Music Promotion in 2020

The Top 3 Platforms to Launch a Music Career

There’s no better time than NOW to release music

Iam excited because 2020 is a great year for musicians! Platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Patreon, Soundcloud, etc., have reached peak maturity. As artists we no longer have to guess what each platform has to offer. We can see how it works, how others are using the platform, and what results we can expect. We can learn from the success and mistakes of others and invest effort into platforms that work.

Creating Content Is Time-Consuming

Creating content for a platform is time consuming. It often takes a strategy and a content release schedule to stay consistent. In the past I thought that I have to maintain a presence on every single social media site. That thought alone was overwhelming so I simply didn’t bother. Now I know that it’s not practical and not necessary to release my work everywhere.

Focus is Key to Growth

As I step on this path, of creating and releasing more music, I know that I can’t do it all and be everywhere at the same time. Focus is key to building an audience, while dispersing too thinly consumes a lot of energy and yields poor results.

It’s a matter of chosing which platforms and sites appeal to me, and which platforms offer the right terms and services for creators.

My Top 3 Platforms for 2020

I’ve identified 3 platforms for music promotion that I’m going to focus on in 2020. It’s where I’ll be building a community and making a presence in the coming year! I thought I’d share my reasoning for chosing these platforms.

1. YouTube

Unlike Facebook and Instagram (where you often have to pay to get your content to your followers), YouTube pays creators! You can’t beat that. I’m not counting on making a living from YouTube anytime soon, but the prospect of growth makes sense. YouTube has good algorithms for discovery. In contrast, Instagram and Facebook push their ad services to get your content to new viewers. An ad driven exposure model is flawed because it’s not motivating. Often, it’s not even affordable for up and coming artists.

Yes, YouTube is a LOT of work because creating video content is more demanding than posting pics. But it’s the 2nd biggest search engine after Google. So it’s worth the time and effort to develop a YouTube skillset. YouTube is here to stay. Figuring out what the platform and viewers want can be a tricky and lengthy process. But once you know what works, it’s rewarding. I’ve seen many careers take off thanks to YouTube. So YouTube is a good place to be in 2020.

2. Spotify

It’s refreshing to see that Spotify is catering to independent artists. With Spotify for Artists, Spotify has handed over a lot of control to the musicians. They even have tutorials to motivate and guide artists about how to get discovered on Spotify. I like their attitude! Any platform that reaches out to the independent artist, gets my vote! Spotify is all about the music. It is playlist driven. It’s a music discovery mechanism. They have 3 types of playlists:

  • User generated playlists
  • Algorithm generated playlists
  • Editorial playlists.

If people start listening to your music, Spotify will put it in front of more people. Unlike Soundcloud, that charges artists to put their music in front of new listeners, Spotify promotes your music for free. And pays per stream. Not a lot, but the model is no doubt in the artist’s favour.

The drawback is that unless you have millions of streams, you won’t make a living on Spotify. Spotify pays about $0.0035 per stream. For 1,000 streams you’ll make $3.50. Barely a cup of coffee. However, if you get on some of the bigger playlists, then the income trickle becomes noticeable. In my view, Spotify is a good place for musicians to focus. There’s no guarantee you’ll get on a playlist, but if you do, it can launch a successful career.

Spotify is fun. It’s all about the music. If people listen, you get exposed and recommended to more people. As of this writing, you can’t buy exposure on Spotify. So it is genuinely a platform driven by listener engagement. For this reason it’s important to drive traffic to your Spotify artist account. Ask your audience to engage with your music on Spotify. As your audience grows, your plays grow, and your chances to get featured on popular playlists increase.

So… If you enjoy my music, the best thing you can do is follow me on Spotify and add my songs to your user playlists! This will help the Spotify algorithms recommend my music to more people who might enjoy it!

Why musicians need to make money with music

Unless you’re getting millions of YouTube views or millions of streams on Spotify, you can’t count on making an income on these mega platforms. It takes a lot to break through on these platforms. Many people see touring as a way for musicians to make a living, but touring is not practical for every musician because some musicians have full-time jobs and families. Sharing music online is the most exciting development that allows more people to create and share their work!

But, this means that you have to be quite popular before you can earn an online income from your work. It’s a catch 22, because if you’re not making an income from your work, then you also don’t have as much time to allot to create more work. Producing and releasing regular content is the #1 key to growth. But if you’re not making an income from your work, then you don’t have the opportunity to be as productive as you could be.

So what are we to do?

The best business model for creators, is a membership or community based model. This is the most direct form of support an artist can get. There’s no middle man. Services like YouTube and Spotify get the work out to more people. In exchange they retain the majority of the income that your work and creativity generate. It can be years before an artist sees an income through these platforms. It can be demotivating and is the main reason why creative people burn out and can’t sustain their passion.

3. Patreon

Patreon solves this problem. It’s a place that can nurture up and coming creators. Patreon does not promote your work, and it doesn’t get you any exposure. You have to use the bigger platforms like YouTube and Spotify to generate the exposure and growth. Patreon is there to provide the membership tools for you to grow and engage with your own community.

Those who enjoy your work can chose to pledge (invest) for example $2 per month to support you. It’s not a lot of money, it’s less than the cost of a cup of coffee! However, once an artist has for example 200 patrons, that’s $400 in monthly income directly to the artist. It’s not much, but it’s a great start. It can make a huge difference to a creator, and be a source of inspiration and even moral support to continue creating and improving the work.

Some people get confused and think that Patreon is a service like Spotify or iTunes where you can get a subscription and get access to many different artists. But that’s not how Patreon works. Patreon is a membership platform where an artist can create a private community and grant exclusive access to their work. In that sense Patrons are sort of ‘share-holders’ or ‘angel investors’. It’s more about being a part of an artist’s journey and community, and about sharing a vision. It’s about the satisfaction of believing in an artist and watching that artist grow thanks to your support.

Joining Patreon and becoming a Patron is super easy. There’s no commitment and you can stop supporting an artist anytime. Patreon will auto charge your credit card or PayPal every month for an agreed amount. In my community the smallest pledge is $2. For your monthly support you get access to MP3 & WAV audio files of my latest releases and access to stream my full-length music videos. And of course much more…. I used to release my music for free in the past, but in 2020 I’ve decided to try something else. I will share a lot of content for free, but the music is somehow special.. It’s like my personal diary… so it makes sense that I will share it with my closest community of supporters on Patreon and Spotify.

Final thoughts…

In the past I’ve been confused about these platforms and how to use them to release and promote my music. Which is why I had thought about it a lot and finally gained some clarity. If you’re also a creator, I hope that this post has been helpful.

If you’re not a creator, maybe you’ve gained better insight about why even talented artists struggle to make a living, and how you can help. If your favorite artists have a Patreon page, go support them there and they will love you forever!

What’s Next?

In my next post I share my content strategy for 2020. My content strategy is basically a plan for how I intend to use the above mentioned platforms in 2020. I’ll explain what kind of content I look forward to sharing with you in the coming year and why I’m super excited about it!