With technology advancing at an incredible pace year on year, its now easier than ever for anyone to compose music in their bedroom. This lower entry level into the music industry means its now bursting at the seams with everyone fighting for their voice to be heard. It can be hard to cut through the noise and get the right people to hear your tracks.
In this article, I want to focus on some of the different forms of marketing I’ve seen composers and electronic musicians try using to get their music heard. I want to highlight why these are bad ways to market your music, and I want to show you why its important to think about your end goal first.
Please bare in mind, the following is just my opinion, and I could be absolutely wrong, but these just stand out to me as awful ways to try and market your music.
1. Send other composers your tracks on Facebook via messaging
Before I go any further, there’s nothing wrong with this if you are looking for feedback and know the person / have spoken to them at least once before. I’ve received plenty of messages from people on Facebook over the years asking for feedback on their tracks, and that’s totally fine if we’ve spoken at least once before and they’re genuinely looking for feedback.
The right way of doing it: “Hey John, how are you? I really like your work and was wondering if you had a minute or two to give me some feedback on the mix for this track? I’m having problems figuring out how to blend the brass and piano together. Do you have any ideas? Thanks!”
To me, this is totally fine and I’m more than happy to respond to people who want feedback on tracks if we’ve spoken at least once and formed some sort of rapport.
The wrong way of doing it: “Hey bro! Check out my latest release on SoundCloud #yolo #spamfriday”
Why is this the wrong way of doing it? Because I don’t care about your latest track. Sorry but its true – maybe your fans care about it, but I’m another content creator just like you, so why would you waste time trying to tell me (technically your competition) about your new release?
In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for feedback if you genuinely want it. But just randomly messaging everyone on your Facebook friends list and telling them to listen to your track will genuinely get you nowhere.
2. Create a Facebook group that’s a fan page about yourself and add everyone on your friends list to it
Yes, I’ve actually seen someone do this. Just because Facebook’s organic reach for fan pages / business pages is getting lower each year, doesn’t mean you have abandon the traditional marketing routes and take drastic action like this.
It screams of desperation. What do you think a group of people who have just been forced to join your group will do for you? Buy your music because you forced them to join your group? Listen to your tracks? Nope, they’ll run in the opposite direction.
3. Spam Facebook groups with your tracks
I’ve seen this happen plenty of times before. People copy and paste the same 3 lines into every single Facebook group they can find, in the hopes that more people will listen to their music. I’ve even seen some people that are part of over 800 Facebook groups, simply so they can do this. For some strange reason, people also think that the best groups to spam are other composer/musician groups.
If you do this, think about it from the spammee’s point of view – it looks like a person running around saying “Hey look at my music, look at my muuuusic!“. Do you think the successful composers and electronic musicians do this? Eh…no, they don’t.
4. Leave messages on other people’s Soundcloud tracks (asking them to listen to your tracks)
Leaving messages on other people’s tracks on Soundcloud is absolutely fine. However, leaving messages on tracks like “Cool bro, check out my tracks!” comes across more like “Yea I didn’t listen to that, but listen to mine!”. Think about it like a conversation; everyone hates assholes who keep turning the conversation back to themselves, and this is the digital version of it.
I totally encourage you to leave messages on people’s Soundcloud tracks, but not when you have an ulterior motive of self promotion.
5. Mass email everyone you know (with no way to unsubscribe)
Sending mass emails without the permission of the receivers is spam and comes with hefty fines, never mind the fact that you’ll annoy everyone. If someone didn’t sign up to your mailing list, take it that you don’t have permission to add them to your newsletter/mass email.
Again, this just reeks of desperation and annoys everyone who didn’t sign up.
6. Pay to Play Opportunities
There are hundreds of “pay to play” music websites out there – for example Music Clout, Music X Ray etc. They have thousands of listings for opportunities to get your music placed in projects and/or heard by large groups.
The problem with these type of websites is that there is no way to verify the “opportunities”. What’s to stop them just making up fake listings and continuously collecting the submission fees from hundreds of composers and musicians? 99% of the time, you are flushing your money down the drain.
7. Twitter autoresponders
I’ve turned off notifications for messages on Twitter due to the fact that everyone and their mother has now setup automated “thank you” messages when you follow them. Just because everyone does this, doesn’t mean its a good idea. A personalised Tweet to them is far more likely to help you create a relationship with them rather than a clearly automated message.
Perhaps the most annoying automated messages on Twitter are the “Thanks for the follow check out my music” messages. If you absolutely have to do it, at least try something a bit more unique that will standout through the other 100 “listen to my music” messages everyone else sends.
8. Add other composers on Linkedin
So this one is going to be a bit controversial as some people are for this and some against. Apparently its a good way to keep track of your competition, see who you lost out on a gig to, see who got a new job that might be able to help you etc. On the other hand, I see people just mindlessly trying to add thousands of “connections” on Linkedin, simply to have a huge network on there. How could you possibly keep track of everyone?
I’m still between two minds on this as I do see some of the benefits of it, but what I would say is don’t be one of those people who adds 4,000 people on Linkedin just to have 4,000 connections.
There are lots of ways to market yourself and your music. Some are good, some are bad – just always make sure and question what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Is your goal to get 1,000 listens on a Soundcloud track, and you’ll then retire? Great, go spam everyone, and eventually you’ll get your 1,000 listens.
Is your goal to organically build a fan base? Then interact with people. Talk to them and get to know them, instead of just slamming your music in their face hoping they’ll like it.
Is your goal to get your music licensed? Then spend your time marketing to music supervisors and getting into music libraries. Other composers don’t license your tracks.
Always think about who your customer or fan is and how to reach them.
Composer Heather Fenoughty has a great list of 51 Marketing Ideas for Film Music Composers that is well worth checking out.
I’m also writing “The Composer’s Business Manual” at the moment, in which I hope to highlight the better forms or marketing that can help you get in front of the right people.
Get notified when its released by signing up at www.TheComposersBusinessManual.com.
Have you come across any other bad forms of marketing that composers and electronic musicians follow? Let me know in the comments!