Unfortunately, making sure your music gets heard is not just as simple as putting it on Soundcloud, or even signing it to a great label. While it’s essential to make sure you’ve learned how to make the best music you possibly can, promoting your tracks is an art form in and of itself. Luckily for you, we’re shedding some light on the process it takes to get eyes and ears on your tunes. Today, we’re discussing how to promote your music like a pro.
If there is one old adage that perfectly describes why it is necessary to learn how to promote your music, it would be this:
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Every year, there are hundreds, if not thousands of amazing records released that receive almost no recognition whatsoever. The artist who made it had high hopes it would be their breakthrough piece, instead it racks up a few plays on Spotify, and is forgotten about quicker than you can say ‘promo’.
We’ve all been there, and it sucks.
You spend countless hours crafting a piece of music you’re proud of, only to have it get shelved. Worst of all, the same songs that have been in the Beatport Top 100 remain the hottest things around.
We know, it can be maddening. But, as with any big goal in life, it is crucial to manage your expectations accordingly. Music is no exception.
Before you start making plans about how to promote your music, it’s vital to make an effort to really understand what you want to achieve.
Remember, overnight success usually takes about ten years.
Even though there’s some new Cinderella story of some rags to riches DJ every year, don’t forget that many of today’s biggest names have been quietly grafting away for a decade.
In the end, no matter what promo you do, it’s all going to come down to the quality of the track. Be honest with yourself about the quality of your music.
Have you gotten feedback from other producers? How long have you been producing? Did you have the track professionally mastered?
Who knows, you might even have to take a step back and consider a course on producing House music to ensure you’ve truly mastered the production process.
In the end, you can do everything in your power to get your music in front of the right people, and even spend a pretty penny while doing so. Even still, aggressively promoting your music does not ensure you’re going to be successful.
Not by a long shot.
But, it does vastly increase your chances of getting your tracks played in mix shows, having blogs post about your music, and continuing to get your name out there.
And that, my friends, is truly priceless.
So, you’ve landed a deal with a record label, and they want to put out your music. Congratulations!
If you’re struggling with this process, be sure to catch our piece from Toolroom senior A&R Pete Griffiths on how to get signed.
The first thing you will want to do is discuss with the label manager what their plans are for promoting your track. Some of the larger labels in the scene have marketing teams who’s job is to develop strategies to push each release.But, if you’re signing a track to a compilation, or a smaller label without the resources to push each track, you’re probably to have to do most of the work yourself.
Even still, once the contracts are signed, don’t be afraid to ask them some questions.
Are you sending this out to your promo list? How big is it? Will this be pitched to any publications? Are you planning a premiere? What is the exact release date?
Labels love seeing artists ask these questions. This proactive attitude will inevitably improve your relationship with them, and increase the chances of them signing something else in the future.
Be sure to get the exact release date, album art, and the press release. You can even ask for a mastered copy of your track with proper tags.
These will be known as your ‘assets’, or anything needed to promote your record.
Once you’ve compiled your assets and you know precisely when your release date is, it’s time to get grinding.
The first step to promoting your music online is finding a publication that will “premiere” your music.
A premiere is simply the first blog that will post about your music. When you see DJs thanking a particular blog or magazine for featuring their tracks, it is often a premiere.
And remember, there’s a sliding scale to the quality of blogs that are capable of doing a premiere. Just because your cousin owns a website does not mean they should be the one in charge of premiering your track.
For example, a premiere from somewhere like Mixmag is going to hold a lot more weight than some random blog with 200 likes on Facebook.
Look around at the websites you like to read. Under their ‘contact us’ section, you’re likely going to find an email of a media manager who handles all premiere requests.
Don’t be afraid to contact some of the bigger names in the business, either. Many of these websites are sick and tired of posting about the same artists and would love to be the person who discovered a new artist whose poised for success.
How To Approach Press
When getting in touch with blogs, be sure to include all of your relevant assets in a Dropbox link. Also, be sure to include a private Soundcloud link where they can listen to and download your track.
Never, and I mean NEVER should you attach the files directly to the email itself. This takes up valuable mailbox space and makes it far more likely your track is getting deleted before they even listen.
And who wants that?
Keep in mind that many blogs receive hundreds of premiere requests each month. Similar to shopping for record labels to sign your music, don’t be offended if they listen to your track and don’t get back to you.
Take it in stride, and move on. If the track is good, you should have no problem with finding a quality website to premiere your music.
Some people often debate whether or not it’s even necessary to do track premieres in 2019. There are hundreds of thousands of people who read electronic music publications each month. But, having a big-time magazine post about your track is way less impactful than if it gets played by a well-known DJ.
As an artist, you should always be on the hunt for the email addresses of the DJs you want playing your music. A quick Google search will often reveal the email they use for receiving promos. Other times, you may have to send them a message on social media asking for their promo email.
You can use a service like MailChimp so send professional looking promo mail outs. Even still, individual, personalised emails are always best.
Keep in mind, DJs are bombarded with thousands of emails a month from aspiring producers. You can get some serious wins by sending individual emails, but you can also just as quickly get blown off.
If you’re serious about having big DJs play your music, perhaps consider investing in a service like Your Army or Listen Up.
Services such as these specialise in sending customised mail outs of unreleased music to DJs. While these services are open to the public, they can be very picky with what they choose to promote, and for good reason. It’s their reputation on the line, after all!
If you’re serious about promoting your releases, promo services can be the difference between getting a few kind words on an email and having your tracks played at the biggest clubs in the world.
A public relations campaign would involve you getting in touch with a firm that specialises in pitching new tracks to the media. The dream scenario is that big publications go on to post about your track. A well-designed PR campaign is set up to get the maximum amount of press possible on your track.
Press is great. It’s a lot of fun to see 15 different blogs all doing write-ups on your tracks.
The problem is, these can cost some serious cash. If you’re a big-time artist with a large budget to promote your work and want to squeeze every last drop out of everything you release, maybe it makes sense.
Or, maybe you’re writing a crossover hit that you want to be featured on MTV, PR would be a wise move.
If these are your goals, then investing in PR can be a worthwhile expense.
Even still, most people who listen to House, Tech House, and Techno aren’t obsessing over magazine columns. They’re at the club, listening to DJ sets, and immersed in the world of electronic music, just like you.
Our advice is, if you’re a new artist, worry about lining up a nice premiere and getting your tracks played by other DJs.
There are far more wins to be had here than investing thousands to be covered by the press.
There’s no denying that Spotify is the go-to resource for most people who listen to House music nowadays. On top of that, most fans rely on Spotify playlists such as ‘Housewerk’ or ‘Mint’ as their way of discovering new music.
Spotify editors create these playlists. Getting placed on them can bring you hundreds of thousands of plays in just a few weeks time. It’s possibly the best exposure you can get in today’s music world.
So of course, you’re probably asking: how do I get placed on a Spotify playlist?
The good news is that Spotify has recently enabled a feature where you, as an artist, can submit your music for playlist consideration through your Spotify for artists account.
If you’re not using Spotify for artists, you’re missing out; Sign up here.
Let’s not forget that the virtual world is still made up of real people like you or me.
While most of the work you will do for promoting your music is going to be online, it helps to have personal connections with people who can help you.
For example, if you knew the owners of a blog you want to be featured on, your chances of having a premiere with them skyrocket.
If you made a connection with the A&R of your favourite label at a showcase, they’re far more likely to listen to your demo and give you some solid feedback on it.
You get the point.
Like it or not, this is how the world works. People are far more likely to give preference to people who they already know and have had positive experiences with in the past.
Think about it, life is transactional. When people are nice to you, you’re more likely to do something nice in return. Call it business, or call it being a good person, it pays to do right by most people.
It’s for this reason that we suggest you make it a top priority to attend electronic music conferences to get face time with people in the industry.
What if I told you that a few times a year, everyone who’s anyone in dance music meets up under one roof to talk business?
This includes the A&Rs for your favourite labels, owners of the blogs you want to feature your music and even the booking agents who look after the world’s biggest acts.
Better yet, what if I told you that anybody can attend these conferences and that they’re open to the public?
It’s amazing how many producers don’t know that it’s precisely this that takes place every year at the Amsterdam Dance Event, a yearly conference that takes place every October.
ADE is broken down into two sections, a series of daytime business meetings and workshops, as well as a music festival at night where many of the biggest names in the industry throw their events throughout Holland’s capital.
Make no mistake about it: ADE is the best place on the planet to make new connections in the business and mingle with the ‘who’s who’ of dance music.
Attending a conference such as the Amsterdam Dance Event shows that you’re serious about your career. It highlights a level of commitment that isn’t required for sending an anonymous demo email.
Better yet, if you cross paths with someone who you want to know at ADE, they’re far more likely to remember you than If you send them a message on Facebook or hit them with a Twitter DM.
Everyone goes to ADE. While it might sound like an exaggeration, it’s not. ADE is where relationships are formed, deals are signed, and the future of dance music is decided every year. If you want to be involved with the music business, it’s precisely where you need to be.
ADE is one of the most important events on the dance music calendar of the year. It’s for this reason that we make a point to attend every year, and allow new producers to show us their work.
This year at ADE, Toolroom will be hosting a demo drop event.
You can find us set up in Chicago Social Club on Thursday 17th October, 2-4pm.
Come with a flash drive of your demo, and we’ll be sure it gets into the right hands.
So there you have it, our exhaustive guide on how to promote your music like a pro. Every few years, the industry undergoes some serious changes, so it is vitally important to stay on top of your promo game if you want to be successful.
But, one thing that never changes is the importance of having quality music to promote. After all, what could be worse than spending loads of time and hard-earned cash on promoting work that’s hardly the best you can do?
Believe it or not, using proper promotional techniques to promote bad music can have a profoundly negative impact on your artist career. Far too often, we see artists promoting music that just isn’t quite there yet.
Little do they know, they’re hurting their reputation by forcing unfinished work out into the market.
If only they would have made sure that they had their production process down pat, they could be seeing some real successes from their tracks.
And in 2019, there’s no better way to fast track your career than by taking a quality music production course such as those offered from Toolroom Academy.
Toolroom Academy exists for anybody wanting to take their music career to the next level. It doesn’t matter if you’re an industry veteran who wants to tie up a few loose ends on your tracks, or you’re still trying to master the fundamentals of making electronic music.
If you think even for a second that your music could be improved, feel free to drop us a line and get in touch.
So, what are you waiting for? We’re here to help. Get in touch with us today.