As generic as this topic may seem, it is undisputedly and undoubtedly an important cause for worry amongst existing and prospective singers and songwriters in the music space. Yes, everyone keeps asking questions on how to advance to the next stage of their career, particularly when they are independent and do not have an idea on how to move forward on their own.
The thing is most singers/songwriters are usually born out of a passion for the craft. Though it occurs often, a lot of these musicians do not necessarily go off to school to learn music. Singers are mostly self-taught and songwriters dabble into the career by listening to their favorite songs and trying to write something similar. Some musicians started songwriting off writing poetry. Then when they realize they can add an interesting melody and can actually sing without going off-key, they then realize in their heads that a superstar has just been born.
But no one will just become a superstar by identifying their skills and conceptualizing the idea in their heads. A whole lot of work goes into achieving these dreams and getting discovered either by your fanbase directly or by a music company that specializes in propagating your talent to the world. Be you a singer who is aiming to be the next rock star or a songwriting guru who wants to write the biggest songs on the globe, promoting and marketing your career is the way to go to find you the success you solely desire.
A good way to start is always to create the music content first. It is easy to get lost in the thoughts of becoming something without doing the basic work required to be that thing. So writing that first song and recording it puts you ahead of the rest of the other dreamers you share a passion with and also puts you out of your head. This also gives you a chance to learn what exactly you can do and create a niche for yourself as a singer/songwriter. It is easier to promote yourself within a niche at the beginning stages, but doing the work helps you find where you are most comfortable within the music space.
So after creating your content, the next thing of course is to find a way to put it out there. There are different ways or courses of action one can take in this regard. Singers can these days easily put their songs on streaming platforms where they can get listened to. The same goes with songwriters, as long as they can find a singer to record their music, or better still just sing it themselves. The content is the music, it is what people listen to ultimately and become in tune with. It needs to be in the right placements for discoverability first.
Social media is definitely the top spot in the drive to get listeners to your music or potential singers for your songs. You need to be on social media platforms, as they help to create a means of communication between the creator and their intended audience. Creating engaging content, be it pictures, videos (very important), TikToks, reels, etc are important in the quest to world domination with your work. It is rare to find any musician who isn’t on social media in this modern age and you don’t want to be caught lacking or missing out on the possibilities that come with it.
The good thing about social media is that aside from finding your own audience organically by testing different content on the platforms consistently, you can now run sponsored ads to reach people you may never have thought of in the first place. This gives you an avenue to get them to be on your mailing list, in case social media crashes as it has done in recent times. Building and maintaining an up-to-date website for your own music is a very wise decision to make in an attempt to achieve discoverability. You really can never tell where someone will hear your music, so you want to make it easy for them to find you after the first hearing, and easy for them to be retained in your ecosystem.
Sending your music to blogs, playlists, press outlets, radio stations podcasts, and so on is an important step to take in reaching out to and meeting new people for your sound. Its benefits range from simply getting more audience, to as much as helping improve the search engine optimization of your brand on the internet. Playlisting in this modern-day does as much as traditional press coverage. For songwriters, sending out emails to singers you believe can interpret your song perfectly is also important. This aids in networking generally.
The thing is while trying to get fans one by one by yourself is advisable, having and networking with people who already have an audience on your side help to speed you through the process. Something else that aids with networking as well is attending events/gatherings and socializing with people in your space within your community at the very least.
A very common mistake people make when they are marketing and promoting is not prioritizing older fans while in search of new ones. Keeping your old fans happy is very important to keep the business going smoothly. The old fans will always talk about you anywhere as long as they are well catered for, and are more likely to spend their money on your Merch than people who just discover that you exist. Merchandising is a great way to spread the word about your craft as well. It lets people know about you and keep things like your name and logo in mind.
Finally, always remember that you are also a performing artist. So find ways to connect with your audience by performing at gigs frequently. Let that experience be there for your audience to talk about. Performing at your own gigs may be a bit expensive to carry out independently, so this means that seeking partnerships and sponsorships is vital to help achieve your music goals. Associating with another brand, as little as they may be, will definitely help to push your music to wider boundaries and should thus be included in plans for promoting and marketing your singer/songwriter career.