossible for potential music listeners to believe everyone. There’s only so much music any individual can listen to on a given day, and you’re competing with a lot of noise. The best way to get noticed is to get a referral, much like any business or brand looking to spread its reach. Perhaps you’re not a stiff corporation, but people work in the same way whatever the “product” may be. If somebody refers something to them and that somebody has an opinion which they value, then your music is more likely to spread to a further audience. Word of mouth truly is the best way of getting information out there. Better yet, if you can get a shout out for your music from a big name, such as a friend who may be a blogger or a vlogger, then you’ll be reaching a huge audience of potential new listeners who hang on the every word of their ideal. Much like a newcomer looking to get their big break in any industry, you need somebody who can vouch for you and give a good reference for your talents.
Building a music following is about your personal brand; do you think your fanbase cares about some corporate label? The answer is no. More interestingly, 95% of signed artists fail, which really makes you realise that there is no correlation between a record label seeing something special in you and achieving actual success. Staying independent makes sense in a music industry which relies more on online activity than physical record sales. Everything’s happening on the internet, and that’s where you’ll find your listeners. If you can navigate the online world by yourself and learn the tricks of the trade, or get some help, then you’ll go far. This leads us onto the next point…
Social media and streaming.
Social media is your friend as an artist, as this is the main difference between the new music world and the old music world; now you can actually connect with your fanbase on a personal level. Even if you’re only a small artist, the power to extend your reach to all corners of the earth is entirely in your hands; you can build your name on a local basis, but you might find you have fans in some distant country because somebody shared your music on a foreign website.
The point is that you need to learn about marketing yourself online, as SEO could work wonders for your music. You should also be looking into social networks designed specifically for artists, given that most of these sites allow you to directly upload music for instant streaming. In the modern age, people want to listen to music immediately, so it helps to offer tracks on these sites for free in your early days; most music is available for free on the internet, after all. When it comes to spreading your name as an artist, you need to start off by proving your worth to people, and then when the local gigs at your pub become gigs at proper venues or arenas, that’s when music becomes your life and career. Still, you should be thinking on a local level at first, as discussed in the next point…
Your local scene is your foundation.
Remember to collaborate rather than compete with your fellow musicians, as you need to be networking and making friends rather than burning bridges and ensuring that you remain forever unknown. Support local musicians, and they’ll return the favour. Go to local shows, make friends with other artists, and they’ll come to watch you play too or perhaps even offer you a slot after their next show. Better yet, they’ll tell their friends about you. You’ll be building a fanbase at the same time, even if it comprised of fellow musician buddies. Much like business, it’s all about who you know. If you make the effort with other local acts, they’ll want to help you too.