July 10, 2017
Why your music is not getting the exposure it deserves – and how to fix it
You’ve finally finished a killer new track that you’ve been chugging away on for weeks, and you can feel the excitement building inside of you as you go to post it on SoundCloud and share it with the world.
“This will be the track that brings me the exposure I need!” you think to yourself.
But then hours go by… then days… and still nothing, except for the usual handful of likes and comments from your close friends.
So what’s the deal? If you’re talented and you’re putting truly great music out there, why aren’t people finding it? Why aren’t managers and agents knocking down your door to work with you?
Of course, talent is just one part of the massive, complex music-success equation. The reality is that no one’s going to come along and offer to help you build your audience if they don’t see anything significant to build upon in the first place. In other words, you need to take charge of your own music career and put in the work to get the exposure you want.
Take a step back and try to objectively examine your approach thus far. If you want to get to the next level, you owe it to yourself to be honest about the reasons why you haven’t been getting enough exposure.
For most artists, it comes down to a combination of these five reasons:
1. You release tracks that aren’t top quality
2. You come across as unprofessional
3. You’re targeting the wrong audience
4. You don’t know where to focus your music promotion efforts
5. You have a weak online presence
Once you’ve identified the areas in which you need to improve, it’s time to put together a game plan.
5 Solutions to Get More Exposure for Your Music
Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear: Without a foundation of remarkable, original music, any effort you put into gaining exposure is pointless. Once you’re confident that you’re creating undeniably great music, the strategies below will help everything fall into place.
#1 – Commit to putting out quality content consistently
That new demo you just cranked out might have lots of promise, but no matter how excited you are, don’t post it on SoundCloud just yet. Everything you share publicly is a reflection of you as an artist, so only post complete, polished tracks that are a top-notch representation of your work.
Like a meal tastes better if cooked with high-quality ingredients, make sure you use high-quality sounds and audio samples for your tracks (if you use samples as opposed to ‘home-grown’ sounds). There are lots of good sources to find quality samples. You can even download free sample packs from us here and immediately spice up your tracks.
How are your mixing and mastering skills? You can also consider taking an online production course to get your skills up to par (Heroic Academy has good resources for learning mixing and mastering techniques), or use an online mastering service to instantly make your tracks sound more professional.
That being said, you don’t want to get so caught up in perfectionism that you let two years go by without releasing anything. The key is to find the right balance between quality and consistency. Committing to a release schedule means that you’ll be giving your fans something to look forward to on a regular basis. Keeping that steady, early buzz going is crucial so that you have something to build on down the road.
#2 – Develop your brand
The biggest difference between artists who get taken seriously and those who don’t is strong, consistent branding across everything they do, both online and off. Bloggers and influencers specifically look for artists with strong brands, and you’ll also be signaling to potential new fans that you’re professional, legitimate, and worth paying attention to.
It’s not easy to nail down your unique story, voice, and image, but once you do, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of getting exposure for your music. Why? Because it’s the only real way to rise above the noise.
Start by answering the following questions about yourself as an artist:
● What’s truly unique about my artistry and my music that sets me apart from everyone else?
● What’s interesting enough about my story to grab the attention of someone who’s never heard my music?
● What message do I want to get across about my music when someone finds me online?
● How can I convey that message through my social media posts, photos, color schemes, website design, album artwork, merch, blog, and press interviews?
A great way to start putting this all into action is to make your visuals consistent across your entire online presence. As a starting point, pick one image that represents you well, and run it through Coolors to automatically generate a color scheme from it. Then, you can use an online tool like Canva to create beautiful graphics sized for your cover photos on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
#3 – Identify your target audience
It’s disheartening to put out music that you know is great, but for some reason, people just don’t seem interested. Assuming that you’ve nailed your branding, the most common culprit in this situation is targeting the wrong audience — or not targeting a specific audience at all.
No matter how good your music is, it’s never going to appeal to every demographic (yes, that includes even “mainstream” music). There’s a niche audience out there for every artist; you just have to get very specific about who you’re targeting, and then figure out the best ways to reach them.
It all comes back to your brand identity and how you want to position yourself as an artist. What specifically are you trying to convey through your music? How do others describe your sound? Which artists do you sound similar to? Which blogs cover those artists, and what kind of people read those blogs? (Tip: most blogs have “about” and “advertising” pages that can give you some good insight about their audience demographics.)
Even in the early days of building your following, check out the analytics on your website, social media pages, and streaming services, and pay close attention to the age, gender, location, and interests of your fans. You might be surprised by what you discover!
You can use this data to build a fan profile, which is the core of all of your marketing efforts. The more comprehensive and accurate your fan profile is, the more effective your marketing is — and the faster you can gain exposure for your music.
The possibilities are endless, but here are just a few examples of how to use fan data:
● Create Facebook ads that target people who are very similar to your existing fans, and are therefore more likely to be interested in your music.
● Use location data to determine which cities to perform in.
● Use age data to determine whether you should be looking at 21+ venues or all-ages venues.
● Use gender data to inform your merch decisions (e.g., if your audience is 90% male, you know that you don’t need to invest too much time or money into creating merch that appeals to a female audience).
#4 – Think outside the social media box
Social media can certainly be an effective tool to build buzz for your music, but there are so many other marketing tactics you can experiment with. Hone in on where your potential fans are most likely to be, and then analyze what works for you and what doesn’t so that you’re not wasting your time on anything that’s ineffective.
For starters, here’s a list of five effective music promotion hacks that you can try out, and tips on how to grow your fanbase with free downloads. You can also use a tool like Hypeddit’s fan gates to make it easier for potential fans to promote your tracks.
[Learn more: 5 Effective Music Promotion Hacks]
#5 – Strengthen your online presence
As a DIY artist, it’s easy to spread yourself too thin and burn out. Just like what we discussed above about sharing your tracks, the best thing you can do for your online presence is find a realistic balance between consistency and quality. Focus on just a handful of key channels, and make an effort to post consistent, high-quality, engaging content on each of them.
How do you decide which channels to focus your time and energy on? Well, it’s going to be different for everyone, because it depends on where your target audience likes to discover new music and connect with artists. For example, you may find that Twitter and Facebook are your best channels to directly connect and communicate with fans, while Instagram is best for showcasing your personality, and YouTube and SoundCloud are best for spreading your music.
In this jungle of platforms we ultimately recommend that you focus on at least one platform in each of these categories to effectively showcase your music, personality and artist brand, and communicate with fans:
Online platforms optimized to showcase your music:
Online platforms optimized to showcase your personality and artist brand:
Online platforms optimized to communicate with your fans:
● Email (newsletters)
This all takes a lot of hard work, persistence, and good timing, but if you stick with it, you’ll start to see casual fans turn into superfans. That’s your ultimate goal, because superfans are the people you can count on for the most powerful form of marketing of all: word of mouth. Once you reach that stage, the sky’s the limit!