When it comes to marketing yourself as an independent hip hop artist, there are two main channels – offline marketing, which includes merchandise, greeting fans, live performances – and online marketing, which includes social media networks like Facebook and Twitter as well as digital distribution channels like TuneCore.

As an independent artist, you have various ways to make yourself a living. From touring and merchandising locally to streaming and selling online, assets that help you earn are not limited.

However, online audience are by far and away your most lucrative asset for one simple reason – the volume of sharing. Let’s say that you are based in a small town – around 5,500 people.

This gives you a solid starting point and an easy way to get your name noted when you try and move out of town, but it’s rarely enough to settle the ambitions of those most desperate to make a name of themselves.

This is why, without doubt, online audiences are going to play such a big role. They are nearly limitless; a chance for you to get your music heard across the US, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Once it’s online, people can find you without any problems. You can even find that people start to do the promoting for you, running social media accounts dedicated to your qualities.

It’s why online audiences have become such a major part of any artist looking to take those next steps forward. All it takes is a commitment and an appreciation of the kind of people that you are now dealing with – they are more likely to buy merchandise and to talk to others (even strangers) about your qualities.

Online, people can find other like minded people with the same appreciations and likes. For that reason, it’s so easy to get online audiences to grow and swell. They are an asset that can:

  • Advertise for you for free, passing on your name and links to your store/music without any particular setback. Allows you to concentrate on the music as your adoring online fans market for you.
  • Pay a team of marketing experts to help you through the earliest of phases. Helps you to maintain loyalty with your fans as well as make sure that they are receiving the kind of extras that can sustain their loyalty, too.
  • Use to swell your reputation further afield. Those in other cities can start passing on your name to other musicians, talent spotters and even just punters looking to enjoy a little bit of fun at one of your various gigs. Now, you can begin the framework for natural and sustained expansion as time goes on.

Monetizing your online audience

The best way to make sure that you are going to do well out of being an artist is to have a loyal, happy audience. This can be better achieved by monetizing your audience with music and memorabilia.

Through stores such as Shopify you can set up an easy way for people to get merchandise to show to others. It starts to create a brand offline, as people who bought your items online wear them with pride around the area.

Before long, you are creating a manual awareness that goes extremely far in helping to monetize your online audience.

While it might take you some time to get to this point and to understand how to best monetize yourself, it’s something that you should be thinking about from an early stage.

The best way to keep people excited and informed about your musical development, though, comes from the internet.

Interviews online, social media and the rest can all be used to make a big difference to credibility without taking up too much of your time.

Expanding your asset

To make sure that your internet marketing can be as effective as possible in building a reputation for your business, it helps to understand that asset expansion takes time. Building an online audience takes even longer than an offline audience, despite the expanded volume and potential for being found.

This is because when someone finds you offline, they tended to be looking for you – online, it can be far more by chance to locate your music.

Expanding your online reputation as a musician, then, means expanding the ways that you market yourself online. Become a social media regular, for a start, and interact with fans who mention you. If someone is critical, find out why – in a polite manner, of course.

If you want to make sure that you can expand your assets without having to spend money, then give out your time.

Do free gigs for local events, put useful videos up online giving our tips and information about the industry, and just go out of your way to offer value. Much like a normal business, your likelihood of being discovered expands if you do good deeds.

Work on making sure that you are expanding your assets by being charitable with your time and expertise – you never know when you’ll be the subject of a news article covering your good work!

Maintaining an online presence

Keep up the continuous and semi-regular barrage of interviews, advertising and value. Keep giving people access to new content, whether it’s new songs or helping people to learn about certain parts of the industry. Offering out a little more than the usual can be enough to help you maintain your largest and most valuable commodity.

Be sincere on social media, too; don’t let someone else run the accounts. It has to come from you and you personally – how else can your adoring fans get to know you better?

If you are a straight shooter, then retain that ruthless streak when talking to people online. Keep your personality consistent – people enjoy authenticity.

It can help you to swell your online ranks just by simply maintaining that online presence – people are much more likely to actually promote for you, even just to friends, if you stay relevant on their social media timelines and through your website.

Maintaining that presence is all about being able to give people a genuine taster for who you are and what you represent. Authenticity wins today, rather than chameleon-like clickbait and forced opinions for controversy.

Be yourself – it’s the most powerful way to maintain that online audience. They allow you to expand, to always be marketed without having to lift a finger, and to ensure that new ventures into other cities can be initiated through word of mouth rather than booked at your own expense, making this a win/win. Impress enough online and you can be offered gigs rather than offering to play.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.