November 29, 2009 | Category: Uncategorized

Music Connections

Given the abundance of music in the modern age, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find ways of getting music out to interested parties using traditional means. Most musicians don’t have the money or backing for widespread advertising and almost certainly couldn’t capitalise on it even if they did. Just because you’ve got a lot of posters or other advertisments out in the world doesn’t mean anyone is actually going to go and listen to your record. There are simply too many people trying the same strategy for it to be effective.

Rather than trying to convince everyone to listen to you in the hope that some might (the mass-market, lots of media approach), it’s probably a lot more fruitful to try the targeted approach.

Start by figuring out which other artists that you’re like and whose fans might like you if they had a chance to listen. It’s important that at this stage that you’re honest about who you sound like (you can’t trick people) and that you aim for relatively small bands (I’ll explain why later).

Got a nice little list of small artists drawn up? Go to and make a list of people who really like them, probably a hundred or so fans at first. is going to be a gold-mine for this because:

  • It’s full of people who care enough about music to actually document who they listen to (albeit passively),
  • You can separate the hardcore fans from the people who merely listen to them occasionally.

Remember when you’re picking names for your list that you’re not aiming to hit everyone who likes any of the people that you think you’re like. You want to be selective, picking people who REALLY like as many of those artists as possible.

Got a list of people? Now write a relatively personalised message to each one, explaining why you’re contacting them, who you’re like, and that you’re a small artist who would like a small amount of their time. Give away a bunch of your free tunes and thank them for your time. My bet is that if you’re ever going to grow your fan-base that doing it in this way, with people who are engaged with following similar music, will be your best bet.

Why aim for smaller bands? Sure, you might think you sound like Radiohead, but promoting yourself to that fanbase won’t work: they’re too big and have too many fans. Trying to reduce the signal to noise ratio (the number of engaged to passive fans) is going to be too hard to do and, honestly, most of them won’t care about your music.

Now, take this approach and generalise. Whatever it is you do, whether it’s making webcomics, movies, art, anything at all, connect with the most engaged parts of the community that are most likely to like what you do, and enter into as personal a conversation as you can manage. If you try this, you can probably grow a decent community over time. This is obviously not the full story of how things like this can work (you can’t do a one-time, one-way communication and expect to get a fan) but it’s a better starting point than most people have just now.