For me, and I believe for most indie artists, getting discovered by a label is not really the end goal. Mainly because I don’t want to give up control of my songs. Yeah, if a label wants to talk, I’ll talk and be open to their offer. But my goal is to share my music with as many people as possible. I want to build my own thing, and I think many indies are on that same path. And even if you want to get signed to a label, you’ll need to have built a large fan base before they sign you. So let’s talk about getting discovered by fans.
Think About Where You Discover Music
That’s it. That’s the whole secret. Think about where you discover music, then make sure you are discoverable in those places.
Currently, the main places I discover music include:
- Live performances
- Spotify algorithmic playlists
- Friends sending me music
- TV shows, commercials, and movies
So in the next section, I’ll use the above list as a starting point. I’ll talk about ways you can get discovered by fans in these places.
How To Get Discovered by Fans In These Places
Here’s how to make sure fans can find you in each of the places fans commonly find artists…
Social media algorithms
The social media landscape could look very different this time next year. But right now – with the way algorithms are targeting new people, not just followers – social media is an effective way to get discovered by fans. I’ve found so many indie artists on TikTok specifically. So naturally, I post content featuring my music onTikTok,Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, andYouTube Shortsregularly. And I’ve gained new fans because of them all.
There’s nothing like a concert. Experiencing an artist or band perform their heart out for a roomful of active listeners is a special kind of thing. And those kinds of experiences have led me to look up the artist online and stream their songs. So if you like performing, get out there. Open mics. Breweries. House concerts. Whatever fits your vibe. Then perform like it’s your last chance at a music career.
Spotify algorithmic playlists
In my experience, Spotify’s algorithmic playlists do a good job of recommending music I’d like. Obviously, it’s not 100% right all the time. But I’ve discovered several artists through the “Made For” playlists, like Discover Weekly and the Daily Mixes. This is why I try toget my music on curator’s playlists– Spotify sees the playlist adds and that helps trigger the algorithm to feed my music to more people. Currently, 30% of my streams come from Spotify algorithmic playlists (second behind “listener’s own playlists and library” at 52%).
Classic word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful ways for music to spread. But most of the time, it’s not even a direct recommendation – I’ll hear and like what my friends turn on in the car or as background music at their hangout. So ask your audience to add your songs to their playlists. If the music is compelling enough, they will have already added it to their playlist. But a little nudge could help.
Shows, commercials and movies
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve whipped out my phone to Shazaam a song during a commercial, TV show, or a movie. If your song makes a viewer’s ears perk up, you’ve gained a new fan. That’s whysync licensingis not only a way to earn big payouts and backend royalties, but it’s also one of the best ways to get discovered by fans. Especially if you land a prominent placement.
This only applies to you if your music fits the vibe of coffee shops. I’ve discovered many artists while just sitting in a Starbucks. So what I’ve done (and what you can do) is give my artist name to the barista who created the playlist. There’s not really a way for me to measure if this works, but it couldn’t hurt to try!