The process of making music is an intricate, difficult journey. So often, we’re getting caught up in finding the perfect snare, the right BPM for a song, or the amount of “groove” and “feeling” the chorus instruments have.
Then, we’re focusing on whether or not to use analog gear, what microphone, and if we should try different recording positions. And once we’ve worried about all of that, we’re trying to figure out how to finalize the mix and million other things in the process.
But what comes, after all, that is perfected?
If you don’t know how to build an online presence, your song simply becomes dead in the water.
Let's try our best to change that today.
1. Create Good Music
I know this sounds self-explanatory, but just hear me out. Gather 10 people you know, and ask them to be really critical of your music. But don’t just ask them to do it blindly.
Find 3 reference tracks that sound the same as the style and genre you’re after that are at the top of their field. This doesn’t have to be the top 10 pop hits. This can be any genre and music direction that really fits what you’re trying to make. Find the absolute most successful and sonically songs in that genre(try not looking at music that has low recognition in the context of the genre as a whole as your goal is to get your music heard by as many people as possible for a particular type of music you’re aiming for) and use accumulate a realistic top 3.
Take those 3 songs, take a few of your own songs, sit down with each of those 10 people, and ask them to be supercritical as you switch between them. Ask them to help you figure out anything about your music production quality, mixing quality, mastering quality, recording or singing quality, songwriting quality, song structure, and quality that doesn’t match the reference tracks refined presentation.
Be open to realizing you’re not the best in the world, and you’ve got a lot to learn.
Voice record the responses of those 10 people and start the self-reflection process with the most honest mindset you can manage.
Once you find out what you’re lacking, you’re going to very quickly figure out what to fix to realistically sit next to the people who are appealing to the crowd of consumers you’re looking to impress.
2. If you can’t do number 1 without a lot of stress, get a professionals help
All too often, we get overloaded with trying to fix everything in our music because we feel we’re the only people who can truly make it what it’s meant to be. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Sometimes, having a professional master a song takes the load off you and allows you to focus on the parts of the song that need the most attention. The same goes for mixing, or maybe the same goes for production or songwriting. It depends on what you need to get the PRODUCT out the door, instead of ending up with something half-baked on every angle, resulting in poor interaction from people in the public who aren't as invested in the project emotionally as you.
Suppose you can do it all yourself and need some time, then good! Don’t be afraid to take the time; you’re on your own race, your timeline is specific to you. Sometimes though, you can fall into the trap of waiting too long on that timeline. Try not to let that happen.
3. Utilizing Smart Marketing Strategies on Tiktok, Instagram, Youtube.
While Tiktok may be controversial, it’s also home to a massive shift in music being heard that would have never made it on global airways. While it depends on the type of music you’re creating, TikTok might be a good path for you to connect to your potential audience. Putting a song on TikTok and making a video while hoping for the best isn’t really the way to get anywhere, but being clever about it might actually boost you to stardom pretty quickly if you’re lucky with the algorithm lottery.
I’m going to make some careful observations.
a) Sueco released a song called “paralyzed” recently, and completely blew up on tik tok. How did he do it? A part of it had to do with him marketing a very well-done song in an intriguing way. He made a video on TikTok where he did a little skit before showing himself singing into the microphone, where he acted out 2 different people. The producer and the artist. (He acted as both of them). He showed himself walking into the studio while the producer was playing some gentle piano song, the producer asking him if he’d like some trap beats, but he said, “no...play what you were just playing, I’ve got something to say”, or something to that effect. The “producer” looked at him strangely and then said, “okay, sure.”
Then, he started singing, and the video showed the producer getting shocked and surprised at how good it was.
I’m definitely summarizing this and all the nuances, but the point to all this is that he found a way to effectively market a story, draw people in so they’d STOP SCROLLING, and then take an interest. In addition, this allows him to duke the algorithm a little because TikTok recognized watch time, as well as comments and likes.
Creating something unique and clever that draws someone in really makes a difference.
b) Will Linley recently released a song called miss me. He’s a South African artist, but he’s one of the first South African artists to make a song at the same level as someone like Lauv and in line with his genre. He actually marketed this in such an interesting way. He created tik tok videos where he just showed the song's chorus. (which happened to be one of the most catchy choruses I’ve heard in a long time, and the words had quite a lot of meaning, essentially, everything was perfect from production, writing, delivery, etc.).
Because the song's chorus was so iconic, people started begging him to release the entire song. He kept doing that for a few months, in creative ways, until he’d accumulated enough interest, and then finally dropped the song. He went from nothing publically, to 1 million streams on Spotify in a few weeks. If you’ve got a good enough chorus and your quality is up there, it’s potentially possible for something like this to really work.
c) Getting people to Dance:
While it’s dependent on the type of song, sometimes pushing a path of other people dancing to your song might be a great way to go. If you create a specific type of dance, get hundreds of people to do the dance using the sound; eventually, it has the possibility of becoming a trend. It may, or may not actually blow up.
d) Finding a certain type of video that the song makes sense with:
There’s a really cool Russian song that gets played on almost every car video on TikTok because it works so well. Of course, times change, and it may have passed its popularity by now, but there was a time when this was nearly every car video I saw. If you can find your visual association niche and reach out to people who do those types of videos offering free usage of the song, you might just create the next most used sound. As a result, people search you out, they shazam the sound and they try to find it because they’ve heard it so much, now they want to listen to it.
e) Instagram reels are trying desperately to compete with TikTok.
While most reels are still trying to match the virility of TikTok, it’s not a bad place to also invest some time in. It’s dedicated to showing your content to people who are not following you on Instagram, making it, at least for the current time, a great way to try to snag a few listeners for your content that wasn't following you before.
If you’re an independent artist, you might want to try approaching youtube a little bit differently from other people who just post something there and hope for the best.
If you’re using different platforms to funnel to your youtube, it’s okay to approach it like that. But, if you’d like to grow on youtube organically, you’d probably have to provide some sort of value to the community you’re trying to market to. For example, the audio engineering community is absolutely huge on youtube, and so is the producer community. So, a good idea might be to try to do what makes pop music did, which was start making sample packs and providing value on youtube with education on that, or maybe provide some value on how to create certain things or mix in a certain way, and gather followers up like that. Then, use the song you want to market in a very video, and if your song is good enough, they’ll probably eventually convert to people who love your music because they enjoyed hearing the song the first time around.
That's a classic way of using a secondary marketing tactic to organically create growth on your music, while not making content only about your music.
4. Music Videos and additional Content
While a great music video counts a lot, it’s not the only thing that matters. In fact, if you just do a great music video and then leave that, you’re not really going to get very far in retention.
There’s a reason for this. People are very fickle. They need to be constantly reminded that you exist for them to truly build loyalty to you as an artist.
Post one great music video, you might get a follow.
Retention though? In 6 months of no posting, maybe not.
Try to build a video content showcase of the scenes of music video processes, a little bit about your life and day to day living and process, performances(make it like a vlog, where you’re leading up to the performance, show a small snippet of the performance itself and show yourself chatting to the camera beforehand and afterward to convey emotion and show who you are as a person to the audience). They want REAL. They want someone to who they feel they can relate. They subconsciously want to see people who are trying their hardest to live their dream. No one wants to see bragging; no one wants to see arrogance. So be a relatable guy/girl, and slowly but surely pull people in with a STORY. Not a blatant story, where you’re telling them a long-winded story, but a story of actions. Especially with covid lockdowns worldwide, people are more likely than ever to want to see what it’s like outside their life and into the life of someone they have an interest in.
People want to see YOU.
5. Spotify Playlists
I know, I know. We all hate Spotify because they don’t pay the artists enough. Sure, while that may be true, it’s still a usable vehicle for growth and cross translation of followers if you use it right.
Spotify playlists are a tricky thing. First, payed playlists often aren't effective at retention, and then trying to get on to playlists is typically even harder.
However, if you can manage to find the right playlists that work well with your particular music and get lucky enough to get on them, it will help you find more fans and move them across to your other platforms organically. It’s still a slow process, unfortunately. Some artists find great success from Spotify playlists. Others don’t. The successes are usually combined with a great marketing strategy outside spotify as well, and accumulative input from playlisting, radio fans, other social media fans, and people searching for you from seeing you at a live performance.
6. Live performance
While Covid has made this fairly challenging to get right, there are definitely some places that are opening up, and I don’t think it's going to be locked down forever. Live performances are the absolute bread and butter of artists, both for one of the biggest income sources, as well as creating organic growth of die-hard fans. There’s a high likelihood of people who are listening to you sing for an hour looking for you on social media and Spotify because they’ve heard you so much; they actually skip a lot of the processes of online marketing and go straight to being fans. The best way to go about this is opening for other bigger artists, and finding agents that can help you join tours with bigger artists. However, you could also go pub hopping, and slowly but surely gather 10 to 30 loyal fans at a time if your music is really great. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, those fans tend to support you deeply as you go forward because they feel like they were part of the journey from the beginning, and they will always feel like you’re someone that was down in the trenches working hard to make their music work.
Always, ALWAYS, start and end the performance by telling people WHO YOU ARE. It doesn’t matter if your music is great if they don’t know your name.
I’ll be making a part 2 with more information on approaching this, so keep an eye out!
I hope everyone has a great weekend and start of the week.
Also, if you’re looking to mix some vocals, be sure to check out our great analog gear chains that get your vocals polished in no time.
Pultec + La2a: https://mixanalog.com/products/pultecla2a
La2a + 1176: https://mixanalog.com/products/vocals762a
Studer Tape Machine: https://mixanalog.com/products/studer