Do you want your DJ mix to get more listens and plays?
Are you a struggling artist trying to grow your fanbase?
Would you like to learn some alternative way to promote your music and your produced tracks?
If the answer is a ‘yes’ then read on. Because in this guide I share with you some of the techniques and tricks I’ve used to get my music heard.
The marketing techniques in this guide are flexible too, you can even apply them to live events, performances and club nights too.
Anyway, moving on…
Building your own website
In my opinion, the most important tools for marketing your music is having your own website. I will openly admit are not a massively popular DJ. But running my own website has allowed me to carve out a niche and find a loyal following of fans.
If it wasn’t for this website, I’d probably just be another Mixcloud DJ with a handful of plays/listens. However, my website has resulted in my DJ mixes being downloaded over 100,000 times. I only started recording the results about 36 months ago so the true number of downloads will be larger than this.
Additionally, my website has resulted in me landing gigs to play in Europe and various places in the UK (where I live).
I don’t get the same results with my Mixcloud. In contrast, I have Mixcloud mixes which, after being on the site for over 4 years, have a just few hundred plays. In my opinion, the other platforms are over-saturated.
Today, it’s never been easier or cheaper to run your own website. There are loads of tools which make creating a basic website easy.
And then there are self-hosted content management systems (CMS for short) like WordPress and Joomla. These are both free to use and install, but you’ll need a hosting package to get the best from them.
Personally, I think WordPress is the best, but it has a steeper learning curve. The main advantage of WordPress is the vast number of themes and plugins available. These alter the look, feel and functionality of the CMS.
But what really sets WordPress apart are the plugins. Plugins extend the functionality of the WordPress core.
You can install plugins to change just about anything on your WordPress install. For example, this website is running WordPress. And I use plugins to help with things like SEO, to improve my website speed, and to provide an easy way for users to join my email list. This is just a small example of what plugins can do.
Other CMSs, and website building platforms have plugins, but they lack the number and sheer diversity available to the users of WordPress.
There’s a reason why WordPress powers around 60% of the website on the internet. Because it’s a powerful tool which can be configured to suit your exact needs and goals. And it’s an excellent tool for music promotion.
Building an email list
Email has been the cornerstone of my DJ marketing since I built my first website back in 2006.
Today, I still can’t believe how few DJs, record labels, musicians, and Internet radio stations leverage email. And the few that do often do Email marketing badly.
Many people think email marketing is dead – but I find the opposite is true.
When I send an email to my mailing list, I still get open rates of around 30-40%. And click-through rates of around 30% to 60% (depending on content).
And it cost me nothing to do this because I use a free email newsletter provider like MailChimp.
The free version of MailChimp allows you to have a list of 2000 (or under) email subscribers. And you can email these addresses an unlimited amount of times too.
As you can see it costs nothing to run a big email list.
And, in my opinion, the effectiveness of email has improved in recent years. The reason for this improvement: everyone has a smartphone which they use several times a day. And most phones are often tied to a personal email account. So, getting your music marketing emails to the right person has never been easier.
Another way of getting more download and plays for your DJ mixer mix is to share them on Facebook. I know this sounds bloody obvious but stick with me.
For most artists, DJs and producers this means posting their music on their personal profile, Facebook page, and in various musically orientated Facebook groups.
These days it’s difficult to push your music on Facebook unless you’re willing to use paid advertising or promoted posts. For this reason, many musicians stopped or removed themselves from Facebook.
The annoying thing is: many people still use Facebook. So, until something better comes along, you’ll probably still want to carry on using the platform for promoting music. Because your posts will always get a few clicks, plays, or listens. Especially when posting to your personal profile.
If you run a website, radio station, or a music blog, you can automate your Facebook posts with a tool like IFTTT. This can save time if you’re a frequent poster.
One relatively new marketing technique which isn’t really being used by musicians and DJs are Facebook bots.
Facebook bots allow you to use Facebook’s Messenger platform to send out messages to groups of followers. You can broadcast announcements in a similar way to email marketing services such as MailChimp.
However, one nice feature of bots is that you can automate replies for users. For example, let’s say you’re a DJ who has a website which hosts house, techno, and jungle mixes. A user can access your bot and type something like ‘show me your techno mixes’ and the bot will show them the relevant page or link.
You just need to program these responses into the Facebook bot. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds because there are many companies now providing easy-to-use bots for Facebook.
And these bot services come with instructions, example bots, and a nice GUI which make programming easy. Mobile Monkey is one such service – and the best thing is they have a free tier.
Recycle your old and new mixes using bulk Buffer
Another way to obtain more downloads, plays, and listens for your music, mixtapes and DJ mixes are to use a tool like Buffer.
Buffer is an application for your browser or mobile device which allows you to schedule posts to various social profile. It can post to your personal Facebook profile, a Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. It removes the need to individually log in and post to all these different networks.
One technique which has worked me in the past is to bulk schedule my DJ mixes and have them auto-posted to my social accounts. I do this with both new and old mixes. And over a period of a few months it resulted more people visiting my website and downloading my mixes. This method also added a few more email addresses to my mailing list.
You can use a tool like Bulk Buffer to automate to schedule a months’ worth of DJ mixes. However, you will need to edit a CSV file to enable the process. So, you’ll need something like Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets) to edit the CSV file.
Always post your DJ mixes and music productions to Twitter. Even if you don’t use it much and you don’t have many followers – it costs nothing.
Even if you’re an infrequent user it can still send the odd fan your way.
One word of advice: try to mix up your content when posting to Twitter. One of the biggest mistakes I see music producers and DJs making on Twitter is just constantly posting promotional links.
Many of DJ and producers don’t take the time to curate and share and retweet content from other people or followers. Doing this just makes your Twitter feed look stale. There’s a reason it’s called social media, it’s meant to be social not one-sided.
They aren’t the only offenders as seen many big organisations making the same mistake too.
If you decide to recycle your promotional link using Buffer, look at adding and curating content from elsewhere.
Any DJ worth their salt should be posting their DJ mixes to Mixcloud. I bet most of you reading this probably are.
Mixcloud isn’t a bad platform, but it could be better.
However, it’s getting more difficult to stand out on the platform because there’s so much competition on the site.
My other concern with any privately-owned website like Mixcloud and SoundCloud is that they are a closed platform.
They don’t allow you to export your data and music if you ever needed to. If they ever bankrupt, or get taken over, you will lose everything (think Myspace). This is the risk you take when you rely on a private platform as the sole way to host your mixes, music and mixtapes.
Probably the worst thing about Mixcloud is that I estimate that 90% of its users are other DJs. And most of these DJ’s aren’t trying to find new mixes to listen too. They’re only interested in promoting their own music. This is the trouble with highly specialised services like Mixcloud.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t post your music on Mixcloud; you’d be a fool not to. But it shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your DJ marketing campaign.
The way I use Mixcloud is to try and get people to listen to my mixes on the platform. And then offer them an improved version of the mix on my website which they can download for free. I do my best to inform them that if they visit my site, they can obtain 320k CBR MP3 and FLAC version of my mixes.
And when these Mixcloud users visit my website I try to encourage them to join my mailing list.
SoundCloud the original innovator. The website which started it all.
One great thing about SoundCloud is its popularity and the social element of the website. It has a great following of fans, musicians, and DJs.
Unlike Mixcloud there’s a mixture of people using the website. Whereas Mixcloud (in my experience), tends to be DJs using the site and DJs posting mixes. Also, Soundcloud has far more people using it too.
The negative things about the free version of SoundCloud are the limitations on the amount of uploads. Mixcloud allows unlimited uploads whilst the free version of SoundCloud only allows three hours of upload time.
You can, however, remove this limitation by upgrading to Soundcloud pro unlimited for £10 a month. But you can run your own WordPress website for around half this price.
Soundcloud does employ some copyright infringement technology. So, there’s always a risk that your DJ mixes might get removed. But a lot of this will depend on what style of music you are mixing. The more commercial your mixes, the more chance you have the copyright detection being a problem.
Another criticism of SoundCloud is that it’s been badly managed in the past. It nearly went bankrupt. Recently the company seems to be doing better, but there’s no guarantee it’ll stop that way.
To conclude: Get your DJ mixes and mixtapes on Soundcloud, it’s the biggest platform of its type. But make sure you have them hosted elsewhere encase it goes under – you don’t want to lose everything and have no backup. If you’re looking for a free backup check out the website below.
HearThis.at is a website which provides similar service to Mixcloud. It allows users to upload long audio tracks and DJ mixes. Like Mixcloud it’s free to join and use.
Recently, it also added the ability to perform live streams which can appear directly on the website itself or be streamed via YouTube and Facebook. I think this is a cool innovative feature and I’m shocked none of the bigger platforms have already done it.
The HearThis mobile app is okay. But, at present, it’s a little unstable. But the devs do seem to be actively trying to improve it.
Overall, I really like this service, and they seem to be trying to add useful features like streaming to the platform.
The only bad thing about this mix hosting site is that the community is small. It’s nowhere near as big as Mixcloud and its minute when comparison with SoundCloud.
However, the website does allow users to import mixes from SoundCloud and Mixcloud. So, if you are using any of those platforms you should use this site. You can import a DJ mix or mixtape with the press of a button.
Because it’s easy to import mixes to their platform from their competitors, you can use HearThis as a backup service. Additionally, having your DJ mixes on two or three different sites will increase your exposure too. And if Mixcloud or Soundcloud ever goes bankrupt (or changes for the worst) you’ll have a backup. Albeit one which few fans use.
Another way to promote your DJ mixes to share them on forums. And includes the world’s biggest forum Reddit.
Many DJ’s think forums are dead, and Facebook has killed them all. There’s some truth to this argument. But you can still find many active forums on which have a lively discussions about DJ’ing topics.
What I would recommend is to find a genre-specific forum. For example, if you’re trance DJ, just do a Google search for ‘Trance forums’. If you’re a hip-hop DJ do a Google search for ‘hip hop forums’. And so on…
You can still find many forums which have an active community of users. Just remember don’t go spamming mixes in them. You’ll need to listen to other people’s mixtape and comment to get the best out of this strategy.
Uploading a DJ mix to YouTube has always been an inconsistent experience for me. However, I know DJs who have had incredible results uploading their mixes to the world’s most popular video streaming website.
Your success, I think, mainly depends on the type of music you play.
I’ve never had much success uploading my old school house mixes and hip-hop to the site – I can never get them past the copyright ban hammer. But I tend to mix old tracks which are likely owned by major record labels: increasing the likelihood of detection by YouTubes copyright algorithms.
If you’re a DJ who plays underground and unknown tracks, you should try posting to YouTube. You’ll have a greater chance of your DJ mix not running afoul of the YouTube ban hammer.
Many people today use YouTube as their sole way of streaming music online. So, the potential audience is massive.
But, if you’re like me, and like to play classic tracks – expect problems.
Personally, I’ve given up trying to upload my old school DJ mixes, because those mixes always run into problems.
Another thing which puts me off is that you never know when the ban hammer will strike. I’ve known DJs who had their mixes on the site for months, only to find one day that YouTube has taken all their mixes offline.
In conclusion: YouTube can be great for mixtape promotion. But your success can be ended in an instant. So, don’t make it your primary means of marketing.
Start a podcast
Another way to get more exposure for your music is to create your own podcast.
Podcasting has seen a massive revival as of late – it’s now more popular than ever.
You can find many companies which can provide you with the tools needed to start, host and distribute your podcast. With the recent revival in podcasting services like this have never been more popular. However, many of them aren’t cheap. Prices range between £10-£40 per month.
The cheapest way to start your own podcast for mixtape promotion is to run a WordPress website. Why? Because WordPress has an excellent free plugin for maintaining and distributing your DJ mix podcasts.
I’ve used this plugin on my own (this) website and it’s great. And, to my knowledge, it’s the cheapest way of running your own podcast.
Start a radio station or live stream
Building your own Internet radio station is another way you can get more fans.
Running your own internet radio station isn’t the easiest or cheapest thing to do. To begin with, you’ll need something like Shoutcast or Icecast to distribute your radio stream. Also, you’ll need someplace where users can access your stream – ideally some form of a website.
Additionally, there are free Shoutcast services available – but they’re supported by ads.
However, if you’re willing to pay a monthly fee you can get a professional plan which won’t include adverts. Paid Shoutcast plans also allow you to stream at higher sound quality and you can have more listeners tuning into your radio stream too.
The main advantage of running (or performing on) a radio station is that you can perform live. This is a great way to impress fans and show them how good you are. Many popular DJ’ing programs now have the ability to stream to radio servers. And if you’re a vinyl or traditional DJ you can use a tool like BUTT for streaming direct to your server.
If you’re friends with a group of DJ’s and producers, why not asking them to help you. You can all club together and provide music and perform live sets for your radio station. If you all work together you can utilise each other’s fan base and followers.
Another advantage of running a radio station is that you can leave your mixes streaming 24 hrs a day. Most Shoutcast/Icecast servers allow you to cue up an unlimited number of tracks. So, you can leave your own DJ mixes (or your fellow DJs) mixes playing all the time. Brining your music, tunes, mixtapes and DJ mixes more exposure.
Now over to you
Music promotion and DJ mixtape promotion is difficult.
If there’s an easy way to promote your DJ mixes you can guarantee that every DJ trying it. Its why the competition on websites like SoundCloud and Mixcloud is so fierce.
Hopefully, this article has given some fresh ideas on how you can promote your music and grow your fan base. Some of the ideas in this article aren’t easy to do. And they may require you to learn new skills. But any easy method of music promotion will always be used and abused by desperate DJs and musicians. So why not try doing something a little more difficult. It may pay off in the long term.
Do you think I’ve missed something out?
Do you have a great way to promote your music, your DJ mix and grow your fan base?
If you do, just leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
Who wrote this?
My names James (DJ) Kippax. I’ve been DJ’ing and scratching since 1996. I’m also a web designer, marketeer and someone who enjoys working with terminal and command line tools. I also love my HI-FI gear.