You’ve probably heard the many stories of famous singers and bands who struggled to get a recording contract at the start of their careers. The Beatles were famously turned down by Decca Records (“the Beatles have no future in show business”).
There’s a funny thing that happens in our brains when we hear that someone has been rejected, whether they’re a musical group, the writer of a novel, or an orchestral player performing an audition for a symphony orchestra job: we tend to believe that there’s something wrong with the artist, even if we don’t have the ability to assess their work for ourselves.
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In other words (and this is likely not a surprise to you) we all tend to believe the hype, no matter what direction that hype goes. We can hear something horrible, but if someone “important” says it’s good, many of us go ahead and believe it.
And if they say that it’s trash, we’re likely to believe that too.
But there’s something else worth thinking about, even if your main gig is as a songwriter: if there’s no hype, the result might be that you’ll find it difficult to find a place for your songs in today’s world.
So if you’re a singer-songwriter, it begs an important question: What are you doing to build some hype for your music?
If you stream your music online, but do nothing else to bring your songs to the public, the problem may not be that others aren’t hearing your music; it may be that your target audience doesn’t know (or lacks confidence to say with any conviction) how good your songs actually are.
It seems obvious, therefore, that you need to get your songs into a venue that people whose opinions are followed and trusted are likely to say something good about your music.
And simply posting them online and crossing your fingers may not do it. Getting local radio to play your music has always been an important step, and I think it’s still important. Radio play still rates highly because it usually takes several people in a chain of responsibility at the station to get your music on the air. And radio play still has a certain power with audiences.
Some other ideas?
- Involve yourself in local songwriting circles, as well as local performances in festivals and other organized events.
- If possible, reach out online (through social media, etc.) to individuals who are professionals in your local music scene.
- Try songwriting collaborations as a way of increasing potential audience.
- Expand outside your own genre of choice as a way of building target audience.
No matter what ideas you try, just remember that simply streaming your songs online may increase your audience without increasing the hype about your music. You may need to get creative in order to build some excitement out there.
If you’ve been seeing success with your own career and have tried some interesting and innovative ways of building a fan base, please share your ideas below.
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