Music Industry

Music Marketing for Independent Musicians: The 2024 Guide

28 May 2024 by Gaetano
music marketing complete guide

What is Music Marketing? 

At the most basic level, music marketing is the process of reaching new fans and distributing and selling your music. This includes everything from your brand reputation and positioning to creating content, building an email list, and engaging with fans on social media platforms. 

While we’ll mainly focus on online music marketing strategy and tactics, there are many offline activities you can do to grow your fan base and make more money, too. 

Regardless of the type of music you create and whether you rely more on online or offline marketing campaigns, there are four keys to a great music marketing strategy. 


Branding includes everything from your reputation to your unique artistic style and identity. 

Here are some branding tactics: 

  • Create your own distinct visual identity. From Prince’s gloves to Sia’s wig (to cover her face), most iconic artists have embraced unique fashion or style choices. That’s no coincidence, as it is all part of creating a memorable brand. 
  • Be consistent. Use the same logo, color scheme, style choices, etc., to make it easy for your music fans to recognize, remember, and connect with you. 
  • Live your brand values. Just as you should maintain a consistent brand design, you should also be consistent with the values you want to portray. This builds loyalty. 
  • Build a strong online presence. The vast majority of fans discover new music online, except maybe The Amish. If you aren’t maintaining a strong presence on your website, social media accounts, and Spotify, you are likely missing out on a lot of fans and revenue. 

Independent artist's Instagram account example



If you want to be a professional musician, you need a product(s) to make a living. Fortunately, there are more opportunities than ever to make money from your music, such as:

  • Your songs / albums
  • DJ sets / Gigs
  • Licensing 
  • Merchandise 
  • Record production 
  • Streaming (Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, etc)
  • Session Musician 

Music Promotion 

The third element of your music marketing strategy is promotion or all the ways that you will create demand. 

For instance, here are some promotion tactics that you can use: 

  • Release new music regularly. It takes an average of 32 songs before a new artist gets noticed. And even if you have a loyal, growing fan base, you still need to keep up with new releases on a regular basis to stay top of mind. 
  • Post on social media. From TikTok to Instagram and Twitter, you can use social media to share what you are up to as well as build relationships with fans. 

Musician's Twitter account example

  • Do content collabs. It is no coincidence that some of the biggest hip hop, country, and pop artists of the last few years blew up because of content collaborations or TikTok challenges. These collabs increase your reach. 
  • Build an email list. This is one of the most effective ways to deepen your relationship with your fans and earn money. 
  • Get on all of the streaming platforms. From Spotify and Apple Music to Amazon Music and Vevo, the key is to be everywhere that your music fans are. 
  • Perform live. Performing live is a great way to promote your music and build a strong fan base. This may involve touring, performing at local venues, doing live streams, or participating in festivals and other events.

Fan Relations

The fourth and final element of your music marketing strategy is fan relations. Or how you build, nurture, and retain fans. Many new musicians think you have to go viral over and over again in order to make a living. However, the reality is you really only need to cultivate 1,000 true fans in order to make it. Promoting your music can also help build relationships, including posting on social media, performing live, and sending regular emails to your email list.

Some additional marketing tactics you can use, include: 

  • Provide exclusive content and experiences. Whether it is a behind-the-scenes tour to exclusive VIP merchandise, there is no shortage of ways to promote exclusivity. Exclusivity helps build a strong and loyal fan base. 
  • Host meet-and-greets. Hosting events where your superfans can meet and interact with you can be a great way to build relationships and connect with fans on a personal level.
  • Create a private membership or online community. This is where superfans can interact with you and each other. 

Components of a Successful Marketing Plan

In order to earn money and make it in the music business, you need to market yourself. Here is how to create a dynamic marketing plan. 

Select the right category 

You need to build an audience if you want to make it. The fastest way to fail at building an audience is by trying to be for everyone. Now is not the time to be a generalist or a crossover artist.

Instead, choose a niche and stay in your lane. (Note: You can always expand outside of your niche once you are making $$$.) 

Contrary to popular belief, niching down to the smallest viable audience will help you stand out, create a unique brand, and build a loyal fan base. All of which makes it easier to make money. 

Know your audience 

Once you’ve chosen your niche, you need to study and understand your audience. Get to know everything you can about them, including: 

  • Audience demographics (i.e. Age, gender, location, income level, etc.)  
  • Their values and beliefs
  • Music preferences, including other independent artists they listen to and shows they attend 
  • How they discover music 
  • Where they hang out online 

The more you know about your audience, the more informed decisions you can make about where and how to get in front of them. 

Create your content flywheel 

The best musicians have one thing in common. They have found a way to create a content flywheel by consistently creating and distributing new content for their music fans.

It is important to lean into your strengths when building your content flywheel. While there are endless strategies and tactics you can use to build it, the one that every single new artist should do is publish new music regularly.

Here are some additional marketing channels you can use in your flywheel. 

  • Youtube 
  • TikTok
  • Instagram 
  • Facebook 
  • Twitter
  • Spotify playlists 
  • Email marketing 
  • Content marketing / SEO  
  • Content collabs 
  • Brand partnerships 
  • Live shows 
  • Live streaming 

As a new artist, trying to be everyone is a recipe for mediocrity. We recommend choosing 1-3 marketing channels to focus on initially. Then, analyze the results after 3 months. If it is working, build a repeatable system and process to keep it going. And then, rinse and repeat to add on additional marketing channels for your flywheel.  

However, one marketing channel that’s working particularly well for independent artists these days is TikTok. 10-15 years ago, most new musicians had the best chance of getting discovered on YouTube. These days, that opportunity has shifted to TikTok. Artists like Doja Cat, Dixie D’Amelio, Nessa Barrett, Addison Rae, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, JoJo Siwa, DaBaby, H.E.R. Walker Hayes, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Nas X, and Foushee all got discovered or rapidly grew their fanbase through TikTok. 

Engage with fans on social media 

The reason why Foushee and so many others rose to fame on TikTok is that they were not only great at creating content but also engaging with their fans. 

Here are some social media content ideas you can use: 

  • Do Q&A sessions. Get questions from your fans on Instagram and TikTok. Then answer them live.   
  • Share behind the scene live content. Fans love to see what it takes to produce a song. So, do a live stream while you are making beats or in the studio. 
  • Give fans a sneak peek of new stuff.  This can include everything from tour updates to music video teasers and new releases. 
  • Run experiments and ask for feedback. Test new content ideas across your social media accounts. 
  • Do content collabs with other artists. This is particularly useful if you do a collab with another artist that your fans like. 
  • Share recap videos. This is especially important for discoverability and get new fans. 
  • Personal stories. Share your life outside of your music. This makes you more relatable and likable. 

Market your music through Spotify playlists  

With 433 million users, Spotify is the leading music streaming service.

At the bare minimum, you should do the following: 

  • Claim your artist profile on Spotify. This allows you to add your bio, music, and social media links. It also ensures that no one is squatting on your profile (i.e. reputation management) 
  • Submit your music to relevant Spotify Playlists. Submitting your music to relevant Spotify playlists can help to increase your visibility and reach a larger audience.
  • Use pre-save campaigns. Pre-save campaigns allow fans to save your music to their library before it is released, which can help to build anticipation and drive streams.

Now, there are a lot of promotion techniques you can use to dive deeper into Spotify marketing.

To get started, we recommend watching this Spotify marketing masterclass from the Spotify team.

In addition, you can see results with as little as $500. Here is how one Spotify artist spent $500 to successfully market his brand. 

Build relationships with TikTok influencers 

From paying influencers to promote your song to doing content collabs, including TikTok challenges, this can be a smart tactic to increase brand awareness and gain more fans. 

In fact, TikTok challenges, a trend that involves creating a specific type of content (like a dance) and then inviting others to participate by creating and sharing their own version of the content with the designated hashtag, is how many big-name artists rose to fame, including Lil Nas X. 

Deepen your relationship with fans with email marketing 

Social media, YouTube, and SEO are great for discoverability. However, they are rented platforms with algorithms. The algorithms control what people see.

Email, on the other hand, is a digital marketing channel that you have control over. This means you can directly communicate and build deeper relationships with your fans. So you can promote your music and events. 

It also means you can gain valuable data and feedback about your audience, which can, in turn, inform future marketing efforts. 

If you are new to email marketing, we recommend using a relatively cheap and easy-to-use marketing tool like ConvertKit or Mailchimp. Both have limited freemium versions.  

As you get in the habit of sending regular email updates to your list, this is a great way to stay top of mind. So when you do have something to sell, more people will buy it. That’s exactly how one rapper made over $1M selling beats.

Turn your website into your hub

Another owned channel is your website. This is your central hub where people can learn more about you. 

These days, there is no shortage of DIY website builders, like Linktree, SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly, and WordPress, that you can use to create a basic website in a matter of a few hours. 

Here is why every single artist should have a website. 

  • Establish your brand presence. It is your central hub. Enough said. 
  • Showcase all of your music and products in one place. When someone clicks on the link in your bio after seeing one of your Instagram posts, redirecting them to your website is an easy way for them to browse your music. 
  • Sell music and merchandise. The people who land on your website are the most likely to be your biggest fans. These are also the people who will spend money. Selling through your website is cheaper (fewer fees) than through a middleman like Amazon. 
  • Drive people to your newsletter. Add a lead magnet to drive more people to opt into your email list.  
  • Share tour and event information. Again this is where you can communicate what you are up to and share relevant tour dates.
  • Make it easy for media, sponsors, and other artists to contact you. From content collabs to sponsorships and media features, you want to make it easy for those folks to get in touch. 

Just remember having a website is your first step. But, it is not enough in the early days. 

Create your electronic press kit 

An electronic press kit (EPK) is a digital media kit that you can use to promote your music to media outlets, booking agents, brands (for sponsorships), and other industry professionals. 

This can lead to more opportunities while saving you time and money. 

Here is a basic guide for how to create your EPK:

  • Gather your materials. An EPK should include your bio, press photos, music, videos, and/or tour dates. 
  • Choose a platform for your EPK. Many new artists just create a PDF. However, you may want to use one of the online press kit builders that have popped up in recent years. 
    Include your contact information. Make it easy for journalists, booking agents, brands, and other influencers to contact you by including your email address, phone number, social media profile links, etc.  
  • Edit your EPK. Proofread your bio, check your tour dates, and ensure that your music and videos are high-quality.

Once you have an EPK, it’s up to you to take action. Here are some ways to get more attention and reach new audiences. 

  • Pitch and do podcast interviews
  • Pitch your music to journalists
  • Pitch and book live shows 
  • Ask upcoming DJs to remix your songs
  • Collaborate with other musicians who have a following
  • Network at events and know when to shoot your shot

Ways to Monetize Your Music Career (to Help Pay for Marketing Costs) 

Even if you are hustling and following all of the advice in this guide, it takes time to get noticed and start bringing in money. Chances are, you have bills to pay and marketing costs to cover. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to make money outside of selling more music or albums. 

Here are some examples of additional revenue streams:

  • Royalties. Music licensing is where you are getting paid every time someone uses your music / IP. There are different types of royalties, but the most common are performance and synchronization royalties, where you are getting paid when a brand uses your music in a commercial, TV show, or movie. 
  • Brand partnerships & sponsorship deals. If you have a large following on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube, you can monetize your audience through brand deals. You just want to make sure you vet any brands that you promote closely to ensure they are a good match.  
  • Advertising revenue. You can also sell ads on your website, email list, etc. 
  • Selling merchandise. Superfans love merch. Creating cool branded t-shirts, accessories, and gear can be a way to make more money and increase word of mouth.   
  • Live shows and ticket sales. Performing live is another way to make money.
    Work with music producers. You can make decent money as a session musician. 
  • Start a Patreon. If you have a lot of superfans but don’t want to get into physical merch, starting a Patreon or paid membership can be a lucrative strategy.  

And if you want to diversify outside of selling your own music, here are three additional monetization strategies. 

  • Earn affiliate revenue by doing music production tutorials on YouTube and plugging in product placements
  • Teach other musicians the art of songwriting or music production – create online courses
  • Get sponsored by audio production companies, instrument makers, software, and plugin makers

Beware of Music Industry Scammers

Unfortunately, there are a lot of music scammers who prey on new unsigned artists with get-rich-quick schemes and other offers to make it big. 

99.9% of these schemes are scams.

Here are the most common scams you may run into:  

  • Pay to perform  (like this Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes Scam
  • Pay to open up for a major artist 
  • The ex-big-wig 
  • Online services 
  • Paying for feedback 

The best thing you can do as an independent artist is set realistic goals and expectations for yourself. It takes time to get noticed and signed by a record label. That’s why it is important to pace yourself, be true to your values, and have fun along the way. When you do all of this, you are going to enjoy the journey more and be far less likely to fall for scams.

Gaetano is a Miami, FL 🌴 based songwriter, music producer and growth marketer. As he grinds through the music industry, Gaetano is documenting his experiences and sharing his story through his brutally honest articles.

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