How do you promote and market your own music on SoundCloud? It’s easy to post your songs. It’s not quite as easy to get people to listen to your music, especially if you’re playing an underground music genre. This is my practical no success guaranteed SoundCloud guide with my learnings. In short: SoundCloud music exposure is about tags, playlists, interaction with other profiles and driving traffic to and from other platforms.
- Driving traffic
A fading, yet useful music platform
If I look at the reach I can get from the platforms where I promote my music, SoundCloud is weak in comparison to Facebook, YouTube and Bandcamp. A quick look at the statistics for my band Soliloquium reveals a few thousand plays per song since the album was released. I don’t really see much unique functionality in SoundCloud today, so I prefer to view it as a compliment to the other music platforms.
Tags are extremely important
Tags and other types of metadata are essential in helping listeners to find your music, both through SoundCloud and other platforms. Most facts about your band is something you can put in a tag, and use to get search exposure. A sneaky SEO method (that kind of screws up your titles reading-wise) is to put the genre in song titles and playlist titles. This also works on Bandcamp, but I would never do it on there since I want my songs properly named on that platform. Think about things that you would search for that would fit your music and tag it.
Save your songs, don’t post the whole album at once
One great tip if you release an album or an EP is that you don’t post the whole thing at once. Since followers and tags have a constantly updated feed, posting one song per week or so is a good way to get a better presence. If you release everything at once you miss out on the opportunity to be seen and heard on several unique times. This tip also applies to YouTube.
Playlists are a good way to get some extra reach on SoundCloud. If you make a big genre playlist featuring your songs, chances are it ranks high in search and draws in fans of the style searching for new music. This strategy can also work on YouTube.
Also, don’t forget to make your albums into playlists. Note how I added genre, year, country and record label to the playlist title for SEO value. If you hit terms that people search for, it can add some plays.
Multiple SoundCloud accounts
Whether or not you’re a musician who plays in multiple bands, creating several SoundCloud accounts is a good idea to extend your reach. A natural way to do this is to have profile for your band(s), as well as a personal profile. This allows you to cross post your music on the different accounts: for instance you can do what I did in the image above; repost your cover version from your personal SoundCloud on your band account. Don’t overdo it, but certainly take every logical opportunity to get your music out there on the platform.
My SoundCloud setup:
With my three account SoundCloud setup, I can repost everything from the band’s songs to YouTube covers on the other accounts. This creates an immediately improved reach and buzz, as well as prettier statistics which can draw in listeners. There are also limits to how many people you can follow per SoundCloud account. It’s an opportunity to target and follow more people, as well as find users that are interested in the music from one specific account.
The groups are gone, and with them promotion possibilities
Sadly, SoundCloud took away the groups, which was a great way to promote music. Much like on Facebook, the groups were your own little searchable realm where you had full control of content to a niché audience. I had a growing group for the genre of my band, death/doom metal, that was taking off when they decided to remove it.
Like, comment and follow similar music
A good way to gain some visiblity, as well as some good-will from bands and musicians, is to like, comment and follow similar artists. Popular songs are a digital mire of comments on top of eachother, but if you play underground music or find the right timing it’s a solid way to expose your music on SoundCloud.
Drive traffic to Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube and your homepage
There are opportunities to drive traffic to other platforms all over SoundCloud. Don’t forget to fill in something in the homepage field: either your Facebook, Bandcamp or homepage URL. You can also put links in the individual songs or playlists. On my cover tracks I usually take a screenshot as album cover, and provide a link to the YouTube playthrough.
SoundCloud design elements
This is a short summary of the SoundCloud graphic elements and what you can do with them to get more listeners. Don’t miss getting messages like new releases across in any way you can in the images. Make sure that you check out your SoundCloud page on mobile and tablet as well, since more and more traffic comes from there. Only checking the material out on a desktop computer is a classic mistake that even professional marketers make.
Don’t forget to make the best out of the available design elements on SoundCloud. The cover picture is 1010*260 on my desktop computer, but I’ve successfully fitted many larger pictures. SoundCloud recommends a .jpg of at least 2480*520 pixels. Make sure it fits nicely with the profile picture on the left, especially if you have text in your profile header.
The profile image is on the left, on top of the profile header. SoundCloud recommends a .jpg of at least 1000*1000 pixels. Make sure it syncs well with the profile header. A band picture in the profile image and an album cover in the profile header usually does the track.
Song and album thumbnails
Good looking song and album thumbnails is a great way to get some more listeners on SoundCloud. Get creative if you post cover songs. Why not mash up the original album cover and a picture of you with your guitar for extra visual attention?