If you’re looking for music promotion, it’s going to take more effort than just throwing money at it. Indie musicians don’t usually have loads of cash for this. I don’t.
So I’d like to share some free ways to get your music out there. I’ve tried these free music promotion methods and I’ve been happy with the results.
Let’s take a look at the following tools for free music promotion:
- Radio Airplay
There’s one thing I know for sure about music promotion: it’s difficult. Especially for me. I don’t like to sound like an advertiser or a PR person.
So I’m always looking for ways to share my music without being super annoying.
When in doubt, I try to just be myself. That’s actually a good way to do music promotion. Don’t be fake, people can see right through that. Just be open and honest.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being hyper-focused on “my brand.” If I’m my brand, then I’m just going to be myself. Plus, people are drawn to those who are unapologetically themselves.
I know you know this one already, so just consider this a reminder. Great music will make ripples on its own.
When I discover an artist whose music resonates with me on a certain level, I can’t wait to tell my music aficionado friends about them. The artist didn’t persuade me to share their music. They didn’t provide some sort of incentive.
It was just fantastic music. So, naturally, I had to share it. It would be wrong not to.
Before you get into any of these promotion tips, make sure your music is that great.
There are two general types of Spotify playlists: individual’s playlists and Spotify’s official playlists. They can work together to get your music in front of new people.
The Spotify algorithm that recommends songs to listeners keeps track of “every time people save your music to their queue, library, or their own playlist.1“ So the more playlists your song is included on, the more likely it will show up as a Spotify recommendation.
So how do you get on these playlists?
Well, you can submit directly to the Spotify editorial team through your Spotify artist profile2. In my experience and hearing from fellow musicians, it’s very rare to land a playlist placement this way.
The other route is to submit to playlists run by music curators. A great website for this is Soundplate, a record label that hosts a bunch of these playlists. So you can go there, submit your music, and the playlist curator gives you a yay or nay.
Unlike the editorial Spotify playlists that get submissions from every artist and their brother, people-run playlists are more likely to hear your music. I’ve gotten a couple songs on playlists through Soundplate. It works.
Speaking of playlists, you can promote your music by creating your own playlist.
First, create a playlist with a theme. It could be “Summer Jams,” “Relaxing Tunes,” “Pick-Me-Ups,” or whatever.
Then after you’ve chosen the songs, find one of your own songs that fits the playlist theme. Add it as the first track of the playlist.
This is a great way to share music you love and get free exposure for your own.
Every time I play a show, without fail, a fellow musician comes up to me afterward and talks to me. And I don’t even play out that often!
If you play shows regularly, think of how many chances you have to meet people, both fans and musicians.
In my opinion, nothing will ever replace live music. There’s something special about watching people create music right in front of you.
I know I’ve become fans of local bands just by seeing them live. They wouldn’t have jumped out at me if I heard them on a Spotify playlist.
This then leads to people looking you up on Spotify, signing up for your email list, and getting to know you on a personal level. These are all things that grow your reach.
Keep in mind, this is free music promotion. In fact, you’re probably getting paid. It’s promotion for which you’re getting paid. If you’re a performing musician, don’t overlook your biggest and maybe most effective way to get your music out there.
A lot of musicians don’t even think of this, but guest blog posts is a totally free way to get your name out there. I’ve gotten a lot of visits to my website from doing this.
Just to be clear, this is not why I write music advice articles. I do it because I love helping my fellow musicians. I like sharing what I’ve learned.
But a lot of websites include an author bio at the bottom of your article and sometimes you can include a link to your website.
So let’s say you’re a Producer looking to get your music out there. You can pitch article ideas to different music production blogs. If they want to work with you, you’ll be able to share what you know through your writing and maybe direct some people to your work. (Plus, blogs sometimes pay you for your work).
Search Engine Optimization (or “SEO”) is a way to make your website rank higher in search engine searches.3 So if you start an SEO-friendly blog, Googlers may find you.
Here’s what you can do: start a blog on your official music website. Write about whatever you want and whatever your fans would love to read — tour stories, meanings behind your songs, thoughts on life.
Then, after you write a blog post, you can use SEO tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and LSI Keyword Generator to find related keywords to your topic. You can then insert these keywords naturally in your writing. So when someone searches that or a related keyword, they could end up finding your blog.
Here are some other simple things you can do to make your blog perform better in searches:
- Make sure your main keyword is in the title, headings, the first paragraph, and in the conclusion
- Use internal links when it makes sense (links to other blog posts and pages on your site)
- Make an interesting headline with help from this headline analyzer
- Use H2 headings
- Add a meta description including the keyword
This is more of a long-term promotion plan, but it doesn’t cost any money!
Another free and super fun way to get your music in new ears is to collaborate with fellow musicians. You can do a co-write, do a joint show, remix each other’s songs, or whatever fits your skills.
Picture this: you and another Producer decide to remix each other’s songs. When you release these remixes, your remix will get in front of their fans and their remix will get in front of your fans.
It’s a win-win. It’s cross-promotion. It costs nothing and it’s a ton of fun.
I don’t know about you, but I love free stuff. And I’m not alone — that’s why email marketing is so effective (if you do it right).
The idea is to give something away in exchange for someone’s email address. This could be a behind-the-scenes video of your recording session. It could be a never-before-released song. You could even give away VIP tickets to your next show.
What you get in return is a fan’s email address (and possibly their name and zip code if you ask for it). This is a direct-to-fan type of promotion. There’s no middle-man algorithm getting in the way.
And if you do email marketing properly, this is a fantastic way to connect with the people who love your music.
Okay, now that you’ve got some ideas for free music promotion, let’s talk about some free tools you can use.
Show.co comes out of the CD Baby arsenal, so to use it, you’ll actually have to be a CD Baby customer. But if you are, it’s free for you.
This tool lets you create a Spotify pre-save campaign, which is where you get your fans to pre-save your upcoming release. So when your song or album does come out, those fans will automatically see it in their library.
You can also run a similar Spotify campaign, but instead of pre-saves, you ask for follows. And the more followers you have on Spotify, the better your chance that your music will show up in people’s recommended music.
Using this same method, you can also run an email-collection campaign.
Radio Airplay is an internet radio platform and sibling of Jango and similar to Pandora. A listener listens to a station of music based on the genre they want, not based on what’s “hot” or whoever has a record deal.
This is good news for indie musicians.
As a musician, you can get your music played on Radio Airplay stations by using credits. You can buy credits, but you get 10 free credits that renew automatically. When someone listens to your song, that uses up your credits.
You can then see who listened to your songs, when, and on what radio station. On your public profile, you list your website and social media profiles in hopes that listeners follow you
Canva is a pretty amazing tool. It’s a free online platform that lets you design images and edit photos. It’s a simple drag-and-drop tool and they offer a bunch of free templates and design elements.
You can use it to create your next album cover (I have), a social media graphic, or a design for your website.
It’s a super-easy way to promote your music. And it makes you look professional.
If you want to give away stuff for free in exchange for an email (like we talked about earlier), MailChimp is a service that lets you do that.
You can set up a campaign that automatically emails new subscribers their treat once they sign up. So you don’t even have to think about it. Set it and forget it.
They offer a free account that is great for smaller indie musicians, but they do have different paid tiers that have more features.
Just to reiterate, the music is the most important thing. It can actually be its own form of promotion. If it’s amazing, it will spread naturally.
That’s not to say your music isn’t great. In most cases, it just takes some effort to get your music out there. And the free music promotion tools and methods we’ve covered should be a good start.