With SoundCloud having over 175 million users (more than Apple Music and Spotify), this is an ideal place to promote your music. It’s data-driven, feature-rich and, compared to the commercial streaming services, it’s much more focused on showcasing independent creators, unsigned artists and niche/underground genres. This makes SoundCloud a vital platform for fresh talent, allowing you to build a fan base that will genuinely want to listen to your music.
If you’re a musician or producer, you need to be on SoundCloud so we’re going to give you some top tips to help you promote your music here.
As with the mainstay social media platforms, creators are still very much aware of the need to use hashtags in their SoundCloud profiles to increase searchability and target specific audiences that will like the same music as them. There are two primary ways to find the most effective hashtags, using hashtag tools and looking at other successful profiles and trying theirs. However, the rules are slightly different when it comes to using SoundCloud as we will learn.
There are some useful sites which can recommend hashtags for you. RiteTag in particular has a beautiful cloud, which is updated with tags that are specific to SoundCloud users. The site also allows you to input a series of relevant phrases and suggest the most appropriate related hashtags for you to use – you can trial and test various ones to see which work best for you.
In addition, regularly checking SoundCloud’s “Popular Searches” page will allow you to see key search phrases from the last 24 hours so try incorporating some of these in the “Tags” box if they are relevant to your music.
Just like creating a content strategy for an emerging artist, you need to do the same for your hashtags. Find artists like you who are receiving organic engagement on their music, look at the hashtags/search phrases they are using, and test them on your own tracks.
But when you’re researching hashtags, don’t be fooled by the figures that pop up which tell you how often they’ve been used. The number of posts that a hashtag has doesn’t mean it’s frequently searched, so you should have niche hashtags which have people searching it rather than a hashtag that everyone uses. Also, using a generic hashtag will get you bots who will most likely be chasing followers rather than taking an active interest in your music.
What’s more, SoundCloud’s algorithm is very specific and prioritises recommendations for its users. In a blog post, it actually recommends that the first tag correlates to one of the main audio categories in the “Charts” tab, and thenchoose just a handful of tags tailored to relevant subgenres, moods, keywords, and even geographical locationrather than doing “hashtag overload.”
Optimise Your Track Info
SoundCloud makes it clear that it favours simple, clean, easy-to-read metadata in users’ track uploads. For instance, the above blog advises users to “Avoid duplicating information that’s displayed elsewhere. There’s no need to add track numbers to your title when uploading an album,” and illustrates this with examples of good and bad titles. And ensure that you fill in the sections in the “Metadata” tab of your track uploads to help SoundCloud build a more focused, identifiable profile of your act.
Offering your tracks to fans and content creators to use royalty-free can get your music heard by millions, something producers and musicians on SoundCloud are doing. However, the goal for any artist is to make money from their music, so why not increase these chances of success via the “Buy” link on the “Metadata” tab – you simply enter the relevant links to Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, etc. Indeed, with a Pro account, you can change the title of the “Buy” link – try “Stream on Spotify,” “Rate on iTunes” or even “Donate” with a link to your crowdfunding page if that’s your thing.
Profile and Track Descriptions
Make the most of these features by giving: a short introduction about your music, you as an artist, details of upcoming releases/shows (if you have any), socials/website URL/purchase links, and a request to ask people to follow you, like, and repost your tracks. But don’t make this information generic. Make your writing personal and curate a strong narrative or backstory around you as an artist and your music. That way, your audience can create an emotional connection with you, and they’ll be intrigued to click on your music.
So for instance, use your Bio to tell us about your artistic influences, why you love music, and what you want your audience to get from your music. In the track descriptions, tell us about the inspiration for how you wrote the song, what it means to you, about the writing and recording process, and maybe some interesting or humorous anecdotes/factoids about the song.
You can include relevant hashtags as well but remember that SoundCloud’s algorithm will prioritise the hashtags to recommend to users so there’s no need to type in loads of them as they will only be secondary to the ones in the other tag boxes.
Google Search Optimisation
Although they’re small details, putting space between words in your track title and username handle can actually help your Google rankings. Google also likes repetition so be sure to repeat your display name in your profile URL and link it to your socials for maximum effect.
Have Amazing Visuals
When you think of the great music acts of our time, you remember them not only for their music but their iconic artwork. Likewise, SoundCloud’s A&R team say that their platform is as much a visual one as a musical one because your artwork will be seen across people’s smartphones and Instagram. So finding a way to stand out artistically is even more important amidst SoundCloud’s 120m+ tracks so your music will likely be ignored if you leave your avatar and profile header alone – and listeners will probably think that you’re a bit boring.
Your SoundCloud artwork doesn’t have to be a photo of you. It could be anything that inspires you artistically – Unsplash is a portal that has over a million free, high-resolution photos which will definitely give you endless inspiration. SoundCloud suggests emphasising your name in the artwork, and keeping the design simple because your avatar appears as a smaller version on followers’ streams. But don’t make your artwork look like everyone else’s; find something quirky or use a bold colour scheme to make your profile memorable.
For most people, Canva is one of the best free tools out there to create artwork to capture your audience’s attention and promote your music. Canva is completely free to use and has some amazing templates which will allow you to create visuals without the need for a graphic designer.
Have Your Socials on Your SoundCloud Profile
One of the great benefits about SoundCloud is that it instantly embeds your handles when entered into your profile, meaning you can cross-promote your music. So include all your socials in the Bio and Links tabs in your profile so you can get those follows. In turn, use your socials to ask people to follow your SoundCloud profile but please don’t do this constantly as it will look like you’re begging, and if it were to work you aren’t receiving high-quality followers who will support your music.
Ensure you include the URL links to tracks in your social media posts to increase traffic and get instant feedback. A top tip – make the URL the last thing you include in your posts; Twitter, for example, will instantly embed the SoundCloud audio player in tweets when you click on the track or playlist, meaning that you can access both platforms simultaneously.
Connect and Comment
You will want to be following accounts of artists, producers, creators and record labels you like, that are similar to you or that will likely take an interest in your music. In turn, you should be following them back, liking and reposting their content.
This isn’t just out of courtesy. By regularly interacting with other accounts like yours, you will build up your following of listeners because they may have already liked, reposted or commented on one of your tracks. They will have taken the time to specifically listen to yourmusic and promote it to their audience. If they have done so, be sure to @ them in your tracks commentary with a thank you message, respond to their comments, or send them a message via their SoundCloud profile or socials.
Don’t forget to add comments to your own tracks to increase your chances of interactions. For instance, you can use the track commentaries to invite feedback from listeners (“Not too sure about the sound of the snare here, what do you think?”) Or use the commentary to take your listeners on a narrative through the track – you could write a short sentence or two for parts which you really like, standout moments or key structural points in the song.
Remixes have also become one of SoundCloud’s USPs so if it’s your thing, why not get creative and make a remix or mashup from a track you like? This is a strategic way to connect and will also create a sense of artistic collaboration as both your followers and the creator’s will be able to listen to your work, and will potentially share it with their networks. Make sure ask you permission from the creator as SoundCloud does have specific guidelines for copyright and remixes.
Invest in a Pro Account
If your budget allows you, it really is worth investing a bit extra in a Pro/Pro Unlimited account. You can upload more tracks (and an unlimited number on Pro Unlimited), which means more listeners. However, you can glean some surprisingly detailed stats about your audience such as specific country/city/town, what music they like, how long they’re listening to particular tracks for, what time of day they listen, the sources they accessed your SoundCloud from, and whether you had organic engagement on your tracks. Knowledge is power so use this data to your advantage when posting tracks and developing your audience strategy.
Bonus Tips: Things to Avoid
There are several sites which will encourage you to buy more plays, and surprisingly, these websites rank rather high on Google. It’s tempting to make your account more ‘credible’ by buying plays as no one is going to follow an account which has less than 1,000 hits. Often, though, these sites will claim that their SoundCloud plays are organic and justify that the major record companies are buying plays (but of course, they have a significantly larger marketing strategy).
In most cases, these plays are not genuine because your stats page will show that: a) they have come from a third-party service, b) the stat count will have immediately shooted up to an extreme number, and c) these plays are not targeted either so you cannot get any detailed information about these listeners. They’re clicking on your track to merely increase the count and then leaving.
So it’s much better to work with a trusted publicist who can help you to direct organic engagement to your tracks. Or create regular content for your socials that can grow organic traffic to your SoundCloud page as actual humans will be listening to your tracks and you’ll discover the much-needed stats you need to build your audience – often, they’ll be listening when they’re logged into their SoundCloud account.
Similar to fake plays, be aware of bots that will simply be following you to increase their numbers or that claim to give you more plays by following them. Do not be tempted to follow them back! Fortunately, SoundCloud has a system which can detect fake accounts and you can block/report accounts so make sure you do this where possible so that you can have a trusted, high-quality listener following.