What the !%& is a “Path”?
A path is a strategy that you as an artist can apply in order to achieve success. Typically, we try to showcase a less traveled road and ideas that contrast the traditional approach of distributing music, build hype through social media and other “regular stuff”.
First and foremost, most of the actions any of the paths are things that you do outside the project scope and are not something we do for every release, but if you think any strategy in particular could fit your branding and artistry — we’re always happy to help you in any way we can.
The goal of this entire process is to get a cumulative growth effect to get more fans that will in turn give you more fans.
Introduction to The Free Way
The core concept of the Free Way — make your music free, in order to get more people to share it. It might sound like a fairly radical strategy for a record label, since our literal job is to make money from music, but we’ve found that making music as freely accessible as possible while offering the option to buy it rather than forcing people to use paid services is a legitimate marketing strategy.
The craziest part, is that it works. By providing music that is free-to-use, you tend to automatically get included in other peoples creations, such as YouTube videos and Twitch streams. By having your music be accessible and free for creators, they can provide you with a ton of exposure. For an upcoming artist, it’s a pretty solid trade-off.
Success Case: Matt Fella – Miami Nights
In 2017, we pitched Miami Nights to heroboard, got accepted and uploaded with their own created content on their YouTube channel.
Soon other content creators following heroboard created music within their niche. Mainly, travel, summer vibes and such videos since it’s within the chill edm / tropical house genre. Including a 1 hour version:
In total, we estimate that somewhere around 500 videos with views ranging from 1 – 50 000+ was created featuring Miami Nights. For an artist who’s only released one or two singles before — that’s a lot of exposure.
This also generated a lot of income from Spotify thanks to the Discover Weekly algorithm. Since the videos helped people find the song on Spotify — more specifically, it helped Spotify understand the relevant audience for the song and started to recommend it to a larger audience. To date, the song has more than 2 million streams on Spotify.
Not really convinced? We recommend this article by Jeff Goins about why “free” is the best marketing strategy.
Before we start, some things to make sure:
- If you have collaborated with other songwriters, producers, record labels and collaborators, you need to be clear that they are ok with giving away the music for free under the creative common license, you might need to convince them of the benefits — feel free to reference this article.
- Make sure you haven’t distributed the song to YouTube with content ID, or any of the many Content ID scanners.
- Don’t confuse this with doing free shows. It might be okay when you starting out and need the experience and exposure, but we’re only talking about music distribution in this article.
- Don’t give away your right to monetize on music services such as Spotify and Apple Music. You should still distribute and earn royalties from these services.
- It’s usually a good idea to offer merch and physical copies of the track or the Album/EP it’s promoting with premium prices.
- Make sure to offer the ability to purchase your digital music or donate/support you in some way in addition to Spotify / Apple Music streaming. Bandcamp is great for this!
Give your music away – the right way
Don’t just give away your music completely free. The best way to do this is to assign a Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0) license to your music, that way people can use your music in creative works — as long as you’re properly credited.
What is Creative Commons?
It’s a copyright license you assign to your music that allows you to let others download it for free and use it for whatever they want. They just have to give you credit for it. If you are not comfortable doing this, that’s understandable. Why would you spend hard-earned money and time writing, recording, mixing, and mastering your music only to give it away for free?
Making your music available for content creators isn’t exactly giving it away for free, the goal with this strategy is to get your music in front of the ears of fans and content creators in order to spread your music even more and start building a fan base so that you can earn more money later on. Consider it an investment, just like the money you spent mixing the track. Because you mixed your track, right?
How to choose a license?
Over on the Creative Commons website you can customise your license with a few options, we recommend looking there — here’s the link: https://creativecommons.org/choose/
You can then add the badge or license text wherever you’re offering a download for the music.
Tip: Choose (CC by 3.0) and let others make money on your music, even if it’s uncomfortable. This is just a way to help others get the incentive to help you. Instead of spending money on marketing, you let others monetize your music to give you credit.
Where to upload my music?
Here are a couple of sites that offer music under the Creative Commons license. They might not all be relevant for your kind of music, some are straight forward to register and upload music, some require submission first.
Tip: Create an instrumental version of your songs so that the song can show up in searches for instrumental music as well!
Oh, and before you submit; make sure you have link to your social media accounts!
- On your website
- YouTube channel with album artwork and the CC license in the description.
- Soundcloud with album artwork and the cc license in description, tag, profile description.
- Bandcamp + upload music. add the tag CC BY. Set the music to free, but with the optionality to pay if they want. Link to merch site.
- Free Music Archive
- Fugue Music
- CASH Music
More actionable steps to take with the free way:
Content creators have the same problem as you, just in reverse. They need high quality music that suits their brand or video, there are thousands of content creators with millions of videos and these videos need music.
Let them know your music is licensed as CC BY and provide a brief explanation of it just in case they need it — also good to include a link to the creative commons website if they’re unfamiliar with the concept.
- YouTube Creators
- Podcast Creators
- Twitch Streamers
- Game Producers
The idea is for someone to watch a video, and they come across your song, like it, google your name since you are credited in the description, and end up researching your social media accounts. (this is why it’s important for your socials to look great, check out our guide for that!)
How to find content creators?
Go to YouTube and search for “how to” in your kind of niche. It could be more or less anything, but try looking into niches where your music would fit. Some ideas:
- Workout / Gym
- Arts and crafts
- How to videos
- Cooking / Food
- Cars & Vehicles
- Computer & Electronics
- Family Life
- Home & Garden
- Personal Care & Beauty
- Pets & Animals
- Sports & Fitness
- Go to the about section of the influencer you would like to connect with. Sometimes the email for business inquiries is added here.
- Search on Google like this + add your genre to get some very relevant results and then go to the about section, or find submission forms in their video descriptions.
Make sure you are credited properly
After you’ve uploaded your music to these sites, content creators will start to use your music.
You can check whether people have credited you properly by making a YouTube search for your name and sort by latest upload date and see if any videos shows up. Make sure you contact the ones you would like to credit you better.
Create other products that your sell for a premium price
You should always have multiple means of monetisation for your content, that’s how you make this worth it — right? It’s not a good idea to do everything for free, all the time.
The idea is to spread the word about your music with free content, but earn that money back on other products (or your songs), and when you monetize, set your pricing at a premium level!
Ideas for monetizing:
- Merchandise (we’ll help you with that)
- Live Shows
- Select musical work, such as providing a topline or a remix for a different track.
A good way to gather and display all your products would be to create a website.
Create a website
How to create a website is a completely different project, but it is not that hard. Until we have created a better article on how to create an artist website, you can still utilize rexiusrecords.com and our partner network in order to sell merchandise, or be included in our topliner & producer network.
Of course, there are no guarantees, and it can be a tedious process to upload your music on all sites and contact content creators. That said, we believe that this could be a very efficient way to market your music, we’ve seen it work before.
- Create high quality music
- Upload to relevant communities and websites
- Make sure to describe and link to social media, web pages, and CC license.
- Actively contact content creators
- Reap the benefits and Monetize other products