File Under: Marketing Your Music, Making Money With Music

Every song that you release faces the same problem: it's competing against every other song in the world. Beyond getting heard in the first place, you also want to grow your fanbase beyond the people that have already heard you. But how do you do that? Especially since most “suggested” tracks on services today are bought and paid for by large promotional budgets?

Just as we said in our feature article Nine $0 Music Marketing Strategies, the answer is to piggyback on others who already have an audience. It’s a simple, but effective idea: when people search for songs, they often type the title of the song. While they look through the results for the group that originally played it, many of the other results pop up as well. These tracks also get clicked on as listeners explore the search results.

There are two ways to get included in the search results:

Use the Same Song Title

One method is to simply write a song with the same name as a well-known song. Although you might think this may lead to some legal concerns, under US copyright law, titles are not copyrightable. 

In fact, one of our own band's most purchased tracks has the same name as a well-known European dance song -- a match that happened completely unintentionally. The opening track of our “All in A Day’s Work” album was titled I Don’t Want To Work Today. It turned out that a few months after our release, a dance song with the same title was released and we saw a large sales spike for the track. For a long time we couldn't figure out why the opening track was selling so well until we did a little research and discovered the popularity of the dance song -- especially in Europe. People searching for the dance song couldn’t resist checking out our song in the results. Of all those who checked it out, a nice percentage opted to purchase it.

Record a Cover

Another method is to record a cover song. If you make a unique version of a well-known song by another artist, it may come up in searches and increase your plays or sales. Covering a song is a very targeted form of marketing because it reaches fans of other artists who would probably like your music. This can create a new fan, result in more plays, and more listens and purchases of the rest of your music -- not just the cover that helped them discover you. In fact, the albums that sell the most or get the most plays from independent artists on music services have at least one cover song.

If you're not sure how to legally record and release a cover song, see the “Your Rights” chapter of The Indie Band Survival Guide (Remixed & Remastered: Second Edition), specifically the "How to Clear Cover Songs for Recording". It's a bigger topic than we can cover here, but not difficult if you carefully follow all of the steps.

The best thing about this particular marketing technique is centered on exactly what we musicians love to do best: write and record music -- whether it’s an original song with a recognizable title or a new take on a well-known song.

Challenge: Explore making a song with the same title as a well-known song, or record cover song for your next release.


#coversongs #makingmoneywithmusic #marketing

Photo credit: mrgarethm