How Independent Artists, Bands, and DJs can Effectively Market Themselves in 2021

Independent Music, Free Music Promotion, Online Streaming - How do you put it all together towards a sustainable music career?

Independent artists, DJs, bands, singers/songwriters, and other creatives can all agree on one thing: starting out as an independent musician is not a course for the faint-hearted.

Each year, an uncountable amount of new content gets created and uploaded to different streaming platforms, so you can imagine just how competitive the market is. As an indie, the biggest hurdle you will face is getting seen and heard by your ideal target audience.

It is one thing to produce quality music. But getting yourself spotted is another. While many online platforms offer free music promotion in various forms, you will need to put extra effort into marketing to spread your music and grow your fan base.

Luckily, you don’t need a marketing degree to be successful. Below are a few ways you can market yourself as an independent artist/musician in 2021.

  1. Build a Solid Online Presence

According to statistics, about 3.69 billion people are active social media users today, which translates to roughly half of the global population. If you are not striving to build an audience via online media, you aren’t really trying to put your brand on the map. If you want your brand to succeed, you need to have a professional website and active social media accounts.

Here are some online marketing tips to help you expose your work to both local and international audiences:

  • Create a professional website. You are going to require a digital address where people can contact you. Having a website doesn’t only show how committed you are but also indicates your professionalism. It should be visually-appealing, mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.  Your fans may not frequent your website, but it makes it easier for talent hunters, record labels and gig organizers to get to know your story.
  • Get social. Besides HUDL Music, you can also turn to different social media platforms for free music promotion. You just need to pick the right platforms where you will be able to reach your target audience.  Here is a hack to make it big on social media: don’t create duplicate content on all channels. To get your fans hooked on your page, your posts need to be dynamic, entertaining and informing. Reposting from three months ago won’t do you any good. Focus more of your marketing effort on Instagram and YouTube since they are more popular with creatives who have gained massive followings.
  • Develop an email list. “Isn’t email a little bit old school?” That’s what some people would say. No. As a matter of fact, millennials are surprisingly more obsessed with email more than ever. About half of millennials aged between 18 to 24 check their email every morning while still in bed, while those aged between 25 to 34 are likely to check their email in between activities like watching TV or when they are on vacation. Creating a fan base through email is, therefore, reasonably practical. All you need to do is pick an affordable email platform and keep an updated list of your fans.
  • Sell your work online. We are in the digital era, which means that producers, artists, DJs, and other creatives are shifting from analog to digital ways of selling their content. Gone are the days when people used to distribute vinyl and tapes to record shops. Today, online music stores, for example, give upcoming artists an excellent opportunity to push their music into the hands of those willing to pay for it.
  1. Collaborate with Other Bands/Artists

Collaboration is when two or more creatives come together to produce a project. It is the industry’s version of networking. By collaborating with other indie creatives, you are typically increasing your visibility and exposing your work to audiences that wouldn’t have come across it. For musicians, working with artists from different genres builds your creativity and allows you to experiment in ways that you would have never considered.

In recent years, brand/ artist collaborations have significantly increased. Converse, for example, has continually commissioned artists to help keep their brand fresh. Brand/ artist collaboration is marketing gold. These campaigns seem to gain traction more than anything else. But here is the catch: you have to be exceptional at what you do.

As we all know, only the greatest names get access to the greatest names.

  1. Play a free show

Anyone who will advise you against accepting non-paying gigs probably doesn’t know much about marketing (or music and the power of performing live). Well, we’d agree with them from an opportunity-cost perspective. A live performance is one of the most important sources of income, so why waste your time doing free gigs when you could be using it to make money putting on a regular show?

But if you think about it from a marketing perspective, free shows translate to free music promotion.

Here are some of the reasons why it might actually be a great idea to play a free show:

  • You will make new contacts. Many creatives mess up by playing free shows over and over for the same people. It is better to look for opportunities that expose you to different audiences. Remember, the goal here is to gain new fans and get industry contacts as well. Many bands nowadays play free shows at industry events. While the crowd might be small, it is typically comprised of people in music in one way or another, and they could wind up helping you land more shows.
  • You will reach new fans. Whenever you stand on a stage to perform to a crowd, you have an opportunity to show those standing in front of you what you are made of. You might not get a check at the end of the day, but people will remember you for your performance if you rock it. Some might even go online to stream your music.
  1. Show Your Personality

For some reason, people are obsessed with the personal lives of the musicians they admire. Your fans probably wonder what your favorite meal is and what you love doing in your free time. You can utilize platforms like YouTube or blog posts to document your existence and let your fans know you on a more intimate level.

Being an indie artist/musician is never easy, but it is easy to succeed when you have the right mindset…and speaking of mindset, always remember that success is relative. Your success in music won’t necessarily look like others’ success in music, and should be relative to YOUR goals and dreams, not someone else’s.

Don’t just rely on free music promotion sites and social media platforms to showcase your music (Instagram alone isn’t a marketing plan!). Playing free shows will also help you reach new audiences.

Most importantly, don’t feel overwhelmed when you’re just starting out.

Take pride in your journey, and stay focused. 

We wish you the best no matter where you are in your music career, and can’t wait to see what you create this year.