How to get your music heard in 2020? That is the question and it is a big question indeed. It is no secret that the music business is saturated and highly competitive. The barrier to entry has never been lower and now anyone with a microphone can record their music and share it with the world. This, of course, is a good thing and we are all better for it. However, if you are a musician with a passion to make music your career, the challenges have never been greater. The reason our site exists is to help music lovers discover great Independent music. There is a world of talent out there that the world needs to hear.
Maybe you’re one of those artists that passionately wants to share your music with the world. We want to share our experience and perspective to help you gain a few ideas that may be helpful in your pursuit. I am in a unique position to see things from the other side of the coin. We get music submissions daily from artists around the world. Therefore, we have gained valuable knowledge that we believe can help artists just like you. Below you will find tips, ideas, suggestions, and even a few things to experiment with along the way. There is no magic bullet or secret strategy that will help you achieve your dreams. In the end, it will take hard work. What we want is to give you a few things to think about as you carry out that hard work on a daily basis. Let’s get started.
How to Get Your Music Heard in 2020
1. Proactively Promote Your Music
This may sound obvious, but we see many musicians that put their music out there and then hope people find and listen to it. The old saying, “build it and they will come” does not apply to this insanely competitive Indie Music market. I understand that some people are just not comfortable promoting their music. Maybe they feel pushy or maybe even like a “Used Car Salesman” when they are always sending links to their music or sharing it around. That is just the way it works these days. What a great thing it is to be able to DIY your music and not be dependent upon industry insiders.
There is no one just like you and we are all better off for it.
You really can make a difference with your music by simply being proactive and consistent. You will hear no a lot, you will get ignored even more and there will be many times that you will want to give up. However, know that there are many champions out there like us that are rooting and fighting for you every day. You just have to work hard in order to find us.
Share on social media
Here are a few ways you can proactively promote your music in 2020. Share on social media. This one is obvious and most people are doing it, even if sporadically. The key is consistency. Share your music, share your pictures, share your videos … share, share, and then share. People not only want to hear you, but they want to see you. You are the product and therefore, you must get comfortable promoting yourself and putting yourself out there for the world to see and for the world to get to know. There is no one just like you and we are all better off for it.
One simple tip is to make sure you are ALWAYS cross promoting from one social platform to another. I cannot believe how many YouTube videos I see posted by artists that have no links to their other social sites. I also can’t believe how many YouTube channels I see that don’t have their social links on the top right side of their channel. This is a feature built into your YouTube channel that every artist should be taking advantage of. Other examples include the “about me” section of Facebook. All your social links should be listed there. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for people to find you and even more importantly find your music. Do the work so they don’t have to.
Submit to Music Blogs and Sites
Another way to promote your music is by sending your song to Indie Music Blogs and Websites like ours. Many sites still allow song submissions directly through their site. Just look for a section that says something like “Submit Your Music.” We can definitely share some helpful insight here. Most music sites receive many song submissions on a regular basis. We receive dozens each and every day and we are relatively new. Therefore, here are a few tips for sending in your song submission. Be specific! Send them a song and not a whole EP or album. They do not have time to listen to the whole thing and their first question will be, “Which song are they promoting first.” You need to be specific and tell them. This respects their time and allows them to give a focused answer. I personally almost never listen to submissions that don’t give me a specific song to listen to. I just don’t have the time.
Be patient! Many music sites receive hundreds of submission per day. Therefore, be humble and patient and respectful with them. Reality is that you probably won’t hear back from them unless they really like your music and want to work with you. Don’t let that discourage you. Keep submitting!
We have compiled a list of the best music blogs to submit your music to in 2020. This is a great place to start!
Lastly, we recommend that you allocate a small amount of your music budget for song submissions. As times continue to change, many sites like ours can no longer afford to receive submissions directly because there are just too many to keep up with. Therefore, several websites have popped up to help influencers and musicians make a connection. It is important to remember that the vast majority of Indie Music Blogs, like ours, do NOT make money. We simply do this because we love music and genuinely want to help musicians like you. When you use a site that charges for submissions, they are sharing those fees with the music blogs and this helps to offset the costs of running a site. I was not sure how to feel about this in the beginning. Now I see that this is the way of the future and it is a good thing for everyone involved. It helps ensure that you continue to have lots of sites to promote your music.
2. Don’t be Weird for Weird’s sake
In the Indie music world, one goal I see often is to be different and stand out. I think this is a good thing. I also realize how difficult it must seem today with so many other people out there trying to do what you are wanting to do. However, and this is just my opinion, being good is better than being different.
being good is better than being different … don’t let your desire to be different get in the way of making the “best” music you can make
We like weird when it’s good
Don’t get me wrong. We like different. We like weird when it’s good. The last thing we want is to hear songs that sound the same all day long. However, sometimes I feel like artists start out with the goal of “being different” and then go and try to make music that defies every genre and sound that has ever been done.
The result is very predictable. They have a tiny following and will only ever get their music heard by a few. If they are happy with this then I am all for it. I really am. But that is not usually the case. It is not about the numbers and we are the first to acknowledge that. However, I receive submissions over and over from the same people all the time whose music is so “different” that it is almost painful to listen to. They are trying hard to get me to like it, but I am not sure they have ever stepped back and thought about it from the listener’s perspective.
Music is subjective, but there is also a basic standard of “good” that most people go by. You can be different, but “is it good” remains the question. We have all heard unusual or “different” and unique music, but it was so good that we wanted to listen to it. Haven’t you ever said something like; “that’s not really my thing, but its really good?” We have also all heard the opposite. It’s true.
I guess what I am trying to say, is don’t let your desire to be different get in the way of making the “best” music you can make. If your goal is to have your music heard by as many people as possible, try and find the “sweet spot” between being different and providing a good listening experience for your audience.
This one is probably the most controversial item on our list so I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
3. Don’t pay someone to write a “Flowery” Bio
I personally listen to dozens of songs each day on Spotify, if not sometimes hundreds. My routine is always the same. I start the song and then click the artist “About” section and scan their Bio while I am listening to the song. I have done this so many times by now that I can fairly accurately predict how I will like the song based on the Bio. Some are just plain “Weird” and the song usually follows suit. Others use words that I have no idea what they mean, talking about genres I didn’t know existed. Some are clearly trying to prove how they don’t fit into any Genre’s or molds. And still, others are completely creating new genres in their own minds. I am purposely being a little sarcastic, but seriously, you are probably not going to re-invent music as we know it. However, you can make consistently great music even if it does fall in a previously known genre. And we think that’s ok!
The goal is to write your Bio section in such a way that it supplements your music and does not detract from it.
When it comes to your bio Keep it Simple. Don’t be afraid to write it yourself. Quote what others have said about your music. Don’t be weird to try and prove how unique you are! Just do your thing and do it well. Be yourself and be personal. It is better to be short and clear than long and flowery.
Oh, one more important thing. Make sure you add your social links under the “More Info” section to the right of your Image Gallery. It is scary how many artists miss this simple but important detail. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for people to find you and your music.
Your job is to make it as easy as possible for people to find you and your music
The bottom line is that the Bio section is important, but remember that most people are reading it while listening to your music. It is your music that will ultimately determine if they return or go check out more of you, not your Bio section. The goal is to write your Bio section in such a way that it supplements your music and does not detract from it.
How to Get Your Music Heard in 2020
4. Stay Fresh and Up to Date
This one takes work. We really respect those of you who consistently put out new music because we realize how much work goes into it. However, with the changes in the industry and the bar of entry being lowered as much as it has, keeping new music in front of your audience is more important than ever. We think this is especially true in the early stages of your career. Once you have a huge following, your audience will be more willing to wait a couple of years between your releases. If you are still building a following, we suggest that you consider spreading out your releases so that you are consistently putting something new in front of your audience. This is obviously a trend that many artists are following and it seems to be working well. You can do this even if you put out a full EP or Album by simply promoting your “Single’s” over time with a planned release schedule. This is nothing new, but we feel it is increasingly important.
Once you have a huge following, your audience will be more willing to wait a couple of years between your releases.
Another way of staying in front of your audience is to post regularly on Social Media. Again, don’t be afraid of using video, pictures, live streams, and more. How about images or videos of your rehearsals or recording sessions. How about making a short video sharing the inspiration behind your latest song? People love “behind the scenes” types of content. Maybe your out shopping for a new guitar. Turn on the camera and share the experience with your fans. Don’t be afraid to let people see the real you. We live in a world where authenticity and transparency are not just welcomed but increasingly expected.
We share another great way to stay fresh and up to date in our next tip.
5. Covers are Cool
Right up front we want to admit that we are a little biased here because a large portion, maybe 40%, of our site is centered around cover songs. Yet, if you stop and think about it, cover songs have been around for a very long time and almost every major artist has covered someone else’s song at some point in their career. In fact, some of the biggest hits have been one artist recording someone else’s song and putting their own unique twist on it. Here is a recent post that we did as one example of great artists covering another person’s songs.
Cover’s are cool and no one is too cool for covers.
It’s not news that many people on YouTube have built solid careers by cranking out covers of popular songs. Regardless of what you think about this, we think it is at least something you should consider, especially during your down times or in between recording sessions. There are several reasons that making “cover songs” a part of your repertoire is a good idea.
First, it keeps you connected musically with what others have done and are doing. Taking something that is not yours and “making it yours” so to speak helps keep the creative juices flowing. It will ultimately make you better when writing and recording your own music.
Second, it allows your fans to see you in a different light. You can play songs that you might not otherwise play and your audience can see your versatility and creativity. Plus, you can have fun with it and not take it so seriously because it’s not “your” music.
Most importantly in our opinion, it is simply a great way to keep something in front of your audience and get them liking, loving and sharing your content instead of someone else’s. We realize that covers don’t work for every type of artist, but it’s something to consider and maybe experiment with. We think Cover’s are cool and no one is too cool for covers.
How to Get Your Music Heard in 2020
6. Variety is the Spice of Life
Warning: Strong Opinion Incoming!
This one is simple. The reason we feel so strongly about it is because we hear so many songs, each and every day, that are monotonous and sound exactly the same from start to finish. I am not sure why this has become such a trend, but PLEASE STOP 🙂
Please don’t waste your passion and talent writing and recording “boring songs” that the listener is going to forget as soon as they hit the skip button.
Once again, we think it is important to listen to your music from the listener’s perspective from time to time. Do you enjoy listening to music that has little or no variety, the volume never changes, the pacing is always the same and the vocals have no energy or emotion? Maybe you do and that’s ok. Go for it! However, if you don’t, then it’s important to realize that many people will not either. We realize we are giving our opinion and this may rub some people the wrong way, but we feel strongly about it because we see so much untapped potential out there. Everyday we listen to multiple songs that have so much potential, the musicianship is there, the vocals are there, there is real talent. However, the song itself never does anything and in the end either puts us to sleep or is immediately forgettable.
Remember what we said in the beginning of this article? It is a competitive market and EVERYONE is trying to do what you are trying to do. One good question is this, “is there anything about your song that the listener will remember it for”? We have all heard Simon Cowell say something like this. “It is forgettable” or “I will remember that.” It is an important thing to consider when you are writing, recording, producing and doing anything regarding your music. Sometimes self-reflection can be helpful, so here is a good question to ask yourself. “Why should anyone listen to my song over all the other songs out there?”
Everyday we listen to multiple songs that have so much potential, the musicianship is there, the vocals are there, there is real talent. However, the song itself never does anything and in the end either puts us to sleep or is immediately forgettable.
Let me share an insight you probably don’t hear very often. For me personally, when I hear a simple song sung well, performed well musically, that has some sort of hook to it no matter how simple, I GET EXCITED. Why? It is rare. It really is. Out of all the music we listen to, thousands of songs each month, there are only a handful that really stand out and we remember. These are not usually because they are different and unique, although that is sometimes the case. It is more often because they are simply good. They are well done and the song “does something.“ Please don’t waste your passion and talent writing and recording “boring songs” that the listener is going to forget as soon as they hit the skip button. You work too hard for that and deserve more than that. Give us a little piece of you, give us your heart and passion and energy and talent. Tell us your story, help us get to know you. Share something with us that we can all relate to. Give us your best and give us a reason to listen.
We believe in you and are pulling for you! We are not trying to discourage you from being yourself. No! We are simply trying to challenge and encourage you to be the very best YOU that YOU can be. We know you can do it.
7. Add a Press Page to Your Website
I don’t think I have ever seen anyone offer this tip so I may be giving you “insider” information here. First, if you don’t have a website, you need to get one up and running as soon as you can. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just clear and informational. It is a home base for people to find you, find out what your up to, discover your music and get pointed to all your socials. One page that you can add to your site is a “Press” page. This is a section of your site where you can highlight articles or press that has talked about you and your music. This often is in the form of a quote and then a link back to the site that talked about you.
If you are a good fit and at the same quality level as what they are already posting, you have a great chance at snagging some exposure
Here is the big secret. Blogs like ours desperately need those links pointing back to their site. They are called back links and are something that Google uses in ranking content in their search results. You may not realize it, but you have something important to offer sites like ours, in addition to your great music. One strategy is to reach out to sites that promote music like yours and let them know that you have a press page on your site. Ask them to listen to your music and consider it for a review or feature. Let them know that you would gladly post about their feature on your press page and provide a link pointing back to their site. This could be more powerful than you know.
There are few things to remember when doing this. First, they are most likely not going to feature you if your song is not a good fit for their site regardless. Therefore, be sure and do your homework and only reach out to sites that are a good fit for your music. Consider things like genre, style, discovered vs undiscovered, format, etc. If you are a good fit and at the same quality level as what they are already posting, you have a great chance at snagging some exposure. Secondly, anytime contacting a music site, remember how busy they are and how many people are reaching out to them. Your email will be one of hundreds so be patient and humble. You will likely not get a reply in many cases. That’s OK, just move on and keep trying.
We could give more tips and insights and we may do that in the future. If you found anything in this post helpful we would love to hear from you in the comments below. We would also love to hear your ideas and tips as they may, in turn, help someone else.
I want to close with a word of encouragement. The reason for sharing about things that I see on a daily basis is to try and give you some tips so you can gain from a non-artist perspective. I in no way want to discourage you from being you, from being different or exploring your originality. I simply want to offer ideas to consider, given the crowded market you are trying to make a name in. The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of talented artists trying to get their music heard. That is just the reality of the world in which we live. Having said that, it is a great time to be a musician and a great time to chase your dreams.
We believe in you and want to encourage you to keep going. Work at it each day, be realistic, set goals and keep going. We are for you and rooting for you each step of the way.
If you would like honest and thorough feedback on one of your songs you can submit it to us here. There is a small fee that helps us to keep our site going. This method guarantees that we will listen to your song, (usually more than once) and give it serious consideration, it does NOT guarantee a placement or feature. For more information about submitting your music to our site check out this link.
We truly wish you the best!
– Wade / NEM