Won't Miss 2020

The Best Way to Promote Music in 2020

Over the past few months, I’ve received a handful of emails asking me the same impossible question:

“I love the blog, I’ve read all your articles, you’ve given me so many things to try… but if you had to pick just one, what’s the best way to promote music?”

I bet you know the answer. Say it with me:

It depends.

Are you just starting out, or are you an established artist? Are you trying to turn a profit, or just build awareness? Are you promoting a new record, planning a tour, building a social media following, or trying to blow up on Spotify? What’s your promotion budget? Do you even have a promotion budget?

I’ve done Skype consultations with a handful of artists, and while it’s nice to know that I could still earn a living if something happened to my hearing, my top priority right now is to make music.

So let’s answer that impossible question by exploring some of the resources I’ve written about that are still relevant in 2020. Next time someone asks, I’ll point them here.

Unless otherwise mentioned, all links direct to my articles on the subject.

Conquering Spotify

Let’s start with what most of you care about the most. For better or worse, these days it feels like an artist’s success or lack thereof boils down to one number: Spotify monthly listeners.

To nudge that number up in any meaningful way, you’ll almost certainly have to spend money, and it’s unlikely that you’ll make that money back in streaming royalties.

If you’re more interested in social proof than in making fans, Virtuoso can deliver big numbers fast, but like Cinderella’s carriage, they’ll disappear in a puff of smoke once your campaign ends.

Playlist Push can put your music in front of an extraordinary number of playlist curators, but there’s no guarantee that any of them will add your track. I suggest testing the waters with curators on SubmitHub first, where you can spend as much or as little as you’d like before deciding if a Playlist Push campaign makes sense.

Midnite Blaster offers a more personalized approach to playlist pitching. They’ll work with you towards whatever goals you have in mind. Historically they’ve specialized in EDM but they’re branching out to other genres (no hip hop yet).

Ideally you want to reach people who genuinely want to hear your music, on playlists alongside artists you’d like to see in your Fans Also Like. Therein lies your best chance at algorithmic success.

At the very least, the services I recommend here are safe and won’t jeopardize your Spotify standing like others that use bots might. Be especially wary of any service that promises to deliver followers.

Instead of, or in addition to, hiring a Spotify PR company to get you on playlists, you can reach music fans on Spotify’s free tier directly through Spotify Ad Studio.

Speaking of which, the nice folks at Spotify liked my article enough to fly me out to Brooklyn for an interview!

I first show up at 2:35, but don’t skip. It’s all good stuff.

Longtime readers of the blog will also recall that I spent $500 on a Deezer campaign, with promising short-term but nebulous long-term results. Until Deezer rolls out comprehensive artist analytics, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really want to target France.

Building relationships

To make any money, you don’t just need listeners, you need actual fans, and a cost-effective way to put offers in front of them.

You know what that means: a mailing list! I recommend starting with Mailchimp, which is free up to 2000 subscribers. Beyond that, the price ramps up fast, so I use FanBridge. Passive Promotion readers can get a free 60-day trial here (normally it’s 30 days).

Both allow you to set up a drip campaign, which is an automated series of emails sent to new subscribers. It’s a great way to introduce people to your world in measured doses.

Selling music is tough these days, though some genres still do well on Bandcamp. Bandcamp can also handle merch, or alternately, you could set up a Shopify store. I haven’t had much luck in the merch department, but then again, I don’t perform.

The best way to find potential new fans is through Facebook and/or Instagram ads. Both are managed through the same interface.

One approach is to use download gates to gather email addresses, as John Gold of Hypeddit details in his Fans on Demand Formula course. The same method can be used to build an audience on Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, and social media.

Another technique is detailed in the Fan Finder Method from Indepreneur, which I’m currently working through. Essentially you run a Video Views campaign to a handful of mutually exclusive audiences in order to optimize Facebook’s targeting, then create a lookalike audience from those who watch a certain percentage of the video.

When it comes time to ask those potential fans to listen to your music, I use a Feature.fm Smart Link, which offers deeper analytics than competing services. You can create custom links for each of your campaigns to A/B test, and even create a conversion campaign optimized for clickthroughs to Spotify.

An alternate way to jumpstart your fanbase is to run a contest like I did with Gleam.

Other resources

We could all use a little perspective on our music. I don’t know about you, but when I finish a new song I almost always feel like it’s my best work yet. A couple weeks later, I’m not sure if I even want to release it!

If you can stomach a hearty dose of brutal honesty, I recommend two resources:

Drooble Reviews tend to be supportive, as they’re written by other independent musicians. They often include detailed technical suggestions to improve your track, so I recommend submitting works-in-progress.

ReverbNation’s Crowd Review works best as a market research platform. You’ll receive some uneducated and even downright rude comments, but it’s an inexpensive way to see how your song stacks up against others on the platform, or to pick which track from an album to promote as a single.

At some point you’ll want to sign up with Songtrust to ensure you get all the royalties you’re due.

Don’t try this at home

I’ve told you what to do, so now I’ll tell you what not to do: banner ads.

Seriously, don’t waste your money on banner ads of any kind, including Promote on Soundcloud. They don’t work.

This may come as a surprise, but I wouldn’t recommend Patreon for most artists.

Yes, it’s been my primary focus for almost three years now, but it’s a ton of work. You may think “if only 1% of my Instagram followers became patrons” but they won’t. I’ve seen artists with hundreds of thousands of Spotify monthly listeners launch pages with patron counts in the single digits.

How many fans do you have that reliably buy everything you put out? Maybe half of them would support you on Patreon if your offer is compelling enough. Less than 100 patrons probably isn’t worth your time and energy to maintain.

Last but not least, how many times have you scrolled through Instagram or Facebook to see an ad from an artist you’ve never heard of, announcing their new release? And how many times have you clicked through to listen?

Don’t be that artist. If you’re going to run that sort of ad, restrict it to warm audiences only. Strangers don’t care.


So yeah, that’s a lot of stuff. While I haven’t tried everything, I’ve also tried plenty that wasn’t worth writing about. As always, I’ve got a bunch of experiments in the works, and I’m totally open to your ideas.

Lay your suggestions on me in the comments and I’ll try out anything that sounds promising!

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash


  1. You’re on a Spotify vid – yay! Thanks for consolidating everything in one article. Still a couple of methods in there I haven’t tried yet… Wishing you a musically successful 2020 and looking forward to your next insights.

    1. I still feel a little self-conscious about the video! I’m smiling so much because the interviewer was looking at me directly through the camera lens with a huge smile, and I couldn’t not respond in turn.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with the stuff you’ve tried!

    2. Brian, thanks for all the insight as I am struggling like many artist to maximise my return on my money spent. Its a sad state of airfairs when every musician I know has a day job so they can support their music careers. Have you tried sites like Jango? Which offers to put your music in front of listeners listening to bands you pick? Ive just started my 2nd 6 months and I’m hesitant to say if what they are reporting is really turning into more fans. Either way I would to hear your thoughts on Jango or service like them.
      Singer/Guitarist for VeiN

      1. Hey Hef!

        I’ve covered Jango aka Radio Airplay many times! Most recently here: http://passivepromotion.com/radio-airplay

        In fact, I even have an affiliate link that’ll give new signups 100 free spins: https://airplay.jango.com/music+promotion?source=Passive_Promotion&pc=100

        I may revisit once they launch the new features I’ve been told are coming soon. It’s definitely legit, though whether or not it’s your best option depends on your goals.

        If you just want people to hear your music, it’s totally viable. On the other hand, if you’re trying to grow your Spotify following, you’re not likely to find those folks on Jango.

    1. My understanding, mostly through Indepreneur, is that presaves don’t do much of anything, but a save during or after listening to the track is a positive signal that can boost your algorithmic playlist placement. Just theorizing here, but I’d think that getting saves on playlists with similar artists might signal that those artists are candidates for your Fans Also Like. There are bigger factors though, like relative popularity.

  2. As always, I so appreciate your sharing your wisdom with all of us. I can’t wait to test some or all the above, some time this year.

    One question, Brian — when you complete a new track that’s not yet part of an album, is it ever problematic later when you actually complete an album, to link all those previously released tracks to the album you just completed? Both in consumer platforms like Spotify, distributor platforms like DistroKid, and royalty tracking platforms like SoundExchange or SongTrust? (That wasn’t very well-articulated, but hopefully you know what I mean..! 🙂 )

    1. I know exactly what you mean Mike!

      You need to make sure the recording and ISRC are identical between the single and the album. Then Spotify will match them and you’ll see the stats aggregate in Spotify Artists.

      I released six singles before my last album, and I was able to pull all of them after the album release except two, which had a lower volume. I ended up assigning new ISRCs to those two and their stats started fresh. In the end I pulled their singles anyway, so a few minor playlist placements were lost.

  3. Hey Brian nice summary, have you reached any conclusions in relation to Instagram/FB ads to promote a new release what ARE good headlines, taglines etc? Assume the major goal is to get new listeners and then new fans etc

    1. Hey Ashley! I suggest using Dynamic Creative Ads to test out variations on headlines, calls to action, etc. Super handy! My main concern is that you advertise to a warm audience, like people who’ve engaged with your page in the last 90 days.

  4. Hi Brian, thanks for the nice collection of resources and to have told us your experiences. What do you think about Twitter? Can still be used – in your opinion – with some remarkable results in promoting music? All the best from Italy!

    1. I’m sure it can, but I’m so, so sick of it. Of all social media really. I’m really close to just leaving a note on my profiles saying “this is for announcements only – for the real scoop, sign up for email updates.”

      Even for posting announcements, I just try to get in and get out. It’s so easy to fall prey to distraction. Once you get involved in a conversation you want to check back again and again.

      For now I try to check Twitter and Facebook once a day at most, after 5 pm when I’m not so productive. I may dial that back further.

      While I see artists doing some amazing things on social media, I’m not sure it’s really necessary. Most of all, I just want to get things done this year.

  5. I know I don’t want to receive anything but important emails. I definitely don’t want anything from some band I happen to like. That’s what their Instagram feed is for. So we don’t ask for, keep, or send out emails about anything. That’s what our Instagram account is for. That may not be efficient but our first thought is, “Do no harm.” But maybe others feel differently.

    As you’ve alluded to previously, if you’re not a touring artist, Spotify is by far the biggest game in town for exposure. And Spotify playlists are the entry. The problem, as you know, is that the largest playlists, by far, are Spotify’s Algorithmic playlists and Editorial playlists – millions and millions of listeners. But a new act without any support from a recording label or publisher/promoter will face difficulties even being considered for the “secondary” – Branded and Personal – playlists that Spotify’s Algorithmic and Editorial playlists look to (in large part) for inclusion in their own playlists. And the vast majority of the Branded and Editorial playlists are populated by artists affiliated with recording labels and/or publishers/promoters. It does happen, but it’s pretty rare, for some completely independent artist to break through without an affiliation with a professional entity because… these entities – labels and publishers – know exactly how to stage a release for maximum effect on Spotify AND… they already have relationships with the Branded and Personal playlists. They’re like well-oiled machines that do this over and over and over. It’s rare for an independent artist to have the bandwith – and luck – to get this right. In addition, once acts have actually made it on the Algorithmic playlists… the algorithm starts looking for them in the future, so it gets easier moving forward. Which, of course, makes it harder for the acts that haven’t gotten on those playlists yet. So, unfortunately, it’s really a “momentum” game that most independent artists are incapable of executing.

    So, while the Age of Streaming has democratized the ability to distribute music, it’s still pretty much the same old story when it comes to having that music marketed and heard: professional entities drive the end results. An independent artist with zero affiliations faces a very steep climb. Sure, some folks climb Mount Everest… but as a percentage of all of the climbers out there, it’s a very small percentage.

    Personally, we’re going to seek out some small labels within our genre that might want to release and promote our music. We’ve had a couple of bits of unsolicited interest without trying yet, so I suspect we’ll find something acceptable, albeit modest. Going it alone just looks like a very low-percentage bet.

    1. I think you’re 100% wrong about email versus social media, but that could be its own post. Even if your maxim applied, it isn’t clear why cluttering up one’s social media feed is any better than cluttering up one’s inbox.

      While I agree that it’s difficult to impossible to get on editorial playlists, I don’t buy into your momentum hypothesis in regard to algorithmic playlists. My understanding is that any track with a sufficient base level of streams and strong enough positive signals (saves, skips, adds) could make it onto algorithmic playlists and grow from there.

      Looking at my last 28 days, I’ve got 1.3K streams on Your Daily Mix. Those streams came from 10 songs, 7 of them with single digit stream counts. The top song is the one with the highest save ratio. I’m sure if the lowest 7 songs were more compelling, their stream counts would be higher. I see no reason why a truly standout song couldn’t eventually reach a massive audience.

      I’ve had dozens of mastering clients sign with labels over the years, and they almost always regret it, saying that the label didn’t do anything for them that they couldn’t have done for themselves. It seems to me that you’re already way ahead of the promotion game relative to most small labels.

      1. I don’t claim to be an expert on social media but I’m certain of one thing: People don’t like to get anything but important emails in their inbox. And most folks don’t consider artists they like important enough to spam up their inbox. Yeah, folks get added to email lists, but… how many of them just end up quarantining them to their spam folder eventually? I suspect a lot. But, clearly not all. The nice thing about the Instagram feed is that most folks don’t really mind the clutter… that’s part and parcel of the feed – it’s generally not that important. But email inboxes… that’s a very different thing for most folks.

        Regarding labels vs. going it alone, a simple thought experiment: What percentage of artists that get regular additions to the Editorial and Algorithmic playlists are affiliated (or were previously affiliated) with a label/publisher/promoter vs. completely 100% independent (like yourself)? The former far, far outweigh the latter. And these folks aren’t all dummies. So, what does that say about the value of labels/publishers/promoters vs. going it totally alone? That’s a rhetorical question.

        1. Agree to disagree on email. I’ve got 6500 email subscribers, even after removing a few thousand who had low clickthrough rates. Believe me, I’ve never once sent them anything important! 🙂

          It seems crazy to me that some people want to hear from artists via SMS! I hate getting texts. But I’m told that’s where it’s headed.

          I fail to see the logic in your thought experiment. Of course artists with industry backing are more likely to get on playlists. They tend to produce better music than unknown indies. What matters is the music.

          By what mechanism do you think that signing with a small label will increase your chances of getting on editorial and algorithmic playlists? You’re still going to submit for editorial placement through Spotify for Artists, and the algorithm doesn’t care one way or the other.

          Btw it’s always great to hear from you David! I enjoy our discussions and appreciate your comments.

        2. For the issue under discussion there are two types of artists: Established and Non-established (new or unknown).

          You’re completely correct that an Established artist merely needs to post their song on Spotify and submit it and, since they have plenty of followers and saves and likes, etc… there’s a good chance that the Algorithmic and Editorial playlists will just pick it up automatically (as these are a FEW of the things – and important ones – that the Algorithmic and Editorial playlists look for). And, in all likelihood, since the artist is established, the song will be picked up by Branded and Personal playlists as well. Easy peasy.

          BUT… if you’re NOT an Established artist (that is, new or just unknown), then you likely don’t have enough followers/saves/likes/etc to trigger the Algorithmic and Editorial playlists (or not in any meaningful way) and therefore… you’re likely going to reach those playlists by FIRST getting included on Branded and Personal playlists (that the Algorithmic and Editorial playlists are ALSO looking to for inclusion in their own playlists). And the BEST way to get on these “minor league” – for lack of a better term – Branded and Personal playlists – if you’re not already Established – is through an affiliation with an industry organization, whether it’s a label, publisher, promoter, etc. Because these folks have ongoing relationships (and name recognition) with the folks that curate the Branded and Personal playlists.

          There are MANY relatively small labels/organizations that have managed to break new artists (to a modest degree, not superstardom) by first leveraging their relationship with the Branded and Personal playlist curators. On the other hand, the vast majority of these organizations can’t really help an artist (to which you’ve alluded, which is correct). But… if you align yourself with an organization that has proven success in your genre with various artists, you’re odds of some modest level of success are MUCH greater than if you try to go it completely alone, where your odds are infintessimal. I personally know a guy that runs a small label that has had modest, albeit meaningful, success doing exactly what I’m talking about. But… this is not the norm. So, yes, of course, you need to be very careful regarding who you choose to deal with in this respect.

          The probability of failure is very high no matter what you do – regardless of your strategy, the quality of your song(s), your industry affiliations, connections, etc. All you’re trying to do is maximize your admittedly very low odds by making logical choices based on the underlying math regarding each option. And the math behind going it completely alone for an artist that is NOT already established is downright miserable.

          To paraphrase the film villain and dystopian philosopher Anton Chigur: “If the rules you have followed have brought you to this, of what use were the rules?”

        3. Apologies in advance for the brief reply! I don’t want to appear coarse, but I also don’t want the discussion to spin out of control.

          First off, I’ve already demonstrated that a NOT Established artist (yours truly) can trigger Algorithmic playlists.

          Secondly, I agree that there is a correlation between label affiliation and success, but that doesn’t establish causation. Are the playlist inclusions the result of something the label did, or the quality of music? You seem to be arguing the former, and I would argue the latter.

          You didn’t actually answer my earlier question: HOW is a label going to increase your odds? By association?

          Like I said, the algorithm doesn’t care, and you’re still going to submit to editorial playlists yourself through Spotify for Artists.

        4. Brian: “First off, I’ve already demonstrated that a NOT Established artist (yours truly) can trigger Algorithmic playlists.”

          Me: Yes, but clearly you’re not triggering any algorithmic playlists that are particularly helpful to you – you’re not getting many incremental streams from them.

          Brian: “Secondly, I agree that there is a correlation between label affiliation and success, but that doesn’t establish causation. Are the playlist inclusions the result of something the label did, or the quality of music? You seem to be arguing the former, and I would argue the latter.”

          Me: Then why bother with Payola? There’s no need. The cream naturally rises to the top, so there’s no need to pay those pesky DJs – the music always speaks for itself. I believe you’ve noted several times that there were great artists you’ve mixed/mastered that you knew were going to go nowhere. Most of my favorites never gained much popularity (although some have). I think a majority of the best quality music (however that’s defined) does make it to a label, but far, far from all of it. So, I’d say there is a mixture of both correlation AND causation. Great music (again, always subjectively defined) released in a vacuum will often go… nowhere. Mediocre music released with hype, money and expertise behind it will often go… somewhere. That seems completely self-evident, but maybe I’m missing something.

          Brian: “You didn’t actually answer my earlier question: HOW is a label going to increase your odds? By association?”

          Me: Actually, I did. In the 3rd and 4th paragraphs of my previous reply, specifically. Yes, by association. Many labels/publishers/promoters have established relationships with the curators of certain Branded and Personal playlists (they’re dealing with them all the time), so that when they alert these curators of a new release it won’t fall between the cracks with the other 99.9% of releases. They get picked up by these (human) playlists which (sometimes) subsequently triggers the Algorithmic and Editorial playlists upstream. Recall that the Algorithmic and Editorial playlists don’t ONLY look at raw streaming numbers – these algorithms are also trolling social media, blogs and review websites, etc etc. Most labels may in fact be useless in this exercise, but clearly not all of them are.

        5. Again, keeping this very brief.

          1. I’ve been on all the algorithmic playlists that I know of, with over 100K streams since 2015.

          2. You need to achieve a certain base number of streams before the algorithm can kick in, I’d guess at least in the thousands. You’ve set up a bit of a straw man for me that I’m not going to bother knocking down.

          3. I can’t name a single instance of the “success by association” you’re talking about. Does anyone at the small label you’re thinking of signing with have a relationship with a Spotify editorial curator?

        6. “I’ve been on all the algorithmic playlists that I know of, with over 100K streams since 2015.” After 25+ years and 10+ releases… 100K algorithmic streams over the previous five years. This is presented as support for your position. Ok.

          The friend referenced earlier has relationships with curators at Branded and Personal playlists, which has led to them being included on those playlists, which has SUBSEQUENTLY led to them triggering Editorial and Algorithmic playlists. One thing leads to the next thing, subsequently leading to the next thing. No one has relationships with Editorial and Algorithmic playlists… by definition – I’ve never suggested otherwise.

          Look, I love your site reviews – they’re Grade A. But clearly we hold different views on macro strategy, for lack of a better phrase, which is perfectly ok. Different strokes and all; there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You might, however, want to consider that after a long, long, long time at this, you’ve built up some confirmation biases to fit a narrative you want yourself to believe because you’re heavily invested in them. I’ve only been at this for 7 months, and me and my mates are pure hobbyists, but I expect to have built up some biases just a few years down the road. The principal questions to ask yourself are: Are you today where you thought you would be when you undertook this project 25 years ago? And if not, how far off are you? (We will surely be asking ourselves those very questions in a few years… although the bar is set so low that clearing it will be pretty easy.)

          Again, I return to Anton Chigur’s observation: “If the rules you have followed have brought you to this, of what use were the rules?”

        7. Again, I’m not going to take the bait and broaden the discussion to my entire career. To our previous point:

          I’ve asserted that an artist without a label can get on Algorithmic playlists, and shown that to be the case with my own music. Those 100K+ streams are all on releases from the last two years. “Since 2015” is the broadest window one can select in Spotify for Artists. If “Since 2018” were an option, the numbers would be the same. AFAIK, everything I’ve done prior to 2018 has no bearing on the Recommendation Engine.

          If you want to sign with a small label, sign with a small label. Just be aware of what they can do for you that you can’t do for yourself, if anything, and ask yourself if it’s really worth the additional layer of complication. If you want to get on blogs and playlists, you can contact the sites/curators yourself, use SubmitHub, and/or hire Spotify and/or traditional PR companies.

          You call it confirmation bias, I call it experience. In any case, I’m just offering my advice. You’re welcome to take it or leave it. I sincerely wish you the best in whatever path you pursue!

        8. Likewise, Brian! I will certainly report back with any notable successes or complete failures. Everything in between, after all… is pretty boring and not of much value.

  6. Hi there! Thank you for all this very helpful information.
    As an Artist that no one knows yet I was a bit confused about this contradiction(?):

    “The best way to find potential NEW fans is through Facebook and/or Instagram ads. Both are managed through the same interface.”


    “Last but not least, how many times have you scrolled through Instagram or Facebook to see an ad from an artist you’ve never heard of, announcing their new release? And how many times have you clicked through to listen?
    Don’t be that artist. If you’re going to run that sort of ad, restrict it to warm audiences only. Strangers don’t care.”

    I was pretty much convinced that ads can help in any stage if done right

    1. I can see how that might be confusing Roger!

      The idea is that some ads are suited for cold audiences, who have never heard of you, and some for warm, who you have some sort of relationship with.

      A new release announcement is appropriate for warm audiences only, hence my admonition not to be “that” artist that pitches their new release to strangers.

      1. I totally see what you mean. It makes sense that an ad saying “new release! Look at me! Yeah I know you don’t know me but please klick the ad!” is a waste of time and money. Let’s say I only want to target cold audiences.I will read all of your information anayway. Have you already covered that issue in depth somewhere on your site?

        1. I don’t think I have, but I’m currently in the process of testing out Indepreneur’s Fan Finder Method, which is exactly that. I’ll definitely write about it!

        2. That would be awesome! IThis is where a lot of DIY artists have a struggle I guess…

  7. Im a relatively new artist and make hip hop and rap music but make all sorts of genres, would you recommend a instagram ad that uses a hyper follow link that automatically makes people follow my spotify account and directs them to the song/album? Thank you

    1. I don’t use DistroKid so I haven’t tried HyperFollow, but I’m guessing it’ll require the user to grant permissions, which will scare most away.

      Sending people straight to Spotify isn’t ideal since you can’t track them and follow up. If you decide to do it anyway, you’re probably better off sending people to your profile or a playlist than a song.

      I’ve been experimenting with Instagram Stories ads to build my playlist, with my latest song in the top slot of course!

  8. Would you reccomend an instagram add for a single/album release? We are dropping a single May 1st. Also if you could send me your email and instagram we would be interested in paying for a shoutout if you like the song, thank you for your time.

    1. Since your release is a non-event to anyone who isn’t already familiar with you, I wouldn’t bother advertising it to cold audiences.

      I don’t do paid shoutouts (and my IG audience is small anyway), but influencer marketing is definitely worth pursuing. There are several influencers who might share your release that you can reach on SubmitHub!

  9. Hey Brian,
    Thanks for the insights! I was curious to look into Indepreneur but when I followed your affiliate link, it took me to a password required page. Is there a password we need to access it, or is the affiliate link expired?

  10. Hi Brian,

    Im trying to use your affiliate link for Indepreneur but its not working, do you have a new link?

  11. Hello everyone, have you ever heard of this service? soundcamps [dot] com it looks genuine… anyone sharing experience(s) with that service, would be appreciated, thanks – Nicola

    1. Looks like another Playlist Push or SubmitHub, but almost certainly with less curators. I bet a service based around a single genre of music could do well, or even a broad genre like electronic.

  12. I have not used Spotify for music promotion till now. I have joined Mixcloud and SoundCloud. After reading your post, I will also use this Spotify tips.

  13. Will we be getting an updated article for how to promote in 2021?! I really hope so, but I also know that since writing this piece you have become extremely busy!!! Thanks for all the info throughout the year and wishing you continued success for 2021.

    1. Thanks Paula! Actually, I wasn’t planning on it. Just brainstorming a bit as I type this, I’m coming up with a big “it depends.”

      My two big sales campaigns were predicated on having CDs, which I wouldn’t recommend for most artists. Beyond that, my Spotify growth has come from growing my own playlist, which is a ton of work!

      I’ve already got ideas for my next three posts, so I guess I just keep sharing what worked for me and let others pick and choose what’s appropriate for them.

      Thanks for the well-wishes, and right back at you!

  14. Hi, Brian. I am so happy to have found your articles on music promotion. Thank you! This is some of the most honest and useful advice I have come across. I am trying to help my daughter by being the “momager,” as we can’t really afford a real manager. I have a very specific question that I’m hoping you can help me with. She won the grand prize in folk in the first round of the 2020 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. We can discuss the pros and cons of entering contests, but in the end, she entered and she won. The winner of the second round was announced last week, and that person has about 20 years on my daughter, as well as two grammy nominations. That first round was judged by industry professionals, but in the next round, the two grand prize winners go head to head in a public online voting contest. We hate this shit. But the next round is back to the professionals, and in the end, someone’s song is awarded Song of the Year and $20,000 cash (which would be very helpful in paying for college). So…..my question this: What do you think would be the best way to engage an audience to vote for her song? Voting runs the entire month of April, and people can vote every day (hate this, too, of course). She re-released the song with a new video in January, and we currently have a YouTube ad campaign going for the video, which has led to a bunch of views but only one new subscriber so far (which is what we expected). She’s young and doesn’t have a strong following in IG or YouTube. Would an IG or Spotify ad be the way to go? Have the song playing in the background, with the text of the ad saying click on the image to vote? We know it’s a super long shot, but want to do what we can to promote an unrecognized artist in whatever way we can, and QUICKLY! Whatever we end up doing for promotion, regardless of the results of the contest, can’t hurt, right? Thanks for any advice you might be able to offer. I’m putting my name and email below, but my daughter’s website.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Lisa!

      You picked a good person to ask, because I was in the same boat. I won the grand prize in electronic in… 2008? Then I won the Lennon award by getting exponentially more votes than the other grand prize winner. It was “only” about $8500 in prizes though, no cash! I’m still using two of the prizes, a Roland FP-7 stage piano and Ableton Live, to this day.

      If memory serves, I sent out an email to my list explaining the situation and urging them to subscribe to daily reminders to vote for me. I’m assuming you have no such list.

      In your case, I wouldn’t bother trying to get strangers to vote. I’d enlist family and friends. The key for me was getting them not to vote just once, but to agree to have me nag them every day. I’m sure that’s what made the difference.

      Considering $20K is on the line, I’d even go so far as to talk to her principal and get the school on board. Make it a point of local pride.

      The award is really only as big of a deal as you make it, so squeeze every ounce out of it that you can!

  15. What???? How is it that I reached out to you and you entered the same contest and you won the grand prize, too, and that you won the second round as well? Maybe it means something…

    Thanks for the advice. We will concentrate on people we know, and people who know people we know. It’s just daunting being up against a Grammy nominee. Do you remember the person or band that you were up against?

    The second round isn’t for the $20,000, by the way. Same as it worked for you. If you win the Lennon Prize, then you compete against the other Lennon Prizewinners for Song of the Year. She already won some great gear when she got grand prize for the first session. So that’s very cool.

    Thanks, so much. I appreciate that you take the time to offer advice to artists who are just getting started.

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