How to promote your music online: content creation tips and resources for musicians

Audio Engineer Uses Control Desk for Recording New Album Track in Music Record Studio.

Like many aspects of our professional and social lives, the promotion and distribution of music now largely happens online. While many aspects of the online music world mirror and complement the more traditional options, there are other aspects that have evolved. Most notably, musicians now have more opportunities than ever before to reach and expand their audience, even beyond their local area.

However, while these opportunities can be a great boost to independent musicians, there are many significant pitfalls to watch out for as well. The music industry is notorious for rampant scams and unethical practices, from radio stations accepting bribes to play certain songs to talent scouts charging budding talent to review their work. This kind of backdoor wheeling and dealing hasn’t disappeared with increased digitization. In fact, just as digitization has offered new opportunities for artists, it has also offered new opportunities for scammers and those looking to cut corners. Desperate independent musicians pay for followers on Spotify while Internet ads make false promises about placing songs on influential playlists in exchange for a fee. As such, it is more important than ever that independent musicians are aware of how to effectively advocate for themselves.

That being said, independent musical artists are most effective when they’re able to wear many hats. In addition to their skills in music production, successful artists are also typically good marketers and all-around businesspeople.

Setting up a home recording studio

Before setting out on your project, you’ll need to understand the specifics regarding the setup and elements of your home recording studio. This can be influenced by many factors, such as the type of music you are producing, and the resources available to you. However, some typical steps that you will need to take when setting up a home recording studio include:

Video production options to promote your music

Coupling your music with video elements can take your message to another level, whether that is for a purely artistic purpose, or a marketing one.

Music videos

Music videos are a great way to flex your creativity, complement your music, or promote your brand. Exactly how you go about this will depend on your own needs, preferences, and resources. However, some good basic steps include:

Deciding what the purpose of the video is: Determine the goal of your video. Whether you want to share a story, improve audience engagement, or simply experiment with different editing techniques, defining your purpose before you start will help you make decisions along the way.

Finding reliable software and apps: Making a music video takes a lot of editing, so you should plan to use dedicated video editing software or apps that you are comfortable working with. And, since you are sharing music, you’ll want to use software for audio editing.

Finding good lighting: If you plan to film live-action shots, it’s important to find an area with good lighting or to use equipment to improve the lighting. Consider factors such as how light may change over the day and the changes in weather from day to day. In addition to lighting, be conscious of the ambient noise in different locations.

Scripting it out: Even for a simple video, it’s very useful to have a script from beginning to end. This allows you to plan more precisely for the time and resources you need. It will also help you share your vision with other people and get early feedback on how to improve your ideas. This is especially important if you will be working with other people or will need to obtain any approvals.

Practicing: Rehearsing the scripted video can give you a better idea of any obstacles that were not apparent during the scripting phase and can also help you think about lighting, noise, your backdrop, and props.

Editing your video and audio carefully: Editing your music video is the most important part of the process. How you edit your video — including the audio — can completely alter the audience’s perception of the material.

Considering professional help: In some cases, it may be helpful to enlist a professional, whether it be a videographer, an actor, or a marketing specialist.

Choosing the right format: The video file format you choose can significantly impact the overall quality of the video, as well as its compatibility with various devices and platforms.

Deciding on the perfect platform: Choose a platform that is best-suited to the videos you are producing and that can help you easily archive and share your work. However, you should also look at platforms that will help you reach your audience, such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, or Facebook Reels. Creating a short segment of your video to share on these platforms will help spread your work and drive traffic to where your full videos are hosted. Video hosting and sharing platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo are likely the best options for your content.

Social media

Social media is a great resource for independent musicians to network, market their material, and distribute their music. How you choose to engage with your audience can make a huge difference in how successful your efforts will be. Supplementing your posts with video will attract more people to stop and look, and will encourage them to engage with your posts for a longer time.

Live streaming

Getting your audience to engage with you is a great way to attract more fans and increase the loyalty of the fans you already have. Creating opportunities for live engagement is a great way to build a more personal and authentic relationship with fans. Showing a performance, offering a behind-the-scenes look, or even just speaking to your audience live can promote organic conversations that may feel more genuine to your audience — if done right. You may even be able to cultivate this perception further by encouraging audience engagement in live chat events or asking for and responding to input.

Graphic design tips for promoting your music

When it comes to promoting your music with graphic design, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

Graphic design resources

The following tools and templates can help you navigate graphic design in the realm of music promotion:

Distributing your music online

Taking the following steps will help you distribute your music online:

Selling your music online

The following steps can help you sell your music online:

Finding gigs and job opportunities

The following steps can help you find gigs and job opportunities:

When marketing your music and trying to get yourself “out there,” you’ll also want to be especially careful that you maintain copyrights to your work to protect your future income. Helpful legal resources for online musicians include:

Music industry resources

Once you and your music start seeing some success, you’ll want to make good decisions about contracts and rights. Here are some helpful resources.

Making the most of the digital age

In many ways, promoting yourself as a music artist has never been easier in today’s digital age (so long, expensive-to-produce CDs!). In other ways, it’s harder than ever thanks to increased competition and industry-wide disruption. Give yourself the best possible shot by focusing as much on your production as you do your songwriting, equipping your home studio with everything it needs to make you sound and look your best. From there, make you and your work easy to find, engage with, and share. Finally, know the scams to watch out for, and know when to ask for help — be it from lawyers, graphic designers, or other music artists.