There are many ways to promote your music and reach new listeners. Before we get into classic online promotion, here is a short excursus on the history of music promotion.
Music promotion in transition
Music promotion in the past did not include playlist pitching, social media advertising or the like - music was purely physical. Before the invention of the vinyl record at the end of the 19th century, music had a solely live character and so, was promoted in a completely different way. Music promotion in the mid-20th century consisted mainly of live performances and the physical distribution of recordings in retail stores. For this, it was indispensable to be associated with a record label that gave artists access to these structures (the "Do-It-Yourself" (DIY) approach was far from established). With the advent of digital music download/streaming services such as iTunes, Spotify or Deezer, platforms also emerged that allowed artists to release independently and give them more control over their work. This also created a need for new ways to promote digital tracks. We won’t start with pure playlist pitching as of now, but with a more classic variant of online promotion, which is still very relevant in some countries (like Germany).
What is online promotion?
Online promotion means offering your music up to blogs, webzines, major weekly and daily magazines, etc. for review/featuring . It is therefore indispensable to know how to promote your music. It is important to first establish what is available in this area and to do some research on Google, Ecosia or other search engines. There are a few possibilities:
- you could search for particular key words like "music blog", "music magazine", "webzine rock" etc. The main thing here is to find media that matches your music in order to reach their target audience. This way you have the highest chance of getting coverage, since the editors want to provide their readership with what’s relevant to them.
- another way would be to search for an album review of one of your favourite artists (if they’re in a similar genre) and save this outlet. You can use contact forms or contact data that you can find in the imprint of the website to find the appropriate person and reach out to them personally. Don't forget to check if the site is still active. A good indicator for a "lively" online editorial team are regular contributions - the last one should not be more than a few days old.
What do I need for my promotional mailings/sampling?
For your so-called promotional mailings, i.e. the sending of digital or physical music products, you need a coherent overall package, which should ideally be set up as an Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Your EPK should include:
- your music (in MP3 or WAV format)
- professional promotional images
- your artist biography
- previous press coverage
- links to your social media channels
- and your contact information.
To stand out and give the mailings an even more professional feel, you could even have physical products created (be it merchandise or recordings) that you would send with additional physical mailings. However, this is something everyone has to decide for themselves, as it involves a certain financial effort. MusicHub therefore strives to raise the purely digital experience to a high level for users and thus, indirectly for listeners as well. To make sure that no one uploads your music unnoticed on forbidden platforms or that it falls into the wrong hands, you can use professional digital promo services like PromoJukeBox, Haulix or Hear The Music, where you can also view statistics on the performance of your respective music mailings. These can be used at the same time to create the EPK's mentioned above.
What to keep in mind
The vast majority of reviewers do not work with streams, so it is not enough to send a simple link to the streaming platform with your music. Keep in mind that hundreds of songs are sent to popular media outlets every day, so you should put yourself in the shoes of these "gatekeepers". How and in which format would you want to receive the music if you were getting that much material every day? Downloads are a must; links to streaming platforms an extra to make it user-friendly; a physical record suggests (even more so) that you're serious about your musical career.
Don’t take it personally
As you can imagine, most reviewers don't generate income from their articles or at least they’re not their main source of income. It is important to note that they are primarily driven by passion and a desire to share their honest opinion. It won't really get you anywhere to discuss how much you disliked a review with the writer. As long as it doesn't get overly personal, you will have to live with what is written about your work. If you really can't take it, it's still best to avoid public feedback (i.e. reviews of reviews, etc.). Remember that it will be hard to completely avoid feedback and criticism in the course of your musical career. It's never a bad idea to talk to friends, acquaintances, or collaborators about the first results of your output - this way you'll get used to criticism and learn to deal with it better.
The quality of your music should always be the main priority and so, you should spend most of your time working on it. If a review or opinion piece about your music is really bugging you, try to solve things in a respectful and meaningful way, directly with the author. Perhaps getting more info and therefore understanding their viewpoint better will make you feel better.
If you're wondering what else writers look for when it comes to reviewing music (besides their intuition and individual taste), you should keep an eye on our social media channels and blog - there will more articles on this topic, with the help of popular music writers in the German-speaking world.
For now, good luck with your online promotion!
Read the MusicHub feature "DIY music promotion".
Dive deeper into MusicHub’s resources for DIY musicians
Get more useful knowledge and insights on distribution, promotion, rights & royalties, music production and more on our MusicHub blog. We regularly post artist and expert interviews as well as inspiring articles with lots of tips and advice.
Sign up for our MusicHub newsletter via the form below to get new articles on challenges and chances for independent musicians straight to your inbox.
Become part of our Discord Community and connect with other musicians and music business professionals, exchange knowledge and experiences, and perhaps meet your future collaborators.