Promotion, the good, the bad, the ugly

Ok I want to get some thoughts rolling regarding self-promotion. Now! before we get into it the obvious needs to be said.

“No matter how good your promotion and how much money / you throw at a campaign it won’t make your bad music sound good.”

So let’s start wit the basis that we already have shit-hot music, however that doesn’t matter if we put it out on soundcloud with our 1 (bot) follower. So… what do we do?

On one end of the spectrum we can go for the over the top, pay for likes, comments, fan etc. This can work for one reason:- people respond to tracks that have “buzz” we see a track getting reposts and likes and it must be worth a listen right? Well kinda but it’s now 2017 and most of us realize that it doesn’t take a genius to pay for some spammy bot likes. Plus how can you gauge whether a track has gotten any good response if you’ve paid for most of it?

On the opposite polar side we can sit back, maybe message a friend or 2 and hope that word spreads (this I guess is “ultra-organic?”) and while our results will be just that, organic, it may struggle to get the fire going.

Maybe there’s a middle ground we can tread but what does that leave us with?

  • Hit up blogs
  • Hit up DJ’s / producers (don’t be too spammy)
  • Buy reposts and shares but not likes and followers? (although this has a a low percentage of being listened to it will still get more listens from real people than not doing it)

So where do you stand? what do you do to get your music heard without feeling like a spammy mc-spammer-son?

1 BigUp

Yeah, let’s assume the music is good. It often isn’t good though, and a lot of good and/or expensive self-promotion goes into very bad or painfully mediocre music. I won’t go too much into that, because while well-promoted bad music is all over the internet and people’s ears, it hardly ever lasts.

In the age of the Internet and social media, I think the idea that “if the music is good, people will listen to it” is especially counter-productive. Coupled with the fact that there’s so much music around right now that people forget in August the artist who made their favourite tune of July, I think just making good music isn’t good enough. Sending it to a few friends and hoping for the best won’t cut it: people won’t hear your music, and if they do, they probably won’t care.

Some solutions are, as you said, paying for likes or reposts or to spam the hell out of everything. This is usually counter-productive, especially if the tune in question is the first bit of music people hear from you. People, and DJs in particular will associate you with being a spam guy, and may start ignoring you. Keep in mind that most music isn’t good. Couple that with being an unknown spamming people who check out music for a living and you’ll realise that your tune being on par with the best stuff out there won’t save it from being chucked out with the rest of the spammy promos.

I think the key to getting your music heard is longevity. I’ve been seeing a lot of ebooks, forum posts, YouTube videos, etc, talk about doing hardcore promo for even the first tune you feel is good enough to ‘release’ (which, to my initial surprise, now means uploading it to SoundCloud as a free download with some artwork - which is fine by the way). I don’t think this works necessarily. You could blow up if you’re that month’s luckiest bedroom EDM producer in the world, sure, but not in dubstep or any other niche bass music genre. What I’m saying, I guess, is that if you feel your music is good enough to be out in the world, you should patiently work on building a following, and slowly grow both as an artist and a ‘marketeer’/someone who wants to build a career out of this.

This is not done by buying reposts, shares, or anything. I don’t even think hitting up blogs is at the core of it either (it is very useful if you’re releasing an EP or an album, obviously, and the role of blogs is probably different in more mainstream forms of electronic music). You should hit up a couple of DJs with your best 2 or 3 tunes, upload some bits to SoundCloud, give away a free download or two at some point, talk to people at nights, do promo mixes, etc, to get a couple of people to start listening to your stuff and support you.

Obviously that’s not enough. Next you could try and get some DJ bookings, maybe collab with some producers whose music you’re into, or release an EP on Bandcamp.

Finally, and most importantly, in the social media age, to cut through the noise, you should focus on engagement. Get some followers on social media. Real ones, not paid bots. Also don’t follow and unfollow people on Twitter. Don’t tag 90 people in your Facebook posts. Just ride it out, make good stuff, and provide your listeners with a steady(ish) stream of ‘content’ (yikes). Using Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or whatever, ask people questions about music or other stuff that’s important to you and your listeners, post a relevant meme from time to time, share videos of what you do in the studio (btw, the studio is usually the bedroom, that’s absolutely fine), post music or art you like so people can see what you’re about. Retweet a friend’s awesome album. That kind of thing.

People will see you, some people will remember you, and there will probably be some people who will support you and your music. Don’t watch the numbers on social media too much. As long as they’re going up and not down it’s good. It’s better to have 50 long-term fans than 10.000 plays on one track. The fans will be there next week; those 10.000 plays probably won’t be worth much by that time.

TL;DR If you focus on promo on a tune-by-tune basis, you will probably be forgotten right after most people’s first play. Focus on engaging with people who are actually prone to liking what you make, and things might work out.

7 Likes

/\ great advice.

This is really worth a read too.

https://www.dubstepforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=186232

2 Likes

I meant to link Dub Etiquette / Howtosendmemusic.com in my post as well, nice one!

Just clocked Martin Clark was on that and i never made that connection since reading it in 2011.

I followed that advice and later got signed by someone on the list so it has to be good advice.

I would completely advise against viewing the internet as a networking tool beyond delivery of music though. I have almost never had a major radio play or anything signed by anyone i had not met in person. You need to get into clubs and events and talk to people, give your CD or USBs to DJs with your contact details on (dont open with “take my cd”). Visit other cities and hit every suitable night talking to everyone and adding everyone on facebook.

THOUGH: You can get introduced by people you have IRL to people you haven’t actually met by email, and be taken seriously - and a respected DJs support will make others often reach out to you. Good thing to do is keep an eye on social media if any notable DJ mentions your track you can send them a copy - i have had quite a few Rinse/NTS plays like that - but almost never by just a cold email to a respected/well followed DJ - and you will often not know about it anyway as you have no relationship with that person.

2 Likes

Some great information guys thanks for adding a lot of value to this thread.

The reason I wanted to bring this up is simply for the fact that I’m writing an album and it will be finished by the end of the year, however… I don’t want to have poured this much blood and sweat into it to only find that it falls flat on it’s face and sells a handful of copies. This is why I want to start “seeding” some promo now, start building up a little awareness so that by the time it is released at least people will know what’s going on and who I am.

The problem is my sound is more diverse than it used to be, a lot of fun for me and great for building the music muscles but it makes life hard for labels and such to “pigeon-hole” and aim my sound to a niche audience.

For example this album has Dubstep, Trance, House, Piano solo, Filmscore, Soundtrack songs with influences from a lot of Rock, metal, electronic. It’s been so much fun writing it and I love all of the tracks on there but like I say it makes life hard for people to “match” me up with a person who likes a particular sound.

I think going forwards I may have to release singles / EP’s with one particular sound for each but vary that sound from release to release. Of course not to a ridiculous level of “Oh this is a dark dubstep release so I can’t do XYZ” but just be more mindful of which particular listener this is aimed at

Great post

Also great

great post will leave my 2cents on break.

Bigup for the post and all of you who added to it. It just inspired me to start being more serious about my own music and start uploading / sending stuff, even if it’s gonna be just a few tracks that I really love and feel it has something in it.

thank you for all of the good advice/education

:+1: