Your Music Is More Than a Stream

Tweet via @iamcartermoore

I get the above sentiment for bigger, more established acts. Hell, I see and work a lot of the press releases involved (see, Close Mondays), but I don’t play an active part in how that system works. A bit above my pay grade, actually!

But my guiding principle over the last 20+ years as been, “I just wanna help bands sell albums,” and really my heart is for the artists who are still honing their craft, while trying to pretend to be a social media and online marketing expert at the same time. It’s a tough gig.

That said, it’s better to make a weekly podcast than a monthly one.
As a photographer, it’s better to post a photo once a day, than once a week.

Not so much for the “oh, look at me” factor. But the feedback loop. Putting something out there more often just means more rolls of the dice. You just never know who might see or hear or listen or consume your art, but if you don’t put it out there, you’re taking yourself out of the game.

That’s not to say you should be feeding the social media machines at every moment.

Buy a domain name and post your photos from a recent trip.
Start a micro-niche podcast about a subject matter you care about and upload twice a week.

And again – I know a lot of musicians in the game aren’t ready to just start posting new songs every day or week, but there’s just so many ways to get your music into the world without resorting to a Spotify link.

Experiment with video software and start uploading them with your music to YouTube.
Make pretend commercials.
Make fake scenes from a movie with your friends and use your music as the back drop.
Work with people who make fun animations or videos, and let them use your music.

Keep putting up shots, and get away from the decades old convention that music only comes on albums, and that soundtracks and commercials are only for big artists on labels.

Make your music more than a stream, and build it into a bigger project.

Online Music Marketing Beeps and Boops

Some bits and boops from pieces I’ve posted over on my Ko-Fi page:

But if you want new people to hear your music, push your music. Not everyone who visits your social media profile is a fan just yet.

Embed the audio right onto social media. Upload a 10-15 second clip. Often. Then, include a link to hear the full song, preferably where they can also purchase it.

Audio First

I made a video describing how to gift someone an album on Bandcamp:

Wrote a bit about hyping your music beyond a commodity item,

You’re not selling MP3s, just like not you’re not selling eggs in the dairy aisle. No one remembers a carton of eggs, but people get lyrics and band logos tattooed on their bodies. 

Honor Your Music

Then wrote a bit about the “pre-release” stage of putting out music, or a fundraiser, and the importance of gathering emails,

Just like handing out flyers to shows back in the day, you should be getting an email address.

Announce your thing, and include a “call to action.” Give people who really care about your thing a link to click, and ask for an email address.

Get Some Emails

I’ve been involved in this “online music” thing for 20 years now, and if you count all the years of playing in bands, traveling to shows, and hanging out with musicians, make it 30 years. But I’ll say this – anyone who says they have THE answer is still full of shit.

Things move at the speed of light, but I know two things:

Write good songs.
Have fans.

I know, sounds stupid simple, but it’s all that fucking matters.

Don’t get me wrong, a “good song” doesn’t mean just something that’s performed at halftime at the Super Bowl. If you like it, that’s a good song.

And if a few other people like it, well, I 1000% believe a few more people would like it, too. It’s a matter of getting it out there, which is where so much of the struggle is these days.

Just posting “NEW SONG” on Twitter once, on a Tuesday at 2:38pm doesn’t cut it (unless you’re Radiohead).

Can’t Lose if You Don’t Play the Game

From Spotify’s editorial and algorithmic playlists:

“In some cases, commercial considerations may influence our recommendations.”

So how do you compete with payola? Don’t play the game.

Link to your own Bandcamp. Share your own playlists. Work with other artists to create compelling art that your fans will devour.

Right now Spotify is for the masses. Easy to consume. It’s a never ending buffet, and while your music is on the menu, you’ll never make enough to buy groceries for the week.

(h/t @cheriehu42)

Teens With Ring Lights

Since I saw this Tweet below I seriously went to sleep and woke up thinking about the phrase “while teens with ring lights are signed for millions.”

Via @DonnaMissal on Twitter

I want to believe, “hey, those people with the ring lights will fade just as quick as they showed up. They’re here one minute, gone the next!”

But that still does nothing to help the artist pay a director, or hell, pay the rent. A few more thousand Spotify streams aren’t going to help, either.


I just want artists to make money so we can all keep doing this.

Always Credit People

This is a great bit of advice from artist and illustrator Caroline Harrison:

People putting out music: please remember to credit the album artist on your Bandcamp page! I spent a while down a rabbit hole the other day trying to find an album artist for something that just came out and had to scroll through a bunch of Facebook posts.

Via Twitter

Credit the album artist, the designer, the photographer, the engineers, the producers – all of ’em! Not only is it just nice and proper, but it also helps with organic search!

Don’t make your fans or curious parties dig through months worth of social media posts to discover who made your album art – put that information right where you release your music!

“This has the added benefit of making your bandcamp page more likely to come up if someone googles the artist, so it’s really a no-brainer for musicians to do this,” Jock Sportello via Twitter.

People search band names and album titles and song titles – and all sorts of goodies come up! The same happens when you search for artist names, photographer names, guitar player names, producer names, and everyone else. This isn’t just some “growth hack” to get more eyeballs, it’s just the proper thing to do.

Credit everyone involved, the people who made a vital contribution to the work you’re putting out there into the world. The deserve it.

Good Writing (Sometimes) Wins

I love this quote from Seth Godin:

Good writing is cheaper than special effects. In movies, that’s obvious. It costs far less to make The Big Lebowski than a Marvel movie. But the metaphor applies to just about any sort of creative project.

In my line of work it’s about writing a good song, which is a lot easier said than done. And even then, no matter how good, it probably won’t have first-week numbers like ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.’

You can also have the best team, the best marketing, the best “special effects,” and it may not matter one bit.

BLE​-​EP_Meat Beat Manifesto_Bo Bots

Random Bandcamp discovery while searching for some beats to zone out to while working. Dirty drum loop, shaky percussion, and lots of random samples that sing together like a choir. Love this.

‘Present Tense’ by FACS

“Wasn’t the spring time cruel,” asks ‘Strawberry Cough,’ the second song from FACS‘ new album ‘Present Tense.’ Cruel, indeed.

Vital by BIG|BRAVE

This came out in April of this year, but just discovering ‘Vital’ now, in May.

“We’ve always been vocal, but even more so now, because we feel very strongly about what we’re speaking about, and it’s also a way to a way to reach out to someone,” said vocalist / guitarist Robin Wattie.