HOW TO PROMOTE YOURSELF WITHOUT BEING THE USUAL SPAM
I’ll admit, I’m not famous, but I still know I have a great idea of how it’s done due to things I’ve tried (that have worked in a small scale) and things I’ve read and seen work. I just haven’t done it all yet, I’m working on it. I promise you this will all work to some degree. And remember, it takes work and time. You wont get popular without any effort (except rare occasions, see 1 and 2).
So you have a few options here:
1. Sit around waiting for fame: Very very unlikely this will ever happen, but hey, if you want to try it, be my guest.
2. Have a gimmick, then do 1: It’s how Rebecca Black got famous. She was a gimmick that the internet found and did all the work for her. So make a weird song on YouTube and wait. It’s still very unlikely, though. You can do it as a one-hit-wonder (example: Friday – Rebecca Black), or you can have a gimmick (example: Krispy Kreme). Keep in mind if this works, that’s it. You’re that guy forever. You don’t want to forever be “the guy who dubstep remixed that funny news clip”, you want to be more than that for the sake of longevity, respect, and sanity.
So I suggest you ignore 1 and 2 and do everything from 3 onward…
3. Remix a popular track: People love remixes and they love looking for remixes. Finding the right track can be tough because you want to work fast. You want to find a track that’s rising in popularity, something you know that is about to be big. That way, you’ll be the only remix since you remixed it when it wasn’t popular, and when it gets popular, everyone will look for it. When doing this, you’re competing with everyone else who’s trying to make it big, and sometimes big-time artists themselves. But you can always…
4. Remix a less popular track: There are artists out there who are just getting by who’d love to hear their track remixed. Their fans can transfer over by just them passing by your remix, or the artist themselves (often times) will promote it on their pages. A lot of starting out artists know how it is and want to help you out, too. Plus, you’re likely to get the stems or a capella’s you need to make that awesome track (just ask the artist).
5. Do gigs: This is a bit obvious. Learn to DJ and just do gigs. You can slip in some originals here and there, but give the crowd what they want. You don’t have to play at local clubs, find out if your friends or friend’s friends are having parties and do free gigs. Do it for free. Be down-to-earth about yourself, don’t act like you’re worth more than you are. Play as much as you can and get your name out there as much as you can. Have your DJ name sticker’d on your laptop, or wear a shirt with your name and links on it. It sounds tacky, but people will remember your name. Make sure they know it and become a local success.
6. Look like you have fans: Copy other popular artists. Not musically, but networking-wise. Make a Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube (YouTube especially, it’s one of the best ways to get views), everything you can. And look professional. Have a look/style to yourself. Release things as if they’re official releases. Talk like you’re big on Facebook “i.e. My next track is going to drop 2/5/12! Be ready!” When new listeners see this, they’ll start thinking you sound good, because you look like you sound good (you look like their favorite artists). Get graphic designer friends, or photographer friends to do shots of you.
7a. Give other people attention: This one’s tricky. It helps a lot. I’d say about half the time I comment on some other indie/starting-out artist’s track on Soundcloud, they comment on mine. When I follow other artists, they follow back. Participate in threads, help out other artists. The tricky thing is, you’ll gain producer fans. This can be good or bad, it’s good because you have people who’s opinions mean a bit more, but you also have the biggest critics as your fans. This is extremely common with starting out artists, your first few fans will be other artists. When the majority of your fans don’t make music themselves, you know you’ve hit it big.
7b. Make producer friends: Like I said, most of your starting out fans will be producers, but try to be good friends to them. Look at it this way, if one them gets famous, then they’ll more likely help you out. On a small scale, they might advertise your track on their Facebook, or on a bigger scale, they might put a good word out for you when their booking agent is looking for an opener for them at a successful venue.
8. Make quality work: Probably should of put this one higher, but I just remembered it. Make good music. When you do finally get that person to listen to your track, they want to hear quality. Make everything you put out professional sounding. Learn as much as you can, and try not to let your unfinished work get out on your Soundcloud or YouTube or anything. That stuff is okay when you have producer fans, but try to have a separation for that. Use Dropbox instead to show your WIP work to other producers and keep your Soundcloud looking presentable with nothing but quality to people who come by it (so they’ll stick around). Big artists don’t do this (exception: Deadmau5, but he’s already popular so he can get away with it, and even his WIP stuff still sounds great).
9. Be yourself: This is tricky, even though I said talk like the professionals, still try to be yourself. You’ll have to keep a balance. Your fans want to connect with you on a personal level. So talk to them, and don’t act like you’re signed to a label. When writing your profile, don’t do “DJ Fapsalot started producing house music at the age of 8”, no third person. Be real. “I’m a house producer on a mission to make your ears orgasm”. That’s better.
10. Give away everything for free: People like free MP3 downloads. They love the word “Free”. They love sharing music and passing tracks off to friends. So give your stuff away for free. Don’t act like you’re worth more than you are, I’m sorry, but with most starting out artists, their FL Studio self produced track is not worth $1, and their entire album is not worth $10. Why would a listener pay $10 for your album, when they can put that same $10 to a professional, quality sounding album? When you’ve done #8 and succeeded, then you can sell your album. One of the dumbest things starting out artists make is release albums for “$9.99” on Bandcamp. Never sell your music. At first, your only mission while starting out is to get your MP3’s spread around as much as you can. Also, don’t do x.99, it separates you from your audience as it looks like some company put that price tag up, not the artist themselves. People want to support you and give you money, not a company, so do “$10” if anything. But as a balance, you can do a “Pay What You Want, $0 Minimum” (Bandcamp supports this), some artist still pay for free music they like (I know I do).
13. Do contests: Look around for as many contests as you can. Contests hosted by big sites like Beatport can be tough as you’re competing with established artists. So look for smaller ones on YouTube or just Google around and use Google time filters to make sure your searches are current. Not even just remix contests, but if your school is having a talent show, join that. Borrow DJ equipment from a friend and make a mix of your tracks. Look around your community for every option you can to compete. They’re basically free advertisement whether you win or not. And if you win, you get prizes which is always great.
14. Socialize and expand your friends: This one is a bit indirect, but I’m sure you’ve had that friend who’s really popular, you look at his Facebook and he has 1000+ friends. Then he starts up his new photography page and bam, instant 100 likes. He already did all the pre-work, so you need to start doing it, too. Socialize more and expand your group of friends. You’ll gain potential fans, and potential people to work with; maybe even mentors and people who can help you out. You’ll meet other great artists you can work with in the weirdest places if you start slipping it into conversations. I’ve met one dude in the candy aisle of Walmart, and another in the computer lab at my college’s library. But the best places to meet other artists is (who’d of thought?) music stores. Hang out at music stores and socialize with other people, even the employees themselves, and exchange links. A lot of times the employees already are doing gigs and have a small name for themselves, so they’re great to befriend. They can help you out and provide information on breaking out locally.
Side note: Setting your “job” on your personal Facebook as your music page is great mini-advertisement.
Credit goes to reddit user Vamecx on the edmproduction subreddit