Building a Music Marketing Strategy or How to Succeed on SoundCloud

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The least exciting part about making music is marketing the music. Making music in itself requires a lot of dedication and hard work, and when all of that passion is not getting recognized enough, it could be quite discouraging. This is why artistes always (rightfully) brag about the number of plays and streams they got on their songs and albums.

One easy way to rake in the plays is by using Socials Up, but that is only one of the many steps to take in properly marketing good music. With all that said, you may now want to open up your Notes app to start drawing up your plan as you read on.

Why Do You Need a Marketing Strategy?

You may argue that good music would promote itself as long as it’s…well, good, but you would also agree that some below-average tracks have made it to top ten lists. That’s the power of marketing and good marketing at that. So if you need a reason to decide whether or not it is necessary to have a marketing strategy, then ask yourself if you don’t mind having only your family and friends stream your music.


Then let’s get into the marketing strategy.

How to Build an Effective Marketing Strategy

Step #1. Clearly outline your target audience: It could be very tempting to say that your music is for everyone, but that would only be self-deceit. No product (physical or digital) is ever for everyone – not even pizza. There are genuinely wholesome songs with good beats, but there are people who would never listen to that just because it’s not their “style”. So the first step for you is to find your tribe, your community, the people whose style matches yours.

It is not just enough to say that your target audience loves rap or hip-hop, or jazz. That is a very wide margin, and you need to narrow it down specifically.

  • Where does your target audience live?
  • What platforms do they use the most?
  • Where are they most active?
  • What interests them the most?
  • What types of devices do they typically use?
  • How educated are they?

Details like these would play a huge role in drawing up a marketing plan to get you your desired results. Let’s imagine that your ideal audience hardly uses social media. This means that marketing using platforms like SoundCloud may defeat your goal. You would rather pay attention to local media like radio and television.

Step #2. Write down your goals: If you say that your goal is to become famous, then you have a lot of work to do because that in itself is not a goal. When creating a marketing plan, you need to have very specific goals, and fame is not one of them. For a goal to be effective, it has to be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

  • How many plays or streams do you want to accrue in one year?
  • How many countries would you want your song to get to?
  • How many followers do you want to have on your streaming platform?

Answering questions like these would help you create SMART goals for your music. It is advisable that you do this with your team as having many more ideas could create the perfect strategy for your kind of music.

Step #3. Decide your brand identity: Today, marketing in any niche is beyond just the product; it is about the persona that the product or service embodies. This is why artistes don’t just post only their music all year long on their socials. They incorporate bits of their real lives into it, and this is where relatability comes to play. You may want your brand to be a lot less personal and more generic and that would still work if you stick to it. Your marketing should portray your values as well as your music, and without knowing what your brand identity is, you would be walking into a self-designed crisis.

Your brand, simply put, should be the intersection between your values and your audience’s. This takes us back to step 1. You have to understand that marketing is not something you just come up with in one day, so sit down and carefully think about what adjectives you want your brand to resonate with.

Step #4. Read the room: By this, we mean to understand the times and seasons. Let’s say you plan to release a track this winter, and one of the top dogs in the industry is also planning to do the same. Who do you think fans would show up for the most? Most likely, not you. This is why it is important to also study what the celebrities are up to so that you don’t end up putting in so much and reaping so little. Of course, there may be times when your release date would have to clash with a celebrity’s probably due to the type of music, say you’re releasing a Christmas track the same time as Katy Perry. You wouldn’t want to postpone yours till spring, and this is why it is also important to start promoting your music early. It is never too early to start creating buzz around your work but don’t let the buzz become stagnant.

Step #5. Create a budget: Of course, music marketing would only yield limited results without making any monetary investment. As an upcoming musician, you may not have all the money in the world to sink into marketing just one track, which is why it is important to start saving up months and even years before releasing your first track. One cheap way to market your music is using SocialsUp and backing it up with engaging social media ads. Instagram and Facebook are quite inexpensive, and you shouldn’t sleep on them.

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Step #6. Research bloggers and influencers in your niche: With the surge in influencer marketing, many brand owners have turned to pay influencers to promote their products or services rather than paid ads on Instagram and Facebook. This is because humans have more power to influence decisions than algorithms. Some would patronize a brand solely because they admire or support the influencer promoting it and not necessarily because they need what the brand is offering.

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Before you send an email to just any influencer, sit down and do a little background study. What brands has this influencer worked with? Is the influencer’s audience your target audience? Do the influencer’s values align with yours? Choosing an influencer that has little to no connection with your target audience would be an expensive mistake, and you definitely don’t want to be the one making that mistake.

Step #7. Outsource tasks: As much as you would like to handle everything so that it can be done exactly how you want it to, you should understand that you’re not the best at everything, and that’s okay. Chances are you’re better at making music and writing lyrics than marketing, and if you force it, you may only end up spending a lot more money and achieving fewer results. Suppose you are confident that you can handle your musician duties, marketing, and social media management duties without neglecting anyone for the other. In that case, it’s up to you to do just that but if you want the best results for your music launch, then outsource the important tasks that you can afford to. This all reiterates the need for an efficient team that could work with you, not just on your upcoming project but many more after that.

Step #8. Leverage relevant social media platforms: With a wide variety of social media tools to choose from, you may get overwhelmed trying to adapt your music to fit into each platform, but that shouldn’t be the case. As a musician with little to zero audience, you have to start by finding your audience where they are. Music lovers seldomly go to blogs to listen to music, so blogging shouldn’t be your primary marketing plan. Besides just uploading your songs to Spotify and Apple Music, you would need to continually talk about your music, and you can’t do that effectively on any of those platforms. This is where YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram pop into the conversation. Those platforms are effective in connecting with your audience, which would, in turn, bring about more fans and recognition with time.

Find your primary marketing platform and then a second one where you could express yourself the way you want your brand to be perceived and recognized.

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Step #9. Employ the power of mercy: Yes, you are not a product brand, but you also do realize that products are effective in sending important messages, especially physical ones. Brainstorm the different product ideas that could work well with your brand message and then begin to draw up ways to send those messages without coming off as awkward or too cheesy. Note that these products don’t have to be physical ones and don’t have to be used to make profits. If you’re just starting, your primary goal should be building an audience and not just making profits so you can give out your merch to the influencers you’ve paid, and your team members, as well as these people, would be your first set of ambassadors.

Now that your marketing plan is beginning to take shape, you may want to take a break and return to it later to get fresh perspectives on it. One other important tip is to study analytics. Fan Insights by Spotify is an excellent place to start. Look at how other tracks in your niche are faring on the trend lists and see what the artistes have done to get their tracks to those lists. If anything, you would have realized by now that music marketing requires a lot of research and studying, so gear up for the journey ahead.

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