How to put yourself out there as an unsigned artist
Being an unsigned artist is hard, right? We get it, you do it because you love it. The desire to make music is in your blood. Yet sometimes you just want a bit of recognition for your hard work and talent. It’s not too much to ask, is it?
Unfortunately, the odds have it that your audience are not going to discover you, especially in this oversaturated market of the internet age. If you want people hungry for your work then, well, you’re going to have to go out and make them take notice of you. Fortunately for unsigned artists, this is a lot easier now than it was, say, 15 years ago. Below we give you some tips on how to get yourself out there as an unsigned artist…
Embrace social media
It goes without saying, but unless you are an artist who has had an unconventional trajectory (eg. The X Factor), you need to get yourself on social media. You may hate the lack of privacy, fickle nature of it all or even find yourself at a loss of what to say, but all in all social media is an important tool in marketing yourself to a potential audience. As your followers increase, so does your potential reach, sales validity and – eventually – opportunities.
Don’t restrict yourself to one platform (unless you’ve never used social media before and don’t quite know where to start). Sign up for Facebook, Twitter at the very least, but Instagram too. All are useful in different ways. Facebook connects you to more “real people” and can be used to build an authentic network of potential buyers, despite its algorithms. Twitter is good at reaching potentially infinite amount of people and is great at conveying news, whilst Instagram – despite being a lot more effort – is great at giving people an insight into you, your music and brand. Make a bit of a plan and put a bit of time into these three platforms, and you will reap results.
Know when to share and when to not
When you’ve finally finished a song that has been bugging you for ages you definitely feel a sense of pride. You nailed that melody, that riff, that drumbeat. However, you’ve not had the chance to record and edit the tracks properly yet, in fact, it’s a really rough demo on your mobile phone.
As much of a temptation as it may be, are you sure that you want to be sharing that rough demo to your audience on Soundcloud and your social media? Is it wise, when you’ve already worked hard to promote a well recorded track that resulted in increased exposure and social following? Truth is, probably not. You don’t want people to hear something that isn’t finished, mastered or perfect. You don’t want them to leave your page with a now underwhelming impression of you as an artist. Instead you want them to be excited and asking for a release date. Don’t compromise your image just because you’re keen!
Also, you don’t want to be one of those acts that have more photographs than songs. Make it a general rule of thumb that you don’t change your profile picture unless you’ve released a new track. Which leads us nicely too…
Nail your social media tone
Keep your updates as relevant and timely as possible. There’s no real need to overshare or air your every thought on current affairs on Facebook. No one cares at best and at worst, you offend someone and lose a portion of your audience. Is it worth it? That’s up for you to decide. Whilst you’re deciding you should also consider the tone you want associated with you as an artist.
Those you get most interaction make a very specific portion of themselves available to their audience. Don’t take yourselves to easily? Show your humour (but again, nothing too offensive!) or make your tone friendly, sincere and genuinely excited about what you’ve got going on. Playing a venue you’ve not played before soon? Tell that town how excited you are to visit! Show you are a real human behind this image.
Alternately, some bands go the total opposite way and barely say a thing when they update their social media channels. Recent examples of this working well would be The 1975 or newbies Pale Waves. Both bands opted to say very little and show a lot, with carefully curated sets of images instead of soundbites. This creates a sense of mystery, but be aware that when you’re saying very little you’ve only your music to rely on – so make sure it’s good!
Now your image is on its way to being sorted it’s time to roll your sleeves up and get as proactive as possible. Search search search for exciting new opportunities to showcase yourself and your music to a wider audience. Follow relevant accounts on Twitter. Sign up to music industry newsletters, join industry groups and forums. Find innovative new services (like SYNCR, hey!) and try to secure opportunities specifically aimed at unsigned artists, such as renowned UK initiative BBC Introducing or competitions such as the Unsigned Only Music Competition, which exposure, recognition and prizes to entrants without them having to compete with major label acts.
There’s a tonne of things out there that can benefit new musicians, just make the time to look.
Do what you can, but know what you can’t
If you’re an unsigned musician just starting out, you’re responsible for all of your opportunities. You’re your manager, booking agent, promoter and PR, nevermind designer of your visuals, merchandise, website and all the rest. Sounds a bit daunting, and it is.
But all in all, it pays off to try and learn to do as much as you can yourself. It’s upskilling and only adds value to yourself as a person. However, sometimes you’re great at doing some things and absolutely abysmal at doing others. Identify what parts of marketing yourself you are good at, and if you can afford to do so, outsource whatever tasks you aren’t. Useless at getting people to hear your track? Hire a PR. Rubbish at negotiating fees for your gigs? Find yourself a booking agent.
Overall, be realistic. Nothing happens overnight and everything takes work, but with a bit of consistency, planning and proactivity, you will be surprised at what you can achieve!
Why not start with a really great opportunity to receive tonnes of exposure and be in the running for $150,000 worth of prizes? Enter yourself into the Unsigned Only Music Competition to be in with a chance!
Unsigned Only are the premier music competition for indie and unsigned artists and is open to all solo artists, bands or singers that are not signed to a major music label. Odds are that’s you! Unsigned Only level the playing field for entrants as they are not competing with established artists or Grammy winners; the goal is to give indie artists exposure and recognition for their music.
With a whole variety of categories to enter yourself into including many different genres, 18 and under, vocal performance and even placements in sync there is something for all artists. The grand prize winner will receive $20,000 and one-on-one mentoring by record label executives, top industry managers, major booking agencies and much more. Best of all, the whole thing takes place online only!
Discover more about the event below and visit their website to enter.