Developing a Music Marketing Plan
Most musicians know how important it is to invest their time—and their money—into creating great music.
They’ll get high-quality recordings (with a costly in-home studio setup or renting professional studio time) and pay for professional mixing and mastering to ensure their songs sound amazing. After recording, mixing, and mastering, there’s another crucial step—marketing.
So many artists forget to set aside the time, money, and energy it takes to get their music in front of people. Your song might sound great. But it would be even better with an audience, right?
With the accessibility of technology, you can—and should—take charge of your own marketing strategies.
So, how should you get your music out there? Some of the answers are clear: SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora. They’re also known as digital service providers—we’ll get into this more later.
But streaming platforms like these aren’t built for marketing purposes.
And that urgent feeling you have to release new music before you’ve created a marketing plan can do more harm than good in the long run.
You’ll need to branch out if you want to master digital marketing and see the most success for your new single or album.
Well, you’re in luck! Today, we have a marketing checklist for you to use when releasing your first single—or any new music!
Music Marketing Strategies Checklist
Since you’re likely not working with anyone who will handle marketing for you (like a producer or label), you have two options: do it yourself or hire a marketing company.
You can also establish a hybrid of the two. Take care of what you can do on your own and hire someone to take care of the rest.
Depending on your budget, you might want to do as much as you can yourself. Cheap marketing agencies often cost more when you account for things like frustration and dissatisfaction.
Let’s dive into what exactly you need to do.
Whether you’ve already released music or are releasing music for the first time, you should set some long-term goals.
Your goals should include set deadlines and numbers. For example, you can consider:
- How many listeners, followers, subscribers do you want across your social media platforms? And by what date?
- Do you plan on touring or booking gigs? How many, and when?
- Will you release merchandise? How many of each item do you want to sell by the end of the year?
- How many views do you want on your website?
- Do you plan on branding (or rebranding)?
Having set goals will help you market successfully.
Establish Legal Rights
Before you start marketing, you should consider protecting your music and your brand legally. If applying for copyrights and trademarks seems too confusing, you might want to consider hiring a lawyer.
If you want to read up, check out this article on protecting your rights as a musician.
Organize Distribution and Release
When you distribute your music to sites like Spotify and Apple Music, the best route is to hire a music distribution service. There are tons of them out there, and while there’s no wrong choice, there are better and worse choices.
Make sure you look into fees and hidden charges before committing to a service. You’ll want to keep 100% of your royalties.
Here are some companies you can use:
- CD Baby
- Ditto Music
In the long run, the money you spend on releasing music through a distribution service might be worth your time. But if you want to take control of your own music distribution, you can.
Oh, and you should always release new music on a Friday.
Create a Website
A great brand goes a long way. Your artist website should showcase that brand, and it needs to:
- look professional and well thought out
- include a biography or signature story
- include information about release dates, announcements, music videos, etc.
- link to your social media
- link to (or stream) your music
- have high-quality photos, preferably of you
You can build an artist site yourself on WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or any other site builder.
Develop Your Social Media
This is one of the easiest ways to market yourself for free. And if you choose to skip anything on this checklist, make sure it’s not this one.
It costs nothing to create accounts on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. You don’t have to be incredibly active on all of them, but the more you post, the more traffic you’ll drive to your accounts—and your music.
Facebook has over 2 billion active users every month. And YouTube has nearly as many. YouTube has also risen to become of the most popular music streaming sites out there. And Instagram has over 1 billion active users.
You can also consider using other social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. If you need more free social media options, the list goes on.
For inspiration about what to share, when to post it, and where it should go, check out this article on DIY Online Marketing.
Utilize Digital Service Providers (aka DSPs)
You know what digital service providers are. They’re sites like:
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music
- YouTube Music
Having your music listed on digital service providers like these is the first step. But you can make the most out of your experience on these sites by actively engaging with them.
Instead of letting your music sit there and wait for listens, you can boost your music by submitting tracks to playlists, sharing links to your music, and even creating your own playlists.
There are plenty of ways to promote your music on Spotify, and you should take advantage of them.
Emails and Newsletters
You might think that emails are a bit outdated but generating a list of emails is one of the best things you can do for your music career.
Think about it. You have a pop up on your website that gives someone an incentive to provide their email. You create a list of people who have visited your site. They’re interested in you and your music, and when you send them an email with information, they’re likely to look at the notification.
You can even offer something of value in your emails by including an artist newsletter. You can share all sorts of things with your email subscribers, like:
- personal stories
- the history of your journey
- personal and professional updates
- touring information
- upcoming music
- exclusive photos
There you have it, a simple guide to music marketing for beginners.
Marketing is an essential piece of the puzzle when releasing new music, and you should never skip it!
Keep in mind that this is an extremely brief overview of digital marketing strategies you should use when marketing your music. The world of marketing is extensive, and it can be overwhelming for small artists who have never done it before.
Think of this checklist as the best first steps you can take when marketing yourself, and keep learning from there!
Sources/Inspiration not linked in the body: