In this post I am going to talk to you about reaching out directly to people. This has to be handled delicately as can move from a VERY effective promotion method into the spammy zone quite easily. How you approach this technique will vary quite a lot from artist to artist, whether you are just starting out on your music promotion journey or whether you're a seasoned pro whose been around the circuit a few times.
What we are going to do is contact users directly via direct messages (DMs / PMs) and indirectly via track comments. I must say this, due to a few bad apples, sending DMs is a bit more limited on Soundcloud than it was. It is such a great way to reach out to people that a few assholes thought they should spam the hell out of it (don't be one of those assholes). You must take it easy and not over due it – don't get lazy and copy and paste the same message each time. If you cannot make the message unique to the user you are sending it too then you shouldn't the sending the message. I will repeat. Do not try and send the same message, do not beg for listens or feedback, don't be needy or desperate - no one likes that.
That said, lets get down to how we can utilize this. In order for this to work, you do need to be active on Soundcloud, listening to music, searching for music, being an active community member – remember we are going to be using this community so we must be a part of it.
Firstly lets talk about commenting, it is the easier of the two and easier to get right. If you like a track you're listening to, say so. If you liked a particular section / bar / pattern, say so. If you want to know what a track is in a mix, so say. Commenting isn't limited (if the comments are genuine (or at least appear realistic...) so spread the love. If you've listened to something and it wasn't crap, leave a comment. Don't forget as well to like it, follow the artist or even repost it if you think the track deserves it
If you hear a track or mix that you think is pretty damn awesome, tell them. If you are blown away – tell them. I must stress, reserve this for those truly great tracks. Ask them if they have any other tracks like this. If you want to know how they made that sound, what kit they use / what their setup is – ask them. You know what? Artists love talking about their art – if you are genuinely interested as well, speak to them. If that 10 minute long prog rock drum solo sent you to another dimension let them know, they WILL appreciate it. Don't be a silent appreciator, be vocal, honest and genuine in your praise. If you want to buy but cannot – contact them, maybe they don't sell tracks but can send you a higher quality version. If a track has made it into your record bag (OK I am showing my age now – no one uses record bags any more) and you play it out – tell them. If the track smashes the dance floor up, tell them. If you've recorded a mix with their track tell them.
If you regularly play out, help promote or have a bit of a say on what the lineup should be, contact artists within a reasonable travel distance. Straight up ask if they can organize a show for you play at in their home town, they come and play in yours. It works for new / unheard of artists and more established artists.
If you know someone plays out regularly, or is a resident – ask if their is any chance of a gig, or at least of who you should contact. You will need a thick skin, you will get turned down a lot, but you'll be surprised at what gigs you can get (especially if you can make your own way their – don't forget take some stickers / promos / flyers etc)
But don't always be looking up the ladder, don't always go for those that can help you. Don't forget, help the new guys out, give them their first show – they won't forget it.
If you are actively involved in the online community, you undoubtedly will get to find out which are the main online radio shows for your genres of music. Radio shows are always looking for fresh music to play out. Reach out to them and ask if there is any chance of getting some air play – your music better be up to it (not just in your opinion but others). If you have an unreleased track, let them know, give them the exclusive. Radio stations / radio shows need promotion too so don't forget to like and repost their uploads too – it might just help you to get a track played.
Real World Network
What we are doing here is building a real world network, get yourself out there, be professional in your dealings with everyone, turn up on time, be prepared – if you're a DJ using a laptop and your laptop crashes, don't be that guy who points to the laptop and shrugs and waits two minutes for it to boot up again, have some CDs loaded in the CDJs ready to bring the music back in within a split second, bring your own headphones, have your cell phone charged (how much stress I could have saved if the artists were contactable before a show). All this will be noticed, then when an artists drops out on the day of the show, who do you think is going to be called? The guy who can smash it out, but is touch and go whether they make the gig, or whether they turn up coherent and able to play, or the dependable artist who is going to turn up and play a blinder? Promoters love artists they can rely on, who do not cause problems, who can be trusted. Become that guy, promoters talk, you will be recommended.
This is work (damn fun work – but work none the less). Keep track of this network, promoters' cell numbers / emails. Keep in contact, don't hassle them, but do remind them you exist every so often. If you're just put out a new album / mix / single / EP, shoot them an email, let them know you've just put something out and looking to promote it with some gigs, they know of anything going? This is work for them too, but you can make it a no brainer "yeah this guy smashed the place down and was dependable – sure I'll put you on the lineup"
All that is required now is to find and listen to the tracks, unfortunately the Soundcloud interface is not as good as it could be if the above is your goal: finding great tracks to listen to that are worthy of comments / DMs. But never fear this can be overcome and there are a few applications that can help you out here, but I am not going to put it on the public blog, you're have to sign up the newsletter and get the free guide to Soundcloud Promotion Guide where we get down to the advanced techniques