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For the vast majority of artists just starting their careers, the big problem isn’t coming up with ideas of what to name a band, what to sing about or even how to market themselves—it’s all about how to get your music heard.

This is the single largest hurdle most acts must face, and it’s easy to understand why they have a difficult time finding their way around it. There are so many groups and solo singers to listen to. The sheer amount of available albums and songs on platforms like Spotify and YouTube makes it incredibly intimidating for anyone who’s looking for something new to hear…as well as those who are doing the creating.

So what can you, as a musician who is still at the outset of what could be a fantastic career, get your music heard? Read on below for some tips and suggestions that can benefit everyone.

FAQs on How To Get Your Music Heard

How do I get my music heard in 2022?

Hugh McIntyre

Here’s how to get your music heard:

  1. Develop your brand identity as an artist
  2. Have all your material in one place
  3. Build a fanbase
  4. Step up your socials
  5. Pinpoint decision makers
  6. Network!
  7. Work with a music licensing agency
  8. Play shows—and be smart about them

How do I get my music heard by record labels?

Hugh McIntyre

Getting someone to listen to your latest song or to stream the album you just released might not sound like much of a favor, and when it comes to friends and family, it isn’t really. However, when it’s time to reach out to people who work in the music industry, it is a big deal, and you need to handle yourself professionally. Remember, this is what these people do for a living. This is their work. You’re not sending them a quick hello email, you’re sharing a business inquiry.

You should do some detailed research about best practices regarding professional emails in order to learn all you can before diving in, but there are a few quick tips that can be learned. Keep your subject line succinct and to the point. Make sure the email itself is also direct and simple. A paragraph or two is plenty—any more than that and you’re wasting someone’s time (though full information below the introductory message is different). Get their name and title right. Have a reason for emailing them in particular, don’t just spam them.

Follow these rules and you may have a better shot at having someone listen to your music, though nothing is guaranteed in this field.


Can you audition for a record label?

Hugh McIntyre

The short and simple answer to this oft-asked question is…no. Auditions used to take place in the music industry, and they obviously still do for Actors, Singers and musicians in theater, but the vast majority of those who work at record labels won’t ask for an audition.

If you or your Manager can attract any interest from someone at a record label, it will be because of one of a handful of reasons, and none of them are auditions. Maybe they heard about you through the grapevine. Perhaps they saw you open for another band or play at a festival. It’s possible they have seen your name on streaming services, or even that they’ve been served a song of yours on a platform like Spotify or Apple Music. If they’re looking to speak to you, it’s because they have already listened to you and researched you. There are certainly still meetings between artists and executives, but auditions? Not so much.

1. Develop Your Brand Identity as an Artist

These days, having an identity as a musician or a band is nearly as important as the music you make. In fact, to some companies, it’s paramount. It’s very rare for any musician to be signed to a major label, or even an independent one with any real reach, based only on their art. That’s why it’s vital to spend time discovering who you want to be as an artist, which means branding.

For those who don’t know what branding is, it’s…well…everything. Your band’s name. Your logo. The colors and font you use, which will be replicated on your website and all press materials, as well as CD covers and merchandise. Branding also bleeds into what you wear in your group photos, and also how they look. Are they sunny and happy, or black and white and moody?

Your branding should reflect who you are as a person (or people) as well as the music you make. Those in positions to make decisions that can affect your career notice branding before they hear your music, so please don’t discount its importance. Executives at labels are interested in furthering developing acts that seem like they’re already on their way, not necessarily building them from scratch, so showing them you have your personal branding down is key.

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2. Have All Your Material in One Place

This is particularly frustrating as someone who writes about musicians, as it seems like such a common-sense idea, and yet it apparently doesn’t occur to so many artists and their teams. You need to create a single hub where you have everything anyone could need, and I mean everything. Your website is a fantastic place to send anyone from Radio DJs to Concert Bookers to Promoters for photos, credits on everything you’ve done, tour dates, a bio about your band and the members, merch, your entire discography and links to your socials. Contact information is also key.

Some artists have decided they no longer need a website, as social media has taken over as the best way to share information. That’s understandable, but it’s not the right way to go. A website, or at the very least an EPK (electronic press kit) allows you to gather everything important in one online central digital home and not worry about it.

3. Step Up Your Socials

Speaking of social media, if it’s not something you’re spending a lot of time getting right, you’re missing out. Some people feel it’s a real waste of time, and if you’re not careful, it can be a time suck…but it’s also one of the best ways to market yourself to the world, as well as speak to those who care most about your music.

It is absolutely vital that you have a page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as YouTube. There are other platforms out there that are important, like TikTok, and while it’s smart to invest in them as well, there are only so many hours one can pour into being “social.”

These apps are how you will present yourself to millions, and while you might not be going viral just yet, by the time your music is blowing up it will be too late to get started on these platforms. Begin the process now and try things out, and soon you’ll find you may be directing people toward your art via your social chatter. Grow your audience while promoting your art and they’ll listen.

4. Build a Fanbase

In addition to creating excellent music, the other most important thing you can do to interest any decision-maker, be they a record label employee, a DJ, or someone assembling a playlist at Spotify, is to demonstrate that you already have a following. Even those with the best songs have a difficult time getting booked or highlighted if it looks like nobody cares about them. Meanwhile, people with millions of followers are deciding to get into the music industry simply to find a way to monetize their fans, and succeeding.

Once you have followers and fans of what you do, whether that’s solely music or possibly for your social content as well, doors will begin to open for you. Soon, you’ll see having fans leads to many more opportunities that allow you to gain new ones. This is one of the many reasons why social media is so important—it’s one of the only ways to gather together people who like you for one reason or another and prove that there are a lot of them. When applying for gigs, slots at festivals, or when trying to show those in power that you’re worth taking a chance on, solid follower numbers, as well as consistent engagement on your posts, is one of the best options you have.

5. Pinpoint Decision Makers

Take some time to find out who you’re trying to reach and those individuals you’d like to impress with your music. They can be executives at record labels, Publicists, Managers, those who book concert venues or festivals, influencers, playlist makers, Radio Programmers, DJs and so many more. Make a list and start digging in, researching companies and friends of friends online. Find names and job titles. Keep track of all of this, so you know who to reach out to when the time is right, or who you’re speaking to when you run into someone backstage or at an event.

6. Network!

Networking happens one of two ways these days, and both are incredibly important. As is mentioned above, you can connect with people in real life, which is always preferred. Find the time to go to concerts, events, festivals, and conferences. Don’t be shy! Say hi to people and learn who they are and what they do. Find out how you can help them and show a genuine interest. They may then become curious about you and your work as well.

In addition to shaking hands and being friendly in real life, you can also use social media to connect with people in positions of power in the music industry, especially those who you might otherwise probably not have a chance to meet. Find them on Twitter and Instagram (but not Facebook–that’s too personal), follow them, and begin engaging. Some may connect with you right away, while with others, it may take a while. That’s fine! Play the long game here and you’ll see it pay off when you bump into them at a show or when, after lots of chatting back and forth, you finally meet for coffee or send that email that lets them listen to what you’ve been working on.

7. Work With a Music Licensing Agency

This is not the typical way of getting your music heard, but it’s a good one that some overlook, and it’s also a nice way to make a couple of extra bucks. Research licensing agencies and reach out to them to see if any of them are accepting submissions or are looking for new talent. You may be lucky and find some who are, and from there you can send them your music. It’s the job of the people who work at these companies to find movies, TV shows, video games, and advertisements to put your music into, and then you get paid.

8. Play Shows—And Be Smart About Them

If you want people to hear your music…play it for them! Seems obvious, but you can also think intelligently about the concerts you agree to perform at and the ones you look to arrange with your team (if you have one). If you’re at the very outset of your career, you might want to sign up for every opportunity.

If you’ve been doing this a little while and have some foundation and a fan base already, make sure you’re smart about which venues and dates you play. Don’t stretch your followers too thin, and don’t ask too much of them by begging them to buy tickets too frequently. Also, try to perform in new cities, with acts you’ve never opened for, and do your best to reach those who might not have heard of you before. This is how you use the live arena to get your music heard.

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