Wait. Before you Release that song...
Updated: May 16
Planning to release a song online? Here's a sound strategy... (And this is a bit of a long read. Grab a coffee.)
Disclaimer: This does not guarantee instant success. Nothing does. It's just a guide on how you can organize your stuff before releasing your music.
So you made some music and you plan to release them online. Cool. Now depending on what your goals are, here are some simple tips that you might find helpful.
Casual or Serious?
If you plan to just be casual about it. Just put it up on Soundcloud. Leave it there, share it when someone asks. The End. Now if you are being serious, or even just a smidge serious...
Don't get too overly excited to release them. Plan out your journey.
But if you really cannot wait, stop reading.
Build a Little Hype. Just a little.
Writing the song is the fun part. The real work begins when you try to make it reach an audience. Now, not everyone has the good fortune of blowing up. Just accept that fact. (Especially if you are doing this independently from your bedroom.) That might be the best song or album you have written. But it won't really get anywhere unless there's an audience who knows about it. Just talk to a few friends or family in advance to let them know your intentions and what you want to achieve. Maybe some of them can commit a little of their time to listen to what you are about to put out. If they say "Hell yes!" That's good. If they say "No." Just move to the next friend or family member. Don't worry about the people who would disapprove of what you want to do. If you don't know how to tell them, here's a little template you could use... "Hey, (Insert Friend's Name here...) I'm planning to release some music sometime in the future. I have always wanted to have an opportunity to be able to create music. I was wondering if you would be able to spare some time to give it a listen once my music is out?" It is nothing to be embarrassed about. At least it is not a Pyramid Scheme. Now if you don't have friends... You can join online communities and you can make friends there. You can find communities on Facebook, Reddit, or Discord. Discord is probably the best among the 3 platforms. Most communities are welcoming, but not all. Just be mindful of community rules and respect them. Jump in a community, try to read the beat of the conversations happening, and see if you can join in on the fun. If not, just find another one until you feel comfortable in it. You don't really have to be active in every community. That would be impossible. Just find one that feels a little like home. Join even if your work is still a work in progress. Maybe you can also ask them for feedback on your work and how you can improve them before release. A lot of these communities also have small events on their servers that you might find useful. Learn about them. Your aim is to network and connect so that when your music comes out, there will be people waiting for it. You'll find out more later in the post why this is important.
Another easy way to gain a small interest is through Instagram and Twitter. Instagram is easier, but it is almost similar to Twitter. Almost. Set a release date. Make it a mini-event. Just think of it as inviting friends over to attend a little birthday celebration. The keyword here is "Mini." Why do you need this? Well, you just want a small number of listeners once your song is out.
Now if you don't know how to make friends online and IRL... That's an entirely different discussion.
When releasing your music, find out more about the platforms where they can be published. (Assuming this is your first time publishing your work online.) How they work and how people are using them. This is where you can learn a lot from online communities. (And this is the reason why you need to join one). Learn and understand the free tools that the platforms offer and how you can take advantage of them. The tools may sound overwhelming, but you will find a lot of tutorials on YouTube on how you can effectively use them. The great thing is, there are a ton of platforms that you can use to publish your work.
Soundcloud, Bandcamp is pretty straight forward. You just upload your songs and just share your links. Bandcamp works a little like a mini online store and will give you the opportunity to get paid for your songs. Or even sell your own merch! Soundcloud does not. But there's a Pro option that will give you a chance to get monetized. Signing up for these two are free with the option of paid pro accounts. YouTube is also free, but you might need to turn that song into a video or a visualizer first. Spotify on the other hand can be a little bit more complex and it also involves finding a distribution service and some payment. (Although there is still an option to upload your tracks for free.) Spotify also provides you an opportunity to get paid for your songs. It is highly recommended that you are present in all these platforms mentioned, but it would be smart to understand them one by one first.
Setup those profiles, bios, banners, and tags
Why do you need this? If you want to be taken a little bit seriously, there should be some effort from your end to present your work in a nice little package. The presentation helps a lot. The work you will be putting out serves as your online resume if you really think about it. Would you go to a job interview in your boxer shorts? It is not bad to aspire and you don't really have to be embarrassed about having aspirations. Bios on the other hand is a little bit more tricky to write, especially if you are not the writing kind. But here's a little template that you can use to make your bio a little bit more concise and highly SEO friendly. (You can just fill in the blanks.) (Your Artist Name) is a musician from (Your Hometown). (Your pronoun) produces (Your genres) music. (Your pronoun) influences range from (Make a shortlist of some popular artists' names here that the audience will be able to identify with). (Then just add an expanding paragraph here explaining more about yourself.)
Now, why do you want your bio to be SEO Friendly? If you want to be found organically, you want our good friend Mr. Google to see you. Prioritize the basic and most important information first before adding eclectic and flowery language. Refer to this blog post to get a better understanding of what I mean. Tags are a little bit more of a complex idea. But if you want to be found organically. It is necessary that you fill up tag fields where applicable. I have written a small guide you might be able to use for this. Think of tags as little spiders that help you reach out to people on the web in a non-intrusive manner. Each platform's tagging system works differently, but the principle is basically the same. If you want the right people to organically come across your work, tags are your best friends.
Photos, I'll leave that to you, just be creative and make sure that it is consistent across your platforms. If you don't have editing software, you can always go to Canva.
But I just want to release a song... Why all these work?
Why not? A long preparation saves you a lot of time in the end. It's a whole lot better than releasing your song and then finding listeners. Also just to put it into perspective, if you do all this, your work will start to look bigger than it seems. One thing I find about doing things online is, the more activity you put out there, the more you are rewarded. (You know, Algorithms...) Also, trust me, unless you are Kanye West, no one is excited to hear your songs. It's one of those really ugly truths. So you need to build that excitement for yourself. In any case, I just want to share a sound strategy and some practical advice that should be able to help you out. And, as an artist, we all struggle with marketing our work because we are not taught how to do this. We only learn the fun stuff of creating. At least we should learn some of the basics of how we can market ourselves. Also, a lot of times, our idea of marketing is a little skewed. Marketing needs money. You need a team for Marketing. Well, breaking news, you will go through this alone. Paying to advertise is also an option, but a few problems arise from this, especially if you are at the beginning stage. 1. You may not reach the right people for your ads. (Even if it is targeted.) 2. You need to consistently and constantly feed that money pit. (To keep the hype alive.)
There's also the question of what value are you providing them with your ads? Are you paying for advertisements just to show how cool your work is? Paying for ads works better at a later time. It will work best if there's already a dense amount of content that people will land on. The 20 people you made personal connections with are much better fans than the 500 people who saw your ad. There are many free tools that a platform offers when you sign up for them to help you with your marketing efforts. Learn them, take advantage of them and learn how they will benefit you. Sure, you will not go viral, but you will grow. Virality is a phenomenon. It happens because it happens. Marketing is not evil. Throw that thought out of the window. We market ourselves every day through our interaction with people. It is a necessary skill set. Marketing does not really require you to learn industry-speak. Just be your true self, make your presence known, be personable, and be helpful. So, just to sum up here's a little obligatory checklist you can copy-paste for your nifty little notepad:
Invite friend and family to listen
Find and participate in community
Set up, learn, and fill-in free tools on:
Find a distribution service for Spotify.
Set release date.
You can choose not to do all these things. That's also fine. I just obsess writing about it. I'm just leaving this here in case someone needs it. (So, Soundcloud it is...) Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you find these helpful! Another Day, Slackerman
I write these kind blog posts just so I can share what I find out about digital marketing while doing this. I hope you find them informative and useful.