How to Publicise and Promote Your Own Music

From musical curmudgeons to musical research. ...

From musical curmudgeons to musical research. [A blog post] (Photo credit: markcatoe)

Obtaining exposure for one’s own music and or art isn’t hard. This ‘techno-tard’ is making a start. So can you.

There are a lot of people who are at ease with and possess the knowledge to get started promoting their work online. Most of those are the younger generation who, growing up with computers from an early age, instinctively have the ability to create a webpage and push it forward with networking and specific search engine input. Up to now I’ve spent a lifetime working with horses and riders in dressage and or playing music. Moving into the realm of cyber-space isn’t a natural endeavour for someone like me, very much rooted in terrestrial pursuits and now, with grey temples, invisible to the young. I found the courage to start – awkward or not – for lack of native computing skills.


COLLECTED TROT JAM156 (Photo credit: JAMART Art Photography)

All I knew, regarding music, is that I had a strong urge to follow my creative endeavour. You may be exactly the same…. working out melodies, developing harmony and musical form, to create works that, for one fleeting moment, no one else has yet heard. I had to learn to make use of notation software, not only to publish my scores in print but also for playback. Alas, I am no pianist though I use the piano for a majority of my composition process. I passed piano proficiency exams when I was younger, at university, but it’s no close third to actually being skilled on the keyboard. I needed music notation software to print and to also play my works back to me, a tempo, in order to get the flow and phrasing right in my works.

I learnt a few of the available programmes and found Sibelius to be the best. I hope not to disappoint any listener…this revelation is told out of honesty. My music is electronically produced, there, I’ve said it (though many who’ve previewed my works have asked who I got to do the recordings). I’m also proud to have worked at the quality of ‘live playback’ and sculpt the pieces so that they have a real ensemble feel. All of this required time, practise, and a steep learning curve. Through that I rapidly discovered I could orchestrate. The instrument sample sounds are rich enough to emulate human expression, within certain tempo restrictions. Too fast a tempo and all articulation is lost and the instrument voices disappear.

For a sole individual with no capital nor personal connections to orchestras/conductors/soloists willing to try out my sonata or single, electronic music production is a godsend! I learned I could trust my ear and past knowledge of orchestral instruments to interweave texture and form. With persistence, meaning after producing several works, I found I was ever more efficient at this. Back when I was performing music I had always wondered how composers multi-layer their works. Late in coming to this I may be, but it grants a youthful delight to uncover new abilities. Discovery and the natural energy that comes from learning/observing always drove my work with horses. That same process of invention and development invigorates my music now.

Whether or not a work is well received ultimately depends upon the listener and audience. As I said before, the music track takes on a life of its own. But, to give one’s creative works a chance to be heard is the first step. Before any release you should consider a trial period. From the studio to the public ear; that’s the chasm an individual musician/artist has to bridge in some way or another. The internet gives the composer one such opportunity. But your music can take on a life of its own between its playback and how a listener perceives it. Consider preliminary sharing of your works as a chance to explore what effect your piece(s) have on people before a public launch!

Note: I once set out to write a sad melody only to find people who heard perceived it as uplifting…a surprise to be sure and, one I capitalised on this to reform it into a new piece which was eventually the version to publish! One’s intended purpose behind a piece doesn’t guarantee the way different listeners receive that work. I recommend trying out your new works on trial and response. Find some brave soul (usually a long-suffering friend or relative) willing to give your piece a first hearing and you may learn some valuable things (positive or negative) about your creative potency, or lack thereof. Always be willing and able to edit or throw out an idea that isn’t working! Sometimes a fresh take breathes new life and direction into your art.

A brand new (or rather, lacking any brand as of yet) artist has to push through the isolation barrier. Major music labels have a lot of capital and social momentum behind them to promote their chosen artist. The corporate model works by talent scouts and or CEO’s finding individuals or groups who have marketable promise. That route for the artist favours highly marketable (profitable) genres. For example; Hip-hop sells massively in comparison to the numbers generated by Easy-listening.  For the rest of us, standing next to a big corporate promotional machine isn’t going to work (unless you happen to be expecting a call from a record label any moment now). For those of us composing or creating works in  genres that are less remunerative, overnight stardom will never happen. No matter your musical genre, making your own music available to the public simply requires a little time spent searching Google for the right option.

As far as personal marketability, I probably have little to none. I am quite shy as an individual and hardly possessed of the presence required to fill a stage. I am a quiet, thoughtful man. I used to perform,


clarinet (Photo credit: trevorappleton)

woodwind instruments as a soloist with ensemble support, or as a classical guitarist. Nerves always got the better of me even if it didn’t reflect in the performance. So, for me turning to composing music felt a sensible extension of my innate desire to pursue music. With no industry contacts I wrote music in isolation. As a body of work emerged, I began to feel many of my pieces ‘wanted to be heard.’ That’s the only way I can explain it. I began to feel a responsibility for sharing the works. I didn’t start out believing I could write sale-able music. It was the melody, or the sound, or the overall atmosphere or the pieces which imbued a sense of emerging confidence.Thus, I have followed up on a genuine desire to assist my musical works toward public accessibility and reception. So, toward the goal of getting my music ‘out there’ I researched a 3rd party to agent the release of my works for online publishing.

For the novice to online publishing, the process requires some careful reading (and re-tries throughout the learning curve). Even this technologically un-gifted artist is beginning to appreciate the online architecture. Web developers have obviously worked hard to orchestrate (forgive the musical joke) a user-friendly process. The online service supports a promotional music page. It only took a bit of time and brainspace for the middle-aged-newby to become acquainted with the lingo and transfer process. You can inject something of your own personality, philosophy, and style into the presentation of your music page. If your product has an air of quality about it you’ll find the confidence to promote your own stuff. All I have to say is kudos to Songcast Music. I was saved from having to learn excess amounts of html or having to pay a costly web-page designer.  Once I completed the uploads it took some patience, waiting for the so-called ‘transit-time’ to complete. However,  my albums are now available on iTunes . I set about creating this blog, Facebook pages (as composer and as my first album title), and took a leap into the unknown by paying a small amount on advertising. Jury’s still out on its efficacy for generating music sales. But, I took a courageous leap in doing it.

On a personal Note: A few have found the online advertising invasive…even investing expletives for how the ad comes to the foreground on Facebook. For that, I can only apologise. I have no wish whatsoever to alienate/antagonise anyone. I have no personal control over how the advert is presented on other people’s pages. That may be a design strength – or flaw – concerning Facebook web-design. But, one kindly person who saw the ad, visited the music page, and had a listen to my new works, defended my advertising presence. She had recognised immediately that it was from an individual, “not a face-less corporation,” and gave it a try. I was so grateful for that defense. It gave me newfound respect for public ability to discern something original from carbon copy. I’ll have to thicken my skin if my attempts to generate publicity for something I believe in stir up a bit of controversy.

In a very short time my work has moved from unknown toward becoming known. Quite empowering. In these ways I have tapped into some very clever methods for publicising my own musical works. After that I must say that I’m very thankful for those who look at my music page, and take the time to hear my tracks. I make these efforts because I came to believe in the product. Effective music sets a scene, tells a story, and transports the listener. I hope you come to feel that way about my style of composition, if you’ve heard some of my works. And, in the spirit of sharing useful tips, I hope you can apply some of the same methods I’ve come across thus far.

I’ve got so much more to learn. However, with just a few simple efforts my music is gaining ground. No easy feat for a burgeoning individual artist.  You might say it’s an impossibility…. I may be changing my mind! Publicising your own music may be easier than you first thought. Just look for the various options available to the budding artist and choose a service that suits you. Meanwhile, I give personal thanks to everyone who has, is currently, or will be taking a look at my music! Thankyou also, for taking time to read this blog posting. Beside the personal anecdotes, I hope I have inspired you to look into certain details you might not have previously known in getting your own work ‘out there.’

Yours,  Kurt Hartle

If my advice, imbedded in memoire/essay form, isn’t concise enough for you I recommend this link for more tips on promoting your music online: