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I'm either missing something or have some mental block. How do I start?

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  • I'm either missing something or have some mental block. How do I start?

    I have been researching music marketing for the past 2 or 3 years at this point because a few years ago I started writing music and wanted it to be heard. So I have developed a sense for how to grow and maintain an audience from something small to something larger. However, I always felt like I was missing something regarding getting started at square 1 with no audience. It is either that, or I don't want to do what is necessary to start from 0. Luckily for me or unluckily... depends how you look at it, I have not had the means to record full songs (ie a band). I have spent the past few years just writing music and recording quick demos which I intend to take into a band setting to record with them. I have a group of friends with whom I will be working. The issues are primarily tied to everyone having various commitments as well as COVID putting restrictions on what we can do or at least what our parents are comfortable with us doing, and not to mention, college. Because I haven't had any opportunities to record full songs, I have had the time to develop my skills in playing music as well as songwriting and writing lyrics. The unfortunate part is that I simply haven't been able to release much aside from a shitpost that I did almost all on my computer for instrumentation in FL Studio.

    What have I spent my time doing for my music?
    1. writing music and lyrics
    2. recording demos
    3. posting demos on the YouTube channel for the band (14 subs)
    4. sending them to friends for feedback
    5. posting occasionally on social media (23 followers) regarding whatever is going on with what I am doing (some random things like little bits of playing or updates on a project that I'm helping a friend with)
    I haven't done much that really supports the music that I am working on though. I also don't know what I should do to get any following on Instagram for example. I feel like I understand how to keep moving if I already have a following but I just can't put it together in my head regarding how I am supposed to get people to begin with. That number indicating followers isn't the destination, but for now, it is one of my early goals so I will at least have some eyes on me and some ears listening. I need traffic before I can get fans. I have primarily just some close friends and a few people with whom I am loosely acquainted. I haven't been successful with getting anyone else to follow with any reliability. I got a few people here and there but that's it. I have a few ideas for how I could approach the YouTube channel but I have been so busy with school, 3D modeling projects, my animation project, songwriting, and other things (but mainly school) that I haven't been able to tend to the channel.

    Now that it is my winter break I can get to work on some of that but I am not certain I can get much traction. I also will have the opportunity to finally get together with my friends and do some recording. I want to make the most of this time and I am looking for some advice for my situation in particular. My goal is to record my songs with my friends, promote them, and release them. I have very little confidence that I can do this successfully without some further preparation beforehand. I know it would be best to document the process to have content for social media so that there is a story involved. You can't really go off of just "here is the music" and then expect anything. I encourage anyone who reads this to ask any clarifying questions to be able to give me a better sense of what to be focusing on as well as allowing more directed advice to be given.

    Essentially, I would like to know: what are the very first steps to take in order to effectively promote and release your first releases when starting out if you have songs in the pipeline? What else should I be doing? What should I do on Instagram and YouTube to provide value to an audience? Should I use any ads on those platforms for something as early as a first release when I don't have really any social currency? Could you provide a general calendar template/outline for what you did for your initial release strategy? If you repeat to me the same things you can find in YouTube videos regarding music marketing, that is fine. It will be like some psychology trick type beat. I don't internally respond too strongly to anything that isn't personally directed towards me so if I get anyone telling me directly what they suggest, then I would greatly appreciate that. Ideally, someone can provide a bit more of an in-depth explanation for how to approach the release than just repeating what is found easily online, but again, if there are any repeats, that is fine.

  • #2
    A very important aspect besides online marketing is face-to-face promotion or offline promotion. People tend to forget that.

    When your first song gets released, reach out to as many people as possible personally. Write all your friends a personal e-mail or message them talking about how important that project is for you and you would appreciate if they would share it. Only posting it on social media will not get many people to actually get engaged with your Spotify.

    Before release day, reach out to your local media outlets. A small newspaper will always be happy to write something about you. Maybe your local college radio or TV station will play your music. This small media coverage will be a a good reference for your online promotion ("my song got featured in multiple media outlets" -> Nobody needs to know that it was your local student radio).

    Use your connections! Maybe a friend of a friend is an artist with similar music. Or your neighbour knows someone that works in the media industry. People will help you, you just need to ask!
    Involving more people in the project is always a good idea for promotion. If your bandmates will personally share the song with all their friends, you will reach a lot more listeners.

    Last but not least: Don't expect thousands of streams and instant success. Your first releases will hardly be the ones that get into Discover Weekly. Be patient, and repeat everything for every new song. Set yoursefl small goals and be happy. Because if you loose your happiness, your music will loose it too. And that would be sad.


    • #3
      Yeah, guerrilla marketing is really underrated. One of the cheapest and most effective ways to start from scratch is to DM fans of artists your music sounds like, who would most likely like your music. I don't mean just DM a link. That's lame, and annoying (and DON'T follow for follow - it kills your organic reach). Send a message, like "I see you follow ______. I am a big fan of _______, too. I do music and they really influence my sound. If you have a chance, check out my latest track. [link]." On Instagram, you can send around 30 cold DMs a day (spread out a bit) before you get in trouble (you can do this on Twitter, too). It's a great way to build up Instagram and Spotify followers in between releases and to supplement a release promotion. We built up 200 Spotify followers in between our second and third release doing this. Most of our first 300 followers came from DMs.