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SELF-PROMOTION: 7 ARTISTS SHARE STRATEGIES, HACKS, TIPS AND ADVICE

 

CONTENT SLIDEFEATURE ARTICLESLATESTMAGAZINE

FEBRUARY 26, 2018

BY GREG CAYEA

With so many tools to promote ourselves nowadays, at times it’s overwhelming to even think of how, or where to start. There are so many options that decision-making can become a burdensome task. How should you prepare for a single debut?  Where should you drive traffic?  How do you make the most of a post-release and what is the most effective means to interact with, and garner new fans? Every music-maker is unique, and to try and nail down one specific strategy on how to tackle a music career would be insane. This article is full of strategies from full-time musicians who reveal which social platforms are best for an upcoming release, where traffic should be driven, their personal experiences and how to make the most of a post-release.
ARTIST: Dand And The Wolf
GENRE: Alt-Pop
LISTEN: DanaAndTheWolf.com

Vocalist Dana Hobson and multi-instrumentalist/producer Daniel Wolf have known each other for a decade, but only recently began creating music together given their complete opposite tastes. After jumping from rock to hip-hop to classical guitar-influenced and jam band journey songs, the couple finally transformed into Dana And The Wolf, which one might describe as epic alternative pop.

What’s your favorite way to communicate with your fan base digitally, and non-digitally?
We’ve been messing with Twitch recently, which is a live streaming platform mainly for gamers, but the fans on there are a riot, and we’ve become fast friends. They trash-talk, but it’s with love, and it’s kinda like a virtual concert. Anything goes, whereas on Instagram it’s a little more PG-13.

Where do you post new music? YT? SC? Spotify? FB? iTunes? What do you believe has been the most important one that you’ve focused on?
We post new music everywhere, because you have to be everywhere, and there’s really no excuse not to be. The most important platform is Spotify. It’s where we’ve seen the highest growth, and although it’s tough to “focus” on it, we hope that through great press a Spotify Playlist curator will see it and dig the song.
What is the most important career choice you’ve made to date?

Deciding to go out and network. Part of me was so resistant to it, especially since Radiohead’s line in “Paranoid Android”: “the yuppies networking.” Maybe Radiohead didn’t need to network, but the rest of us do. Most of the opportunities we’ve had have come from networking.

How do you make the most of the post-release?
I can tell you an excellent example of what not to do post-release: Nothing. •

ARTIST: I, Us & We
GENRE: lndie Rock/Electronic
LISTEN: iusandwe.com

The Temecula, CA indie rock/electronica trio I, Us, & We (brothers Jordan, Evan and Aaron Doverspike) garnered 30k streams on Soundcloud and 20k on YouTube in just a few months after catching the ear of Spotify curators who inserted them into their Discover Weekly playlist. The band currently live in the Los Angeles area.

Which social media platform (or real-life platforms) have proven to give you the best results in regard to interacting with fans as you prepare for an upcoming release? 
Twitter is great for connecting with other artists, Instagram is good for introducing people to behind-the-scenes, and Facebook seems to have slowed since the algorithm was put in place that now limits connection with people who already like your page. Shows are king. Playing good shows to attentive crowds will do more than a few weeks’ worth of posts on any platform. We also have a substantial mailing list that we use to present new music and exclusive content.
What’s your favorite way to communicate with your fan base digitally, and non-digitally?

Instagram is the easiest. It seems as though users are more likely to connect with pictures rather than just words. I guess the saying a picture is worth a thousand words is correct. YouTube is almost impossible if you don’t post a video a day. Interaction at shows is the best. When you can present your music then put a face and personality to it, you connect with people on a much deeper level.

Where do you post new music? YT? SC? Spotify? FB? iTunes? 
With new music, what we try to do is give teasers across all of our social media platforms, paired with visuals, typically the album art or something similar. Spotify playlists are really the key to have any song do well on Spotify. We feel that you have to make it as easy as possible for people to access your music.

What do you think is most important (in both the digital and non-digital world), to do after a new track is put out? 
There should be a good bit of PR and marketing going into the release, and from there you just have to trust that what you are putting forward is a quality song that people will connect with. From there the numbers do what the numbers do.

Finally, if you have ONE statement to lend other musicians about what you’ve learned thus far in your career to keep organized in today’s age of digital confusion, what would it be? 
Don’t get outworked, always be willing to learn, treat your career like a business and others will do the same, and most importantly, be you and make the music that moves you. If the music moves you, it will move other people as well. Oh, and if you feel overwhelmed you’re probably doing it right. •

ARTIST: No No Yeah Okay
GENRE: Electronic
LISTEN:NoNoYeahOkay.com

No No Yeah Okay (NNYO) blends a variety of different musical backgrounds, including electronic, hip-hop and punk. Led vocally by Colin Plant, the production of Mark Gage and the punk musical stylings of Christopher Quasius (guitar) and Joshua Paynter (bass), NNYO’s melodies are smooth, with interjections of sharp synths and deep bass.

Which social media platform (or real-life platforms) have proven to give you the best results in regard to interacting with fans as you prepare for an upcoming release? 
We want to first physically meet as many people as we can. We want them to want to tell their friends about the experience they had at our show and with meeting us in person. Where social media becomes really useful for us is to then equip our fans with materials to share us with their networks. We believe strongly that relationships and fan bases grow through investing time with them, not by simply trying to achieve reach through fleeting social posts.

Where do you post new music? YT? SC? Spotify? FB? iTunes? 
When we were first beginning No No Yeah Okay, we relied heavily on the inexpensive/free channels to post our music (SoundCloud and YouTube). Now that we have established a fan base, we focus our distribution through online music stores (Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify).

How do you make the most of the post-release?
Follow up with the people and publications that are sharing your music. Thank them. Return the favor and send your audience to their sites. Releasing work is exciting and you definitely want to talk about it. Just understand that there is a fine line between relentlessly badgering your fans with the same news over and over again versus providing the repetition your fans need to become aware of your new work.

What do you think is most important (in both the digital and non-digital world), to do after a new track is put out? 
Do shows. Shows. Shows.

Finally, if you have ONE soundbite to lend other musicians about what you’ve learned thus far in your career to keep organized in today’s age of digital confusion, what would it be?
The Internet is an amazing tool for gaining reach and staying in contact with your fans. However, the Internet does not replace the experience of putting yourself out in front of real people. Think of social media as an extension of your human interactions… Not unlike how you would use social media to stay in contact with a close friend. •

ARTIST: Julia Weldon
GENRE: Indie-Folk/Pop
LISTEN: JuliaWeldon.com

Julia Weldon is a Brooklyn indie-folk-pop artist who was on the verge of starting her next album, Comatose Hope, but instead found herself awaking from a coma after a gender affirming surgery. One year later and after a fortunate recovery, she’s got more than enough tales to tell and songs to sing.

What’s your favorite social media platform for interacting with your fans and finding new audiences to connect with?
I’d say I still like Facebook for longer post and announcements but I LOVE Instagram. It’s what fans really wanna see: my personal life! Instagram stories are genius—by taking this fan connection and intimate look to the next level. I post much crazier shit on my story because it’s fleeting!

How do you put out new music?
I release new music videos through YouTube, but for the actual music release I go through CDBaby, who then partners with legit––all the major digital distributors. Spotify has been amazing for exposure to fans across the globe but generates virtually no income. iTunes and Apple Music and direct sales after shows are the only real CD sales I make. •

ARTIST: Ionie
GENRE: Indie
LISTEN: IonieMusic.com

Ionie moved to New York at 17 to study music at NYU. Her debut album (April 2015) explores her struggle with love, identity, time and transformation through an intimate collection of original songs. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Which social media platform (or real life platforms) give you the best results in regards to interacting with fans and for an upcoming release…
I think you gotta know your audience. All the tweens are on Insta, but people of my generation are still using Facebook. But the resounding verdict is that things are moving over to Instagram. I’ve never touched Snapchat and never will, but I do use stories and think advertising is starting to utilize stories more and more.
And where do you post new music? YT? SC? Spotify? FB? iTunes?

When I post new music, it goes everywhere. Everyone has their preferred way of consuming media, so you have to cater to that and facilitate people finding your music, not just the iTunes users.

Where should people drive traffic?
To your website. You want as much content on your site so people hang out on it and purchase merch or music. That’s the whole point, right?
How do you make the most of the post-release?

Post follow-ups, keep talking about it, keep sending out links. Audiences like to be a part of getting you heard, seeing you succeed, so I think sharing your success is welcome.

If you have ONE statement to lend about what you’ve learned thus far to keep organized in today’s age of digital confusion, what would it be?
Put your phone on airplane mode at night. Also, Wunderlist is my fave ToDo list app; it dings when you finish a task.

ARTIST: Eva Misle
GENRE: Pop
LISTEN: EvaMusicOfficial.com

Eva Misle reached No. 8 on the Billboard Club Play Chart in 2011 and has since been invited to perform as support for Nas and Alicia Keys. She recently worked with Tyga, J.R. Rotem, Poo Bear, KISS FM’s Jingle Ball, Nick Cannon’s 2015 Celebrity High Magazine Tour and Nigel Barker. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

What promotional tool has worked best for you?
I think owning a strong brand is very important. People need to associate your music with a style and a look, which is why Instagram has been so pivotal to my career.

Where do you post new music? YT? SC? Spotify? FB? iTunes?
I still love to premiere music on magazines and blogs and other media platforms outside of social. Again, it all comes down to collaboration. If I can work well with a blogger who has a great following, that’s what I prefer!

What is the most important career choice you’ve made to date?
I would say focusing my energy on collaborations and re-branding my brand image. I was doing more EDM and dance music for a while and now we’re focusing more on mainstream pop because, well, it’s what I love. It’s my style and who I am as an artist.

How do you make the most of the post-release?
Find creative ways to continue promoting your song, such as working with other influencers, make little videos or clips playing the song in the background, and organizing some kind of giveaway related to the music to get fans engaged. Constant content is necessary.

Finally, if you have ONE statement to lend other musicians about what you’ve learned thus far in your career to keep organized in today’s age of digital confusion, what would it be?
There will always be a lot of clutter out there with the Internet. I believe in staying true to yourself rather than following exact trends of others. By sticking to what you believe is best, you can create your own trends and break through the clutter and confusion. •

ARTIST:  Slow Shudder
GENRE: Producer/DJ/Singer-Songwriter
LISTEN: SlowShudder.com

Slow Shudder, real name Amanda Mayo, is a producer, DJ, vocalist and songwriter born in Miami and currently residing in Los Angeles. Since May 2016, she’s released a versatile selection of tracks that sit at the cross section of alternative pop, indie dance and forward-thinking electronic music.

Which social media platforms (or real-life platforms) have proven to give you the best results in regard to interacting with fans.
My best fan interactions have definitely happened in person at my live sets or DJ gigs. Meeting and hanging out with people in the crowd after I perform is by far my favorite way to connect with anyone who digs my work. I don’t want to be that distant, aloof artist that people just watch from afar!

And where do you post new music? YT? SC? Spotify? FB? iTunes?
My most recent releases have come out on labels that distribute on all major music platforms, with a focus on directing audiences to royalty-generating streaming sites like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. When I’ve self-released tracks, I’ve distributed via Record Union, Distrokid, or Stem to have the tracks available through all major music distributors and also posted directly on Soundcloud.

If you had ONE statement to make about what you’ve learned thus far to keep organized in today’s age of digital confusion, what would it be?
Everything changes constantly. The way I share music and connect with audiences today is already quite different from what I did when I released my debut single in mid-2016. I’ve learned that, in order to stay connected, you have to pay close attention and adapt to how music and social landscapes change.

Draw your own conclusions about self-promotion, but it seems like those music-makers who have found the most success simply do what they feel most comfortable doing, not necessarily what the “best move” might be. After all, if we’re not having fun marketing ourselves, it can feel like a fairly vain and mundane existence.