Become The Next Big Hit
We have all read stories about musicians who made it big on SoundCloud. Take Kygo for example. His remix of the track “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran actually caught fire. Blazing to more than 33 million plays, it catapulted him into international stardom.
But the reality is, the vast majority of SoundCloud musicians go unheard. In fact, there are more than 10 million musicians on SoundCloud. Twelve hours of music are uploaded every single minute!
If you don’t stack the deck in your favor, you are going to join those unheard millions. You can’t just post a few tracks and expect to turn heads. You can buy plays, comments, and followers, but that strategy only works if you take the right steps beforehand. You also need to follow up with the right steps to capitalize on that social proof.
If you want to turn your passion for music into a career, you can’t leave it up to chance. Here’s how to kickstart a real music career on SoundCloud.
Conduct market research to identify your fans.
A lot of musicians embark on their journey with the assumption that the right fans will eventually find them. But you need to be tailoring your music, styling and marketing to your fans. That means you need to identify them as early as you can.
A great way to do this is to create a marketing persona. This is a simple profile that describes your typical listener. Get detailed enough that you can give your fan a name.
For example, Nielsen reports that the average hip hop fan:
- Is male
- Is 18-24 years old
- Is Hispanic or African American
- Is invested in buying new media technologies
- Loves gaming
- Is more likely to go to festivals and club events than most U.S. consumers
- Considers music a social experience
So if your music falls under the hip-hop umbrella, that is a good starting point. You can research your own existing fans and learn more about them, and eventually construct a persona like this:
Salvador Mendez is 20 years old, lives in San Francisco, and loves playing video games. He has discovered many of his favorite artists in game soundtracks. He is a big SoundCloud user and loves going to shows with his friends.
There is a reason that many of the top artists on both Spotify and SoundCloud are hip hop artists like Drake. Their fans are engaged with new media technologies. If you figure out that your typical fan is a big SoundCloud user, then you already have a great cornerstone to build off of.
Another great tactic to discover your fans is to research similar artists. Do not just look for artists slotted into the same genre. Get specific and look for artists who share your sound, values, or both. These artists probably are targeting the same fans.
Once you identify your fans, do everything you can to understand their habits:
- Where they are online and offline.
- What medium they use to listen to music.
- What medium they use to purchase music.
- What venues they go to.
- What shows they attend and what the appeal is.
- How much money they spend on music.
- Where and how they look for new artists.
- What they wear.
- How they vote.
- What they believe in.
- What organizations they belong to.
- What they do in their spare time.
- What they do for a living.
When you find the perfect intersection between your fans’ needs and your own music, you will discover your key selling point.
After conducting your research, you will know which of your potential fans are on SoundCloud. You will know how to identify them, and what your biggest selling point is. Further, you will have an idea how to approach them and start a dialogue. Ultimately, you will be able to convert them into allegiant fans.
While there are some general best practices, the whole point here is that there is no one-size-fits-all SoundCloud approach for every artist! Your fans are unique, so your approach should be too!
Prepare free tracks and other promotional content.
Now that you know who you are targeting, it is time to get your website and SoundCloud profile optimized. While you are at it, prepare your marketing graphics. Get free downloads ready to go as incentives for shares and follows.
Doing this serves a couple of purposes:
- You will have materials which you can use to motivate fans to keep up with your work and spread the word.
- You will make a great impression. The more put-together you are, the more professional you look. This makes potential fans more likely to take you seriously.
When it comes to optimizing your profile, Kygo’s profile is a lovely example:
The cover of his latest album is displayed in his top banner. Fans who don’t know about the new release can see at a glance that he has new material.
Kygo uses beautiful minimalist design elements. You can see these in his profile, album covers, logo, and other marketing materials. His branding is consistent across all channels.
Right under his stats, you can see how to contact booking. Contacts for the press are listed, as well as links to his other social media pages.
Once you are set up with your own site and your SoundCloud profile, create an email signup form on your website to build a mailing list. Free downloads make an excellent incentive for sign-ups. Once you have fans on your list, you can use that list to run promotions. An email list gives you a higher level of control over your communications. Users are also more likely to trust messages they have opted into, which makes email marketing one of the most powerful tactics out there. Campaign Monitor reports that you are six times more likely to get a click-through on an email than you are on a tweet.
Tag your tracks the right way.
Most people know they need to tag their tracks, but it is amazing how many artists use completely useless tags. They use irrelevant tags just because they are trendy, or they use silly humorous tags to make a joke. But no one is querying those humorous tags, and off-topic tags are seen as spam.
According to SoundCloud, “The algorithm that classifies tracks into genres has an easier time distinguishing above all other tracks. In the simplest terms, if you use genre tags that are not in Explore, then your track will not make it.”
Go out of your way to use tags that will actually draw the right people:
- Use SoundCloud’s Charts section to find and apply relevant genre tags.
- Tag similar and related artists.
- Tag your name as well as that of any other musicians involved on the track.
- Also tag your producer, label, DJs, radio stations, etc.
- Tag names of DJs or others you want to make contact with.
- Tag instruments, techniques or song structure elements if they are unique or unusual.
SoundCloud also warns that if you do not correctly apply multi-word tags, the words get pulled apart. “Hip hop” will be perceived as “hip” and “hop”—not good. Use the right syntax!
Buy plays, follows, and comments.
Now that you have some great tracks uploaded and properly tagged, you are ready to buy plays, followers, and comments! There’s a stigma attached to purchasing plays and engagement, because it’s seen as cheating. But in truth, unless you already have a massive offline fan base, it’s nearly impossible to move online and quickly grow. Buying plays, followers and comments is a way to gain quick social proof – which tells listeners, DJs, A&Rs, and others that you are relevant and worth a listen. That is the quickest way to start getting real plays and followers.
But be warned: It will only work if you do it right! You need to avoid taking an unnatural approach where you suddenly spam your SoundCloud profile with a ton of new activity. It is also important to steer clear of accounts that are obviously new/fake. Comments which are very brief and say nothing of value (or all say the same thing) are also giveaways that you boosted your stats.
Be sure that any follows, plays, and comments you buy show up organically over an extended time period. They all need to come from aged accounts with prior activity. Finally, the comments need to be conversational and provide something of substance. And they should not all focus on the same few points about your music!
One of the worst mistakes you can make as an artist on SC is “set and forget.” Do not just set up your profile, upload tracks and walk away. Stay involved! Interact with other artists. Get into conversations with your fans. Follow bands which are similar to yours and leave meaningful comments without being prompted. Join groups relevant to what you do and where you are, and that will help you connect with influencers. That means groups like “San Francisco Hip Hop” or “Vancouver Electronic,” not “Rocking Bands That Will Melt Your Brain.”
Above all, open a dialogue. This does not mean typing “Great track!” to another artist or “Thank you” to a fan. You do need to do that, but you also need to go further. Do not just tell another artist you like their work, tell them why. Comment on song structure, compliment a cool sample, or draw a link to another artist. Say something about the lyrics or production values. And whatever you do, do not beg people to come listen to your music.
When people leave you comments, try to appreciate the time and thought they took. It takes a lot to get a real human being to actually type something and hit “Enter.” Take time to respond. If someone says, “Great!” a simple “Thank you!” is adequate. But if someone actually leaves a meaningful comment, reply with something equally meaningful.
Doing this will show your fans that you take them seriously and genuinely appreciate them. By forging a more personal connection to your fans, you can build die-hard loyalty. You never know where a conversation could lead either. This is a great way to open the door to networking opportunities. You never know, that person who left you a long comment may be a music blogger or fellow artist, or know a guy who books acts for a great spot downtown.
Run creative promotions.
At this point you should have a pretty good idea how to kickstart a career on SoundCloud. You know the basics of tagging tracks, interacting with fans, and offering incentives.
But what sets you apart from thousands of artists all doing the same thing? Your creativity.
This is a great time to think about unique and unusual promotions you can put together. These can build up hype by generating curiosity. They may also sometimes let you kill two birds with one stone.
One great example is a campaign by Lewis Watson. Lewis Watson came up with the idea of allowing fans to unlock a stream of a new song one piece at a time. Each time someone made a pre-order for his release “Four More Songs,” that would unlock a little more of the song.
The brilliance of this campaign is that it encouraged people not only to pre-order, but to promote. Fans who wanted to hear the whole song urged others to pre-order the album. This accomplished two goals at once: direct pre-orders and word-of-mouth promotion.
Here is another cool example. Island Records ran a special reveal on SoundCloud to promote AlunaGeorge’s debut album “Body Music.” On July 25th, a new track was made available every hour on the hour. The whole album was available for listeners to stream for a week before the official release.
The timed release of the tracks was only part of what made this campaign creative. The other aspect involved where the tracks were posted. Instead of posting them all on SoundCloud, they were posted on various blogs which had long supported the band. The record label discovered these blogs in the band’s Pro Stats (via their SoundCloud Pro account) and got in contact with them about the campaign. In this way, the label was able to give something back. The blogs that sent traffic to AlunaGeorge received traffic in return.
You can see how getting creative with your promotions can build a lot of buzz for an album launch. Campaigns like these offer far more than just, “share this and get a free song.”
As you can see, kickstarting a successful career on SoundCloud involves a lot more than just posting a bunch of tracks and walking away. To review, here are the steps:
- Conduct market research and identify your potential fans. Learn everything you can about them so that you know how to engage them effectively.
- Prepare promotional content including free tracks and graphics. While you are at it, optimize your SC profile and your website.
- Tag your tracks properly as you upload them. This makes it possible for users to discover them through search.
- Buy plays, likes, and follows which are drip-fed naturally from real, aged accounts.
- Interact meaningfully with fellow artists, fans, and others in the music industry.
- Run creative promotions to build buzz.
As you run your campaign on SoundCloud, you will learn more and more about marketing your music. Using what you learn, you can continue to fine-tune your targeting strategies as well as your promotional tactics. It takes time, patience, and dedication to build a music career on SoundCloud, so go in with realistic expectations. If you stay the course, you could be the next big star!
Every single musician has built their career the same way. It doesn’t matter if you’re Drake, George Strait, or The Beatles. Each one started with a small following and built themselves up. You have the same opportunity to do this in the digital world with SoundCloud as you do in the real world with your concerts and appearance.
With a little help from us at Devumi, your SoundCloud presence can be established quickly. This will allow you to build your audience right now, rather than waiting for it to ‘just happen’ like so many other bands.
Our SoundCloud Followers service will help you establish your fans and create die hard raving lunatics who throw panties at you!