(bron: Music in Africa – Butchie Seroto)
Stuck in the euphoria of having completed a song, video or album, many independent musicians tend to release their work without considering how to promote it. In 2022, achieving success as an artist has increasingly become more about how you market your music. This is particularly true for DIY musicians, who are bombarded with the numerous tasks required to distribute their music, such as creating graphics, generating smart links, pitching for playlists, sending emails to media contacts and fan bases, thinking up engaging social media campaigns, organising release calendars, and so on.
Below are helpful tools that are either free or low-cost – from analytics platforms to music hosting websites and mailing software that can take you to the next level in terms of getting your music to as many ears as possible.
Music streaming platforms
A good music release strategy can be based on data from previous releases. If you’ve released music in the past, you can view backend analytics from a number of digital service providers and plan the marketing strategy for your next release based on demographics and geographic interest, among other signifiers. These artist-centric platforms also cater to graphics, playlist pitching, merch sales and community-building.
Spotify for Artists
Spotify for Artists, Spotify’s interface for creators, gives you the tools to optimise and bolster your performance on the platform, including an option to sell merch. Merchandise is a great way for musicians to connect with their fans and to develop their personal brand. It can also be a valuable alternative income to streaming revenue. This tool gives you complete stats on plays based on demographics, geolocation, age groups and gender, among others.
Apple Music for Artists
Apple Music for Artists is Apple Music’s artist-focused interface offering an array of services such as tracking the performance of all music on the platform and providing tips on how to release music and choose the right distributor, and much more.
Bandcamp works like a digital music store with a user-friendly interface. The platform is a popular music discovery platform with a particular focus on independent artists who can access the hub to sell merch and advertise concerts. Its app gives listeners instant streaming of Bandcamp releases, and many artists use the platform as their main money site. Bandcamp also gives musicians options to press vinyl for distribution around the world.
SoundCloud is currently one of the top audio-sharing and distribution platforms with 175 million monthly listeners. It offers a free subscription tier, which allows creators to upload a limited number of tracks, build their profile and grow their fan base. Pro subscriptions receive exclusive features, extensive data, more uploads and dedicated support. The platform features a music distribution service called Repost by SoundCloud, which allows users to release their music on other major streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.
Audiomack isn’t as popular as the other platforms on this list, but it can definitely be of value. You can host all of your music for free – no premium accounts and no upload or storage limits. You’ll also get free access to content-sharing tools and an artist dashboard loaded with advanced stats and engagement data. Thousands of musicians are benefiting from Audiomack’s beta monetisation programme, which offers a competitive per-stream rate for uploaded tracks.
Mailing and webpage tools
Using the right communication channels to let people know about your release is arguably the most important step in seeing out a successful release, and although social media goes a long way to engage followers, there are many other platforms that can help you ramp up visibility to music pros and fans alike.
Mailchimp lets users create their own emails and landing pages, which can then be used to send press releases. It offers pre‑designed templates including content blocks and design elements that artists need to launch a professional‑looking campaign in minutes. The mailing service can also be used to sell products or compile monthly newsletters with the info that needs to reach your media contacts or fans. All of this can be done it minutes with a simple process that doesn’t require previous design or coding skills.
Groover connects users to media professionals, playlists curators, radio stations and other music professionals. The low-cost music promotion platform lets you contact these tastemakers who will be able to give you feedback about your music.
BitSubmit is created specifically for the music industry. Via the platform, you can send your music to people with YouTube channels, Spotify playlists, music blogs, radio stations and more. You can use the service for free by submitting with standard credit, which is occasionally provided by the platform, with an additional option for a premium package.
Upfluence is a marketing tool containing a huge database of influencers. Using the tool, you can filter for the type of influencer you want to contact. You can manage the responses in the app and measure the performance of your outreach campaigns using the app’s analytics.
Bandzoogle lets you build a professional-looking website for your music with many built-in features for a fraction of what they would cost when sold separately. The zero-commission, in-app tools include a tour calendar to promote performances, mailing lists and mobile-enabled templates to sell your music and merch. The platform recently added built-in smart links and custom landing pages.
Smart link tools
One-link destinations are imperative for a successful release campaign. They make the consumption of digital music easy while providing you with vital analytics about your release.
Linkfire enables artists to promote their releases with just one link. The service gives you the intuitive design tools, simple automations and insights that could grow your career. It brings together essentials like bio links, pre-save campaigns, contest landing pages, and much more that would otherwise be fragmented across different platforms. The platform’s advantage is its exclusive data partnerships with music services, which it uses to show acquisition and conversion data specific to music promotion like streams, follows, adds, subscribers and sales, which all help provide a complete picture of the fan journey.
HearNow is a low cost one-page promotional tool for your CD Baby releases. Users can populate it with audio, cover art, links to all music platforms, and more – making it easier for followers to share new content. CD Baby users can get their HearNow promo page automatically populated from their album’s info on the music distribution platform.
Soundplate Clicks is used to create smart links for music, provide info on fan engagement and create an artist catalogue page to help fans discover more of your music. It boasts a number of innovative features to help grow fan bases, promote music and gigs, and give detailed analytics on how fans prefer to consume your music. The tool allows you to create your first links or pre-save campaigns for free.
Tuneer enables users to group all their social music links together in one easily shareable link. You can also create QR codes for a link, or collect push subscribers to send fans notifications.
Apart from the aforementioned artist-centric tools like Spotify for Artists and Apple Music for Artists, and analytics supplied by your distributor, there are also other services to take note below:
Chartmetric provides data taken from your plays on streaming playlists and local charts, including platforms like YouTube, Twitch and your social media platforms. In addition to tracking playlists that feature your music, the tool allows you to research other playlists and curators that you can pitch to. Its Neighboring Artists feature connects users to other musicians who have similar metrics, while Airplay tracks the top 1 000 radio stations globally.
Beatchain’s free package allows artists to track statistics from their playlists and streams, and provides insights and fan-base demographics. It also offers a social media scheduling tool and limited monthly distribution. In this way the platform can be a great tool for building your fan base at a relatively low cost.
Social media tools
Online scheduling platforms can help musicians upload, share, and promote their music online – making the whole process of distributing your music easier, less time-consuming, cheaper and less overwhelming.
Buffer is a social media management and scheduling platform for digital music promotion, among other functionalities. Users can generate a social media schedule, and the tool will then automatically queue their posts. Based on what performs well, levels of engagement and a variety actions your followers take, you can tweak the schedule easily and efficiently. Some subscription tiers let you collaborate with other band or team members on the platform, which makes it much easier than using group texts or an email thread.
Hootsuite is a social media management tool for scheduling important posts in advance. It works in a similar way to Buffer and lets you keep engagement high even when you’re not online.
Music video promotional services
YouTube is regarded the biggest music discovery and video-sharing platforms. It is followed by Vimeo, a more creator-centric service with more appealing visuals and musical content, which makes it a better platform to experiment with visual content for documentaries or behind-the-scenes footage. Triller, meanwhile, is the perfect tool to turn your showcase or performance into an instantly shareable Instagram or TikTok friendly video.
Twitch has become a popular platform for musicians who want to host live streams. Bandcamp Live, on the other hand, also allows artist to livestream their performances or host listening parties for free, or sell tickets. Both services offer the tools that allow for virtual gifting and live chats. Users can also sell their merchandise, which has become arguably the most important source of revenue for emerging musicians who don’t get millions of streams or who do not perform live.
Additional tools and resources
Below is a mixed bag of tools that you should check out before releasing your music:
- Music In Africa lets musicians create profiles that are effectively one-link electronic press kits (EPKs), which can be used to promote an artist’s work to promoters, talent buyers and event organisers. The platform allows users to aggregate their SoundCloud, Deezer and YouTube channels, and add links, a biography and hi-res photos.
- Canva can be used for graphic design and static content like announcing the release date of your project. It offers hundreds of templates and can easily integrate any logos or graphics.
- Visme is a digital media kit creator that you can use to create downloadable and easily customisable EPKs, with lots of templates to choose from.
- Wooboxlets you create social media competitions and campaigns such as fangates for free.
- Dizzyjam is a merch service that can design, print, sell and ship your products.
- Bandsintown is a live music platform ideal for adding your tour dates, selling tickets and communicating directly to fans.
- E-junkie allows people to buy your song from your website with no transaction or setup fees. The tool provides a shopping cart and purchase functionalities that are integrated with payment processors such as PayPal, Stripe and others.