Growing Your Fanbase on SoundCloud: The Ultimate Guide For Artists
SoundCloud is an exceptionally convenient platform for sharing and discovering music, and it has helped several big-time artists like Fetty Wap, Kygo and Post Malone get discovered, But what exactly makes SoundCloud so great for musicians? What can the platform do for you as an artist, an A&R, a music manager or a label?
In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions – and give you an in-depth guide to the specific strategies and actions that can help you replicate the SoundCloud marketing results of artists like Bryson Tiller or Post Malone. Let’s start with an overview of why SoundCloud is so perfect for musicians – and what it can do for you.
What You Need to Know About SoundCloud
In essence, SoundCloud is the LinkedIn of the music world. It’s a specialized social network where professionals (and their fans) can meet, enjoy content and get access to releases or previews long before they hit the virtual record shelves.
The first thing you can do using the network is found listeners for your music. The platform’s got 175 million active listeners – twice as many as Spotify – and they’re hungry for quality content. If you can provide it, you’ll find hordes of fans.
On top of that, SoundCloud is a place for:
What this means is that SoundCloud is an excellent place to find connections, team up with like-minded people and build your following by attracting influencers.
There’s no other service that allows you to do all these things while reaching out to music fans – and this is why SoundCloud is so uniquely effective as a marketing tool for musicians So now, without further ado, let’s get into the step-by-step guide that’ll help you get discovered, gain traction and make your way up in the music industry. The first thing you need to take care of, of course, is…
Setting Up Your Profile (Properly)
1. Use a Relevant Name
See, your display name is the first thing people engage with. It represents you as a brand – and if it’s irrelevant, confusing, or straight-up bad, your marketing will suffer. I had the pleasure of listening to an artist called DJ Camel on the chill state at this year’s Rainbow Serpent event here in Australia. I immediately tried to find him on SoundCloud after the event, but couldn’t. After a bit of digging, I finally found his profile: He thought it would be a clever idea to take his stage name, write it backward, and use the resulting lemacjd as his SoundCloud name. This poor naming choice has made his profile nearly impossible to find via Google or SoundCloud searches, and he’s only managed to accrue 13 followers as a result.
To avoid such a disaster and properly optimize your profile name and Profile URL (remember these two are independent).
Here’s a few more tips for getting the most out of your profile:
Pick a name that lines up with your public brand. If you’re a band or musician, go with your stage name. If you’re a label representative, consider incorporating your company into your display name.
Try get a short rememberable Profile URL, for example: https://soundcloud.com/whitebear
If you can’t get the Profile URL you want you might have to get creative (but remember to include your proper Name, don’t have both URL and Name as something abstract): https://soundcloud.com/hwitebear
Don’t try to get cute or whimsical. Your personal e-mail can be “RockLord99”, but this is marketing – so think of your display name as your brand, it has to appeal to your potential audience. Ultimately, you want to make it as easy as possible for potential listeners to find you and figure out what you’re about.
Especially when the majority of artist searches happen on Google first. If you can’t rank your SoundCloud profile for your own artist name then you’ll be missing out on followers that heard your gigs or songs elsewhere.
Now that you have this sorted, lets talk about how other social platforms play into the success of your SoundCloud profile…
2. Add Links
SoundCloud is a social network, but it’s not meant to be anyone’s primary social platform. That’s why you get the option to sign up via Facebook: SoundCloud expects you to use other platforms.
Consider SoundCloud as the primary place that you’re hosting your music. You need to consider how to leverage other social platforms to drive your fans to SoundCloud to listen (more on this later).
As a SoundCloud user, the best way to direct traffic to your other social accounts is by adding links to other platforms to your profile. To do this, you need to go to your profile page, click “Edit” and then hit the “Add Link” button:
56% of all U.S. adults use more than one major social media platform, so it’s a good idea offer links to several social media platforms. We recommend focusing on major networks like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, as well as your personal website.
When you click the link you are taken to this page, which provides you with numerous options for buying or listening to the sing
We’ll provide more tips for leveraging these links a little later, but for now lets talk about updating your…
3. Your Bio and Contact Information
If you’re an up and coming artist on SoundCloud then your bio is an invaluable way to make a strong impression and highlight who you are as an artist. Focus on who you are, where you’re from, and what you do music-wise as well as all your major and recent accomplishments. Mention any labels you’re associated with, any notable venues you’ve played and any stand-out performances or crowds.
Once you’re done with that, add contact information. This is important – because a page with no contacts implies you don’t have a set process for bookings and studio sessions. This is bad, as people who would otherwise be interested in working with you may be turned off by the prospect of struggling to contact you and working with an inexperienced musician. This isn’t something you want – so, whether it be a manager’s or your own, always remember to add contact information.
Now compare with a more established DJ/Producer who is using the bio to take mostly bookings. soundcloud-sander-kleinenberg
Once your bio is up to scratch, it’s time to move on to the “important” part of the process…
You only get one chance to make a first impression – and you want it to be so awesome that listeners, industry insiders and musicians are all blown away by what you do. Creating music that people love is no easy task, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you only post your best work and give your tracks the best chance of success.
4. Post High-Quality Tracks
If your recordings have low sound quality then chances are they aren’t going to be very well received, regardless of how good the song itself may be.
Make sure you avoid this by only posting complete, high-quality songs. This means uploading tracks that have been properly recorded, mixed and mastered. You may not have the best equipment – but you should still showcase tracks where you make the most of what you have.
Bear in mind that SoundCloud streams your tracks in 128kbps, so if you want users to hear it without quality then you will need to enable downloads on that track (which isn’t always an option).
Panic! At the Disco are currently boasting the four most played alternative rock songs of the week on SoundCloud.
Panic! At the Disco’s most played alternative rock songs on SoundCloud
A level of success that would be unattainable without their finely polished, high-quality tracks.
5. Focus on Music People Enjoy
Don’t worry about uploading your personal favorite tracks. Instead, work with music that people enjoy – even if you, yourself, are more interested in tracks that aren’t quite as popular with your audience.
Once you’ve established yourself and built up a fan base it will become easier for you to delve into more of the styles you like, but while you’re still establishing yourself as an artist it’s a good idea to stick to the music that’s most appealing to your audience.
LA based producer Matt Lange originally garnered attention with his glitchy Telefon Tel-Aviv influenced IDM beats:
Sometimes it can take a while for you to find your place in the world of music, at the same time some producers find that having to produce the same genre for every track can really cause strain on their creativity. In this case you might consider setting up a Pseudonym (or separate account) to release your more experimental music.
Consider Marshmello, an artist that has rocketed to the mainstream over the last few years with a Pseudonym that ended up overtaking the main artist, except no-one knows quite who the main artist is – or do they?
6. Create a Consistent Experience
In addition to posting music which resonates best with your audience, it’s also a good idea to maintain consistency throughout your songs. This will create a consistent experience for your audience and let your listeners know what they can expect from you as an artist, both factors that will aid in finding loyal followers and growing your fan base.
Hugely successful artists like Chance the Rapper understand the importance of consistent musical experiences and endeavor provide them as a result, just check out these two tracks to see how he has crafted a consistent style that still provides room for a unique and differentiated musical experience.
You may like to experiment as an artist, that’s understandable – but it’s still important to present your body of work in a coherent way that people can enjoy. If you have tracks that are very different, you may want to split them off into separate albums (or artists as we discussed above) – but we’ll talk more about that later.
7. Use Cover Art
Cover art, cover art, cover art. It’s so easy to make using tools like Canva, Snappa and Stencil, even if you’re bad at technology and design. Make sure you ‘upgrade’ your best work with visuals; it will go a long way.
Take a look at this simple yet elegant album cover from Mauro Valdemi.
Although there isn’t all that much too it, it still gives the album an instantaneous look of professionalism that wouldn’t exist on an album or song without an accompanying image.
8. Do Remixes, Covers, and Mash-Ups
Another great way to use your music to grow your following is piggybacking the success of hot tracks and artists by spinning their music. You can do it by way of remix, cover version or mash-up; whatever’s most appropriate for your specific music style. Just make sure not to sell anything you haven’t cleared with the appropriate copyright owner!
A great example of this comes from Norwegian artist Finnebassen, who found great success largely due to his commitment to remixes and edits. His remix of James Blake’s ‘Retrograde’ was particularly successful, helping his popularity grow to a point where he has invited to create an Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1.
9. Upload Previews
Another useful type of track you can upload to SoundCloud is a preview. Uploading a preview of a song will allow listeners to hear a snippet of a song, with a prompt to upgrade to SoundCloud Go+ to listen to the full version.
Unfortunately, this option is only available for SoundCloud Premium Partners currently.
Instead, some producers will use their DAW or editor to fade the music out at a key point in the track. Just enough to tease the audience, but not enough to use the track without paying for it.
A quick note is that uploading previews tracks aren’t generally recommended when you’re just starting out and looking for fans, but once you start gaining popularity it’s an excellent idea.
If people can listen to all your music for free they’ll be far less inclined to purchase it. This can seriously hinder your efforts to get a record deal, so once you start to have some success consider uploading a few preview tracks.
10. Properly Name Your Tracks
SoundCloud’s algorithm (DiscoRank) guides people to music they’re likely to enjoy based on how others are reacting to it.
This is done via track names, performer names, keywords, genres and social activity on the track. The name of your tracks have an integral role to play in getting discovered by people who are likely to enjoy your music. Because of this, it is imperative that you title your tracks in a way that not only accurately represents what they are, but also puts your music in front of potential fans.
If it’s only a preview, throw (Preview) into the track name.
If you’re remixing another song, let people know what song you’re remixing, and who is doing the remix, just like Flume did when he remixed Hermitude’s ‘HyperParadise’.
If you’re posting a live set, mention the club or location where it was recorded. This will make it easy for people who heard you live to find what they heard.
So when you go to name your track, follow the tips listed above and make sure your track’s names are accurate representations of what they are. This is one of the best ways to get your music into the ears of people who want to hear it.
11. Use Appropriate Genre Tags
As we briefly touched on in the last point, how you label the genre of your music plays a key role in getting it found. A track’s genre is determined by the genre tags chosen by the artist. These tags are a powerful tool when it comes to getting your music found. Not only will the tags let listeners know what type of track to expect…
SoundCloud Genre Tags & #hashtags
But they can also help when people are searching for a particular style of music.
SoundCloud Popular #hashtags
SoundCloud recommends using as many relevant tags as you can, but no more than that. You don’t want to spam and mislead potential listeners by misrepresenting the genre of your music.
As an artist, you may dislike being labeled and attaching yourself to genres, but the end of the day genre tags will help your music get found and you can’t afford to ignore them.
These tags can also be used for purposes beyond classifying the genre of your music, as can be seen by these uploads from 44,100Hz Social Club, which highlight a few other ways you can tag your tracks.
Tagging SoundCloud Podcasts
Don’t go overboard though, you don’t want to spam and mislead potential listeners by misrepresenting the genre of your music.
12. Premier Individual Tracks
If you have an album worth of material it can be good to filter out songs to your followers over time.
Sasha did this recently with his Scene Delete album, he teased some songs in the lead up to release to build hype and momentum.
13. Filter Your Content
Once you’ve started uploading a substantial amount of music you may need to start filtering it. This can often happen when artists become signed to a label, they might start removing old tracks so their profile is more consistent with their new releases.
Remember: people can make snap judgments about an artist after one or two tracks. You want those judgments to go in your favor – and constantly filtering your SoundCloud selection to make sure it’s the best music you have is a great way to tilt the odds in your favour.
Here are a few specific things you can do to filter your content:
Remove any works that aren’t performing well. If a song isn’t getting listens over a period of weeks or months, you may want to remove it. (This is what Bryson Tiller did with his old tracks prior to releasing TRAPSOUL)
If you see a song that could use some work, remove it immediately. Remember: no unfinished tracks! You want listeners to hear your best stuff – not stuff that’s incomplete and in need of improvement.
Get feedback from users. Folks using SoundCloud actively tag tracks, attach comments to track sections and generally let others know what they think about what they’re listening to. Never ignore these comments; instead, use them to figure out what people like and give them more of it.
There’s occasions where the above isn’t true, there’s lots of very popular unfinished tracks that sound amazing.
By now you should have a solid understanding of how to go about uploading your tracks to SoundCloud. But just remember, music isn’t the only thing can upload to SoundCloud.
As well as being a great place to share and find music, SoundCloud is also a hotspot for podcasts. It hosts everything ranging from music through to science and even comedy.
Just about all of the tips we’ve given about uploading music can be translated to podcasts. So if you’re a podcaster keep these tips in mind and make sure you upload high quality podcasts, focus on topics people enjoy, create a consistent experience, use cover art, properly name and genre tag your tracks, and filter your content.
Podcasts can also be a great way to enhance blogs posts or articles. Take this example from the Baremetrics blog, they run a weekly podcast which narrates each of their posts in a digestible format.
Once your feeling comfortable with properly uploading content to SoundCloud it’s time to move on to promoting it. You can promote your SoundCloud activity in a lot of different ways, we’ll start with…
Promoting on SoundCloud
There are several activities you can undertake on SoundCloud to promote your work and maximise your exposure, the first tactic you can try is to…
15. Gate Your Content
Gating your content involves making some or all of your content available only to those who complete a certain actions such as re-posting a track or following you on SoundCloud, your website, or a third-party page like Facebook.
This will help you drive social media followers and increase the number of people tuned in to your content. Just be mindful not to overuse this tactic to the point of alienating listeners.
A great tool you can use to follow-gate your content is Gleam Rewards. This is an excellent tool that will allow you to offer up free tracks to fans, as long as they complete a certain action.
For an example, take a look at this track from Soda Klop which can be downloaded for free pending completion of a few simple tasks that will do wonders for gaining exposure and building an audience.
CREATE YOUR OWN DOWNLOAD GATE
16. Create Playlists
As time goes on and your popularity grows, you’re going to get an increasing number of page views and fans. You’re also going to have more and more music, no matter how much quality filtering you do. This is natural.
To keep your page organized and ensure users can easily find relevant content, use playlists. You can use them to house albums, uptempo/downtempo selections, moods, and anything else that will help people navigate your SoundCloud page.
One smart way to do this is by making several catch-all playlists, like your ‘featured’, your ‘chill tracks’, your ‘remixes’, and anything else relevant to you. Outside of 2-3 playlists like these, you can categorize your output by year, album or musical theme.
Another great thing about Playlists is that they have their own individual #hashtags, which allows you to rank them in the search results.
17. Spotlight Tracks
Another excellent feature SoundCloud offers to SoundCloud Pro subscribers is the ability to spotlight tracks and playlists.
Your spotlighted tracks will be immediately presented to users who view your page, so if you have any songs, playlists or albums that you want to be prominently displayed then this is the way to do it.
SoundCloud Artist Spotlight
Your spotlighted tracks are likely to be where you make your first impression with listeners, so we recommend using this section to highlight the music that has been the most well received by your fans.
18. Use Private Uploads
SoundCloud has a cool feature that allows you to upload songs but keep them private, meaning no one can find or listen to the tracks without being given the URL.
You can use private posts to upload songs and cover art, and give them a final quality check before going live, safeguarding you from making careless mistakes when you’re releasing music.
Share music privately on SoundCloud
You can also use private posts to send unheard music to record labels in hopes of getting signed. All you need to do is upload a private track and send the URL to labels that may be interested. An added bonus of using private posts for this reason is that if you ever wish to publicly release the tracks you can simply change the post’s settings.
Teaming up with other SoundCloud users can give your channel a substantial boost.
Cross-Promotions can be as simple as asking a music content curator to spin your records in exchange for you helping promote them, or participating in a musical collaboration that allows you to create excellent new content.
To see how this works just check out this collaboration between Soda Klop and No.1 Delicious, who teamed up on a track that was shared with both of their followings, gaining additional exposure for both artists.
You don’t have to limit yourself to SoundCloud, either. You can cross-promote by regularly reposting someone else’s content on other social networks, and getting them to do the same. Along with all the benefits of cross-promotion this will also give you extra social media content, killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
20. Find Promotional Channels
As useful as all of these tips are, it’s very difficult to go big without getting support from influencers, tastemakers and industry insiders.
A hyper-successful marketing campaign can give you thousands of listens, but a single co-sign from an established artist, blogger or A&R can give you hundreds of thousands. The right people will be able to hugely aid in your promotion, so what you need to do is find them!
Reposts on SoundCloud
Specifically, you want to look for:
Promotion channels with large, loyal fanbases.
Bloggers that cover up-and-coming artists in your genre.
All kinds of influencers and tastemakers that have influence in your genre.
A&Rs and other employees of record labels you’re interested in.
Fans of artists that make music similar to yours. (To find them, simply check out other people’s follower lists).
Once you’ve made a list of everyone that’s able to help you get ahead on SoundCloud, it’s time to make connections. If you want to forge genuine and meaningful connections on SoundCloud then you need to get out there and…
Be a SoundCloud User
Initially, everyone else on SoundCloud is a stranger. What you want to do is form as many positive connections with people as you can. That’s how you can get traction without having star power – and it means that a lot of the time, promoting on SoundCloud is about getting personal with the folks you found in the previous point. Here are a few tips on how you can do this.
21. Follow Influential Users
When you find an artist similar to yourself, check out their fan list. Look for active and influential SoundCloud users, and follow them. This will create a notification, getting you noticed – and potentially giving you a new fan.
Follow on SoundCloud
Linking up with producers works the same way. You can usually tell who’s serious about music by listening to a few tracks and looking for SoundCloud’s “premium” badge. If a page has no premium badge and limited relevant, it’s probably not someone you want to work with.
These means of getting noticed and forming connections is especially likely to be effective if in addition to following users, you also…
22. Repost Tracks
Reposting tracks will create another notification, getting you extra attention, and possibly prompting a reciprocal reposting of one of your tracks.
SoundCloud Repost Notifications
This tactic also has the potential of developing into an ongoing arrangement, where you and another artist or label consistently repost each others work. Just take a look at this activity from the MINUS label, who helps out their artists by promoting tracks or live sets.
SoundCloud MINUS Reposts
In line with this tip, another way to garner attention and potentially find a new fan is to…
23. Comment on Tracks
Much like following users and reposting tracks, commenting on tracks is another useful way to initiate relationships on SoundCloud.
A comment can be as simple as letting a user know you like their track. This is incredibly easy to do, and it will help build familiarity with influential figures.
SoundCloud Artist Comments
Commenting on tracks is particularly useful when paired with a follow and repost, as it will create 3 notifications which are sure to grab some attention.
While commenting on tracks is a great way to build a rapport with influencers (and potentially gain exposure down the track), you need to be careful not to come across as pushy and desperate for a favour.
24. Direct Message Influencers
Sometimes the best way to initiate a connection with an influential user is simply by messaging them.
If they’re an artist you could ask them if they would be interested in a collaboration, or even to play your track.
Contact on SoundCloud
If they’re a promotional channel you could offer to help promote them in exchange for a repost.
When it comes to direct messaging, the possibilities are endless, just make sure you’re polite, respectful, and individually tailoring your messages. If you send out a bunch of copy and pasted messages your chances of success will be greatly decreased and you might get banned for spamming.
25. Reward Interaction
ALWAYS reward people for interacting with you. If a promotion channel reposts your track, make sure to interact with its users and answer their queries. The same applies to your own listeners, who you should always reply to. Each one of these people is a potential fan, customer or collaborator; never forget that.
British producer Araxis has proven to excel at this. Just take a look at how he uses the comments to thank the promotion page who shared his track and interact with his fans.
Thanking SoundCloud Reposters/Fans
As you’re working through these tips, remember that for you to be successful, you need to…
26. Understand the Platform
Could you brew a cup of coffee if you’ve never had a sip of the beverage? Probably not. If you’ve never tried something as a consumer, it’s hard to create it as a craftsman or service provider.
Here’s what that means in the context of SoundCloud.
If you’re not listening to other folks’ music, checking out promo channels, and seeing how artists structure playlists, then how are you going to learn what’s working and what isn’t?
Exactly. You won’t.
You’ll also be missing out on people that could be useful to you; musicians that might inspire you; music marketing ideas that could take your own efforts to the next level.
Or even insane mixes that you can listen to during downtime, here’s one of my favourites.
That’s why it’s important to be a SoundCloud user in addition to being a marketer (and a musician/A&R/sound engineer/producer). You want to see what’s working for other people and be a part of the music community, and the only way to do that is by using the platform yourself.
Other artists and users can quickly see through an artist who’s just in it for themselves. Give back, be engaged and be honest with your listeners.
So, we’ve now shown you a lot of different ways you can promote yourself on SoundCloud, but there are also ways you can promote your SoundCloud activity when you’re not on the platform.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of increasing your exposure on SoundCloud. How do you drive users from external sources to your profile?
Let’s explore some tips on how to nail this…
27. Add SoundCloud Links To Your Other Social Media Accounts
As a musician, SoundCloud shouldn’t be your only active social media account. You should try to maintain accounts across platforms to maximise your reach and aid in your promotional efforts.
A great way to use other social media accounts to drive traffic to your SoundCloud profile is by housing SoundCloud links in your other profiles. Facebook and Instagram profiles both allow you to provide links, so don’t forget to take advantage of these features.
Mauro Valdemi has links to his SoundCloud profile on both his Twitter and Facebook pages, showing how these social media platforms can be used to drive potential listeners to SoundCloud.
Mauro Valdemi on Facebook
28. Share Tracks On Other Social Media Platforms
While we’re on the topic of other social media platforms, sharing your SoundCloud tracks on a variety of platforms is a great way to take advantage of your connections to promote your music and increase your SoundCloud following.
You can even use your personal accounts to promote your music. If you make a Facebook post or send out a tweet from your personal accounts your friends are likely to listen, and you may just gain some new fans because of it.
Did you know that you can share SoundCloud tracks directly to your Instagram story?
All you need to do is open the track you want to post in the SoundCloud app, open the menu in the bottom right corner and select Share > Share to Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories SoundCloud Share
If you have developed a bit of a following on Instagram, this is a perfect way to get them to listen to your music, and direct them to your SoundCloud profile where they will be encouraged to check out moe of your music, and if they like what they hear maybe even start following you.
30. Use Other Social Media Accounts to Make Announcements
The tracks themselves aren’t the only useful thing you can share across your social media platforms. If you’re releasing a new track or playing a live gig then announce it across as many platforms as you can. The more awareness you raise the better!
Pan-Pot do this regularly use Twitter to make announcements with posts just like this one, which announces their future appearance at a music festival.
31. Use Your Email List for Promotion
When it comes to using your connections to promote your music, you email list is another valuable tool at your disposal.
Use email to send out tracks or announcements to everyone who might be interested, Just keep in mind that email clients will not support embedded SoundCloud tracks in emails, so it might be wise to send SoundCloud links to your tracks.
Personal SoundCloud Email
32. Embed Tracks Onto Your Site
While you might not be able to rely on email to embed your tracks, you can always count on websites. If you have a personal or professional website of any sort then you can easily embed tracks from your SoundCloud profile into it, just like we’ve done throughout this post.
SoundCloud Embed Onto Pages
This is a fantastic way to promote your music and liven up your webpage, so what are you waiting for?
As you can see, when it comes to promoting your music both on and of the SoundCloud page, the options are bountiful. However, you may just be able to take your efforts to the next level with the help of some…When you click the link you are taken to this page, which provides you with numerous options for buying or listening to the single.
We’ll provide more tips for leveraging these links a little later, but for now lets talk about updating your…
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