Guide: The Best Way to Promote Your Music in 2022

I know you’ve worked hard on your music. You’ve spent the last chunk of your life working tirelessly to make sure the songs, production, mix, etc is perfect. But unfortunately, so many artists drop the ball on the promotion and the song or album goes nowhere. Either it’s an afterthought, totally approached wrong, or there is exactly zero promotion time/money/effort.

So today, I’m going to lay out the essentials of how to best promote your music.

This is information I have gleaned over the past decade of experience in the music business. I’ve worked as an artist, in radio programming, and as a producer. My goal is to distill down what works.

Just as a word of warning, this is not a guide on going viral. This is not a guide on how to make the best stunt. And this is sure not an excuse to ONLY do the things I list here and call it a day. This is meant to give you a FRAMEWORK to base your promotion plans around – a framework that I think is by far the best way to promote your music because it's a REPEATABLE strategy.

Also one more mistake I see around music promotion before we jump in: too many artists think that getting one song to go viral is the key to long-term success. It’s not. We have tons of content covering why fame does not translate into a long-lasting, financially stable, and personally rewarding music career. However, getting your music heard is a key pillar of building a lasting business… just don’t think it’s the magic bullet (hence why I disclaim that this guide is not about going viral, etc).

Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff about promoting your music…


Chapter 1: The 6 Things You Will Need For This To Work

1) Masters and Artwork In-Hand, and Uploaded to Distributer 1-2 Months Before The Release 

Why so long? Because doing promotion correctly takes time. We’re gonna upload to your distributor well in advance to do all the stuff we’re gonna cover later.

2) An Idea of What Makes You Unique

Nobody wants to be spammed by another shitty local band. The people you are promoting to want to know why they should care about YOU. Figure out what’s special about you more than just you write cool songs. Everyone thinks they have cool songs. Craft a compelling STORY. More on that later.

3) Proper PR Elements (photos, bios, etc)

This is about looking like you have your shit together when you’re cold emailing. Plus when someone decides to write about you on their site or share on their social, you need to make it easy for them.

4) Official Band Website and Pro Email

You need to look like a legit business if another business is going to take a chance on you. By pro email I mean an email that’s something like press@yourband.com – not yourband@gmail.com. If you need help building a website, we have a whole video series on that.

5) Access To Your Spotify For Artists Profile

We need access to this so we can pitch to editorial playlists. If you’ve released stuff before, you probably have access to this. If you’re a new artist and this is your first release, consider uploading a throwaway song that you don’t announce just to claim your profile. Delete it after you have access to the Spotify for Artists backend.

6) Social Skills

Music and especially music promotion is very much a social game. You need to be nice when interacting. Know when to say more and when to say nothing.


Chapter 2: The Gameplan

The general idea is that we’re gonna do a bunch of work BEFORE the release so that by the time you get to the official release, it basically promotes itself.

Timeline of how to promote your music

Here’s a handy visual so you can see the general timeline of this strategy. To summarize:

  • 1-2 months before: upload your music to your distributor (I like DistroKid’s Musician Plus tier)
  • As soon as it shows up in Spotify for Artists, mark the song(s) for editorial playlist consideration. This is why you should upload AT LEAST a month before.
  • The 1-2 months you have until release, you’ll be trying to land an exclusive premiere an entire day before the public release (this is where social skills and maintaining relationships is key).
  • During the month before AFTER you’ve secured a premiere, play email-and-phone tag with blogs and influencers about doing a writeup/review of your song when it comes out.
  • Hype up your existing fans early and often in the month leading up to release. Tease with behind-the-scenes stuff, etc. You know the drill.
  • On the exclusive premiere day, hype up that you’re excited the song is out an entire 24 hours early on [X blog/website/YouTube channel/Twitch]. Encourage people to go over to that platform to hear it.
  • On official release day, hype up that you’re finally out on Spotify/Apple Music/Limewire. Ask everyone you know to stream/listen/save/playlist/share.
  • After the song is out, work on getting on more playlists, blogs, influencer channels. Use a combination of direct email/phone and tools like SubmitHub.

Makes sense? Now, let’s move on to the how of each stage.


Chapter 3: Setting Your Release Date

Why You Need 1-2 Months:

The biggest thing is that you need at least a month lead time. I cannot emphasize this enough. Maybe when you’re as big as Kanye or Taylor Swift you can surprise drop an album whenever you feel like it. For the rest of us, we need time to make things happen.

The first need for picking a date far enough in the future is technical – you don’t want to miss your release date. it takes time for your song to get processed by your distributor. Then it takes time for your distributor to deliver it to Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Then it takes time for Spotify and Apple Music to process your files, etc. In most cases, this *should* take less than a week (again, I’ve found Distrokid to be pretty fast at this). It’s sometimes can take longer if there’s an issue – trouble with licenses (often with covers), stores rejecting your artwork/naming, etc.

The second need for picking a date in the future is semi-technical. To submit your music for Spotify editorial consideration, you have to do it in the limbo period between it being uploaded and the release date. You can’t do it after the fact. Plus the more time for editorial review the better. I’ve heard rumors of Spotify automating this more, but I’m guessing for many playlists there’s still some human factor. The submission hoops don’t take long to do – currently, you just mark the genres and write a few short blurbs about what makes the music compelling. We’ll talk more about how to write compelling copy later. 

The third need for allowing time is purely to give yourself time for the promotion. You have your work cut out for you. Not only do you need to research who to contact (along with their email) so you find an outlet for a premiere, ramp up the #hype machines, plan stunts, start pitching to playlists, try to encourage people to feature you in-depth… you also need to allow time for people to get back to you, follow up with people that forget to reply, etc. Basically what I’m saying is make sure you allow enough time to allow these things to happen.

Actually Picking The Date:

Most artists pick Fridays to release their music. This is generally what I recommend because people are most in the mood for new music on Friday/the weekend. Nobody is focused at work. People are driving out of town, running around with friends, etc. Although you can pick a different day of the week if it’s a date that’s special to you or your fans.

Do a little bit of research on who else is releasing music that day. Scroll through your social to make sure you’re not trying to steal the thunder of another artist friend of yours (not pissing off people is critical in the music business). Use Metacritic or Billboard‘s site to view what’s being announced.

You don’t want to put out music the same day as a superstar like Taylor Swift. That’s literally all music fans will be talking about that day. But it’s kinda a judgment call depending on your niche/genre/markets – you know your audience better than I do.

Keep in mind you’re also shooting for an exclusive premiere on the day before. So make sure that day is relatively free for you to be on social/spamming your friends/replying to emails.


Chapter 4: Uploading To Your Distributor

Which Distributor?

I recommend Distrokid. You can use CDBaby, but they take a percent of your revenue and tack on hidden fees in my experience. If it’s not a serious project you can use a free service like Routenote, but I really don’t recommend it if you care about your band as a business.

Make sure that whatever you choose, you get a plan that lets you set a specific release date. For Distrokid, it’s their Musician Plus tier – well worth the extra $20 a year. Otherwise, it will just go live as soon as it finishes processing (and your “label” will say something like DK1234567 which just looks tacky).

If you're new to DistroKid, you can use our link to save 7%.

Actually Uploading/Submitting Your Stuff

Make sure you’re uploading full-resolution WAV files. I will legitimately cry if you upload an mp3. You might not be able to tell the difference… but it will sound way worse when the streaming services convert it to their delivery format.

Also be ready to upload the cover artwork at the same time as you upload the audio (Spotify Canvases are unique to Spotify and can be uploaded any time). This gets submitted all at once to the streaming services. Make sure your artwork is large enough too. Minimum 1000px by 1000px – but really you need 3000px x 3000px.

With your album art, you also have to be careful about what you submit. Stores will reject stuff like URLs, social handles, streaming logos, obviously unmodified stock photos, etc.

Most services have some checkboxes for upsells when uploading. The only ones I would consider are:

  • Distrokid’s Leave A Legacy – Useful if you just want to drop and album and not worry about keeping up your Distrokid subscription.
  • Shazam/Siri – Good if you like people to save your song when they hear it randomly.
  • Youtube Content ID – If you want money if/when people use it in their videos.

The following DistroKid options are useless:

  • Tidal MQA: Pointless. It’s 100% hype on Tidal’s part to get money out of wannabe audiophiles. It’s not even truly lossless. And the format sounds funny to my ears. Not worth the extra $8 a year.
  • Loudness Normalization: Do not, I repeat DO NOT do this option. It’s even more pointless than MQA. If the listener has loudness normalization enabled in their playback settings, your song will be matched then. If they don’t you’re gonna be waaaaaaay quieter than everyone else. If you’re really worried about your file being so hot that it gets clipped in the conversion to AAC/OGG, just ask your mastering engineer to leave 1db of headroom (I personally don’t leave that much).
  • Social Phone Number: Why is this $13 a year? If you want a local phone number, just get a free Google Voice account. If you want to do serious SMS marketing, get it through your email marketing service (ActiveCampaign offers this) or through a dedicated SMS marketing service.

Post-Upload Housekeeping / Marking for Editorial Consideration

As I’ve mentioned, it will usually take about a week to show up in the backend of Spotify and Apple Music – assuming you already have a Spotify profile. If you’re new, you won’t get your profile until after your FIRST song goes live. This is something I wish Spotify would change. So you can upload an instrumental or something that you’ll delete soon after you upload the real song. Unfortunately, this is the best way I’ve found.

When your official release shows up in Spotify for Artists, mark it for editorial consideration as soon as you can. More time to be reviewed = more opportunities to get added to playlists. It’s a pretty simple process – mark the genres and write some short blurbs. Make it count. Use the same principles that we’ll talk about in the cold email section of this guide.


Chapter 5: The Exclusive Premiere

What is a Premiere?

A premiere is just an exclusive window where the song/album is ONLY available via one outlet you’ve partnered with BEFORE it’s out everywhere else (some outlets call this “first listen” or something similar). Traditionally this has been on a music blog or radio show, but really it can be anything. You can do a premiere on someone’s YouTube channel, Twitch Stream, whatever. The idea is that you’re partnering with someone else so it’s a win-win. They get the exclusive traffic and you get their existing audience.

Even if your first attempt to get an exclusive might flop – don’t stop trying for future music. Many outlets are surprisingly willing to accommodate premieres from less established artists. They get all your traffic for 24 hours. Plus the exclusive nature of a premiere means that you’re going to pitch it with some urgency – after all if they don’t commit to it right now this cool new song might get taken by a competing blog!

Why You Need a Premiere

Beyond reducing it to just audience sharing, it does something really cool for you – it helps build hype. You want more write-ups in general as social proof. People WILL Google you and giving Google more info on you is always a good thing. But an exclusive premiere also gives you even more street cred with fans/friends/family. Most people (foolishly) don’t try to land an exclusive premiere, so by doing so you already look better than 90% of artists in the eyes of fans and future business partners.

The other vital aspect of landing a premiere is that it makes landing more playlists and blogs down the road easier. If you’re pitching a song to another blog in the week after the official release you can link to your premiere as evidence that you’re legit and someone they should take a gamble on.

Finding a Premiere Outlet

You should be looking for outlets that match your style and brand. If you’re a heavy metal band, don’t pitch to an outlet that does only country or stoner indie rock. If you’re just spamming everyone not only are you going to waste your time and energy, but people will know. It’s painfully obvious when the person sending is just scraping the internet for emails and copy/pasting a generic message and didn’t do any research on what you’re all about.

Like I’ve said, you can arrange a premiere with any kind of outlet these days. Obviously, there are the big music blogs, but even personal blogs of influencers, YouTube channels, podcasts, etc can work. Get creative! Just make sure it works for you and your brand/style. If you’re a chiptune artist or remix DJ, getting on a Twitch stream with a big VoD library might work better than aiming for a blog like Pitchfork.

Once you’ve created a shortlist of outlets you’d like to contact, do a little research on them. Get to know their personality, writing style, musical preferences, etc… but most of all get a feel for their audience!! They’re only thinking about their audience and brand, so you need to communicate your value proposition in a way that they see the benefit to partnering with you. The bigger the outlet, the more of a business it is.

How to Cold Email for a Premiere

Now is when the social skills come into play. Use your pro email account so you look legit. Keep your emails short and to the point. People are busy and don’t like to read books (except for you reading my writing, right?). Here’s how I recommend structuring your cold emails:

  1. Short, PERSONALIZED, intro (1-2 sentences to show you care)
  2. Short paragraph TEASING the song/story of the song.
  3. A LINK to listen to the song (private Youtube/Soundcloud/BYTA link) – DO NOT attach the file. Even in the 2020s emailing larger attachments still sucks and will slow down your email.
  4. Short paragraph TEASING you as an artist.
  5. Thank them

Notice how much I said to keep the body of the email short? The point of the email isn’t to sell them on the song, it’s to get them to get interested in you and the song. Attach a PDF with the full details on you and the music. If they want to know more, they’ll open the attachment and read more. This PDF will have not only the press release you wrote for the song, but a more detailed bio, a picture or two, contact info for management emails, links to your website, social, etc. AND a link to your full EPK (a secret page on your website with all the info/photos anyone would ever need about you).

As you're writing your blurbs in your email body and PDFs, weave in any relevant social proof. Again, these outlets are businesses that don’t like gambles as much as they might like the song itself – so show that you’re not a flaky nobody and you take this seriously. Even briefly mentioning that you opened for a well-known artist can go a long way.

Make it clear that you’re asking for an exclusive premiere and that they should act fast if they want it. Literally say that you’re shopping around for an exclusive premiere partner. You can also start your email subject with “exclusive” or “limited time offer.” It may seem cheesy but you need to reinforce the urgency. The first good offer to respond back gets it.

If someone referred you to them, say so! It will give you credibility. It shows that you’re connected to them even just a little bit and they’ll be more likely to work with you.

In teasing your song, describe how you’re unique. If I read “this song is like if The 1975 married Kacey Musgraves,” I’d be curious.

To show you’re a good match to work with them, mention reasons that your song is a good fit. You can say “I see you’ve written about SomeOtherBandInYourGenre and think our new song would be a great fit.” This is always nice because it shows that you did your research.

Example Email

Limited Time Offer: Premiere I’M TOO SAD on MUSICBLOG

Hey Ringo,

We are Torpedo Kitten, and we’re offering our new single, “I’m Too Sad,” to you for an exclusive premiere one day ahead of the official release on Friday, October 13. 

Our mutual friend Joe Dirt sent us your way – and we see you have written about both Death Cab For Cutie and Lorde before, so we think this song will be a great match for your audience!

We’ve all had breakups, said goodbye to family, or even just been rejected for whatever reason – and “I’m Too Sad” perfectly captures this feeling with a wonderfully-ironic poppy twist that will stick in your head for months.

<link to private stream>

Since Torpedo Kitten was formed in 2019, the band has quickly gained attention for the deeply compelling lyrics and raw vocals similar to Death Cab For Cutie, merged with slick production sensibilities reminiscent of Billie Eilish. The band has opened for artists like Daughter and Lana Del Rey, while Paul McCartney calls the band “the next great indie rock obsession.”

Let us know if you’re interested ASAP! We are currently talking with a handful of different outlets for a premiere, but would love to partner with you!

<PDF attachment of longer PR elements like bios, images, links, etc>

More Tips for Emailing

Following Up

It’s totally ok to follow up 3 or 4 times. In fact, until you’re well know, you’ll probably have to follow up that much for almost every outlet. People are busy and will often forget about you – especially if you’re not someone that they have an existing relationship with (hence, why we stress building relationships so much). Just be friendly when following up. 

On the last email before you give up, you can also add some sacristy by saying something like “last chance” in the subject or “Hey just wanted to follow up one last time about our new song before we move on” in the body. Feel it out. You’d be amazed how well just that little bit of pressure will sometimes work.

Providing More Information

Even though I recommend keeping your emails short and to the point, always be ready to provide them with more info for when they seem interested. Anybody with a legit audience views what they do from a business perspective – and you bet they’re gonna vet whoever they publicly partner with.

Full bio, links, PR videos about the song should be either in the PDF you attach or a part of an even larger bank of PR content you send as you’re moving into later phases of connecting with the outlets. This is where having a secret EPK page on your website is a big help (check out our Pro Web Presence series for more info on building out a pro website).

Leveraging Existing Relationships

If you already have a relationship with an outlet from previous writeups/playlist adds, you can use that to leverage a premiere. To be completely honest, you will probably get rejected a LOT for a premiere early in your career since it’s a lot more work for an outlet to do a full-on premiere feature than it is to just do a two-paragraph writeup in a release roundup or drag your song into a playlist. But once you’ve built an actual relationship with an outlet/writer that likes your stuff, it’s way easier to come to them and be like “hey man, we’re looking for a premiere outlet for our song… you interested?”

Why Rejections Aren’t Always Bad

Obviously, you’re gonna get rejected a lot at first – that’s ok! View it as a learning experience. If they have the decency to reply and say that they’re going to pass on a premiere, that’s actually a good thing! They have more communication skills than most humans. Thank them, and show that you’re also not a trash human. It really may be that particular song didn’t work for them – so don’t burn bridges. You can even ask if they have any recommendations for outlets that might be a better fit.

Also, a blog rejecting your song for a PREMIERE doesn’t mean it’s a rejection for everything. Premieres are often bigger deals than a short blurb or playlist add. You ask for a simple playlist add, short blurb, or can circle back after the official release and share how much good reception you’ve gotten, featured on X/Y/Z,  yada yada yada and ask for a bigger writeup. Which brings us to that topic…


Chapter 6: Blog, Playlist, and Channel Features

After you’ve found your exclusive premiere outlet, your focus should be on lining up more outlets to be featured on. You should start doing this as soon/alongside a premiere outlet – just make sure they wait until the official release date to share.

To be honest, this is pretty similar process to landing a premiere, but let’s cover it again:

Finding Outlets

You should be looking for outlets that match your style and brand. If you’re a heavy metal band, don’t pitch to an outlet that does only country or stoner indie rock. If you’re just spamming everyone not only are you going to waste your time and energy, but people will know. It’s painfully obvious when the person sending is just scraping the internet for emails and copy/pasting a generic message and didn’t do any research on what you’re all about.

Like I’ve said, you can get as creative as you want with the kinds of outlets. Obviously there are the big music blogs, but even personal blogs of influencers, YouTube channels, podcasts, etc can work. Get creative! Just make sure it works for you and your brand/style.

Once you’ve created a shortlist of outlets you’d like to contact, do a little research on them. Get to know their personality, writing style, musical preferences, etc… but most of all get a feel for their audience!! They’re only thinking about their audience and brand, so you need to communicate your value proposition in a way that they see the benefit to partnering with you. The bigger the outlet, the more of a business it is.

How to Cold Email for a Playlist/Blog/Feature

Now is when the social skills come into play. Keep your emails short and to the point. People are busy and don’t like to read books (except for you reading my writing, right?). Here’s how I recommend structuring your cold emails:

  1. Short, PERSONALIZED, intro (1-2 sentences to show you care)
  2. What You’re Asking For, SPECIFICALLY
  3. Short paragraph TEASING the song/story of the song.
  4. A LINK to listen to the song (private Youtube/Soundcloud/BYTA link) – DO NOT attach the file. Even in the 2020s emailing larger attachments still sucks and will slow down your email. If it’s after the release date, you can ALSO link to Spotify/Apple Music, but don’t assume they use the same streaming service you use – make it easy!
  5. Short paragraph TEASING you as an artist.
  6. Thank them

Once again, keep the body of the email short. The point of the email isn’t to hard sell the song, it’s to get them to get interested. Attach a PDF with the full details on you and the music. If they want to know more, they’ll open the attachment and read more and Google you. This PDF will have not only the press release you wrote for the song, but a more detailed bio, a picture or two, contact info for management emails, links to your website, social, etc. AND a link to your full EPK (a secret page on your website with all the info/photos anyone would ever need about you).

As you're writing your blurbs in your email body and PDFs, weave in any relevant social proof. Again, these outlets are businesses that don’t like gambles as much as they might like the song itself – so show that you’re not a flaky nobody and you take this seriously. Even briefly mentioning that you opened for a well-known artist can go a long way.

If someone referred you to them, say so! It will give you credibility. It shows that you’re connected to them even just a little bit and they’ll be more likely to work with you.

In teasing your song, describe how you’re unique. If I read “this song is like if The 1975 married Kacey Musgraves,” I’d be curious.

To show you’re a good match to work with them, mention reasons that your song is a good fit. You can say “I see you’ve written about SomeOtherBandInYourGenre and think our new song would be a great fit.” This is always nice because it shows that you did your research

Example Email

Out Now: I’M TOO SAD by Torpedo Kitten

Hey Ringo,

We are Torpedo Kitten, and we just released our new single, “I’m Too Sad,” on Friday, October 13, and we think it would fit perfectly on BLOG NAME and your playlists “Melancholy Indie” and “Rainy Day Music.”

Our mutual friend Joe Dirt sent us your way – and we see you have written about both Death Cab For Cutie and Lorde before, so we think this song will be a great match for your audience!

We’ve all had breakups, said goodbye to family, or even just been rejected for whatever reason – and “I’m Too Sad” perfectly captures this feeling with a wonderfully-ironic poppy twist that will stick in your head for months.

<links to stream>

Since Torpedo Kitten was formed in 2019, the band has quickly gained attention for the deeply compelling lyrics and raw vocals similar to Death Cab For Cutie, merged with slick production sensibilities reminiscent of Billie Eilish. The band opened for Daughter in 2018, while Paul McCartney calls the band “the next great indie rock obsession.”

Let us know if you’re interested ASAP! We’d love to partner with you for <whatever you’re asking for>!

<PDF attachment of longer PR elements like bios, images, links, etc>

More Tips for Emailing

Following Up

It’s totally ok to follow up 3 or 4 times. In fact, until you’re well know, you’ll probably have to follow up that much for almost every outlet. People are busy and will often forget about you – especially if you’re not someone that they have an existing relationship with (hence, why we stress building relationships so much). Just be friendly when following up. 

On the last email before you give up, you can also add some sacristy by saying something like “last chance” in the subject or “Hey just wanted to follow up one last time about our new song before we move on” in the body. Feel it out. You’d be amazed how well just that little bit of pressure will sometimes work.

Knowing What You’re Asking For

Just like I said you need to be clear about asking for a premiere, you also need to be clear about what you’re asking for when aiming for playlist adds and blog features. If you’re asking for a playlist add, specifically say you’re asking to be added to playlists X, Y, and Z. If you’re looking for an interview, say so. If you’re looking to be featured on their weekly “Release Roundup” article, say so. Most people don’t have time to figure out what you want, so make it very clear. 

This is where getting to know the person/site a little helps. If you just send a generic email that’s like “yooo we’re looking for publicity can you help?” They won’t care. You’ll just seem spammy rather than trying to find a win-win for both you and the outlet.

Providing More Information

Even though I recommend keeping your emails short and to the point, always be ready to provide them with more info for when they seem interested. Anybody with a legit audience views what they do from a business perspective – and you bet they’re gonna vet whoever they publicly partner with.

Full bio, links, PR videos about the song should be either in the PDF you attach or a part of an even larger bank of PR content you send as you’re moving into later phases of connecting with the outlets. This is where having a secret EPK page on your website is a big help (check out our Pro Web Presence series more info on building out a pro website).

Leveraging Existing Relationships

If you already have a relationship with an outlet from previous writeups/playlist adds, 10000% use that to your advantage. It’s going to be a million times easier coming back to someone that already knows you than trying to build a relationship from scratch.

In the same way, when you do get a playlist or blog add, keep that relationship alive. You want to keep them thinking good thoughts about you for next time you come around.

Why You Need Blogs More Than Playlists

It’s actually pretty simple: playlists are temporary while internet presence (read: Google presence) is invaluable. With a playlist, it might give you a nice uptick in listeners (some of which might stick around after you get bumped), but it’s always temporary. In most cases you will get bumped to make room for new songs after about a month.

Fast forward to next year and you’re trying to open for a bigger artist and beefing up your EPK. You can’t send them the link to the playlist you USED to be on. But if you have an article written on you, the link for that will probably be around a while.

Plus written words help you look more legit when people Google you. Go type your band name into Google right now and see what comes up. Do you look like a legitimate rockstar? Or are half the links about something else? The Spotify playlist you’re on (even if you’re currently on it) probably won’t show up.


Chapter 7: Building Fans/Friends/Family Hype

This is the section I’ll probably write the least on because it’s the most subjective to you and your fans. Also because I think social media promotion should take a backseat to more strategic promotion (unless you’re doing a paid social promotion, but that’s that could be it’s own book). But I’ll outline the general principles.

This is also when an email list is a big help. You’re way more likely for someone to open an email from you rather than get lost in the chaos that is social media. Especially Instagram since you can’t add links to your post. People either have to search for you on Spotify (which might take a min to find if you’re a new artist) or go to your bio to find the link (which is also a lot of work when you’re just trying to skim your feed while pooping).

AIDA

There’s a term in the marketing business called AIDA. It’s basically a law of consumer behavior that says in order for people to do something, it always goes through these steps in order:

  1. Attention (or Awareness)
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Action

Action is the ultimate goal, but before anyone acts they need to have a desire to act. Before they have a desire to act, they have to have at least a little bit of interest. And before anyone can have the slightest interest, they have to be at least a little aware of whatever it is.

This is why it may feel like you get no action from posting on social media. You might not have even gotten past the attention hurdle, let alone interest or desire.

Post Early and Often

If you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ll know that you gotta post a lot about something. It feels gross and I tend to not do it (which is a problem). But there really is no reason to not err on the side of more posts than fewer posts. It’s easy to miss posts and stories. Many people (myself included) will only check social media every few days – and even then I’m only looking at the top few posts/stories before quitting the app in a Zuckerberg-fueled rage.

Most people scroll through social quickly, so you’re not wrecking their day if for some reason they’ve seen every post you’ve done so far. In all likelihood, if the algorithm is showing them ALL your posts, they’re a true fan and will be beyond stoked to help you hype up your stuff.

Back when I worked in radio, we had a concept of an OES: Optimum Effective Scheduling. This is just jargon for the fact that we had to play a song ~60 times before the AVERAGE listener would START to recognize the song – let alone fully form an opinion or know the words, etc. I share this tidbit to illustrate that awareness (let alone ACTION) requires a loooooot more work than most people think. In the same way, 2 or 3 posts is probably not enough for your friends and family to register that 1) you have new music coming out, 2) when it’s coming out, 3) that this release is special because of x/y/z, or 4) they should take the effort to go find it in their music app if it’s out.

What to Share Leading Up To Release

Again, what to post is very much up to you and your personal brand. But, in general, I like to suggest things that make it more concrete to people that you have new music coming out. Pictures of your face with captions are fine for teasing new music, but most people don’t have time to read every caption. Show, don’t tell. This is why I think artwork reveals, clips from the studio, clips from a music/lyric video, short snippets from the song’s intro work great because it makes it more real for people.

Always ask yourself who you're making x piece of content for. I would say your social media is more about your exisiting fans, so go deep. Film interviews about where the inspiration for the song came from, what it means to you, what you think it means for the future of your music project etc.

Cryptic stunts like Taylor Swift does can work if done correctly (but mostly they work when you have her level of fandom). The key is to be INTERESTING, not just mysterious. But if you’re going to do a stunt, do it earlier than later. The closer you are to the release date, the more clear you need to be about your music coming out.

Premiere and Release Day Hype

Obviously you’re going to post saying “it’s out!!!!” etc. But let’s talk about what else you need to do on the premiere and release days.

I hate to sound so cynical, but a lot of what you’ll be doing on the premiere and release day is making yourself look legit so that people want to ride your coattails. People are social creatures and like to feel like they are apart of the success of something. If they see you’re getting attention, your friends are way more likely to post about you.

Share whatever media/influencer attention you’re getting with quotes, screenshots, etc. The idea here is that you want your existing fans/friends/family to see that a go “Dang. They’re got featured on a real website. I should get in on this.” Then they make a story with a screenshot of playing your new song and tag you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny website. The fact that ANYONE who looks slightly legit wrote about their acquaintance from college looks impressive.

If you’re a very new band, you should personally text your friends to reduce a link to stream then song and specifically ask if they would hit save or add it to a playlist. Texting a link is cool because it’s easy for someone to click it and the song starts playing – much more convoluted to navigate to an Instagram bio and click 5 buttons just to go to Spotify). Especially with iOS 15, links texted to you by friends will show up as suggestions for a week or two.

I found that it’s helpful to specifically ask for people to save, playlist, and share. Don’t expect people to just do that automatically. You can totally say “the best way to support this new music is save it to your library and add it to your playlists.” This trains the algorithms. If you have enough people show interest in the first couple of days, Spotify will start putting it on new listener’s Release Radar playlists.


Chapter 8: Post-Release Promotion

For the next month after the official release, keep promoting. Not just to your fans, but to official outlets. Reach out again to the blogs and playlists you were talking to before the release now that the song is out and they can add it to their playlist, post a blurb, etc. 

If a blog rejected you for a premiere, come back and say that the song is now out, it’s been featured on X/Y/Z outlets to great reviews. Would you be willing to do something now?

After release, you should start getting data about who else your fans are listening to. Go to those bands’ profiles and check what playlists they’re getting discovered on. Scour the internet for the person or blog’s contact info. Send them a nice email like we talked about before.

Remember that these blogs and playlists are businesses who are concerned about their audience, so hopefully you have some data or social proof you can offer at this point to make your music look like a good gamble for them.

SubmitHub

SubmitHub is a fantastic tool. I interviewed the founder of SubmitHub on episode 19 of Music Business Mindset. I think it’s worth doing a few-dozen premium credits for each release to expand your list out playlists and blogs. You’re basically paying the service to handle a lot of the shitty parts of emailing people. For $1-$3 per submission, you get a guaranteed response without having to spend half your day doing research.

But at the same time, it’s not a replacement for a full-on promotional push. It lets you get on new playlists to reach new people and train the Spotify algorithms about your music a little more, but it comes at the cost of not building as personal of relationships with the curators – which you need as you grow.

While there are some fantastic playlists and blogs on SubmitHub, it does also attract a lot of the trashy playlists just looking to get their payout for listening to submissions rather than the ones that are in it for sharing great music, running a great website, or helping artists grow. Again, I’m not stereotyping all of the curators on there, but they’re definitely on there.

In order to find success on SubmitHub there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • Firstly, make sure you actually listen to the playlists you submit to on SubmitHub. If you have a rock song, but are pitching to a trap playlist, that's NEVER gonna work. Don't waste your time and money.
  • Secondly, you should start with about $20 of credits minimum. It's hard to see trends unless you get feedback from 10+ curators. If after 10 or so and you're sitting at 50% approval or higher, put more money into it. If you're in the 40% range, it's up to you if you wanna push more. Below that, it might not be wise to keep throwing money at curators.

Services That Guarantee Playlist Adds/Spins

Just say no. It’s going to waste your money. You may get some spins, but I’m 95% sure most of the “playlist listeners” are half bots purchased on the dark web. That or being played by hacked accounts. One time my Spotify account got hacked and would randomly jump to Russian songs on a random “Spotify Connect Device” that I don’t even own.

I don’t care if it looks impressive to have more streams even if they are bots, it actually hurts you with Spotify’s algorithm if your non-demographic is making up the majority of your plays.

Many Small Playlists are Better Than One Large One

It’s tempting to spend all your energy going after big playlists, but I think that’s not the best bang-for-time-buck when you’re starting out. Bigger playlists are inherently more competitive. Focusing all your time on those is a recipe to not get on ANY playlists. So start with more small playlists, train the Spotify algorithm about who likes your music. Once Spotify has that data, it will know who’s Discover Weekly/Release Radar/Radio it should put your music on. It’s less sexy, but way more effective in the long run. Plus once you get on the small playlists you can reach out to the bigger outlets with data about number of adds, etc.

Post-Add Relationship Building

Your relationship with the playlist curator or blogger shouldn’t end as soon as you get added. If you’ve struck up a connection, keep it going! Get to know them. Check in with them. Maybe a few weeks later see if they would add another song from your album to a playlist. It really depends on the situation, but the principle is to keep it going so that next time you have new music, you have an IN.

Paid Social Advertisements

I’ve seen this work very well for some artists, but only try it AFTER you have mastered the gameplan we talk about in this guide. You have to approach it very strategically otherwise you’re just gonna waste money. At some point I’d love to have a masterclass on building FB ad campaigns for promoting your music, but that’s a little ways off.

For now, all I’ll say is that approach it at your own risk and with intentionality rather than just smashing the promote button on a random post. I’ve wasted a ton of money doing ads without the proper planning or motivation and would hate for you to do the same.


Chapter 9: Video Content

Because artists these days aren't just in the music game, but the influence game, you need to be making video content for every release. And I'm not just talking about you doing TikTok dances. Let's talk about the essentials.

Theory of Video Content

Creating video content has a couple of different purposes.

  1. It gives you more stuff to share/post that's not just “heeeyyyy guys we have a new song” for the millionth time
  2. It gives the people who like the song MORE to chew on.

Not all fans are created equal. For every person that skips through your song once and moves on with their life, someone will LOVE the song and not be able to get enough about it. So make sure you're giving the fans who want more while they're captivated. If you don't give people something to connect with beyond the song, you'll never convert casual fans into true fans, and true fans into superfans – which you need for lasting success.

Music Videos

This is the most obvious kind of video content to go with a song. Music videos are super cool – but they're also expensive. 100% do them if you can afford them, BUT if you're new and on a budget, I recommend putting your limited funds elsewhere.

If not done with the highest production quality, planning, etc, can easily look like a cheesy student film (I would know, because when I was a film student I made lots of crappy music videos). Let's think about the logistics of filming a full location shoot: you need to scout locations, get actors, think about lighting, wardrobe, gas, food, water, etc – not to mention the actual cameras and cinematography. See how that can get to be a logistical and financial nightmare?

If you're gonna do it, hire someone to help you produce it (and just know you get what you pay for). A half-assed music video will only make you look bad in the end.

Lyric Videos

Forget everything you think you know about lyric videos – they can be really sick (and at a fraction of the cost of a full music video). Read my blog post about why every song needs a lyric video, which I wrote after interviewing Anthony from LyricVids.com on Music Business Mindset podcast.

With an animated lyric video, you get to create whatever you want. It's really only limited to what someone in their basement can animate for you. It's the exact opposite of a crappy PowerPoint-style lyric video from YouTube in 2010.

Behind-The-Scenes Videos

People love to see behind the scenes. Espeically your true fans and superfans. Even the curious casual fans might become true fans after watching you work in the studio, etc.

The idea here is you're letting them into your life and creative process a little. They'll feel like they were a part of you gaining traction. That in turn builds the relationship AND builds #hype. You want to get people excited right?

Story Behind The Song

Consider making video content where you or your bandmates sit down and just talk about the story of the song. You can either do this as a roundtable or shoot talking head interviews one at a time and make a supercut between the whole band/producer.

Just give people a little bit of insight into how the song came to be:

  • What inspired the song?
  • What does the song mean to you now?
  • When/where did you write it?
  • What happened when you showed it to your bandmates/friends?
  • What was it like to record it.
  • Did you try anything new this time?
  • etc

Again, the principle here is to give your fans who want more something more. Invite them into your world so they


Chapter 10: Final Thoughts

I really hope this has been helpful – if at very least it gives you a framework to work within so you don’t go crazy. This is a huge topic and we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of the wild world of music promotion – but I firmly believe that these are the bare minimums that every artist should do.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it really is all about creating and nurturing relationships. If you feel like you’re failing at first, that’s normal. You’ll get there. Once you find people who like you it becomes easier.

If you have any questions about what we’ve covered I’d love to hear! I’m always improving this guide to be more clear and more helpful!

Website and Email

I can’t stress enough that having a pro website and email is critical for not just promoting new music but your long-term success in general. In the music business, perception is reality. If you look like you treat it seriously, people will treat you seriously. If you look like a shitty local band, people will treat you like a shitty local band.

I’d encourage you to go check out our Pro Web Presence series on YouTube. We cover the basics of building a pro website and email that grows your career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.