16 Jan How to get your music heard and noticed online
So you want your music to be out there!! You want to be the next Armin Van Buuren! In this blog i am going to share some points that may or may not help you in your quest to get your music noticed. It is important to understand the impact of the way music production has changed in the last 15 years, this will have a big impact on the way to move forward and smash the scene with your music. Although this article is only about my thoughts, impressions and opinion about the trance and EDM music scene, i think it relates to many genres of other music.
My main points will be
- What i have noticed after being away from the trance music scene for 15 years!
- Will this change your judgement and strategy of music production?
- How good is your music?
- Channels for getting your music heard.
How The Trance Music Scene Changed
I bought a pair of Technics 1210 Mk2’s in the early 1990’s. I think the buzz was actually finding new music on vinyl as well as learning to mix them on those beautiful decks. There was no internet! i was buying vinyl from catalogues, having fun finding record shops that satisfied my junky need for vinyl. In the 1990’s music was not so much about genre or niche, we had just come out of the rave scene into the super clubs. So the first thing on your mind was, will this sound good in a club, party or to my friends? Yes the influences and beginnings of Psy Trance of Trance were there but were not labelled as such. It was all just great club music. Were all the tracks by the dutch sensations really trance music or just amazing tracks that were a sensation in nightclubs, it did not matter just great music to listen to, in my opinion.
The difference in that era to modern day has to be the DAW (digital audio workstation). I can’t imagine the procedure of making that track in a studio, the cost of making it, the hiring the studio, hire an engineer and then it would still need to be mastered. All made from keyboards, a Roland 303 and a tape machine. My point is there was a financial risk to it and if i was making music then, I would want my track to be pretty good before i spent my months wages on it. It was all analogue equipment, i am guessing they must have known or had a good idea of how to pen that track before booking a studio.
“Back in the old days” he says wearing his cardigan and slippers, you know, when you could leave your front door unlocked.
A Dj had to not only pick the right tunes to play, they would have to have the skill of mixing the vinyl records and would be rated by music fans on this and this alone. No auto sync button. Yikes!!!!
A music producer would be rated by the Dj, who would play the music in the club or the bedroom Dj who wanted it in their vinyl collection to annoy the neighbours with.
A Dj who was also a producer was rare and those who managed to make that status, have survived the change in music, many are still there today. Living in very big houses, driving nice cars and ownership of record labels.
For the music producer generation today, music could be considered more of a production line, and here is what i have noticed in the last 4 years of trance music in particular, The top Dj producers we all know who they are, in general release a new track pretty much every month. The style of sounds (sound designs) all pretty much sound the same, now i am not saying this is bad or good, this is what my ears are telling me. On the whole there are a select few plugins to achieve the same style of sound, eg spire, sylenth and a few more. Yes Analogue keyboards are used but by a select few only. A highly successful track will stay in and around the beatport top 100 for at a push 6 weeks. Many tracks will stay in the charts for 2 weeks, regardless of the record label and who is promoting it. This is because of the high turnover of music. Online streaming requires music to be played 24 hours a day, out with the old in with the new, next tune please!
A current Dj who plays in large clubs can promote their own and also promote record label music that they work with almost exclusively. Their tracks keep their name in the public eye, therefore fans will keep buying tickets to see them at events where the real money is earned. Making music and selling music, is not a great s sole strategy, if this is your only strategy, i believe for many this will not pay the rent, pay the bills and food bills.
This is the reason many Dj’s are also producers or are keen to be releasing music, selling music is great exposure for them, a way to stay in the mind set of fans. No different to a band who can earn more playing out at concert venues and festivals.
In the 1990’s music producers would not have to be a DJ they could make enough money from this alone. The top producers could dare to move into other areas, such as film music or pop music with the big stars, earning massive pay days.
You might ask, how does a DJ produce music when they are busy on tour? Simply put they may not, they may have somebody making music for them, this is a term known as “Ghost Production”, frowned upon by many. I have thought about this again and again, my conclusion which i will explain later, I believe this to be a good thing. This can be one of your channels for your music, which i will dive into later.
I stumbled upon a Russian Ghost production site that sells many genres of music, a busy Dj can purchase tracks whilst on the road and maintain prominence, the real tasty music i believe wont go online just mailed to them direct, first dibs to the Dj!!!!
My point is even if you make a track that is as good as or better than any of the classics made in the 90’s, there is a tonne of music, instantly at our fingertips that might drown it out and swallow it up into the abyss. The scene has changed, this is only natural in the digital age, me personally being a lot older, my fond memories will always be when i was young having a good time, yes raving!! You might hate the music from that era and love the modern production styled scene and rightly so, your fond memories could be last week or last year. I try to embrace it all, trance, EDM, and any other music that floats my boat!!!
My overview of how the modern trance scene is today, is to say it has changed, it has adapted to compete against other genres that have grown in popularity. In the UK there used to be at least one nightclub in every decent sized town, playing club music. This is now not the case so adapting to the online music streaming trend will be critical to make money and be noticed as a music producer.
What is your music production strategy going to be?
How good is your music?
What Channels can i use for getting my music heard?
These three questions and points have to be answered together, hopefully my ideas will drive you to the correct solution for your genre.
We need to think about point 1 for a moment. The fact is we are in a fast moving production line of music, it may feel frustrating that your’e making music but nobody is getting to hear it. I still think the opportunity to get your music out there is better than ever and easier than ever.
The ONLY thing that matters before you try anything and i mean anything is that your music is good enough to cut it. If the only thing you take away from this article is that your track is good enough to make it, then the first battle is won. Can you envisage a Dj dropping your tune in a club. You really need to get opinions from other people about your track, they don’t have to be famous but they do need to have a darn good understanding of the music you make. It is no good asking your best mate or parents, “what do you think of this?” The reply maybe a little biased and not accurate. Even social media can be dodgy unless you Direct Message somebody that you pinpoint who you can trust.
Ok Ok i hear you, your track is that good and it is better than anything else out there. Have you had it mastered yet? OK you can master it yourself but if you got a spare bit of cash in your pocket, send it off have it professionally mastered. Find a company or person who understands your genre, this is important getting correct sound levels of the day is critical. I follow Mark Sherry on twitter @marksherry he offers a mastering service, be warned don’t expect him to offer an opinion on your music, that would be unfair, this is a mastering service only! Another possibility i found from somebody who was in the trance seen is Medway Studios, Medway used to be associated with the Hooj Choons music.
Mastering can be the difference between being in the wilderness or creating a music career for yourself. Remember in the 90’s we were not so worried about the clean cut sound of a tune, we just wanted the dance floor filler, some of the vinyl i had was loud some were quiet, we used that thing called volume control on the mixer and generally moved it in the up direction. In the car we had just 2 speakers with an amp and a bass bin, oh yeh and we would generally drive around the same roads, annoying the same residents every night with our windows wound down pumping it out, in our £200 car and the £500 stereo system we saved up for.
In the current digital age it has to sound great on a smart phone, in a club or online. There is no middle ground, no room for any element to sound wrong unless you really have produced the next classic, that big choon is in trouble and heading for the wilderness.
Load a reference track in your daw, yes you know the one that influenced you to make your own music, think long and hard before thinking about the channels for releasing your music. Be double, no triple sure it is right for release.
The Channels or outlets to get your music heard.
So now your tune is mastered and it sounds great, this is the bit that for some is harder than others, send it off to record labels and Dj’s ultimately they are both looking for new music, the next dance floor filler! A record label should be more responsive, they will have active websites and social media accounts that they use to promote new music, Dj’s are a little harder to reach, some seem to manage their own social media accounts, some do not and social media managers are not going to recognise or feedback about your music. Ultimately you can always ask what is my song missing? Ask advice on how to improve your song. It may hurt but it may be the difference between a mediocre or a killer track.
No reply from anyone above right, shock horror ghost emoji expression.
Now we need to think outside the box a bit more. Yes everywhere else tells you to go the social media route. Thats going to take ages right?
This where you still need the courage and conviction to push it like mad, Let us take soundcloud as the first channel outlet, your account created, all your logo’s looking catchy and the soundcloud page setup all looking stunning. You could upload a preview of your track on soundcloud or maybe 2 or 3 tracks and approach others on soundcloud, message them see what happens, ask for that all important opinion. I would like to say go and make some remixes and mashups, get a following and your own choons will appear in the new and hot soundcloud chart from your new followers you gained, as long as you know the risks of making remixes and copyright etc then this is a possible channel, your remixes need to be stunning, then the right people will sit up and notice you.
With Instagram you will need the help of an influencer, the chances of this helping you in this stage of your career are slim, Instagram is better for when you are an established artist. With your soundcloud preview ready to play, contact influencers in your genre ask for their opinion, if they like it they will share it.
Youtube well rather than creating your own account, reach out to the Youtube channels that promote your genre for example trance, channels of note are Jamie Trance and TSOH Trance both have a nice following offering nice exposure and the chance for the track to go viral.
Facebook not my strong point i do not use it, no point in any advice from me here.
Twitter again i think it follows the instagram idea of using an influencer for help.
There many platforms out there that i do not use, concept will remain the same, find an influencer who likes your music and they will help promote you.
You may of stumbled upon these, you know give me your email address in exchange i will let you download my track or if you like my song on soundcloud you can download it. Never heard of this being a success but maybe it has for somebody out there.
I have to say Spotify is intriguing me more and more. The fact is nobody is buying music like we once did anymore, streaming music is a whole different ball game. The beauty of Spotify is that it is free, apple music is a pay for platform only. You can get the Spotify app on a smart tv, so it can almost be played anywhere by anyone for no cost. Spotify for Artists is looking to help new artists more and more. Getting your song on a playlist with a big following could drive your song to be heard to a big audience very quickly. Finding the owner of a large playlist can be hard and needs a bit of research. Earnings on music is small unless you get millions of plays, it could though get your music noticed by the right people, yes the record labels that ignored you to start with.
Amuse is a website that will get your music for free, yes FREE on the Spotify platform, there is a check made on your music but if you have used a reference track you should know if your track is the right volume level etc. etc.
There are many enthusiastic radio streamers out there, who will be quite happy to stream your track on their station, they will not be happy to play any old track, they know their stuff, do not forget they are fans as well. If your track is going to be the next big thing, it will be quite a thing for them to say “you heard it here first!”
Whats the alternative?
If this is not for you but you are fantastic at making melodies, percussion or sound design, then offer these strengths and abilities to another producer, team up, this could make a winning formula for you, combine all your strengths and knowledge, start the process again this time armed with an even better song to release to the world.
Sell your unique sounds
Sound design can offer a very good living, you can sell your soundbanks online and earn a good living, make a tune as a reference track for your designs, there are many many producers who do not design their own sounds.
This can be a great way to sell your music, maybe you do not want to play live, you might suffer from health condition for example and making the music is your only enjoyment, There are plenty of people who will buy the music and use it for their own means and purpose, if your music is good they will keep coming back to you. Here is the website i stumbled on, this is designed purely to sell music to others https://edm-ghost-production.com/ You can earn an income to pay for new plugins or new equipment. Ok your name will never be known but the satisfaction that your music is getting out there might be enough.
Post tutorials and videos online
You might very well know all the techniques needed to be used to make great songs, the only thing missing is you cant write them great songs yourself. Create video tutorials and show others how to make sounds that you like in a plugin, maybe you have some great EQ or reverb techniques that work a treat and can make a track sound oh so good. Watch how people will approach you after creating interesting videos, they will pay for your time and again this can feed your passion for new equipment and plugins. Nobody approached you but millions of views, then consider packaging a tutorial to be sold online. This could also advertise your soundbanks and enhance sales.
My Conclusion for getting your music heard and noticed.
There are other options out there, explore every possible way that you can, leave no stone unturned, try, try and try again. This is going to take hard work and some luck as well. Make sure your track is perfectly made and positioned to make everyone sit up and notice you have arrived.
All of these suggestions are telling you, you need to get busy and have the courage to approach people, get knocked back do it all again, this is not for everyone, unless you are lucky enough to live next door to Armin Van Buuren or Tiesto of course and can pop in and discuss over a cup of tea.
I hope you found something here that might have sparked an idea or two.
I am personally building a spotify playlist for trance music and EDM i would love you to follow it and i might be able to help you in the future!
Good luck on your journey and enjoy!
If you have any ideas or input you want me to share on this article you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or even just to have a good moan about the music scene