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This is a guest post by Marcus Taylor, a musician & founder of several music industry projects, includingThe Musicians GuideMusic Law Contracts, andMusic Job Board.
Theres no shortage of lists on how bands can get free music promotion, but Id like to add one more. My hope is that this one is a bit more up to date, and shines light on some of the great free tools that have emerged in the past 2-3 years. If you have any other great tips for promoting music for free, feel free to add them in the comments below!
2 Add a Bands In Town app to Your Facebook Page
BandsinTownis a must-have app for your Facebook Page. In short, it displays all of your upcoming gig dates in a slick-looking Facebook App. A great way of passively raising awareness of your upcoming shows.
3 Create a FanDistro project to help charities & reward your fans
FanDistrois another favourite of mine. After creating your project page and sending it out to your fans, each fan receives a unique link, which they can send to their friends. If their friends then share your music or buy any of your products, they are rewarded with free merch and 20% of the sales go to a charity in the fans name. FanDistro is a brilliant way of increasing your social media engagement artists likeCosmo Jarvisgenerated ~19 new fans for each fan who shared his music on the site!
4 Build an app for your music with BandApp
Created by a good friend, Adam Perry,BandAppis a great platform for getting a free mobile app for your band.
Bandwagonis a fantastic platform for finding gigs and applying for them for free online. Currently UK focused only.
Soundcloud is arguably one of the best sites to host your music on, especially now that theyveannouncedheavy integration with many of Googles services. If you havent already, upload your music on Soundcloud, tag it well, and encourage fans to leave comments on the tracks.
7 Run an Adwords Campaign (with a 75 free voucher)
I have to admit, Google Adwords tends not to be a very effective way to promote music, as youre relying on people clicking on your ad when theyre searching for something else. However, Google do offerfree 75 vouchers(which you have to pay 25 to activate), so it might be worth a try. If it were me, Id spend this on targeting terms like gigs in London if I had a gig coming up in London, or on similar artist terms like bands like Metallica. Its a long shot, but it may work!
8 Shoot a video & upload to video hosting sites via One Load
Oneloadis a huge time saver that can help you get more exposure from your videos. Its completely free and enables you to upload your video to 15+ video hosting sites, such as Vimeo, YouTube, Viddler, and MetaCafe, all in one click. You no longer have to waste hours upload them one by one and ultimately your video appears on more video hosting sites, enabling you to reach a slightly larger audience (some niche video hosts receive a surprising amount of traffic).
9 Create a professional EPK using Presskit.to
In my opinion,presskit.tooffer the slickest looking press kits currently available to artists. If you want to send your music to promoters, press, and others in style, creating a free presskit.to EPK is a must. Whats particularly nice about these EPKs is that theyre designed responsively, so they look great on any device.
10 Search through Reverbnations opportunities and apply
There are a lot of services like Music Xray, Sonicbids, and Reverbnation who list opportunities for artists to apply to. Theyre all great and I recommend giving them all a shot, but Reverbnation is probably the most extensive feed of opportunities. The downside is that its probably also the most competitive. If you have a few minutes spare, have a scan overtheir opportunities here,and apply to any that look like a good fit.
11 Apply to play at MIDEMs upcoming festival
Every year Midem puts out a call for bands to play at the annual music industry conference. This is an excellent place to promote your music & learn about the industry.
12 Create a Dizzyjam store & sell your merchandise for free
Dizzyjam is a free service that allows you to build a merch store tosell your merchdirectly to fans online. They take care of all the printing and shipping, you just upload your designs and youre ready to go.
13 Reward your fans & raise money using Pledge Music
Pledge Musicis a great service for simultaneously raising money for your release (or tour, or video) while developing loyalty with your existing fan base, by offering them cool experiences and gifts for pledging on your campaign.
14 Find 3-4 relevant forums & get stuck into the community
There are literally hundreds of forums for musicians on the web. Pick 3-4 and actively participate in the community. Youll meet lots of like minded artists, and find lots of good tips on getting gigs, and building your fan base.
15 Setup a fangate for your Facebook Page using Woobox
Im a big fan ofWoobox, and have used it many times to increase social engagement for my projects. While some of their tools are paid, you can quickly install a like gate and run basic social competitions free of charge. Like gates area good way of encouraging people to like your Facebook Page, in return for accessing some exclusive content, such as a free download.
16 Use to find & talk with potential fans
Twitter is an exceptionally powerful tool when used correctly. I encourage all artists to learn how to mto their advantage. Use it to find potential fans in areas where youre performing or similar artists who may be able to connect you with promoters or good contacts. The unique thing about Twitter is that its not unusual to reach out to people youve never spoken with, making it a great way to break the ice with potential fans, and contacts.
17 Schedule some tweets using Hootsuite
When you have a few minutes to spare, logging in to Hootsuite and scheduling a few tweets can be a great way to ensure that youre continually communicating with your fans. For artists with a global audience this is particularly important as it means you can reach fans on Twitter in different time zones.
18 Write a guest blog post on a high profile music blog
There are a handful of artists who I only know because they blog heavily on music industry websites. Tommy Darker, Brian Hazard, and Simon Tam are all musicians who I probably wouldnt have connected with if it werent for their participation on blogs like Music Think Tank. If you enjoy writing and have some constructive criticism or ideas on improving the way in which the music industry functions, why not put a post together on one of these sites?
19 Create a list of relevant bloggers & befriend them
In most genres there is still a collection of music bloggers who influence the listening decisions of many people. This is most certainly the case in the RnB and hiphop World. Use sites likeHypemto create a list of potential bloggers, and then begin communicating with them (but dont jump straight to promoting your music).
20 Create a list of promoters in your area & befriend them
Youd be surprised how quickly you can compile a list of all the key promoters in your town. A few years ago I had the (tedious) task of doing this for the whole of the UK, and that took about 8 hours. That said, it was worth it. Start building a database of promoters in your area, and then create a plan to be-friend them, perhaps by adding them to a Twitter list and talking with them, or inviting them for a coffee / lunch.
21 Write a sponsorship proposal & email 10x local companies it
Sponsors can be a great help in providing your band with a bit of extra cash. The key is to understand what you can do that will help to grow their business. If you have a small number of fans, pick a local sponsor that doesnt make you seem like a sell out (alcohol sponsors are always a good choice). The more fans you have, the more options there are.
22 Find some zero-cost promotional partnerships
Im a huge fan of zero-cost promotional partnerships. This is where you partner with someone and offer them a favour, in return for them offering you a favour, for free. A great example may be to speak to local stores and ask if you can put up posters in their store, in return for you promoting their services or listing them as a sponsor for an upcoming gig.
23 Find a list of upcoming music industry conferences
Music industry conferences are a goldmine for artists. Not only do you have the smartest minds in the industry sharing their case studies and tips on what does and doesnt work, but youll also meet lots of music industry contacts. Check out this list onmusic industry conferences, pick one, and go! If you want to keep it free of charge, stand outside the front and just chat to people as they walk in / offer them demos. Youd be surprised how few artists do this, and how valuable an opportunity it is.
While there are many altruistic benefits to supporting great causes, its also a fantastic way of getting the support of local press. Host a charitable concert, donate album sales to a charity, or even use something like Reverbnations Music for Good.
25 Set up a mailing list on Mailchimp
If you dont have a mailing list set up, fix that. Now.
26 Get some free business cards & use them as download cards
There are many services like Vistaprint that offer free business cards. A cool trick is to order several hundred of these with a custom design that includes a URL to download your music. This can be a cost effective alternative to download cards.
Ive written aboutwhy artists should blogbefore, but in short, its one of the best ways to build up a passive audience, communicate with your fans, while getting countless opportunities for you and your music. The only thing I will point out, that Im sure many bloggers will confirm, is that you really do get out what you put in. Sticking a few rambles up on Tumblr is not going to cut it.
28 Build relationships with key bloggers by commenting on their blogs
There are many people who I only know through them commenting on my blog posts some of them have become very good friends over the years. For the sake of a 30-60 seconds, commenting on other blogs can be a great way to plant seeds, that may blossom into fruitful relationships.
29 Give your music away for free on torrent sites
This one is slightly controversial, and I understand not everyone will like the sound of it, but Im of the belief that your music is your business card. Sure, it costs money to make and you want to redeem that money, but I think a longer-term strategy is more valuable here. Seed your music on torrent sites, and encourage it to be shared far and wide. The more fans you have, the easier it will be to negotiate better gigs, sponsorships, and other high value opportunities.
30 Find DJs to remix your music & post their mixes on Mixcloud
When I began my career as a dance music producer (after years of drumming in a metal band?!) I managed to get my music released on various labels by offering to remix their existing artists. Id simply approach a label and say Hey guys, Id love to do a remix of your artist X on the house. If its of interest could you fire over the raw files and ill get to work. It worked so effectively because it was essentially free promotion for the labels artists. Looking at this from the other side, try to get DJs to remix your music, and then you (or they) can then promote this on sites likeMixcloud.
31 Read some music marketing blogs to sharpen your skills
There are many fantastic people sharing their tips on what does and doesnt work in music marketing. I recommend following Brian Hazardspassive promotion blogMichael Brandvold, andAriel Hyatt. Follow these guys and youll be in good hands.
32 Learn whats working and whats not with Next Big Sound
Despitemy reservations against vanity metrics, I am a big fan ofNext Big Sound. If you use it correctly, you can identify lots of handy information on what is and isnt working in your music promotion strategy.
All bands should haveGoogle Alertsset up on their band name find out what fans are saying about you online by getting a real-time or weekly summary of all mentions of your band name across the web.
34 Be active on niche social networks like Pinterest
Despite being largely populated by foodies and interior decorators, Pinterest receives huge amounts of traffic, and is relatively uncompetitive for musicians. The challenge with promoting music on Twitter and Facebook is that youre competing with every other band this isnt the case on Pinterest. Remember, the hardest place to sell a book is in a bookstore.
35 Record a cover of a popular song & upload it to YouTube
A lot of artists I know are very against recording cover songs, as they feel it comes across as selling out, or not being able to write original music. Some of the more successful artists I know use covers in an incredibly smart way to attract the attention of likely fans, and introduce them to their original music. There may be 100,000 searches on YouTube for Bastilles new song. If your fans are also Bastille fans, consider covering one of their songs to grab the attention of those 100,000 people looking for Bastille.
36 Get free Internet radio play with Jango Airplay
Jango (or radio airplay) is a huge network of online radio stations. If you head over to their site you can get 100 free radio spins free of charge. For tips on getting traditional radio airplay for free, I thoroughly recommendthis great postthatEmuBandsput together by interviewing Ally McCrae from BBC Radio 1, and Julie Barnes, a radio plugger.
There was agood post on FanDistros blogrecently that suggested that you should become the hub of your local music scene by hosting meetups for the community. Having organized a few myself in London, I can definitely vouch for this.
It sounds simple, but most artists are too afraid of asking for help. If you dont believe me, I recommend watching Amanda Palmersgreat talkfrom TED, where she explains how asking for help has helped her music career.
39 Tag your fans in photos on Facebook
The image below is of a genius marketing campaign by DJ Tiesto. He put up a banner of himself in the entrance to one of his shows, and his fans got photos taken in front of it. Afterwards, he uploaded all of these photos to Facebook for fans to tag themselves in. This is so effective, because the friends of the fans who were tagged would have then been exposed to DJ Tiesto. Another easy, free, powerful tactic.
40 Use BandPage Connect to update all of your profiles in one go
Bandpage Connectis another fantastic time saving tool that enables you to update all of your social profiles (Facebook, Reverbnation, Last.fm, Twitter, Myspace etc.) in one go. There are several other similar services, but Bandpage Connect is probably my favourite of the bunch.
Similarly to business cards, there are some services likeClub Flyersthat offer free postacards and flyers. While I suspect they may have an advert for the company on the back, this is a good way to print a bunch of flyers for you gig free of charge.
42 Recruit an intern / street team to help get the word out
The limitation with music promotion is that you only have so many hours in the day, and so while there may be hundreds of options to promote you music, you need to prioritise or outsource. Recruiting a street team is a great way to encourage others (your fans) to do your marketing for you.
43 Host a Google Hangout with your fans
Google Hangouts on Air have become increasingly popular over the past six months, especially as they can be automatically uploaded to YouTube afterwards. Why not host a hangout with a bunch of your fans to do a Q&A or studio update?
This may be the single best piece of advice in this blog post, as it essentially applies to every piece of advice here. By definition, people remark on things that are remarkable. If you want to spread word of mouth about your music, you need to be doing things that are worth them talking to their friends about. Lady Gaga is a master of this while her music may not be particularly remarkable, her costumes, videos, and lifestyle certainly are.
45 Post your gigs on local Gumtree / Craigslist pages
While Gumtree may not seem like the coolest place to list your gigs, it gets a huge amount of localized traffic, which is perfect for promoting your upcoming gigs.
46 Try out a new (controversial) service
When uStream and ChatRoulette came out, it was musicians who jumped onto the opportunity and reaped tonnes of PR value out of them. Keep an eye on emerging services and think creatively about how you might be able to use it to get coverage for your music.
Your fans are unlikely to buy your merch if your designs suck. Hire a designer to make them so good that even someone whos never heard your music would want to wear them.
48 Enter music company competitions
Admittedly, most competitions suck, but not all. Keep your eye out for good competitions and offers hosted by music companies. FanDistro and DiscMakers recently gave away $500 worth of free CD duplication & t-shirts to give away . Tip: follow the Facebook Page of artist service companies to keep tabs on competitions that may be worth entering.
49 Record a video testimonial for music services you use
Virtually every service built for musicians has a website with testimonials on it. Most of these sites list their testimonials on the home page, in front of vast numbers of people. Do these services a favour by emailing them a quick testimonial that they can use on their site. Its only a little bit of extra exposure, but itll sure help and is a great way to establish a relationship with these companies.
I hope these tips have all been useful – if you have any other tips, please post them in the comments below. As an aside, Im going to be .ukover the next few weeks as a free platform that ranks different music marketing tools, based on what artists believe are the most effective. If you want early access to the new version of the site you can request beta access over on The Musicians Guide.
Thanks most of this information is cool advice and some of it is common sense for musicians.
Marcus, you presented your tips in a way that made me re-think some of these services and strategies. Thanks.
This is the best roadmap for indie artists in the past 5 years. Fantastic job!!!
These are all great ideas that all working artists should be using to some extent, it gives great insight to some things that the artist may have known, but it has slipped their mind.
Jango/Airplay Radio is a great way to get your music heard by the masse, but with everthing mentioned here just remember it takes putting in the work and chasing the brass ring, not waiting for someone to simply hand it to you because youre a nice guy!!!!!!!
Very comprehensive list Marcus! Thanks for bringing it all together for those musicians who have the energy. I love and use the Jango feature which has audience statistics that are really useful. I have also gained some valuable contacts from the Music Groups in Linked In, where it is useful to join in on the conversations. I will be seeding this article on my Newsvine where I also consolidate useful articles for musicians, which I learned about through Hypebot. Although lately, I see annoying ads on my feed. So the message here is that you have to be nimble with your focus and energy. Another idea for musicians to get a sense of the jungle is the Bob Lefsetz e-mail newsletter. Even though he seems allergic to direct promotion, if you have something interesting to say to him, he is the uber-networker.
Subscribing to MTT is one of my best investments of time and energy in the last 4 years. This article alone is very educational and refreshing. Thanks very much for taking the time to share what you have learned from the countless hours and probably $ u have put into music.
Wow! Tons of great suggestions here Marcus. This one is going straight to Evernote to refer back to when I finish my next EP. Speaking of which, my blog will pick up steam again once Im back to promoting said EP. I appreciate the recommendation!
There are several other similar services, but Bandpage Connect is probably my favourite of the bunch.
Amazing article, helped me so much in validating what I was doing was completely wrong
Beautiful and Very informational Post.. This is the Musician Checklist. Salute
Excellent post, so many new opportunities to try out and test.
I dont see any reason not to do all of these things if youre trying to promote your music. Great links, thank you.
Awesome list, it is need for all artist. I will try everyone.Thanks.
Good List. Some very practical steps you can put in place instead of ideological BS. Thanks!
Very comprehensive list Marcus! Thanks for bringing it all together for those musicians who have the energy. I have also gained some valuable contacts from the Music Groups , Thanks most of this information is cool advice and some of it is common sense for musicians.
Great list – I am a huge fan of soundcloud. Thats where I listen to all my music and I am always listening to new playlists, it would be a great way to promote and easy to spread your band and music.
You can also get free flyer designs from Miami Printing.
Marcus Taylor…you ROCK! Thank you, thank you, thank you for such an insightful article. My daughter just released her first EP and after reviewing your suggestions we have a much better perspective of where shes at in her journey…and how we can support her. Seriously, thanks for the countless hours of research and trial by fire youve save us!
Excellent post.Music download codeshelps in generating creative ideas. A creative mind has the ability to make discoveries and create new innovations.
Great information. Dont forget that site which is like a live concert where people get to vote up and down for you to stay on air. Pretty cool.
Thanks for this! This is really helpful. Creativity is key. Transmedia concepts are really helpful as well. Integrated media and looking at a 360 approach can really bring everything together and optimize user experience/engagement
worth reading! it will take the reader of your articles far!!!
Great read. Awesome links. You pretty much hit every form of music promotion out there. has a one of a kind platform to help promote artists too…
Hope that helps and good luck to all you aspiring artists!
This is one of the smartest articles Ive seen on MTT – artists need to approach free promotion without any pre-conceived notions, as there are far more opportunities than most realize.
Give me the info free and i will hook you up when when i rock the nation.
Awsome article once again its really important withdigital music promotionlooking at how you use promotion and marketing actions to reach your clients. even if you put your music in the right channels, if people dont know about it they wont find it.
My friend told me about this music promotional services company: He said they are the best service providers in the current market.
very very good post. Very useful to a lot of music artist around the worl
very interesting post. Full of good details for the up and coming artist.
Are you an artist?This is opportunity to get your music heard. We are an agency working with MTV UK music and radio station trying to promote upcoming artist.contact us on: msmsoul.
Wow im an upcoming artist from Houston thats recently signed to UMG and this is some of the best tips Ive heard in my career. Thanks so Much for the knowledge. And remember people it takes you to carry this out and make it work. ThatBoyZarius YDSG
Great ideas here! I would also suggest checking out LoudUp – Its a brand new site, just over 1 month old, but it is a great way to showcase your music, get new fans and connect with producers, musicians, and other industry professionals.
We are a newly developed site designed to promote unsigned artists from singers, producers to writers. We are free service focusing on a site that can visually reflect the artists personality onto the internet with our unique design style. Also we do a lot of offline work to promote our signed up artists to record labels and music scouts etc
We know everyone needs support that is why we are running a monthly 500 competition. Our Passion is you and we know its difficult out there hopefully the prize money can help as well as us!
Marcus,Thanks so much for crafting such a helpful article. My band, Sleep State, just had our 5 song EP mastered– so these 49 Ways are going to assist us immensely. This is the first time Ive been on MTT, but I have it bookmarked and will be reading it frequently.Be well,Troy Ritchie
Wonderful musical site. Thanks for sharing.pilot hayes band
Great info lets connect add me on /drewxboo see what i did there i used ur marketing formula lol
Hey guys!I run a music promotion channel. If you are making any type of EDM than feel free to write me to la or youtube and i will upload your music with joy!Hope someone will find this useful!
is there a reason why setting up a page isnt listed… i think thats the best way of geting legit fans that actually care about ur music
WATCH THIS VIDEO TIL THE ENDYOU WILL LEARN EVERYTHING YOUVE BEENNEEDING TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING YOUR MUSICHEARD BY NOT JUST THOUSANDS, BUT MILLIONS OF FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE ONLY INFORMATION YOU NEED!!!
You really got everything right mate. Amazingly helpful for a lot of us I guess…
yep .. ive been using a few of these services .. and im gonna use more .. great article with links to keep your drive progressing
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Downdrops is a good site to promote your music
The world of promoting music has changed massively in the internet era, and this is a great summary of it. Really good article, well done!The International
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