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How To Get Your Music Heard (If You’re Willing To Pay For Play)

Everyone wants to have their music heard, because if nobody’s listening, there certainly isn’t any way to make a living off of your art. Sharing and spreading the music you’ve made is part of what makes the creation of it so gratifying, and yet it’s becoming harder and harder to get the music out there to a mass audience, especially one large enough to support you as an artist. Because of both the internet and the wide availability of production software, it seems as if everybody is a musician these days, and every day the space becomes more and more crowded.

So, what’s a musician with a budding career to do? Everybody wants to believe their output is so good it’ll go viral organically and the world will soon fall in love, but it’s extremely rare, and while I hate to say it, you might need to dig into your savings to make this work. You should take every opportunity to promote and spread your music for free, but there are also plenty of avenues requiring some sort of investment that can help get you where you’re trying to go career-wise. There’s advertising, publicity, and even paying influencers…it all just depends on what you want, and what your budget is.

Here are a few ideas you should kick around and look into if you want to take your musical career to the next level, and if you’ve reached the point where you’re willing to spend some dough to make it happen.

How To Get Your Music Heard

Social Media Advertising

While it might seem very corporate and as if it would be an expensive, complicated endeavor, advertising on social media can actually be incredibly cheap, easy, fast, and effective. Companies like Twitter and Facebook make their money off of advertising, and while those firms definitely do bring in bigger bucks from enormous conglomerates and multinationals, they are more than willing and ready to take statistically insignificant sums of money from everybody and anybody with a few bucks to spare.

Advertising on Twitter is perhaps the best option and a great way to experiment with the format. The platform has a web page dedicated solely to helping people set up their own small campaigns, where creating a focused project only takes a few minutes. After identifying what you are looking to get out of this launch, the site allows you to set a daily max when it comes to how much you’re willing to spend, and you can also cap your entire campaign at a certain dollar figure. These can be tiny sums, so why not try throwing $5 into Twitter ads and seeing what comes of it sometime?

Facebook advertising is also essentially as easy, and I can say from experience it can be a highly effective tool, especially for musicians on a budget. I have personally worked with musicians who I was able to persuade to invest some cash into ads on Facebook, and we were all extremely happy with the outcome. The platform allows everyone to customize who sees the ads with some incredible accuracy, which makes it worth the investment, no matter how small or large.

While it might seem very corporate and as if it would be an expensive, complicated endeavor, advertising on social media can actually be incredibly cheap, easy, fast, and effective.

Hire PR

There are plenty of artists who decide to do their own outreach to Bloggers and Journalists for any number of reasons—they feel they can tell their story better, they have the time, or more likely, they might not have the money in the budget to make hiring a Publicist a reality—but at some point in your career, it’s probably a good idea to look into this investment, as it’s one of the best ways to get the attention of those with the power to continue to bring your music to a large audience.

While PR is at this point almost a necessity to make it to a certain level in one’s career, it’s also a really tough cost to justify. Hiring a Publicist doesn’t guarantee you any results, and anybody who says otherwise is lying. You could be the absolute greatest talent nobody has yet discovered, and you might have hired the hardest working, best-connected Publicist in town, but sometimes things just don’t work and the stars don’t align. It’s the sad truth about PR, but it’s important everybody be aware of this before shelling out the big bucks.

Also, PR at almost any level from most reputable companies that will truly give your campaign the time, effort, and attention it deserves is expensive. It’s immediately out of reach for many artists, and even for those who might be able to cough up the cash at some point for special projects, it’s difficult for many to accept nothing may come from handing over their hard-earned cash. I worked in PR once, and we charged several thousand dollars for a musician to promote a new album. Sure, he got some good press out of it, but his final bill ended up running well over $10,000. This is of course not the case for every firm, and there are ways to get publicity for cheap, but it should give you an idea of what this type of attention can cost.

Radio Campaign

Just as is the case with PR, paying a company or a person to work to have your music heard by influencers at radio can also be an extremely expensive affair. Radio used to be one of the only ways musicians would break in a major way, and while this is no longer the case with the advent of the internet and streaming services, getting played on radio of any size or format can definitely help raise an act’s profile.

Speaking with someone who has worked in radio promotion for years now, he explained the cost for campaigns varies widely based on what the artist and their team are looking for, but no matter what they are interested in, it doesn’t sound like there’s a cheap route. According to one industry source, a push to college radio can run above $2,000, while a promotional campaign that goes to larger commercial stations is even more expensive. Keep in mind yet again, paying money doesn’t guarantee anything, and the competition is fierce.

Having said that, how amazing is it to hear your song on the radio? It’s a dream many artists have had for years, and as I mentioned, radio still matters to a lot of people looking for new music. DJs and programmers are some of the most highly-regarded tastemakers in the music business, and their reach can be impressive and influential.

Radio used to be one of the only ways that musicians would break in a major way, and while that is no longer the case with the advent of the internet and streaming services, getting played on radio of any size or format can definitely help raise an act’s profile.

Advertise On Streaming

Paying for advertising space and time on streaming sites (and ones that could fit into that category, if only loosely) isn’t for everyone, but it might be the perfect outlet you’ve been searching for. If you’ve just released a great music video that took a lot of time and money to create, or perhaps you truly believe your new single is on its way to being a smash, sometimes you need to literally put it in front of people to get them interested. While they aren’t anybody’s favorite, YouTube ads can be extremely effective, because they force people to watch for at least a few seconds before they’re able to go to their desired content. Even if you only have a few viewers click through, it can still have a huge payoff for you if they end up really enjoying what they see and hear.

YouTube is the biggest option, but not the only one if you want your music to be advertised on streaming sites, where millions of people go to consume and discover music in the first place. If this is a route you’re interested in investigating, check out a company called Feature.FM, which inserts your music as a “commercial” for those using free tiers on a handful of streaming services. It’s fairly inexpensive, though as of now it’s only good for platforms like 8tracks and Deezer, but bigger and more important services could be in the pipeline.

Find Influencer Sites

This option is a bit tougher to make happen, especially for smaller acts without serious budgets, but it’s a great way to get the approval and endorsement of someone with fans just waiting to try whatever their favorites suggest.

Websites like Fluence and FameBit allow you to find influencers to listen to your music and do…something with it. The former collects those in the music industry with some power or clout—Bloggers, Producers, Engineers, people at radio stations, etc.—and allows them to set their own prices for listening to and reviewing your song. They’re supposed to tell you what they think, and why the track you’ve submitted works or why it doesn’t. From there, they are encouraged to share on their social channels, and it’s up to them whether they want to continue to follow the artist or do anything else with the music.

FameBit allows brands or anybody with a budget to partner with YouTube creators with an audience to promote something. Typically, this relationship sees vloggers talking about a product or service they got for free in addition to a monetary stipend in exchange for reviewing or promoting whatever the thing may be. The cost of these types of programs varies quite a bit, but if someone can bring in around 10,000 views to a video where they discuss your “product” in some way (which in your case would probably be an album or something similar), it might run you around $1,000. Again, it’s costly, but these sites are a great way to connect with those in some sort of position of power or who already have a fanbase, so if you’re smart about it and you have the cash, you could make it worth your investment.

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