Promoting your music is always one of those things that is never really fun to do because you would rather be in the lab making beats. Some people are born salesmen and are very good at meeting the right people, then building a relationship with them, all the while selling them on their product. As a producer, you’re probably more comfortable and accustomed to sitting in your studio each day and banging out beats, correct? That’s me for sure.
However, music promotion is an essential evil in the world of beats, and if you don’t promote yourself the right way then no one will ever hear your music. This is why building relationships is the best way to promote yourself.
It’s About You
If you have read other articles that I’ve written, I always recommend that you promote yourself and your brand – not just your music. I always find that when it comes to promotion, your music should be the last thing you talk about because you want to build a relationship first, and not just try to sell your beats to the highest bidder.
It’s important to realize that you and your music is what’s known as a “brand”. When you look at a company like Apple, everyone always thinks of Steve Jobs because he was a part of that brand. The same thing applies to your music – people will want to attach a face to that beat they just heard. You could be making beats all day long but you need to find your own “brand”, or style, if you will. Someone like DJ Premier has a very unique brand because as soon as you hear one of his beats, you automatically know who produced it. That’s his style.
When I was DJ’ing back in the 90’s, I would spend countless hours at home practicing and making mixtapes. I was having fun doing all of that, but I never wanted anything serious to come of it so I just played around to pass the time. One day, a friend called to tell me his cousin was having a house party and needed a DJ, so I went. I spun records that night with a caged pitbull about 5 feet from me and an overheated amplifier in the way of my knees, plus the neighbors literally called the police. It was fun, but the lesson I got from that night was that I now made a connection. My friend introduced me to his cousin who needed a DJ. Since my friend knew I was a DJ, he immediately thought of me when he knew his cousin needed someone. That’s what relationships are all about.
The same applies to your music. If you reach out to as many people as possible and let them know that you make beats, eventually one of those people will remember you when something comes up that involves music. It could be that a friend of theirs needs music for a commercial (has happened to me), or they know someone that is starting a record label (hasn’t happened to me). Whatever the reason is, your connection will then connect you to their connection!
Let’s say you happen to go to the same barber that Kanye West goes to. With all of his money, he probably has golden angels come down from the sky each week and cut his hair, but let’s say you both go to the same barber. Over time you mention to your barber that you make beats – what do you think will happen? He will then start to talk to you about Kanye. Then next time he cuts Kanye’s hair, he might remember you and start to talk to Kanye about YOU. The dialogue will continue from there, then you might end up making millions of dollars, become a household name, and marry a talentless big booty babe. You never know.
It Could Be You
Have you ever wondered why certain producers end up “making it” so to speak? Guys like Kanye, or even someone like IllMind? It’s because they hooked up with the right people. It could also be that they just happened to have their beats heard by the right person, but it’s most likely that they know someone that knows someone.
There are tons of people out there making beats every single day, and a lot of them are getting really good at what they do. What will set you apart from them? What is it about your music that makes you so special? Sadly, often times the answer is – nothing. You’re not special and your music isn’t either. The true difference is who wants to hustle harder and get their music heard by the right people.
Back in the day, artists used to just send their cassette or CD demo into a record label and hope an A&R hears their music, then signs them on the spot. Those types of things don’t really happen anymore because everything is now digital and online.
You can certainly hit the streets and start promoting yourself, but the cold hard fact is that it might not work. It’s unfortunate because it CAN work if done right, but everyone would much rather just sit at home in their underwear and post a link to their SoundCloud beat. Years ago you could hit up any music venue, record store, or just stand on a corner and pass out flyers, promoting your music. Today it’s all online. I encourage you to hit the streets, but for that it takes a lot of effort, with little chance of a big return. It’s a great way to promote yourself, but you have to be ready for it to not work.
Online, however, is the way to go. The downside is that every other producer is doing the same thing! Sucks, doesn’t it? So you can’t promote and build relationships in the streets, and you can’t do it online, so what DO you do? You do both, but do it right.
In The Streets
Pass out flyers to people waiting in line for a concert.
Hand out business cards.
Put flyers and stickers all over the place.
WORD. OF. MOUTH.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, your own website, etc.
WORD. OF. MOUTH.
By doing both methods, you’re getting the best of both worlds, so if one doesn’t work then at least you know the other should.
Notice how word of mouth is in both. That’s because regardless of which method you use, the best way to build relationships is to simply talk to other people! That’s it. It could be on any social site, or in music forums and blogs. As long as you keep letting everyone know that you and your music exist, it will eventually lead to someone, and hopefully that special someone, to hear your music.