The music industry is always changing. And if you don’t change with it, you’ll be left behind.
The truth is—the music promotion strategies that worked five years ago… won’t work in 2020.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are tried-and-true music promotion strategies that’ll never go out of style. But as an upcoming artist in 2020 (and beyond), you’ll need to keep up with modern trends to compete in the music industry and launch your career to the next level.
In this article, we’ll explore the best classic and modern music promotion strategies you need to make 2020 your best year yet.
The good news is that this is the best time to be an artist—anybody can record, build a following and sell their music without dealing with record labels. Plus, you can do it all for cheap!
However, this low barrier to entry means the music industry is saturated with artists which gives you even more reason to use cutting-edge music promotion strategies to rise above the noise.
First, let’s look at the tried-and-true music promotion strategies. Then, we’ll look at modern ways to
promote your music in 2020.
Proven Music Promotion Strategies Used By Jay-Z, Eminem and Kanye West
If you’re like most artists, you don’t have the luxury of being born straight into the spotlight. You’ll likely have to start from zero and grind your way to 100. And yes, with some luck and hard work, it’s possible to do it real quick.
The following list of music promotion strategies is foundational. In other words, doing them (and doing them well) are non-negotiable. If you want to seriously have a career in the music industry, here’s what you absolutely need to do:
Perform as much as humanly possible. Live gigs are your Holy Grail for music promotion. They give you the opportunity to showcase your work and interact with fans in a way that no social media platform can replicate. This is an opportunity for you to interact with your target audience directly after the show and gather feedback. The idea is to communicate face-to-face with as many fans as possible, so you develop a loyal following. After playing a ton of live gigs, you’ll have an idea of what your target audience is like which will make music marketing online A LOT easier. Plus, performing live is the best thing you can do to develop your musicianship.
Network. Go to events near you that have potential fans, other musicians and high rollers in the industry. The key is to go to these events with something of value to add. Can you help another musician finish a song? Can you do free work for a music PR agency in exchange for their clout? Building a network is the foundation for your success as an artist, and the best time to start was yesterday!
Collaborate with and Support Other Artists. Having other artists in your niche as advocates will take your career sky-high. They will throw free promotion and fans your way. If you want to take your music promotion to the next level, why not write a song with another artist and tap into their audience? Go to open mics and offer support and tips to other musicians. Do a gig together. Create an event. Start a podcast. The possibilities are endless!
Notice how these methods focus on creating REAL connections with people instead of focusing on Spotify stream numbers, Instagram follower count and other online metrics. If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this:
Relationships > Statistics
This is because online metrics can be artificially inflated. In fact, a lot of the artists you see on social media with tens of thousands of followers (even though their content is trash) probably just bought a bunch of fake followers.
These artists are focusing on the wrong things—they’re hustling backwards!
They’re obsessed with looking like a success to their superficial followers instead of being a success and developing a truly loyal fan base. Since you’re reading this article, you know better–you want to lay a solid foundation. And that comes from meaningful connections with people through your music and relationships.
The best music promotion is through word-of-mouth. You want a subset of people that can’t stop talking about your latest track or publicity stunt. You want them actively engaged with your social media page and sharing your content.
Once you understand and commit to building real connections to your fans, the rest becomes easy because you have the right mindset.
With the foundational music promotion strategies covered, let’s look at some modern ways to promote your music in 2020:
Music Promotion Strategies in 2020
Build a Website
A website is a necessity in 2020. It’s shocking how many artists think they can get away just a couple of social media accounts! This is good news for you because if you make a bangin’ website with quality content, you’ll separate yourself from the pack (by a mile). You’ll look like a professional instead of an amateur. Throw up some high-quality photos, videos and tracks. Have a blog section and take advantage of free traffic from SEO. Make your ‘About’ page personal and interesting. Surprisingly, this doesn’t cost much to do and can serve as your ‘digital business card’ for your career.
Get On Hip Hop Blogs
Blogs are a great way to get in front of your target audience. If you find the right blogger with an interactive audience to endorse your music, it can be a gold mine for finding new fans. This method has the potential to even surpass live gigging to acquire new fans because of the nature of the internet—you access to anyone with an internet connection. Read our article on how to get a music blogger to write about you.
TikTok and Triller
TikTok has over 120 million monthly users. The video-sharing social media platform is quickly becoming a viable way to acquire new fans. Similar to Vine, you simply upload a short (15-second) clip that people can share and interact with. One notable TikTok success story is “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X. Thousands of videos were created on TikTok with this song and the hashtag, #yeehaw, which soared the track to the Top 100 chart and resulted in over 67 million plays. In addition to the audience to reach the platform gives you, TikTok influencers are cheaper than Instagram because it’s still relatively new. Take advantage of TikTok in 2020 by collaborating with influencers and creating viral videos, dances, memes and ‘challenges’ with your hottest tracks.
Very similar to TikTok, is a 15-second video platform best known for users creating dance and lip-sync clips. Triller is very popular in the hip hop community because it gives fans access to new tracks that are a bit more ‘underground’ than Spotify’s popular RapCaviar playlist and it’s easier than searching through WorldStartHipHop clips. Triller has been used by Chance the Rapper and Lil Uzi Vert. As noted in Pitchfork, “Rising rap stars like Rico Nasty, Queen Key, Kodie Shane, LightSkinKeisha, and Asian Doll have all used Triller to make entertaining clips promoting their music, too.”
Facebook and Instagram Ads
If you have some money to spare, social media ads can be a fantastic way to promote yourself. It doesn’t even have to cost that much. All you need to do is create an account, specify your target audience and create a compelling ad campaign. Sure, it may sound easier said than done, but nonetheless, there’s no other method that allows you to get in front of your EXACT target audience with a compelling message.
YouTube has been a proven way to establish artists. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. New artists are being discovered every day because of YouTube—just look at Justin Bieber as an extreme example of someone becoming famous because of YouTube.
YouTube allows you to showcase your talent and build an audience for free. The key is to treat your YouTube channel as a business, which means publishing high-quality content consistently and interacting with your audience members. The best way to start is by making videos for your songs and then uploading them weekly. If you don’t have any songs to release, get creative with different ways to create content and engage your target audience.
Befriend Instagram Influencers
This can help you the same way a blog can, except you have the potential to get access to A LOT of people very quickly. Typical blogs have access to a few thousand readers per month, but an Instagram account can have millions. However, there’s typically less interaction on Instagram, posts are short-lived and posts are competing for attention in a sea of other posts. Nonetheless, Instagram can be a great way to get in front of a lot of people fast.
Befriend Club DJ’s
Having a professional DJ play your song live will get people talking about it (if it’s good enough, of course). If it’s truly a banger, people will walk up to the DJ and ask for the song information which can help it take off.
Move to the Rap Scene-LA, NYC, ATL
This may or may not be possible for you. If it is, it could be a great move for your career. You become your environment. And being surrounded by other like-minded artists will increase your focus and eliminate distractions.
Podcasts are quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of entertainment in 2020. Start your own and have other artists join or reach out to popular podcasters and try to do an interview with them. It’s probably a lot cheaper than radio. Plus, you can target your audience and the content will stay (likely on YouTube) forever.
College Parties/Rap Battles
This may seem silly, but if your music applies to this crowd, it can be a gold mine. College kids are always looking to follow the latest and hottest new thing. Rap battles will allow you to showcase your talent and increase the legitimacy of your brand. Have someone record you cooking another rapper and throw it on your website for instant credibility and respect.
No, you don’t need to use all these strategies. Depending on your brand, some of these methods can even be counterproductive. Use your best judgement to determine which of these methods to deploy and which to pass on.
If all the above sounds overwhelming to you and you don’t want to risk making any ‘branding’ mistakes, hip hop PR agencies are your solution.
You can do all of the above yourself, but it gets a lot easier if you have a winning team surrounding you. A hip hop PR agency can push your music out to your target audience at lightning speed without you lifting a finger. They have connections in the industry that would be impossible to make by yourself. In addition, they also have relationships with the mega radio stations, streaming companies, influencers, event planners and other third parties that can take you sky-high. All of this will save you time which you can use to do what you do best—create high-quality music!
Ultimately, your success comes down to your talent and commitment. But if you want help from a leading hip-hop PR agency, WMR Music Group is your go-to company. Check out WMR Media right now for publicity, digital marketing and Spotify Advertising.