How to Effectively Promote Your Music and Gain More Fans

Here are some quick and easy things you can do to accomplish all of the music promotion goals to attract more fans.

Ultimate Guitar
"How can I get more people to check out my music?" "What is the best way to promote my music to others?" "What is the secret to getting a lot of new fans?" Chances are, you've asked yourself these same questions many times while looking for new ways to expand your current music career. Understanding how to attain a solid following of fans is incredibly important. No matter what it is that you do in the music business, it is essential to have a lot of motivated fans who look forward to your newest releases, lessons, products, etc. However, the answer to "How do I get more fans and promote my music career?" is not easily found by taking a highly generalized approach that "seems" to work for other musicians. At any given moment, you (or the band you play in) may be struggling with various unique challenges that would require that you take specific actions in order to get more fans or strengthen your promotional efforts. That said, no matter where you are in your music career and what challenges you face, you have 3 goals to achieve if you want to both gain more music fans and promote your music: 1. You have to get more people to check out your music. 2. You need the people who check out your music to give you some kind of support (either by buying your music, coming out to your shows, purchasing products your release, etc.) 3. You need to turn your fans into FANATICS to where they will tell others (on their own) about how great you and your music are. No matter what it is that you are trying to achieve in the music business, the three goals mentioned above will apply to anything you do as long as you are trying to develop a strong relationship with your fans. Even though these goals are separate from one another as specific achievements, they are all connected together. Once you are able to reach success with one of them, your potential to achieve the others with increase greatly. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you can make progress to take your music career in the direction you want. In order to achieve great success as you promote you music to your fans, you must learn how to think in a strategic manner rather than just taking inconsistent and isolated actions (a mistake that most musicians and bands make). Instead of trying to find a general formula that you can apply to help you get more fans for your music, you need to begin thinking in the same manner as most professional musicians. While training other musicians to succeed in their music careers, I help them understand how to find creative ideas that they can apply in their own music career in order to quickly gain more music fans. Once you gain the ability to think this way in your own music career, it will become much easier for you to overcome any obstacles that stand in the way of your promotional efforts. To illustrate what I mean and give you various steps (that you can take right now to get more music fans), here are some quick and easy things you can do to accomplish all three of the music promotion goals mentioned above. However, before I discuss this in more detail, you will be able to get much more benefit from reading this article if you take the time (right now) to assess your current understanding of how to attract music fans. Take this free assessment about music promotion first before you finish reading the remainder of this article. Open a separate tab in your browser now, finish the assessment and then come back when you are done. Ok, now that you have finished the assessment above, continue reading to find several actionable steps below that you can use to promote your music. While you are reading through them, do not focus as much on the actions themselves; instead think creatively to see the ideas and thinking "behind" the actions to understand why they are so effective. This will keep you from simply "copying" them and will lead you to come up with ideas that you can benefit from in your specific music career situation.

Promoting Your Music Objective: Get More People To Hear Your Music

Solution #1: Release music with other musicians on a compilation album. While releasing a compilation record with other artists, you not only release your own music, but the songs of others. This is important because once you do this you are able to promote your music to both your fans AND the fans of every other musician on the record. Remember, your main objective here is not necessarily to make a lot of money; but to utilize the album as an inexpensive tool for gaining much more exposure to new fans than what you would gain on your own. Later on, you can get maximum leverage out of this by promoting your own records, products or merchandise to your new extended network of fans. This idea of using one action to produce MANY benefits is one of the many success strategies that I train musicians to use in my Music Careers Mentoring Program. Solution #2: Work together with other musicians locally. Instead of considering other local musicians to be your competition (for gaining more fans), work together with local musical artists of a similar genre to help you gain access to larger amount of fans who are interested in hearing and seeing you play music. One method for achieving this is to work with another band to perform at the same venue in an effort to bring together the fan base of both bands. By doing this, you will not only improve your relationship with the owner of the venue (because you are bringing in more people), but you will have the opportunity to advertise your music to the other band's fan base (and them to yours). This idea is very fundamental, but in reality not many bands take initiative to actually go out and do it. On top of that, many bands make the mistake of sharing the venue with other bands who are not in their target market, or with bands who do not make a strong effort to attract their fans to the venue (thus taking away the mutual benefit). One example of pulling this idea off (which is fairly common in the music business) is when a band with a small following becomes and opening act for a much larger band. However, if you cannot find a highly successful band to open for you can still achieve this; you will need to simply find a band that contains musicians who have enough ambition to take ACTION and implement this strategy.

Promoting Your Music Objective: Get Your Fans To Take The Next Step

Solution #1: Give people a good reason to become your fan AND purchase your music. People who are successful with their music promotion efforts understand how to get their fan base to purchase their music rather than download it (without paying) while also making them into loyal, returning customers. One way to do this for yourself is to create a valuable incentive that can only be attained by the people who actually buy your music. In order to effectively do this, you should create something that is not easy to reproduce digitally. For example, some kind of merchandise item, a backstage pass, a special event ticket, etc (that is only available once the fan can prove to you that he or she purchased your music) are some great methods for achieving both of these goals at the same time. The point here is to get your to understand the idea of using one method of music promotion to accomplish multiple goals at the same time and bring you closer to your fans. Solution #2: Become familiar with your current fan base. It is easy to successfully promote yourself as a musician when you can put yourself out there to those who already give you their support whenever you pursue new projects in your musical career. Most musicians think that their biggest problem is a lack of music fans, when in fact, they simply do not know who their real fans are and how to get in touch with them. Instead of contacting these specific fans, a lot of musicians focus their efforts on the general public. The truth is, this approach can work; however, promoting your music in this manner will cost a great deal of money and time. To dramatically cut down on your costs with regards to money, energy and time; make your musical promotion more effective by finding an easy way to stay in touch with your fan base at all times.

Promoting Your Music Objective: Changing Casual Music Fans Into True Fanatics

Solution #1: Create unique events around your music that encourages your fans to interact with you in ways other than just listening to your songs or coming to your shows. There exist many different ways to do this (limited only by your personal creativity); however, no matter what you do, your main goal should always be to expand upon the relationship you have with your fans in order to close the gap between you are your fans. Solution #2: Focus on rewarding your most loyal fans with unique gifts that casual listeners don't have access to. This concept can be used together with the first point described above or as an idea by itself. If you'd like for your music fans to take a particular action (for example bringing more people to your performances or to purchase your albums), focus on finding something of high value that you can offer them that goes beyond the scope of music. (Remember: Your music fans do not necessarily want free money or t-shirts... think of something specific to offer them). As you have read, once you take a more detailed approach to understanding specifically what it is that you want to do when it comes to "gaining more music fans," it's a lot easier to understand specifically which action steps you must perform to make this happen. The majority of musicians only think about improving their music while trying to appeal to the general public, but doing this is only one aspect of musical promotion. Of course, your music is important; however there are aspects of your music career that you must work on in order to effectively get more fans for your music. As soon as you begin focusing on these aspects, you will start to gain much greater results in your music promotion efforts. If you haven't done this yet, take the music promotion assessment mentioned at the beginning of the article and get personalized feedback to help you succeed in your music career. About The Author: Tom Hess is an online guitar teacher, music career mentor and the guitar player in the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He trains and mentors from all over the world on how to develop a successful career in music. On his website you can find a lot of free music career resources and music industry articles.

43 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It's the most beatuiful thing, when I wake up, smell the coffe and check the UG news for the next article of mr. Hess.
    Somehow Agalloch managed to do all this without even sending the club they're gonna play at pictures so they can put it on their website. And the place was STILL sold out. :p
    People who hate on someone/ something that they know practically nothing about are so pathetic. Heard enough stories? Oh that gives you enough credibility to bad mouth people.
    Lynne Gong
    Great article! What's wrong with some of you guys? Are you too blind to see all the good advices that can really help you? Just because you think you have some problems with the author?
    Hey, I am not sure how to edit my previous message otherwise I would delete it. I wasn't trying to sound like a jerk last night or get caught in a flame war either. I realized that I probably sounded like half the negative people on the UG. It is just this is the internet and of course you are going to see people bad mouthing people. Tom Hess and some of his students give a large amount of free information and help to a lot of people. It is just frustrating sometimes to see people act like how you guys were, without having any real experience with them yourself.
    Goddamnit, I can't even read an article anymore without skipping ahead to see if its written by Tom Hess... UG should just give him a permanent banner on the site.
    I find it kinda amusing that he is using this article to promote his band.
    Antony Reynaert
    For all the people that are doubting Tom Hess his teachings; he is very succesfull in his music career AND teaches others to do the same. I you are really into pursuing a career in music then don't get stuck on what other people that never worked with him are saying about his teachings. Simply ask his students what their experience is and you will know the answer!
    Thing is, this isn't about guitar playing. It's about how to effectively promote your band. From what I know of Tom's career, hes never establish a band by himself, he only joined an already strong going band and then set up some other projects off of that other band's glory. There are various points in this article that I strongly disagree with! For one, gigging with artist of a similar style in a hope you meet fans of that style. I would disagree with this entirely. In London the best bet you have is to gig with the bands that are actually drawing in a crowd no matter what genre they are. The audience is very diverse anyways and will accept most styles. It's like festivals competing for ticket sales. The one with the better lineup will have more success. Secure the big 4 and you get the payload. For example in London I would get a gig supporting a night with Damn Dice, Generation Graveyard, and The Howling. All different styles, yet they sell out venues.
    steven seagull
    Why would I take advice on this particular subject from somebody who's own music career is going so well that he has to resort to teaching to pay the bills...
    Many players (for example Satriani) taught for all their career. So I guess you won't take any advice on band promotion from Satch either?
    James Scott
    Add to that list Michael Schenker, Paul Gilbert, Rusty Cooley, MAB, Tom Morello, Joe Stump, Greg Howe, all of whom teach regularly - and I'm talking private, face-to-face lessons. Add into that all the guitarists who give masterclasses or have instructional books, DVDs etc out there and you're kinda running out of people to take career advice from.
    All those guitarists listed have achieved a much higher level of success with their own music and (probably) do teaching to gain some additional money, rather than using teaching as their main form of income like Tom Hess. I think the underlying point is that those guitarists don't say things like "is your career as a guitarist really not worth $20?" or something when you try to leave their website, whereas Tom Hess' aggressive marketing always seems to imply that if you don't give him money you won't get good at the guitar.
    Anon17: is this all your assumption, or you have some sources for what you say about the ?main income". I dunno, like the bank statement of Satch and Tom Hess? For the record, at least some of these names (Satch, Howe, Cooley, Stump) were teaching well before they were famous - and yes, it was their main income
    Good job ignoring the main point, that none of those names scream "if you don't give me money you'll never be good at guitar!"...
    @Anon17: Exactly.
    I actually think Hess is a great marketer - he recently wrote an article on marketing that I thoroughly enjoyed. I don't really like his guitar related articles however, and I don't like surveys that require you to sign up to a site.
    The difference between you, Hess, and Satch or Gibert (or any of the other listed above) is that they're actually respected. You're largely despised, and your customer service is incredibly shoddy. Also, you can't claim your music career went so well. You're teaching, despite having spent years with a largely unsuccessful band. Steven seagull is right, why should we listen to you?
    Crazysam: I'll be interested in your experience about Hess' customer service. Have you been a student of his?
    @tommaso: I've heard enough bad stories that I wouldn't touch being a student of his with a 20foot pole. Also, it's funny how many of students end up sounding like just as arrogant jerks as he does.
    Rhapsody of Fire, a largely unsuccessful band? Are you f*ckin' kidding me?
    I would take his advice because he makes millions of dollars (from teaching guitar, training guitar teachers to make $100k+ per year, mentoring professional musicians) and is in an enormously successful metal band who tours the world. He has proven, in multiple areas, that he knows what the hell he is doing...and that is why anyone who wants to further their music career should listen to him. The real question is...Why would I value YOUR opinion on what is good advice or bad advice? What have you done and can you show it to me please?
    The most effective way to improve at ANY skill is to teach it to someone else. The "Those that can DO and those that Can't TEACH" philosophy is completely false and not based in fact. Most of the world's most accomplished musicians also teach.
    he has some valid points and is doing heckof a lot more than most musicians to get the word out
    This article is a great look into how to promote your music by interacting your fan base and turned them into fanatics of your material. The first step is to build the audience, something you can do at a sharing music site like . This site is a really easy to use site with a great social interactive feel that is perfect for fan base building. Upload for free and let people enjoy your music, then take the steps in this article to further build!
    So true about working with local bands! That's really the best way to break into a scene. Trade off gigs etc. My friend tried out this site called Groupie Finder and built up his online fan base and started trading gigs with other bands that had the same size followings. Worked really well. now he's touring all over the west coast.
    Hi Tom, Hi Ultimate Guitar Players! this is a real great article and very helpful. I´ve been in the music business since 10 years. 5 as a professional guitar play and 5 from now as a freelance A&R and Music Promoter. I wish we had all those great advice 10 years earlier so we could safe much time and money trying to find out what works and what doesn´t. On our Music Promotion Company´s website we also provide some Know How for DIY Musicians. Feel free to have a look: Hope you´ll find some inspirations on promotion your music! All the best, Jonathan, Founder of Music Promotion Net