19 Mar '21
21 music marketing strategies for 2021
If you search “music marketing” on Google you get billions of results, and you might wonder which link to choose.
Well, we scoured through the first two pages of results to create one list to rule them all, ranking each marketing strategy by the number of times it gets mentioned.
With a little serendipity, there happened to be 21.
This article is part of our series on putting together a music marketing plan. We'll be publishing more articles in the coming weeks, so subscribe to our mailing list below and we'll let you know when they’re published!
1. Use social media
Unsurprisingly, the most frequently mentioned strategy is social media. Our top tip is to pick one platform to focus your energies on and post consistently.
If you can commit to once a day, great -> post once a day.
If you can commit to once a month, also great -> post once a month.
Consistency is key. And to help you identify which social media platform might be right for you, music marketer Amber Horsburgh has a quiz you can use.
2. Create a website
Your own website is a place you can connect everything together:
- merchandise, tickets and music you have for sale
- tour dates
- mailing list sign up
- links to social media
It also helps with digital advertising as you can retarget the people that visit your website and know they are more likely to be a super-fan. See strategy #12 - ‘digital advertising’ below.
3. Engage with your existing fanbase
A general rule in business is that “acquiring new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones”, and there are definite parallels with music. It’s not just about growing your audience, it’s also incredibly important to develop the relationship with your existing fanbase.
You can do this through a mailing list, replying to comments on social media, running competitions and so on. Whatever makes sense for you and helps your fans feel involved / invested in you and your music.
4. Have a mailing list
A mailing list is going to be made up of people who are more likely to be your super-fans, even more so than people who visit your website (#2). Communicating with people via email can help you develop your relationship with them and means that you 'own' the communication channel. If you only communicate with them through social media, you are at risk of losing that relationship if you or they decide to delete their accounts!
5. Collaborate with other artists
Collaboration means you can introduce each other to your respective audiences, which is of course mutually beneficial. The ‘collab’ doesn’t have to be with Drake… it can be a friend, or an artist you admire who’s slightly further ahead in their career (or even slightly behind). Whoever they are, they will have a different audience to you, and it’s a really effective way to grow yours whilst feeling good about helping someone else out.
6. Pitch your music
This covers blogs, radio, playlists, influencers and podcasts because it’s all essentially the same thing -> you send your music to someone who hopefully likes it and talks about it to their audience. This is good for the same reason that collaborating with other artists is good, getting access to another audience that is likely to be interested in your music. You can use SubmitHub or MusoSoup to help with this.
7. Create non-music content
You are more than your music. Your music is important, but the songs themselves aren’t the whole story. People are really interested in who you are too, and ‘non-musical’ content can help get that across.
8. Pay for radio or PR
Number 6 in this list was doing the pitching yourself, this is paying someone else to do it for you. Press agencies and radio pluggers are able to give you access to placements and opportunities you might not be able to access on your own. Having said that, we’d advise doing this after you’ve been able to generate some traction on your own as working with these agencies can be pretty expensive.
I’m surprised this didn’t come higher in the list, but I guess it’s not seen as a marketing strategy as such (and it’s not really been possible for the last year). Putting on a free show to celebrate the release of your music, supporting other artists, playing festivals, streaming online are all incredibly effective ways to grow your audience and develop the relationship with your existing one.
10. Build a brand
This can help make it easier for potential new fans to recognise you and build familiarity with your music. It’s not just the style of music you make, but your brand encompasses everything from the style of photography or videos you make to the language you use in your social media posts. The important thing to remember is to be authentic.
11. Upload videos to YouTube
Part social media, part streaming platform -> with 2 billion users you’d need a very good reason not to upload your music to YouTube.
12. Advertising online
This can be complicated but super effective once you get it right. If you want to make it easy for yourself, use Feed to set up and run your ads for you!
13. Put together an EPK
Like a musical CV, this helps people (particularly those you pitch your music to in #6) get an understanding of who you are very quickly.
14. Release music frequently
There are always exceptions, but it is generally better to release 1 song every 6 weeks, than release 10 songs at once every 60 weeks.
15. Don’t forget the real world
This was a rogue suggestion that came up in our research: put up posters / stickers / buttons in record stores. But if record labels do it (which they do), then it’s worth experimenting with.
16. Design (and sell) merchandise
People wear clothes, they might wear clothes with your name on them.
17. List your gigs on Songkick
18. Launch a crowdfunding campaign
We did a crowdfunding campaign for Feed to help fund the development of our platform but it also definitely helped grow our audience.
19. Film music videos
As we’ve said before: “It doesn’t need [to be] a £5,000 (or even £50,000) budget (...). Something you shot yourself in the Peak District, for example, is often better, as is an animation created by a friend.”
20. Plan for the long-term
Most of the time, it doesn’t happen overnight. Plan for 3-5 years of consistently putting out music, playing shows and so on before you start to get traction.
21. Build an interactive experience
This suggestion came from a company that offered to build interactive experiences for you, but XR, web 3.0, games and blockchain are all the rage if you have the know how or the budget.