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A blog post

How Independent Artists Can Use Streaming Music Services

Posted on the 13 March, 2012 at 9:08 pm Written by in Blog, Digital Music Business, Piece of the Fame

As you can imagine, as the author of “Piece of the Fame: Rockstar Social Media Marketing Strategy for Everyone to Ignite Your Business, Career and Personal Brand,” I’m often asked questions about specific issues relating to music campaigns. Some of the best and/or broadest reaching questions, I’ve decided to answer here periodically, for the benefit of everyone.

I was asked recently, “how can independent artists best make use of music streaming services?” which I thought was a great question, and probably one that would apply to a number of my readers. So, here goes:

As an independent artist, I would imagine that you’d be looking for three possible outcomes from a music streaming service:

1. Access to your music (reasonable)

2. Discovery of your music (somewhat reasonable)

3. Source of revenue (not so much)

Let’s just look at each of these options in a nutshell:

1. Access to your music

At this point, I would say the “big three” of easy-to-upload-to music streaming services, in order of ease are: Soundcloud, YouTube and Spotify. Yes, there are others (MOG, Pandora, Last.fm, Rdio, etc.). Of the three I originally mentioned, only YouTube provides seamless integration if you’re posting your music across the largest social media platforms (e.g., Twitter and Facebook). But, Soundcloud integrates pretty seamlessly with Facebook. As we know, Spotify is sort-of seamless, in a world where everyone has a Spotify account. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world…yet.

One thing that I will say about using YouTube as a streaming music solution is that #1, if you’re wildly successful, it can get you paid (see this Pamplemoose interview that I Tweeted) and #2, it doubles as still the best music discovery engine (and is the second largest search engine), and #3 if you’re smart about how you leverage the visuals that you couple with the audio, you might actually make a name for yourself – the suggestion for this is to create something visually interesting that could stand on its own – I personally love what Goyte does with his vids, but that’s neither here, nor there.

2. Discovery of your music.

So, generally, there’s little to no in-house editorial curation (no reviews, artists to watch, etc. – and algorithms don’t count) on any of the largest music streaming platforms (which I think is a pity), so you’d have to turn to outside parties to find a way into a discovery pipeline. Good thing is, since your music is accessible, if someone “discovers” you and wants to spread the word to their friends, there’s no problem getting to a sample of your sound. Still, there are a few ways to tip discovery features in your favor using each of the music streaming platforms that I listed above. I’ll give a few suggestions below:


A. Get all of your friends and fans to start including your songs in their playlists.

B. Make your own playlists of popular music that would fit in-genre with yours and include your music in those playlists (your playlist might come up for someone searching for popular music).

C. Get a buzz going on some other platform and hope that the third-party developers on Spotify pick you up on their radar (e.g., We Are Hunted, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone Recommends).


A. Send your track to people via their SoundCloud inbox (a la the old days with MySpace) and cross your fingers that they check it.

B. Post your cover songs material and remixes and hope that people stumble across it while searching for the original material.

C. Create playlists and mixes that include your tracks.


A. Make the most of the YouTube search engine function and post cover songs (I talk about this at length in “Piece of the Fame“).

B. Create playlists that include your tracks.

What I haven’t covered are services like Pandora, and even MOG, Rdio and Last.fm, that each in their own way use some kind of radio function and are tipped in favor of serendipity, or discovery. There’s not much that you can do in that situation to control how you get discovered, but you can make sure that if people to happen to come across your music and want to know or hear more, that you’re easy to find, especially with a simple Google search (i.e., make sure that you have posted your song + some kind of video on YouTube with correct labeling). So, make sure that from time to time you clear your browser cookies and check your band’s name and track titles to ensure that your web properties are coming up correctly.

3. And finally…Source of Revenue

I don’t know how to make the sad drumroll sound for you through print, but the reality is that as an independent artist, unless you become a viral phenomenon, you’re not likely to generate any appreciable income from music streaming services on a large platform basis (although, see the Pamplemoose interview). We’re just not there yet in terms of saturation of this type of distribution for music. To point you to a couple of articles that provide a breakdown of the economics, I’d send you here:


and here:


All told, at this phase of the evolution of music streaming services, you should be most focused on how you can leverage them for access and discovery, especially YouTube, which is still the second largest search engine in the world (behind Google) and still the largest “unofficial” streaming music service. There are detailed tips and explanations on how to best make this platform work for you in our own social media marketing campaign in my book, “Piece of the Fame,” available now on Amazon.com (in paperback and Kindle versions) and the iBookstore.

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