8 Ways To Promote Your Music For As Cheap As Possible In No Time At All

In our weekly open thread, Musformation reader Fresh Eyes wrote in to ask how you can promote your music even when you have no time or money. While this reads like a recipe for disaster, it’s sadly the case for many musicians and one they have to make the most of. With that said, here is our best advice for those with no time or money, that hope to promote their music and somehow win the music lottery of gaining a fanbase from the love of those who happen to hear it.

Timeline - Release one song at a time. Since you won’t have a lot of time to promote your music, the biggest asset you have is your songs. Release one song at a time, so your fans, friends and blogs have a reason to spread the word about you. Even if you record them all at once and later assemble them on an EP or LP, this will make sure your promotions get stretched as much as possible. At the least, post to all of your social networks once a week and tell your fans something interesting you are doing. Give them some sort of update that is more than just “rehearsing, songs are sounding real good.” (1 hour a month)

Distribution – Though this is constantly changing, right now OneRPM offers the most bang for your buck when it comes to getting your music into all the essential stores you need, for very few dollars. You will get in iTunes, Rdio, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon and a bunch of other stores that can help get your music in front of the ears that want to hear them. All for the low price of $30. (20 minutes of work)

Online Radio – Since you aren’t going to have any time to do promotion, you should focus on services that will do the work for you. One of those is online radio. Submit your music to Pandora and hope they accept you (after you distribute your record, since it must be on Amazon to get on Pandora). You’ll also want to submit to Earbits (we wrote about them last week) who will play your music for people looking to discover new acts. Their service also requires listeners to Facebook like, tweet and exchange email addresses with those acts they enjoy, to keep listening. If you get accepted to these services, you’ll be on the highway to effortless promotion. (30 minutes of work)

Free Music – You want to give away as much free music as you possibly can–since you won’t have the time to promote it–you won’t be driving up the demand for it. Put your music up for free on Bandcamp and be sure to exchange an email address for it. If possible, make a free music page (perhaps using WordPress‘s free option). On this page you should post each song you release for free. You can use a free service like Pay With A Tweet and a paid one like Dropify ($9 a month) to trade Facebook likes for your songs. You can see how we do this on the page where we give away our book excerpt for free. (1 hour every time you release a new song)

YouTube - YouTube is the number one place where new music gets discovered, so you obviously want your music there. The problem is making videos takes time and money, both of which you have none…. In walks MP32Tube. This service will take an image of your choice and your song and make it a single frame video you can have on YouTube. This way you can every song you have on YouTube, without putting more than a few minutes into it. (2 minutes per song)

Information- Flavors.Me will make you a decent looking website that costs a whole $20 per year to host. It will also save you the time of updating by allowing you to use Songkick to keep your tour dates up to date and Soundcloud to keep your music player up to date. They will also enable you to link all of your social networks, put up a pretty picture of yourself and put in a short bio, all without needing to know a single line of HTML.  You can also use WordPress’s option that we mentioned above but it will take drastically more time. (1 hour)

Socialise – You’ll want to put all of your songs on SoundCloud and spend the little time you have being active in a SoundCloud group that matches your sound. Go on Twitter and follow the people in your community (if you have none, we suggest using Mention to search for some), socialise with them when they say something you have an interest in. Don’t spam just be their friend and they will check out your music, when they see you being helpful, interesting or fun. Trust me. (10 minutes a day)

Disperse – As you collect emails you will need to do something with them. ReverbNation’s email service is free until you reach a limite of fans and have to start paying to use the service. If that runs out TopSpin is $10 a month for a great email service that also gives you other great tools like free email collection widgets and the ability to host music and sell merch. Send an update 3-10 times a year to your fans and let those who gave you their email address know your alive. (30 minutes every 3 months)

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.