I often get emails from readers of this site asking for personal advice. And while I can’t reply to each of these emails individually (if I did I wouldn’t have time to write guides for the masses), I do read them all and use the questions asked to influence the kind of guides I create.
One of the most common question I get asked is how you can get people to listen to your music.
The funny thing is, from an outside point of view, getting people to listen to your songs doesn’t seem like that much of a big task. You just make a song, share it and people will hear it right?
Fans won’t listen to your music unless you give them a real reason to! – Tweet This
This is why the whole “I’ll give my first album out for free to build up a fanbase, then sell my other music to them in future” strategy doesn’t work for most musicians. There’s so much free music out there now, that people have music overload. They won’t download your music simply because it’s free, yet they won’t buy it if they’ve never heard of you before. In other words, putting your music on Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter won’t by itself make it go viral and have people listing to you.
So what should you do instead? Well, that’s what I’m going to share with you today. Here’s a three step formula to getting people to listen to you. If you have these things in place and market yourself using the strategies talked about on this site, you’ll give yourself a much better chance of getting in front of new ears.
But first, if it's your aim to do music professionally, you'll want to check out our free ebook while it's still available:
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Give Something Worth Getting Excited About
One of the biggest things you need to determine when trying to get people to listen to your music, is whether or not it’s worth people getting excited about. This can be hard to tell initially, as it’s your music; of course you’re going to think it’s worth people listing to!
But be objective for a minute. Ask yourself the following:
- Is the recording quality of your songs as good as the best music out there in your genre (say top 10%)?
- Are you either giving something that hasn’t been done before, or using a tried and tested formula to a high level?
- Would your lyrics sound inferior when placed on a track with the top talent in your genre?
- Is your voice strong enough and of a tone that people would enjoy?
- Are your backing tracks you’re singing or rapping over of a high level?
Ask yourself all of these things and more, comparing your music to others back to back if you need to.
I know, this is hard to do. It’s hard to judge yourself as a musician, but it’s a skill you need to learn. Record yourself, both your vocals and your movements via video. Learn your bad habits, and the things which look and sound unprofessional. Look at what other people who you admire do, and decide how you can change what you’re doing without outright copying other people. Getting influence from them though is ok.
The thing is, if your music isn’t as good as what other people are already offering (or at least very close), then you instantly have an uphill struggle in terms of getting people to listen to your music. So if it’s not, keep practicing!! Don’t be in a rush to get the masses to hear your music; release it before it’s ready and you won’t get a good reaction. This will only demotivate you. Further more, it’ll stop people listening to you next time.
Once you’re making good quality songs, then start trying to get ears on your music on a wider scale. Before then, simply test the music with a few fans of your genre, and focus on increasing your talent.
Top Tip: One thing you should never do is make average tunes in bulk, simply so you’ve a back catalog behind you. Instead, work on making fewer and better songs which are really good from start to finish. If you put out a 10 track CD of average songs, no one will be bothered about listening all the way thorough or hearing what you release in future. Put out one top quality song which people can’t help but hum for the rest of the day however, and they’ll more likely actively listen out for you when you release something else.
Make What You Offer All About Your Fans
So once you have talent and are making songs people will want to hear, the next step is to get your stance right. While what I’m about to say seems simple when spoken about, this is one of the places a lot of musicians trip up.
It’s the same with any kind of business:
If you want fans to listen to your music, you need to benefit them! – Tweet This
What I mean by this, is it’s not all about you. When people haven’t heard you before, you’re not going to get them to listen to your music by tagging them in a tweet and saying “my new track is out now, have a listen here”. I mean, why would they check it out? They don’t know you, and you haven’t showed them how they’ll benefit from the deal.
Yes they get to hear your music, but they’ve been listening to music of their favorite artists for their whole life. It’s no biggie to them if they don’t hear yours, in fact clicking your link and listening will probably be an inconvenience for them.
Bear in mind that most people have listened to random musicians in the past, and mostly come across poor quality, unprofessional songs. So most people have now trained themselves to not listen to random people for no real reason.
I’ll show you how to better get off on the right foot with people in the next section, but for now I want to say this:
If you have a ‘me me me’ attitude when you reach out to people, they usually won’t listen. If you don’t try and show them you’ll benefit their lives in some way, your marketing is all about you. And people quite simply don’t respond well to that.
So get in the mentality that everything you do is all about your fans. It’s not so you can make more money, as people don’t care about that. It’s about serving your audience.
Now you have the right mentality in place and have the talent to back it up, it’s time to put the final piece of the puzzle into place.
Market The Pants Off It!!
That’s right, as always it comes back to marketing. But not just any kind of marketing however, the right marketing! Technically, sharing your music on your Facebook page with 59 fans is marketing. As is posting comments on music blogs saying you’ve new music out and that people should listen. Neither of those two things will do much in terms of getting people to listen to you however.
Instead of spending all your time aiming for things which will give you small results, you should change your mentality and aim for those bigger wins instead. Instead of reaching your fans one by one for the majority of the time, start leveraging other people’s audiences instead.
Aim for those who have an established fanbase who are your ideal audience… then market to them. Not to their audience initially, to them. Do what you can to work with them and let them get you in front of their audience.
These people you target could be other musicians in your genre, channels that play videos of the quality you’re doing, big Youtube channels, radio stations and other media outlets.
There are two main reasons this works:
- First of all, there is a highly targeted pre-qualified audience you’re getting in front of. You’re not just reaching out to people randomly who may or may not like the kind of music you make.
- You’re getting recommend by people these music lovers already know and trust. If a radio station / youtube channel / musicians etc they listen to and respect says they’ll also like your music, they’re a lot more likely to listen out for and give it a go. Usually right away. If however someone randomly approached them online saying to listen to a song they’ve made, most likely that request will be ignored.
So the take away point: don’t just market your music, market it in the right way. The two guides I linked to in this last section will get you started with that, but be sure to also look around at the other guides on this site for ideas.
It can take longer to get those established platforms and musicians to work with you, but build your way up in the method I mention in this guide and it is possible. Furthermore, it’ll give you much better results in the long run.
So those are the three steps you need to take to get people to listen to your music:
- Make really good music,
- Put the focus on making the fans happy rather than making yourself successful, and
- Market your music in the right way. Get recommendation from others rather than expecting people to listen to you randomly.
By working like this, I guarantee you will get more people listening to your music.
So what have you found works when trying to get people to listen to your music? Let us know in the comments.