Before you spend money promoting your music on the channels you can’t control, why not spend some time on the ones you can control. In this article Mark Knight, founder of Right Chord Music explains why music marketing is only effective if it drives the play count and why you need to combine great music with engaging content and effective promotion to get heard.

As a musician it’s important to remember you are only successful if people listen to your music. It feels like an obvious point, but far too often musicians and managers get distracted by the promotion and forget that listening is the end goal.

For many, success is the press feature, the blog review or the local radio station play. But the true measure of success should only be, the impact these things have on the play count. How many more people listened to your music as a result of this press attention? If the play count doesn’t rise your music marketing isn’t working.

Spotify: the biggest radio station in the UK

In the UK, Spotify is where the largest number of people listen to music. Comparatively Spotify is actually the most listened to radio station in the UK, and has been since 2017. So how are you doing? If you see ‘under 1,000 plays’ next to your track, you have work to do.

Focus on the play count

It’s easy to see why the play count is overlooked. Everyone dreams of fame, but the sad reality for unsigned musicians is you rarely get fame building press attention. Nobody puts an unsigned artist on the front page of YouTube, or the advertising billboard or the front cover of Rolling Stone. Instead what you actually get is features on niche blogs, niche radio stations and offers to perform live in niche venues.

I recently worked with an artist that had 12,000 Facebook followers, a healthy amount for an independent artist. Facebook insights told me that her organic weekly reach was 1,247 people.

This means before even spending a penny on promoted posts or Facebook Ads she could be reaching over a thousand people on her own page every week. When I reviewed the last 15 posts on her Facebook artist page I found 80% were about live shows and a community radio station feature, and there was only one link to hear her music.

Ask yourself… If you could tell 1,247 fans someone every week for free, would you focus on the things everyone can do, IE listen to music on Spotify or the things few people will do (attend a gig, visit and read a blog, or listen to a niche community station). Getting this balance right is important.

Use social channels to make you bigger not smaller

I’m not saying live, radio or blog coverage isn’t important but it’s how you use these channels to make you feel bigger not smaller. As an unsigned artist, I can guarantee high quality live audio or video from a gig posted on Facebook will reach more people than the number that attended your physical show. You could also add Facebook Live streaming shows to your tour calendar, allowing all of your fans the chance to watch, wherever they are. Posting this content also provides you with an opportunity to share a link for fans to check out the studio recorded version on Spotify.

Use promotion as an excuse to share your music

Likewise, why not share the good news about your radio play by including a link to hear the track on Spotify. Finally, if a blog has given you a great review use their quote or endorsement to as an excuse to post with a link to Spotify.

Start promotion on the channels you can control

So before you spend money on the channels you can’t control, (radio, press and live) focus on the channels you do control (social media).  

Here is our simple three-step formula for success

Great Music: It always starts with the music.

Engaging Content: Once you have the music taken care of, you need a simple solution to design and create content. Canva is your new best friend, it’s free and allows you to design social posts, social banners, gig posters and just about anything else you could possibly need. Video content drives higher engagement than static photos and there are a number of great tools that you can use to help create thumb-stopping social content. Check out Reevio, Videoleap and Pixaloop.

Effective Promotion:  Check out Major Labl they focus on driving marketing effectiveness in the channels you can control.

Read more music marketing thought pieces from RCM

Words: Mark Knight, Founder Right Chord Music.