As I started mixing and becoming more involved in the music scene, I noticed that many independent artists were finding digital marketing overwhelming. It can be – especially when you’re first starting out! I picked up my own marketing know how whilst running my own ecommerce company. I grew it to 80,000 Twitter followers organically, whilst co managing a pop culture account with 1million+ followers. I did this at the age of 15. Whilst I’ve since moved on from my slogan sweatshirt printing days, I’m now still working as a freelance marketer.
Below are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years that I think could be useful if you’re feeling a bit lost:
When you sign up for socials, use the same username across platforms
So you’ve finally picked your stage/producer name… great! Now make sure that name is available across all social media platforms as your fans will be able to find you more easily this way. If a username is unavailable, it’s also common practise to add other keywords to differentiate yourself from someone in a different industry with a similar username. Examples of this are “dj” “music” “dnb” “uk”. As someone has the username I wanted which is “@Joksie”, I decided to go with “Joksie.Creates” and “joksieA” instead. Or you could try the A.M.C route, as he uses 3 full stops to differentiate between himself and AMC Theatres. Note, they’re in two different industries so they’re very unlikely to be confused…It’s also in your best interest to check available domain names at the same time. You can do this by checking GoDaddy, which will not only tell you if your chosen name is available, but which alternatives you can use if it’s not.
Lastly, whilst you’re deciding on a name, you should run a quick google search on it… you don’t want any nasty surprises! The word could mean something entirely different (or have negative connotations in a different language). There might also be someone working within the same industry with a similar name, in which case its best to steer clear completely. If two people have very similar names it can create confusion amongst fans and you’ll struggle to compete on google rankings if they’re already very well established.
Focus your attention on one platform initially
When you first start out, it can be tempting to want to grow your presence on every platform you’ve signed up for. The best piece of advice I ever got was to focus on one platform, then send your audience to your other platforms as you begin to grow. Narrow your focus and try to pick either Instagram, Youtube, Facebook or Tiktok…I personally joined Twitter in 2011 so that’s where most of my followers are. I grew my first clothing brand to over 80,000+ followers organically on Twitter, and amassed 20,000+ for it on Instagram by using the above strategy.
Choose the platform that feels right for you
Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages. You might naturally gravitate more to one than the other, but if not, the below might help you decide which one to pick…
Facebook is great for marketing because you can reach listeners in groups that are relevant to the genre that you’re working in. You can market yourself by networking in these groups, chatting to people about the scene and providing feedback on other people’s work. Some labels even have active discord servers! This method of marketing is great if you’re a conversation starter.
You can also run paid Facebook adverts. You can target people that like certain labels and genres… but this can also take a long time to learn in depth, as there are a long list of dos and don’ts, and certain actions might even get your Facebook account banned. You may want to hire a freelance marketer or marketing agency who knows what they’re doing to run these adverts for you so you don’t waste your money.
Adverts are great if you have the budget to spend. (This works best in combination with the networking strategy. You don’t want to just post, advertise and go… try to interact with people consistently.)
To grow here you’ll want to collaborate with radio stations, other artists, djs and labels. To grow organically you can also send your content to pages that repost content similar to yours, as these act as a hub for people interested in the genre you work in. If you want to collaborate with someone, drop them a message and make sure you’re providing value. Ask yourself, what can you also do for them?
If someone slid into your dms and said “hi mate, new track check it out” and you had NO idea who they were, would you have an incentive to listen or reshare? (I wouldn’t.)
You’ll also want to consider developing a personal brand and aesthetic to make your page look more commercially viable. More on that later…
Instagram works best for those who will enjoy creating aesthetically pleasing content.
Youtube is a great way to reach people that already know what they’re looking for. New music and artists are often discovered through record label’s pages and through sets and mixes. If you’re working with labels and they’re posting your tracks on Youtube, try to make sure all of your social media page details are easily accessible in the description. If you’re releasing independently too, it might be hard to get discovered on Youtube unless someone was already looking for you or another content creator has shared your work.
TikTok has been snubbed by the older generation as it’s often just viewed as “that app where kids do annoying dances”. The fact of the matter is that TikTok is a BEAST when it comes to organic growth, and any forward thinking artist should be on there right now. If you focus on using the right hashtags, only posting content that relates to one niche, and providing value to your followers in one form or another, the opportunity for growth there is massive. Industry heavyweights are starting to spot the advantages of the app too. I just got wind that Serum is thinking of joining…
Build a personal brand
Not a lot of artists put thought into their brand image or their aesthetic early on. Not everyone thinks about the story they’re trying to tell when they share their work. Put yourself miles in front of the rest by getting yourself a logo, and a brand image that works for you early on. There are many working parts that feed into your image… It goes a lot deeper than your logo and the font colours you use. It’s how you carry yourself, how you dress, the way you interact with others, how your photos look and the story that you tell your followers when you post. There’s a lot to dive into with this, but for the sake of this article I’ll keep it short and sweet. At the very least work on using the same font on your instagram story.
Work with a graphic designer or illustrator to get a consistent brand image across all of your releases if you can’t create your artwork yourself. (I promise you, in instances where your work needs to stand out and look professional on places like Instagram, this looks miles better than sharing a screen recording of a file from your iCloud). Have a designer create a logo for you or create one yourself if you have the know how.
Whilst Instagram’s algorithm comes more confusing by the day to most, one thing that’s certain is that you need to post regularly and consistently. Try uploading stories or making videos about your creative process like Dimenson did. Let people have a glimpse of your day to day so they can get to know you as an artist a bit better.
Once you’ve started building momentum on one platform, you can start repurposing your content to post on your other platforms. An example of this is taking a long video of a mix, and chopping it up into clips or highlights that you can share on Instagram or Facebook. The more videos, photos, motion graphics, artwork edits etc you have, the more you can edit them to post across different platforms. Stick to the basics and ask yourself this “How can I turn *piece of content 1* into something different that my followers will love?”
Perfect is boring. Instagram is full of fakers, and it’s refreshing and inspiring when someone is honest for once. You’re not going to be best in class when you start producing and mixing and that’s OKAY!
It’s a journey, and part of your charm will be sharing the bumps in the road with your followers, and taking them on the ride with you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s better to start now and have your future fans look back and think “look how far they’ve come”, than to never start or not put any content out at all.
Don’t forget about the “offline world” too…
What truly sets apart wannabes from the big dogs at the end of the day is the clout they have offline too. What you’re doing offline (which includes gigs, networking, radio stations etc) will eventually lead to people wanting to find your socials and follow what you’re doing online. How many times have you been to a festival, wandered into a tent and listened to one of the best sets of your life… to then check the timetable and follow that DJ on instagram? If people are writing about you in articles on blogs, in interviews, on podcasts etc then people will also be more likely to find your work. Give more thought to your offline social networking, and your tribe will find you online eventually.
Social media no-gos & cheap tactics
1) “Follow for follow” then unfollowing. You hate when people do this to you, so why do it to other people?
2) Buying followers and engagement. You’re only hurting yourself! Your army of bot followers will not buy your records or listen to your mixes if you pay for them…
3) Tagging hundreds of people in your facebook post. This is kind of up there with receiving emails from a company that you never gave your email to in the first place.
4) Sending links to songs & mixes in people’s DMs with no context, introduction or bothering to introduce yourself first.
5) Only posting your work in groups & chats without providing valuable feedback to other people.
Give as much as you take and people will remember you.
So there you have it. Those are the things I knew when I first started using social media!
You can find more marketing tips, my illustration, graphic design work and mixes over on my socials
@joksiea , @joksie.creates and my website.