(Note: This is an OLD post. Do this at your peril in the new climate of SoundCloud takedowns. Or better still, use another service.)
Just last week our making a mixtape series got loads of feedback proving how popular mixtapes are with DJs wanting to promote themselves. Of course, they’re not mixtapes or even CDs a lot of the time nowadays, and it was obvious from your comments that your favourite place for posting digital mixes is SoundCloud.
But after spending so much time getting your mix just-so, the last thing you want is to post it online for it to sit there, unlistened to and unloved, for eternity. So how do you make sure it gets the attention you know it deserves? Time to get your promoter’s hat on.
What is SoundCloud?
If you really don’t know, SoundCloud is a place for musicians and DJs to upload, download and stream their music. Although it is a bit vague as to how much you as a DJ can legally get away with (after all, it isn’t usually your music…), the shifting moral ground hasn’t stopped DJs using it to promote their mixes right since it first appeared.
So assuming you’re up for some SoundCloud mixtape promotion: how do you get it right?
1. Use it!
SoundCloud is not just a place to post your mix and let people listen to and download it. If you just post there, or go through the motions but only pay lip service to the many functions and features it gives you, you shouldn’t be surprised when you don’t do well.
Just as you have to be a loyal user to get the most out of Twitter, MySpace or Facebook, you really owe it to yourself to get involved on SoundCloud before you upload a mix and expect something back. Taking the time to learn about it, get a feel for it, and explore its features first is time well spent.
2. Be professional about it
You spent a lot of time on your mix, right? You want to be taken seriously as a DJ, yes? Then be a professional on SoundCloud, too.
Put your money where your mix is
To start with, you should pay for a subscription rather than go for the free, limited service. What is $40 or $100 a year to get your music out there? Think of the money you’re saving not burning CDs.
The free version limits your music to only 100 downloads, and to two hours – that’s two DJ mixes at best, and hardly enough downloads to get you up there with the kid in the next street, never mind with deadmau5.
Once you’re one of the minority of users who have shown they’re taking it seriously by paying, make sure you look serious. Get a good designer to make your logo, and ensure it’s someone who understands the web, too, because your logo is going to have to look great at full size and as a thumbnail.
Look at other users and you’ll instantly see who is to be reckoned with and who’s just messing. Don’t be on one of those DJs who are just messing.
3. Join in
SoundCloud is social. Make sure you “favourite” any mixes you like. Just like on Twitter, if you spread the love you’ll get it back. Join in at groups that are about your type of music. Comment on other people’s mixes. If you come across as interesting, people will follow your comments back to your mix.
And tag away! Make sure every track in your mix is tagged, so people searching on SoundCloud for the tracks you’ve used stand a chance of finding your mix. In the wise words of Gregg Alexander, “you only get what you give”.
4. Get out a bit
There’s more to the web than SoundCloud, great though it is (and that iPhone app is addictive…). It comes with widgets galore, and so get out there to where you hang out and round the online crowds up. It’s easy enough to add it to Facebook (and customise your widget), and also if you have MySpace and Twitter accounts, or your own blog or website, advertise your mix there too.
Another time-tested trick is to use your SoundCloud mix as the signature in forums you post in – but be careful not to join up and post your mix without first joining in, or you’ll be accused of spamming, which is of course what you’d be doing.
5. No, really, get out a bit!
Whenever, wherever, you’ve got to promote that mix – and we’re talk ing away from the web now. Here’s how: get a business card made (by the same designer who did your avatar, probably), that features your SoundCloud address prominently.
Give it out at gigs, parties, bars, school, on the street; leave piles on shop counters; leave them in DJ boxes; pop them in flyer racks when nobody’s looking; pin them to noticeboards…
Getting offline people online and to your mix is one of the most powerful things you can do to promote it. Shyness never got anyone anywhere, so be smart and make sure you give your mix the best chance that you can by shoving it in people’s faces whenever you get a chance.
Do you have a mix on SoundCloud? Where else do you promote your mixes online? How do you do it? Let us know in the comments below.