Music promotion strategies (try 'em… they're free!)

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While independent music artists typically have passion, creativity, and dedication going for them, what they don't tend to have is a large marketing budget. This can make music promotion a real challenge. Without adequate promotion, turning a profit is difficult, which means the budget never grows.

To avoid getting caught in this cycle of limitations, artists trying to gain a foothold in the music business need to take advantage of methods of free music promotion, and you can start with the strategies in this post.

Interact on social media

Having an active – and interactive – social media presence is essential for the success of any artist. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. and spend time studying the best ways to promote yourself on each of these networks.

It's recommended to avoid obvious self-promotion: a better way to draw attention to yourself is through interaction and posting interesting, useful content. Follow the “one in seven” rule when promoting your music on social media: post only one obviously self-promotional piece per every seven posts.

Make promotional trades

Once you've established a social media presence, connect with other creative professionals – musicians, photographers, authors, artists – and offer to trade social media promotions: you promote their work in return for their promoting your music.

Use BandsInTown

The BandsInTown app is a great way to promote your music and shows – and you can install it on Facebook so you can display all of your upcoming gigs to everyone visiting your artist page.

Host a virtual concert

StageIt allows musicians to hold concerts from wherever they wish through the use of video conferencing technology, all at no charge to the artist. You decide how much you want to charge your viewers, and they can watch and interact with you as you perform.

Use images to promote your music

If you're only posting promotional text links to your songs on social media, you're not making the most of the opportunity. Research shows that adding an image to your social media posts significantly increases audience engagement. On Facebook alone, posts with images accounted for a staggering 87% of all shared content. It's important to place an image above your song link when you post on social media: it's like putting up a poster to get your band noticed.

Offer incentives

The art of using incentivizes has been a favorite of marketers thanks to their ability to generate fast, wide-spread engagement. The technique can also work well for musicians looking to get their work distributed. Try offering something for free (e.g. a song download) in return for things such as “likes” on your Facebook page and retweets.

Join online forums

Online discussion forums are typically ignored in favor of social media when it comes to self-promotion, but to completely neglect these platforms is short-sighted. Not only do forums allow users to include a link to their websites in their signatures, discussion forums provide an opportunity to network with fans, other artists, and industry professionals.

As useful as these tactics are, they're truly only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creative, unconventional ways to promote your music, both on and offline. Don't be afraid to experiment when it comes to spreading the word about your band. Creative, free music promotion can be just as effective as your musical creativity when it comes to success as an independent musician.

John Morabito is a blogger, musician, and contributing author at Rivington Music, where he supplies the music blog with recording tips. When he’s not helping musicians be more productive and effective through marketing, life-hacking, and more, John can usually be found jamming at the Rivington rehearsals studio or exploring his hometown of NYC.