I’ve read many guides about music promotion and marketing online, and most of them apply to promoting metal music as well. But metal is a genre that has extremely engaged fans, and specific digital habits. Some of them are great opportunities, and some of them are frustrating. This is an article with my learnings about promoting metal music online, a mix of general digital marketing tips and specific metal concepts. I will try to focus on areas that are specific to metal.
If you want to see my general tips for online music promotion, I have guides for Bandcamp, SEO and SoundCloud as well. Are you trying to promote your metal band? Do you have questions or tips pertaining this article? Please comment!
Facebook groups for metal sub-genres are a promotion gold-mine
My most urgent tip that many miss out on are Facebook groups. Metal fans love to create groups for bands, moods, countries, sub-genres and more. You can post your music and content in these without getting slack, as long as it fits the group scope. A good tip is to participate in the discussions and make some new connections as well.
My band Soliloquium as well my friend’s band Within the Fall have become staples in the death/doom metal genre groups on Facebook through this strategy. It’s no road to mainstream success, but these are probably some of the most passionate fans of the genre.
YouTube and metal music
YouTube is a great way to draw attention to your band, or to yourself as an independent musician. Many of these video strategies can be done for the same song, which allows you to post it multiple times in different versions.
Metal cover versions
Covering a metal song, or making your own metal take on a famous song can bring an unexpected amount of YouTube attention. I’ve done it both as an independent solo artist and with my bands with varied success. My biggest YouTube success is Soliloquium’s doom metal version of The Cranberries classic 90’s hit “Zombie” that has over 50,000 views.
Making song videos with a logo, an album cover or a band pictures is a bare minimum that works OK on YouTube. A lyric video where you can follow the song lyrics in real time makes people look longer, making YouTube’s algorithm value it higher than a plain version. If it’s a lyric video with a good-looking picture or moving video behind the lyrics, even better.
Live and rehearsal videos
The metal scene loves live performances, and even if your audio and video is a bit shady it’s fun to post it on your page. This also applies to rehearsal videos. Many metal fans like organic-sounding material, and if you’re worried about it being a wrongful representation, just provide a link to the studio material in the video or metadata.
If you already posted a cool lyric video and a live video if your hit song, why don’t you make a guitar playthrough of it? It’s pretty easy to make nice-looking splitscreen videos showing both guitars simultaneously.
Post songs and full albums
Long videos rank high on YouTube, so it’s an unforgivable promotion mistake to only post videos of your individual songs. You should definitely post your songs, but don’t forget to upload a video with your full album or EP as well, it will likely get more views. I’m even experimenting with a full discography video for Soliloquium to see how YouTube will value it.
Last, but not least: there are many specific sub-genre YouTube pages out there. Ask them if they want to post one of your songs on the channel, they usually do. This is free, win-win promotion at its best. The channel gets more material, and you get exposure to genre fans who probably aren’t familiar with your music. Some of them even make gorgeous videos for you, as seen below.
Metal Archives is THE central data resource for metal music. Huge amounts of metal fans search for new music on the site, and you bet the information from there will show up when people Google you or your band. Make sure your releases, line-up and band pictures are up to date, so people get enticed to check out your band.
See if you can get someone to review your music on there, there is even a request a review thread in the forum. The percent average from the reviews is an important first impression. Vote up your similar artists to potentially show up under similar artists on the other band’s profile. Don’t forget to enter all your important resources (Bandcamp, Facebook, Soundcloud, homepage etc.) under “Related Links”. Get active on the Metal Archives forum, and have links to your music in your signature.
Rateyourmusic is a tight-knit, rather nerdy platform. Hence, there are a lot of metal listeners who use it. Simlarly to Metal Archives, make sure your band profile is up to date and tidy. Get your friends to rate your releases (in an honest fashion, no one believes a 4.97/5 average on an underground metal demo), and try to get someone to write a review as well. Rateyourmusic also has a forum with quite a few metal discussions.
Last.fm is filled with metal fans
Last.fm is crawling with metal fans who enjoy discussing their favorite bands. If you avoid being spammy, there is no problem marketing your band on other band pages, and directly to other users. A personal account means a personal touch, but it also means that the aren’t any opportunities to market your band on a wider scale. My promotion mouth always waters when I see a similar style band’s shoutbox full of potential listeners, like in the image below. And as you can see, my quite shameless promotion even received positive comments and likes.
Reviews and blogs in metal
Getting reviewed is a central part of promoting a new release. The metal landscape is a wide mix of everything from huge, commercial websites to backstreet blogs and it’s not easy to know the etiquette that applies. Some require physical CD’s and marketing kits, some are fine with a WeTransfer link with mp3’s.
I’ve had bigger success getting reviewed through my own customized e-mails, than most of my labels did with their promotion. A personal touch goes far in the metal community, and in a sub-genre a reviewer could be a valueable contact in the future.