Songwriting is an amazing art. It can help you channel your feelings and thoughts, and yet under many aspects, it’s a mystery. To tap into the mystery, I would encourage diary writing, poetry writing, automatic writing and recording verbal diarrhoea whilst plinking and plonking on an instrument.
However, a songwriter’s job unfortunately doesn’t end with writing a good song. What follows the writing phase, such as recording and promoting your music, is just as important. In Australia, there are thousands of aspiring singer-songwriters fighting to get their music heard, so it’s really important to stand out, be unique and put yourself out there as much as possible. And believe in the uniqueness that is you.
Follow these steps to promote your music as a singer-songwriter.
Invest in Production
Acoustic demos are fine, of course, but if you’re producing an album without a band it’s best to work with a producer to give it a richer sound. A producer can help you define your artistic identity as well as your musical goals and the sound you’re hoping to achieve. There are many artists performing guitar and voice or piano and voice, so a producer can really help you find and express that unique sound you’re looking for.
To find a producer, seek them out in local music circles. and research who produced your favourite bands and/or albums. Alternatively, work with a sound engineer who gives a crap about what you’re doing. And acknowledge his process in producing and recording.
For an interesting release, consider recording both the studio and acoustic versions of your songs.
Sell and Stream Your Music Online
I guess you’ve got to consider who you think your audience is, and, if you can, ask them directly how they listen to, obtain and/or purchase music. Are they vinyl nuts? Do they buy Cd’s at gigs drive and listen to them, do they stream, or (like me) do they purchase albums on iTunes…
It is not easy to upload directly to iTunes. You need to have 20 albums in your catalog for starters… You can however seek out an Apple Approved Aggregator… This also appears to not be crazy easy. But obviously not impossible. I recommend approaching small independent record labels in your area, who have an interest in your genre or music, and discuss the options with them. And figure out how much of a cut this aggregator takes. And hey, expand your network of musicians, musical community,
Streaming is also an option to get in front of fans. Today many users prefer to use streaming services such as Spotify, which offers high quality music without occupying any space on electronic devices. Streaming your music can help many users find it and listen to it without investing money to buy. If they appreciate your music, they will start following you as an artist and perhaps even buy your music online and come to your shows. To get on Spotify, you need to send a request. Find the Spotify for Artists link at the bottom of the site.
The most direct and personal way to sell your music is to create a direct download. So that when people find you, they can contact you, send you money (paypal etc), and you send them to a direct download. I have a dear friend tickled pink that the singer from Little Bushman (NZ) writes to directly to her. It’s personal, the money goes directly to the artist. Although possibly time consuming. This would be a good option if you intend to have ways to get in front of your audience. Like touring. or epic social media advertising.
Improve Your Musicianship
By being an excellent musician and performer, you will be able to capture your audience’s attention during a live gig. Solo acoustic performances can be amazing, but probably won’t be if you’re struggling with your instrument.
Some online educational platforms, such as Coursera, Future Learn and EDX offer free courses on music production, songwriting, general musicianship and more; remember that you can always improve and you’re never too old to learn something new. Take singing and instrumental lessons as well, and be sure to check out local choir and vocal workshops.
Continuously Work on Your Music
This sounds obvious, but no amount of promotion will work if your music is mediocre. In fact, songwriting is as much a craft as it is a talent. Collaborate with other musicians you admire and ask for honest feedback every time you can; continuously experiment with different composition techniques and review your lyrics often.
Try to write or work on your songs every day; sometimes this can be hard and it’s normal to get stuck once in a while, but this type of constant effort can help you improve a lot in a short amount of time.
Use the Internet
The internet can really help you get your music in front of millions of people, so it’s definitely a resource you should use as much as possible. YouTube today is reaching billions of monthly views; consider opening a channel to showcase your live and studio performances and to connect to your fans and reach more people worldwide.
Also update social media pages regularly; Facebook and Instagram can be particularly useful to show your fans what you’re working on with photos and posts, and Twitter can help you communicate quickly or link to videos and posts on other social media. Be sure to use the automations. Social Media is the end of civilisation as we know it. Don’t spend too long thinking about it.
A website and a blog can also help you consolidate your image and inform your fans in a more official way about tour dates and venues. You can also post links to your YouTube channel and other websites where fans can go to listen to your music, such as SoundCloud.
Consistency is the Key
If you’re serious about being a singer-songwriter, you have to realise it’s a job and not a hobby. You need to work on your music and on promoting your music every single day, even though you might not get paid for it at first. If possible, consider making music your full-time day job. Only taking it seriously and persevering will give you a chance at being successful professionally. Take a risk and it just might pay off!
This Post was written by Sally Perkins. With my two cents thrown in.