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Soundcloud

Simple ways to promote your music on Soundcloud

Soundcloud

With over 175 million monthly listeners, Soundcloud is one of the most important sites that you can use to attract new fans to your music project. But how do you locate the ears of listeners and convince them to follow you? In this post we provide a few tips.

1. Make sure your Soundcloud content sounds great

An obvious point perhaps, but the music you upload to Soundcloud should sound as good as possible. Ok, fair enough, a lot of people use Soundcloud to showcase demos and alternative mixes of tracks with a view to getting feedback on work in progress, but the point is that whatever condition your track is in production values wise, there has to be something great about it – or it’s not going to attract attention, likes or shares. Posting demos is fine – so long as the tunes are good.

2.Make sure your SoundCLOUD content looks great

Many artists think it’s enough to upload a song or two to their Soundcloud profile and leave it at that, but don't neglect the visuals:

  • Use strong 500px x 500px artwork or photographs to accompany tracks
  • Include information about the band and relevant website info in track descriptions.
  • Make sure you use the space provided on your profile page to provide a biog plus links to your social media presences and official website.

3. Use tags

Ensure your content is tagged well. Tag your songs with any genre name that is relevant to your track; include similar artist names too (i.e., if you have a track that sounds like Frank Zappa, tag it as Frank Zappa). This is vital for ensuring that your music gets discovered via search.

4. Embed

If you’re providing audio streams on your website, use Soundcloud to embed your tracks (rather than using any built-in streaming tools or widgets). This immediately lets any site visitors know that you are on Soundcloud, allows them to follow you and provides you with the opportunity to get more plays. Furthermore, if you are sending your music to blogs and music sites, consider asking their owners to embed your tracks directly on their sites (i.e., rather than referring people to your website to listen) as this can greatly increase the number of plays you receive, and the visibility of your Soundcloud content in general.

5. Engage

Don’t just upload your music to Soundcloud and wait for people to discover it: it’s not quite as simple as an ‘if you build it they will come’ scenario. You’ll need to make yourself more visible to Soundcloud users in a more proactive way: by listening to other users’ tracks; commenting; and resharing them. Avoid doing this in a spammy way – if you’re sincere about things, you’ll have a much better shot of other users checking you and your content out (and sharing it with others).

6. Add a Soundcloud icon to your site

It’s quite common for bands to include cute little icons with links to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages on their websites…only to forget to include one for Soundcloud. Make sure you make your Soundcloud icons as visible as all the others – given that you are a musician and Soundcloud is specifically about music sharing, it’s potentially a more valuable use of your website’s “real estate” than other social media icons.

7. Use groups

Soundcloud groups offer you a way to share music with like-minded creators / listeners. Locate groups that might dig what you do, then post tracks to them (you can also create your own groups). It’s very important that you post to groups in a respectful, non-spammy way, and ask for genuine feedback. If your music is appreciated, it will attract reposts, which will obviously help generate more exposure for and plays of your music.

8. Repost other music

Don’t just focus on promoting your music on Soundcloud – promote other artists’ music too: in effect, become a curator of musical content. If you are regularly posting interesting tracks to a growing audience, you have the potential to be a ‘tastemaker’ of sorts, with an audience that may therefore be more receptive to any of your own original music that you share.

9. Reply to comments

If people comment on your music, reply to them: this can foster a good relationship between you and people who like your music and this conversational approach may ‘convert’ somebody who commented on one of your songs to becoming a follower.

10. Be an active user

Whether you’re posting your own music, reposting somebody else’s or commenting on tracks you like, try to do it regularly. This increases your visibility as a Soundcloud contributer, makes you more noticeable and increases the chances of people listening to your music and following you.

11. Use Spotlight

If you’re on a Pro Plan, use Spotlight to pin up to five of your best tracks to the top of your profile. This ensures that you’re showcasing your best material to Soundcloud users, and potentially increasing the number of followers.

 

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Managing your online reputation

Online reputation - a star rating

If you read The Prescription religiously – and there are worse things to read religiously incidentally; try a Jilly Cooper novel; a Melanie Phillips column; or that bit in the Old Testament where Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt – then you’ve probably picked up on the fact that a hell of a lot of my advice to you young musical upstarts involves the internet. And this, quite simply, is because the internet is now the fulcrum point around which the music industry is turning; the current rumours that the major labels are to abandon the CD in 2012 in favour of selling files only underline this point.

The net gives most independent musicians something that they otherwise really would not have had – the opportunity to have their music heard by a large number of strangers (this was previously largely the preserve of signed acts). But it does something else too: it allows musicians to communicate directly with these strangers in rather sophisticated ways, through all manner of powerful tools: social networks, live video streaming services, email, the good old-fashioned website...the list goes on. This means that not only can strangers judge your music, they can judge you ­­and form an opinion on how hip / sexy / annoying you are (delete as appropriate). And sadly, with the music industry being what it is, it’s often (perhaps usually!) the latter judgment that is of most importance to your career prospects. So getting your online reputation right is really important. Besides which, your online reputation is probably the only reputation you have. Sorry to be a bit downbeat about things, but the chances are that if you are reading this article, rather than sunning yourself in Barbados, then you are part of that non-exclusive club of musicians who are getting no press or airplay whatsoever and have turned to the internet in a desperate bid to compensate for the lack of general attention from the media. Understandable enough – but too often, musicians use the only tool available to them to come across as complete idiots.

Now, I have an admission to make: I’ve been a bit rubbish at managing my online reputation in the past. There are several traps that I’ve fallen into, possibly with the result that the music world thinks I’m an irritating Irish man who posts status updates way too often, and usually about his cat. I’m sure that as a result of my poor use of social media and email, there is a large section of the population that finds me more objectionable than Frankie Cocozza (who, incidentally, now has 331,000 people following him on Twitter; how did that happen?). Anyway, as it seems to be my role in life right now to let other musicians learn from my mistakes, in this article I thought I’d share some do’s and don’ts about managing your reputation online, so that you can avoid ending up as unhip as me.

1. Think about who you want to be online

Before you go near a computer, think about who you want to be online. Are you Jarvis Cocker or Cheryl Cole? Or the bastard lovechild of both? It’s very easy to set up a Wordpress site, a Facebook page or a Twitter feed, but whatever online tools you use to create your online presence, it should absolutely embody the kind of artist you want to present yourself as. Too many musicians just set up an online presence because they can, but really, you should only put anything up online once you have a very clear idea of who you want to present yourself as, and how you want to communicate. Just as you would not create a CD cover without thinking of the kind of music that’s on your album, you should not create a Twitter page only to use one of their default backgrounds and their standard egg-like profile picture. Your choice of photography, design elements and your tone of voice  online are going to define your reputation on the web; get these wrong and you’re off to a really crap start.

2. Don’t overcommunicate

Social media makes it hideously easy to share your thoughts. In ‘real’ life I generally try to avoid articulating every thought I have, as they’d probably get me arrested or at the very least lead to some very embarrassing moments, but Facebook and Twitter seem to scream ‘Go on! Say it! Share it with the world!’. And a hell of a lot of bands seem to take Facebook and Twitter up on this offer, posting boring inanity after inanity (or in my case, lots of fairly non-rock-and-roll trivia about my cat Millie, who is a rather extraordinary black and white creature with a big tail…hang on, I’m doing it again). Anyway, what I’m getting at is most people aren’t interested in reading the drummer’s innermost thoughts on cheese every five minutes, so be careful not to overdo it in the tweeting and status update stakes. The same goes for email – do not send an e-newsletter every day to your hard-earned mailing list informing them what you’ve had for breakfast, unless you particularly enjoy seeing your unsubscribe rate treble.

3. Don’t undercommunicate

Just as it’s easy to overdo it, it’s easy to underdo it – some musicians are loathe to use social media at all. Sometimes it’s because they are too ‘old school’; sometimes it’s because they don’t understand its relevance or importance; sometimes it’s because they think their music is so good that a big, fat record deal will come along without any online effort on their part whatsoever. Whatever an artist’s reason for not taking online communications seriously, it’s a big mistake. You absolutely need to keep any social media profile, blog or site you run up-to-date with interesting content: for A&Rs, journalists, DJs and even those boring, normal people who may be inclined to check you out, these are generally the first port of call – and if it looks as though your online presence consists of an out-of-date Facebook profile with 10 fans (11 counting your mum), they’ll quickly draw the conclusion that you generally don’t give a shit. And consequently, neither will they.

4. Don’t spread yourself too thin

There are so many free online music services available to bands that it’s tempting to feel that your band has to have a profile on absolutely every single one of them. Or that if your band does, it will somehow become more successful. But it’s much better to focus on a few key areas rather than setting up 20 different profiles which you never update. Pick 2 or three profiles, and use them well; ensure they are well-promoted and always packed full of interesting content. Personally, these days I’m mainly concerned about Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud, but whatever tools you use, use them wisely, give them love, and keep the content fresh.

5. Don’t go on about your band all the time

Yes, you are primarily setting up social media profiles, websites and so on with a view to promoting your band’s music; and yes, the people who follow you will in theory like the racket you make. But even if your devoted fans think you’re the greatest artist since Daniel Bedingfield [we need a word - Editor], the chances are that your music is only going to form a small part of their lives (unless you’re dealing with the weird stalker type – I’ve had a few American fans which I’ve filed under that category, and I’ll fess up to being slightly proud about that). In short, your followers will not want to only ever receive updates about your latest album; they’re real human beings with interests outside of your music and will find you more engaging if you talk about stuff that relates to aspects of their lives. That could be topics like other artists’ music; politics (although be careful there); art; leather pants – whatever. But nobody likes a self-promoting bore – and as somebody who considers himself something of a self-promoting bore, I can tell you that for nothing. You will lose friends and alienate people if you only ever talk about your own music.

6. Remember your production values

The digital revolution hasn’t just made it easy for people to set up a Facebook page; it’s made it infinitely easier than it was even 5 years ago to create astonishingly professional-looking videos and photos, and fantastically well-produced music. Consequently, there is now a very high level of expectation from music fans regarding the kind of production values they encounter from an unsigned or indie band. OK, so you may want to be deliberately lo-fi, which is fine when done well. But in general, don’t post tracks that sound like they were recorded in a toilet, videos that were recorded on a phone, and photos that were shot by your Aunty Mavis on a family holiday in Torquay (unless she’s a great rock photographer). They just make you look crap.

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