As an artist, getting your music heard will be the hardest thing you ever do. While it's true that good music sells itself, its no longer enough to simply make good music, you need to offer more in order to get heard. Put simply, since the internet and digital technology have come about, the means of making music have been democratised. Anyone can make music using pirated software and then distribute it at a moment's notice online. You no longer need to invest in expensive hardware modules in order to be able to make music, and you no longer need to be affiliated with a record label to get your music heard.
This has meant that it's become increasingly difficult to separate yourself from the noise that's out there. We all know of musicians who have more recognition that maybe their musical talent merits, and likewise we all know of musicians who perhaps don't have as much recognition as they deserve as a result of the landscape we all operate in. So how can you mitigate this, and how can you get the right people to listen to your music? Below are some of my thoughts, if you have any thoughts yourself i'd love to hear them.
1. Be Remarkable
As I said before, good music will sell itself. You need to be honest with yourself and pushing yourself to be as distinctive as possible. Seth Gotin's analogy of the purple cow is a really good point to raise here... If you see a cow on your way home you won't think twice about it. However if you were to see a purple cow, you'd jump out of your car take a picture and send the picture of the purple cow to all of your friends and tell everyone about it. In an age of social media, this is exactly what you want to achieve with your music, you want to get to a point where other people will tell their friends about a track you've finished. In this way they are promoting you and creating some hype or virality around you as an artist, your brand to put it another way. The over saturation of the market with free or extremely cheap and readily available music means you need to unleash disproportional waves of creativity and really distinguish yourself from the noise that's out there. Only in this way will you get people to actually stop, take five minutes out of their day and click on a link to your music.
2. Offer More Than Just Music
As I touched on before you need to offer more than just music. Make videos, write a blog, teach, or do anything else that might draw people to your web presence and perhaps listen to your music. Even if it's only a small percentage of the people who frequent this content that end up going to your website or wherever it is that you host your music, this is still a way to get more exposure. People seeking production advice from your Youtube channel might pass a tutorial video you make on to two friends who might pass it on again. At some point down the line someone will be curious enough to learn about you as an artist and listen to your music. If they like what they hear they might then pass your music on to their friends.
3. Be on as Many Platforms as You Can
Certain platforms are more readily used in certain communities, by certain types of people and in geographical areas than others. For example, Twitter is more popular in the United States than Facebook is because it was originally developed for Blackberry technology. Hence the character limit. Similarly listening to music on Soundcloud is something that is more popular with musicians than non musicians. At a minimum I would suggest that you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Soundcloud account and Youtube Channel. These are all the best ways to get content to your fans, with Youtube becoming the fastest growing way to stream music. Probably more important however is to link all these channels to a central web presence. All roads lead to Rome, and on your central web presence or hub you need to have a way to collect email addresses.
4. Collecting Email Addresses is a Must
A list of email addresses will be the engine to get your music heard, and you should start collecting emails as soon as you can. With permission marketing you can send music directly to people who have opted in to hear your music. This is a more powerful tool than broadcasting on social media, you're no longer shouting in a crowded room of people trying to get their attention but you are having a one on one conversation with someone.
5. Perform Live
If people know you in the local music scene as a result of you having DJ'ed at certain events, this will surely provoke their interest enough to at least check out the music you are making. A percentage of these people will like the music you are putting out and perhaps connect with you as a fan of your music. Having a captive audience of several hundred people to test your material on can also provide a valuable way of getting feedback on your music. You can test if something works before distributing it online.