How to make your free downloads rise above the rest
Spending time and effort creating the perfect song is the first step to making it big in the world of digital music, but in reality, you need to spend an equal amount of time marketing and properly formatting your music as well.
The way a song is packaged is an undervalued art and part of the process, and it is often the difference between someone recognizing your work for its professional merits, or disregarding it completely.
Today, we’re going to talk about why it’s important to situate yourself in the shoes of the audience downloading your music, and why it’s necessary to keep their listening habits in mind.
Most importantly, how does the song appear on the software the fan, or the potential DJ is using? Is it formatted well, and does it include basic staples like cover art?
Let’s get started.
Tip: Want to grow your fan base? Then think about your track preview like a movie trailer.
If you want to get the maximum number of downloads, followers, fans, likes, reposts, and comments out of your track then don’t upload the entire track to SoundCloud as a stream.
Instead, offer up a short preview and then make use of our Hypeddit fan gates. In exchange for a social interaction, a like, comment or share, allow the users to download the entire track. And if it’s properly formatted (as per the other tips and tricks discussed here), it’ll look great.
The key to this working is to get the preview right. Look to emulate the Beatport or iTunes method, where successful artists serve up a juicy, bite-sized 90-second preview of their work. The formula works like a charm when combining SoundCloud and Hypeddit to build a bigger and better fan base around your music.
But what is the perfect track preview you may ask?
Think about your track preview like a movie trailer. Every modern movie trailer packs the highlights of the movie – the biggest bangs, effects or sexiest moments – into a 2min preview. Can you imagine a movie trailer that would simply show the first 2min of the movie? Pretty boring, right? So consider this:
Tip: 5-seconds to success
We recently wrote about this and this never gets old. Your song won’t live or die by the drop, or the bridge if your preview is off… Instead, it’ll live or die by the first 5 seconds of the preview that your fans get to hear.
You can spend a week producing the most memorable tune in the world, but whether music fans listen to all of it to fall in love with your song – or just skip to the next track after just a few beats – comes down to the first 5 seconds of your track preview.
With thousands of new tracks being released each and every day, most listeners are incredibly quick to put something down (or stop listening) if they don’t like the way it begins.
Luckily for you, most music artists get this wrong so you can take advantage of it by doing it right and highlighting the strongest section of your track right at the beginning of your preview.
Think about it this way: if a listener only had 5 seconds to listen to your song, which part of the song would you want to serve them to whet their appetite for the full track? That will help you to optimize the starting point of your track preview.
Tip: If you want your music to be played at the hottest festivals and clubs, give your fans and DJs what they want: Beatport-quality audio files
Quality is everything, and there’s no excuse for skimping on it.
For the best quality possible, you can save your song in WAV format. However, since WAV is uncompressed, the download can be upwards of 50 megabytes in size. Plus, WAV doesn’t support embedded album artwork or tags.
Realistically, you should aim for MP3 or AIFF. In this regard, Beatport downloads are a good standard to abide by, and you’ll find that their MP3s are encoded at 320 Kbps using the LAME encoder. 320 is the highest bit rate achievable with MP3’s, which will produce the best sound possible at the smallest file size. Alternatively, if you’re working on a MAC, you can save files in AIFF as well. Both are fine. Once again these are typical settings you can find on all standard DAW’s.
Tip: Look pretty – everywhere
We recently talked about the importance of marketing your music in this article, and one of the best and easiest ways to intrigue potential fans/DJs is through awesome artwork.
A good cover for your single can really make your efforts soar, but getting a cover designed or designing it yourself, is wasted time if you don’t embed it into your download.
Properly done, your artwork will give your single a seal of authenticity, and it’ll look like a professional offering in any digital library in the world. We covered creating your own awesome artwork, which you can check out here, and would be a good place to get started when designing yours.
Tip: Metadata is your (best) friend
“When someone downloads your song and begins playing it on Traktor, iTunes, etc. you want to avoid the curse of “Track 1, Unknown Artist” appearing.
All your hard work can go to waste just because a music player doesn’t recognize your name – and naming your audio file has nothing to do with it.
To make sure your song shows up perfectly on iTunes or rival music players, you need to use (ID3) tags, otherwise known as metadata.
Tags include the track, artist, genre, date and even the lyrics. Most importantly, for DJ’s this metadata also includes BPM and the key of the song. If you want to make it easy and inviting for DJ’s to play your track, we highly suggest including this.
Once done, your song will be perfectly formatted for a variety of music players, and it’ll help listeners sort your music by its name, genre and BPM on their preferred music player. Better yet, if your file name is changed, the hardcoded metadata will ensure that your song is still easy to find.
On most DAW’s you can input your metadata when bouncing your final track, however, you can also check out this list by Mark Harris from About.com for a list of free metadata editors.
If you are spending all of your energy creating new tracks but very little time packaging and promoting them, then you may not maximize your success potential as a music artist and producer. Instead, by heeding our advice, you can easily put together a well-rounded song that looks and sounds great on your fans’ music players and gives you every opportunity to win fans through the quality of your production.
In the competitive world of digital music, you need every ace you can get, so stack the deck in your favor and reap the benefits in the process. Take the time and effort to package your music properly with our tips and tricks in this article – it will pay off big, keep fans engaged and coming back to you for more music in the future.