As musicians, we're always looking for new ways to grow and expand our audience. That's why we decided to create this list of 21 things musicians must do in 2021 to help elevate their careers.
We focused mostly on easy to accomplish tips that can make an impact.
And as always, let us know your thoughts in the comments and share this article with other musicians.
Table of content:
It's always important to step up your game as a musician. But sometimes we are so focused on certain things we miss out on other potential growth routes. From our experience at MySphera working with thousands of musicians up to date, there are so many simple things musicians don't do despite the positive potential they might have. That’s why we decided to create this list of 21 things musicians must do in 2021. This captures the title instead of a variation of it.
We know how challenging was 2020, but it's exactly why you should step up your game in 2021.
Three things you should keep in mind while reading this list:
Some things are as simple as two clicks while the others could be challenging.
We believe the points below are essential to your help you grow. But always remember, there are no magic solutions, and crossing off 21 pointers will not transform you into a star overnight (Although they'll push you in the right direction).
There are always more things to do!
So here are the 21 things musicians must do in 2021:
1. Make sure you have social links in all your social profiles!
Too many musicians still have no links on their different platforms. Think of this scenario; Someone comes across your music on Spotify. He loves what he hears, follows you on the platform, saves a few of your tracks, and even adds your music to his playlists. Why not have him follow you on socials as well? Spotify is limited to your bio, music, merch, and gigs and there is much more than that on your other profiles.
Remember, your profiles are windows to your artist persona and are exactly the place to transform your followers into engaged fans.
Where should I do this: Spotify, Deezer, YouTube, and every other streaming platform where you can add links.
Need help with that? Here's Spinnup guide to updating your links on Deezer For Spotify: i. Log in to Spotify for Artists (we'll talk about this soon) ii. Go to Profile iii. To add or edit social media links, go to ABOUT. Under More Info, click the pencil icon.
2. Use smart links on your social platforms!
Smart links are the way to transform a single link in bio into a complete experience. Using smart links you can send your followers to multiple links and get another level of data doing so. For example, link to your latest video, newly single, upcoming merch, etc. In terms of analytics, services like Feature.fm ,LANDR, Linkfire and Soundiiz provide some great insights. LANDR offers a full suite of tools for musicians (You will see them make an appearance in other items on the list as well). It only makes sense that alongside digital distribution LANDR will offer a smart links tool. Soundiiz lets you know the total number of Views for a Smart link & the total number of Clicks for a Smart link. Feature fm allows you to completely customize your smart link and create a better experience for your fans - as shown in this blog post. When it comes to analytics, Linkfire provides the most robust option; Connecting Google Analytics to your Linkfire Links - doing this you can get loads of information about your most engaged fans - from demographics to session durations.
The Linkfire team shared some great advice about how to maximize the value of their products:
"It's worth mentioning that Linkfire includes bio links and we highly recommend artists using them because they bring together your releases, merch, SoMe profiles, and tours in one customizable and highly scrollable microsite. Plus, if artists are interested in capturing emails and followers we recommend using our reward link. They’re a highly effective way to deepen fan loyalty and drive conversions. What is valuable for every musician, no matter the size is streaming insights. We have exclusive data partnerships with YouTube and Apple. As well as with Deezer, iHeart Radio, Pandora, Boomplay and Anghami."
3. Claim your Knowledge base on Google!
What's Googles' knowledge panel?
"A knowledge panel is an automatically generated information box that appears on Google when you search for entities (people, organizations, places, and things). It is a quick information snapshot on a topic based on what Google finds across the web. It normally appears at the top right of search results on your PC browser, or the top on phone browsers. Knowledge panels for artists generally display the artist name, genre, releases (albums and singles), and record label affiliations. Additional information found on knowledge panels can include artist images, website and social media links, bio snippets, and even tour information. The more information Google can find on the artist, the richer the knowledge panel is likely to be." Taken from a Music GateWay blogpost Google automatically generates knowledge panels for different types of entities. So, you will need to claim your panel.
How do you claim your knowledge panel?
1. search your artist name on Google. 2. On the right you will see your knowledge panel (reference in the image above). 3. Scroll down and click Claim this knowledge panel.
For more information check the official Google resource
4. Claim your artist profiles on all streaming services!
"Getting verified and updating your artist profile on Spotify, Apple Music & other stores is an essential part of legitimizing your online presence as a musician." Ditto Music
Yep, it's as simple as that. Verifying your profile will help build trust among listeners!
Don't sleep on this one. It's pretty straightforward and extremely valuable.
Besides that, many streaming services provide analytics solutions on their "for artists" platform. Analytics is key.
5. Create an Artist Picks playlist!
Like many other things on our list, this one is related to claiming your artists' profiles. So if you have scrolled down rapidly to find an easy to accomplish tip/task/idea scroll up and... CLAIM YOUR ARTIST PROFILES ;) Now that you have all your profiles in check it's time to take them to the next level. Spotify allows musicians to highlight artists, playlists, or songs that they love.
"Choose something you love — a track, album, or playlist — and add a short message about why you love it. Picks live at the top of your artist page for two weeks and can be changed or updated whenever you want."
Why do we think having your artists' picks is important?
It helps to give your music context. Display your music inspirations, influences, and all the sounds that shaped you as an artist.
Unlock other musicians' audience on Spotify Search.
Great way to build connections with other musicians you feature.
How to create your Artist Picks?
Here's a great video from the Spotify For Artists team :)
6. Submit to editorial playlists on major streaming platforms!
Editorial playlists have a huge impact on your streaming numbers. These playlists are curated by special teams on many streaming platforms and aim to connect relevant sounds to avid music lovers. Here's what the team at BandLab had to say about Spotify editorial playlists:
One example of such a playlist is Low-key Weekend, which has over 70,000 followers. Singer-songwriter Rhyms’ song, ‘For Tonight’, was added onto the playlist in October 2018 and is now on its way to almost 2 million streams.
Yep, Editorial playlists can help you boost your presence, streams and followers count so be sure to submit your music whenever you have a chance.
So how do you submit your music to editorial playlists on different platforms?
Amazon: Send an email to email@example.com with the following information: Artist name, track title, release date, distributor, label (if any), genre(s), and a listening link (No attachments). ** Amazon Music does not currently ingest releases without distribution.
Spotify: Once your single has been delivered to Spotify (and you've claimed your Spotify For Artist page) and landed in the "unreleased" section in your Spotify for Artists page. i. Go to Profile, right-click any unreleased music, and select Submit a Song. ii. Choose a song from the release to submit. iii. Fill out as much info about the song as possible. The more info you put, the better chance it has! ** 2+ WEEKS before YOUR RELEASE DATE SUBMIT YOUR MUSIC TO DISTRIBUTION BECAUSE YOU MUST SUBMIT YOUR SINGLE FOR PLAYLIST CONSIDERATION AT LEAST 7 DAYS BEFORE YOUR RELEASE DATE.
Deezer: You can use this form to submit music to Deezer editors. Unlike Spotify, there is lacking documentation on best practices. But still... It's always good to try things out.
** For a full pre-release schedule check out our infographic for the perfect pre-release
7. Make sure your music is available on every streaming platform!
Music consumption habits are constantly changing. At the moment listeners are scattered between major streaming platforms, youtube, TikTok, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and many others.
Not having your music available on a certain platform is like shutting the door on potential fans. Especially with the rise of TikTok and Triller.
Still not sold about why having your music on TikTok & Triller is important?
"With a total of 865M Monthly Active Users, both TikTok and Triller offer incredible value to their expanding user base. While TikTok specifically appears to cater to all kinds of publishers and creators, Triller is specifically focused on the artists in the music industry. Videos are all about people smiling, dancing, and having a great time." taken from Wondershare Filmora
How do you make sure your music reaches all the right platforms?
If you are an independent artist, make sure your distributor has all the platforms covered. If you are signed in a label/artist management, ask your representative and make sure they have this covered.
Which digital distributors reach the most platforms?
There are dozens of digital distributors out there and different types of musicians need different types of distribution. You must do your research before choosing the right service for you. When it comes to partners ( platforms your music will be available on ) each distributor has different offers.
Here are our top 4 Digital distribution services:
LANDR - Our go to one-stop-shop for music services.
TikTok, Instagram music, all major music stores, and all music streaming services.
YouTube Monetization and cover song clearance.
LANDR built-in instant mastering - to make sure your releases sound perfect for your fans.
Musicians keep 100% of your rights.
Learn more about LANDR here
TuneCore - 150+ platforms including TikTok and Triller. See the full list here
Distrokid - All major platforms including TikTok, have beta with Triller and Soundtrack by Twitch.
CD baby - All major platforms including TikTok. Look at the partner list here If you want to investigate more distribution solutions check out this amazing article by Music Distribution Guru.
8. Start a giveaway!
The best way to engage an audience is by providing value. As a musician, the most valuable thing you can give your fans - AKA your audience - is your music! So, when you have a new release coming up; rather it's a single and EP or a full-length Album - create a dedicated giveaway. A giveaway is your way to engage your audience to take certain actions to get a chance to win a reward. Not sure how powerful giveaways are?
"Color Theory attracted over 1,000 new Spotify followers in a week by partnering up with musical technology company ROLI and using Gleam to run a giveaway which promoted his music to a wider audience and drove over 5.7k+ actions." Color Theory Case Study via Gleam
What are the keys to an impactful giveaway?
Plan it! Do not start a half baked giveaway. This means: Decide on a marketing strategy, define criteria to success and be sure to know what your next steps are. The fact you started a giveaway does not necessarily entail everyone will participate. Remember, having a good plan is the simplest way to boost your success chances.
Partner up! Collaborate with others to expand the potential reach of your giveaway. Know other musician friends who are about to release something? A cool company that makes interesting products? Reach out and see how you can create value for one another.
Good reward / Relevant actions! These two aspects are critical. On the one hand, you want to offer a good enough prize/reward/giveaway that will encourage people to take action. On the other hand, the reward needs to fit the complexity of what you ask your participators to do. Think about it, will you share+follow+retweet something if all you get is a-5% off on a T-shirt?
Yep, giveaways can do quite an impact. Plus, with companies like Gleam out there, the whole process of launching one is super easy.
9. Launch a Pre Save Campaign!
Pre-save campaigns have been with us for quite a while now, they help musicians, labels, and PR companies create value from day 1 through a carefully planned campaign aimed at fans and potential listeners alike.
The value of the pre-save is simple:
"When a fan pre-saves your release, it’ll automatically appear in their Spotify, Apple Music, and/or Tidal library on the day it drops." @DittoMusic
Similar to giveaways, there are loads of services that offer pre-save campaigns. This makes them super easy to do, and a must to try out. Again, be sure to think of a strategy before blasting your pre-save link across all platforms. Some of the services offering pre-save are Linkfire, Music Getaway, and feature.fm Besides these 3, some music distribution companies offer this as well - Ditto Music - is an example. So be sure to check if your distributor offers this as well.
10. Learn about paid ads on every platform and try them out!
People tend to think that if they promote their music a certain way they should not try new things.
Your music can be on all major editorial playlists but that shouldn't satisfy you! There is always more you can do.
Paid ads are often overlooked in our humble opinion. We feel many musicians think running paid ads is hard, but to be honest, it's pretty straight forward and... You don't need to break your wallet to succeed. More so, services like feature.fm makes running paid campaigns on social networks even easier with their easy to use dashboard; just pick a daily budget and feature fm will do the heavy lifting.
We recommend you give a go with all major social networks; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Snap, alongside music streaming services such as Spotify ads. Here are a few resources we believe will push you in the right direction ;)
11. Experiment with different tools, platforms & services.
Continuing from our last point, it's always food to be savvy when it comes to new tools for musicians. There are always new features worth exploring and new platforms that can boost your career forward. Not sure what we're talking about? Are you familiar with Distrokids' Slaps? Did you try out Spotify Canvas? If the answer is no, you should keep a closer eye on what is going on in the music world.
We know many musicians mostly focus on innovation in terms of production tools, so stop your tunnel vision and start exploring. Check out Product Hunt Music section, Music Tech net, Tech Crunch for a friendly start.
12. Use Reddit!
At MySphera, we love Reddit. That's no secret. It's a place where you can easily connect with like-minded people, discover your new favorite band and learn a killer production trick.
Musicians should put Reddit on their social strategy map for a few reasons:
Get feedback. There are many communities (e.g. Subreddits) that are all about musicians sharing feedback on each others' work.
Learn new skills. There is probably a Subreddit for every craft, with music being no exception. Learn new tricks for your favorite DAW, video editing hacks, and much more.
Connect with other musicians. There are many Subreddits for/by musicians. They are always a great place to communicate with other artists and build new collaborations.
Connect with tastemakers/opinion leaders. Reddit has communities for Youtubers, playlisters, Twitch streamers, and bloggers. All you need to do is give them a look, establish a connection, and hopefully, new features for your music will follow.
Looking for an easy way to get started with Reddit? Check out our guide to Reddit
13. Use Discord!
Similar to Reddit, Discord is a place to learn, interact and communicate with other musicians. Although the platform started as a communication solution for gamers, Discord has become a powerhouse for all things music. Similar to Reddit, there are different rooms in Discord. These are called Servers. There are servers for rappers, beatmakers, bands, etc - alongside some fast-paced replicas for famous Subreddits (We are the music makers for example.)
Some servers are invite-only and some are open for everyone, do your research and you'll find some great places to hangout.
If you're looking for servers to get you started with the platform, here are MySpheras' top 3 servers:
WeAreTheMusicMakers Official Discord server: Good for: Feedback, tutorials, promotion tips. https://discord.com/invite/WeAreTheMusicMakers
Musician's Circle server: Good for: Collabs, music theory, gear talk. https://discord.com/invite/jkaCJQn
Songwriters server: Good for: Feedback, Songwriting advice, reviews. https://discord.com/invite/Ap62U6H
14. Try out Sync!
Growth as a musician is all about getting your music to new sets of ears. But more often than not, breaking once glass ceiling is easier said than done. Think about the number of people that will listen to your music if it's used in the new Marvel Movie, Verizon commercial, or the biggest Xbox game. Insane right? That's all sync.
Sync (or synchronization) is:
"A process where songs are combined with moving images – film, TV series, adverts, video games, trailers, etc. Sync deals are usually arranged between a music publisher and a prospective client. Often a music supervisor or a film producer." Anara Publishing
Why is Sync important? It pays the bills & it creates exposure.
Here's a great quote from Bandzoogle article about Sync importance:
"It wholeheartedly has helped many new/established artists create a bigger awareness of their music by simply being attached to a product, TV, or film. In the long run, this has opened doors for them which exposed them to a wider audience. Sync is one of the foundations of the music industry’s revenue today. It’s one of the ways of getting an upfront fee and a performance royalty as well as a guaranteed bonus."
How can I learn more about Sync?
There are loads of resources about this you can find pretty easily, but as always it's better to have quality over quantity. So... Here are a few great places to start from:
15. Try live stream!
As musicians, finding new ways to engage your audience is critical, you probably know this by now :) With the rise of live streaming, more and more musicians use the medium to communicate with fans across the globe.
What is Live streaming?
It is online streaming media (Audio / Video) simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real-time. Platforms such as Twitch, Instagram, Mixcloud & Bandcamp let musicians broadcast live video on their platform. Despite using the same technology at their core, each platform has a specific angle on the value it provides to musicians.
Our friends at iMusician.pro explained it perfectly:
Live streaming a DJ set, your rehearsal, or an intimate acoustic session of unreleased music is a great way to build and grow your relationship with your fans. this means you stay top of mind with your fans, ensuring that you'll be the first gig they will see after the pandemic (we hope). In this post, we’ve looked across multiple platforms and pulled together a selection of free and easy live streaming platforms and apps you can use to create digital concerts. Taken from iMusician article: "Best Free Live Streaming Apps for Musicians"
If you're looking for another resource to get you started in live streaming, check our guide for going live on Twitch.
16. Try Patreon!
Monetizing your community is always challenging, especially in the reality of music streaming.
A die-hard fan can translate to 1000+ streams per year, the problem is, it's worth around $3.18...
This value gap forces musicians to find alternative ways to monetize their fans and community. Patreon is here to help :)
Patreon is a membership platform that allows you to earn a recurring monthly income directly from your fans. It’s similar to a crowdfunding campaign, but it’s for an ongoing basis, just like paying for your favorite music streaming service. DIY MUSICIAN PATREON GUIDE
Since March, Patreon music section grew substantially; More and more musicians try to leverage the platform to expand their monetization.
We even mentioned some musicians who use Patreon in our Community Building Guide
(We TLDR'd it in the Carousel below)
Although Patreon is at its' peak in terms of musicians' interest, starting a Patreon is not a guaranteed "Home-Run".
Musicians and Patreon:
Most musician pages on the platform (~72%) have up to 10 Patrons. So before launching your page take some time to think if this is the right time to start your page.
The reason for this can be related to Patreon limited discovery tools. Search on the platform has no filtering features, so unless fans know what they're looking for they will have to scroll (a lot).
To improve discovery, Patreon recently launched their new "Explore" feature where fans can connect their social profiles (Twitter, FB & YouTube) to see which of their favorite creators are already on Patreon.
Due to the fact discovery is lacking creators must take into consideration that most of your potential patrons are already your fans.
David Nguyen from D4 media explained it perfectly:
"As much as I love and support Patreon, I can tell you it’s not easy to build and sustain a membership page. I’ve helped launch Patreon campaigns for two other musicians that flopped while their peers ended up abandoning their efforts as well. Patreon provides the tools and the platform, but it is entirely up to you to funnel your fans from other channels into paying patrons. This means starting a Patreon campaign makes more sense if you’re an established artist or band with a sizable fanbase. Based on my research, I would say you need at least 11,000 fans on one platform like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram." David Nguyen DIY MUSICIAN - Patreon for musicians
We recommend you check all these Qs before opening your page:
Do you have any unique selling propositions to offer on Patreon? Meaning, can you offer your patrons things they can't get anywhere else.
Do you have loyal fans that are willing to support you monthly (or at least people that find point  valuable enough)?
In regards to point , can you reach more people like them?
Do you have the time, patience, and commitment to grow on a new platform? Growth=Work, remember that.
Are you comfortable promoting your Patreon regularly?
Need more info to get things started? Check out this eBook from D4 media
17. Try a social media scheduler!
Social media is key nowadays for musicians to reach new fans and engage existing ones.
And to win social media... you must be consistent!
What do we mean by consistency?
The same level of quality should be seen on all of your published content.
You should publish content regularly.
This tip is all about making point no.  simpler.
Social media schedulers let you plan & create your posts ahead, making the process of publishing new content every day a whole lot easier.
There are many scheduling tools out there, so here are our 3 favorite tools:
Tune core social - "TuneCore Social, you can plan, upload, and schedule with intelligent social posting so you can focus on real-time fan engagement."
Hootsuite Publish - "Get an instant overview of published and scheduled content across all your networks in one calendar view. Map out campaigns, fill content gaps, and collaborate in real-time. Suspend all scheduled posts when you need to react fast to a potential crisis or unexpected opportunity."
Buffer - The veteran in the content scheduling game. Easy to use, high-value planning tools + insights.