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What is Organic Music Marketing? (And What It’s NOT)

Every music marketing campaign should include some type of organic music marketing strategy even if you’re utilizing paid methods as well. While organic strategies can be slow they generally compound over time and will typically also improve the result of your paid marketing campaigns.

organic music marketing

What is organic music marketing?

Organic music marketing is a strategy that generates new fans of your music over time rather than utilizing paid methods. This includes social media content creation such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, playing live shows, podcast creation, blogging and more to increase brand awareness.

This is in contrast to paid music marketing strategies like Facebook ads, YouTube ads, TikTok ads, playlist promotion, influencer outreach etc.

With organic marketing you’re effectively putting dozens or hundreds of ‘fish hooks’ out in the world, and relying on potential fans to take the bait and follow the path to fan-hood. Every time you create a piece of content related to your new song it may get shown to a few hundred people, and maybe 1% of those people end up becoming what you’d call a fan. The same goes for playing a show in front of 100 people, if you open for the right band a significant percentage of those people may end up streaming your music or and a few may even buy some merch.

Paid strategies are typically significantly faster than organic strategies. You can seen results from a Facebook ad campaign within 24 hours of launching it, but your social media strategic may take months to pay off.

It is possible in a way to pay for organic music marketing, but generally speaking anything that’s paid is not organic. I’ll outline some of the exceptions as we talk about this.

What is NOT organic music marketing?

There are many services online that may promise that the marketing service they provide is organic. While I won’t call anyone out by name, you’ll understand the types of verbiage they use so you can avoid them. Generally speaking when I see someone calling their paid music marketing service ‘organic’, I assume they’re doing something sketchy like running bots to your music (a huge no-no).

Why would someone call their music marketing service organic though? The reason is that in the music marketing world the word organic can be kind of buzzword. People call their services organic when they’re really not to try and indicate that they’re a higher quality than the rest. Also, people are searching for organic music marketing strategies and companies are hoping that their services come at the top of the search results.

Organic Spotify Playlist Pitching

While hiring a company to pitch to playlists on your behalf can be legitimate, very often it is not. In many cases the company has their own network of playlists under several accounts or has several friends / business partners with playlists. In some cases these playlists may be grown organically or with ads, and those would be high quality playlists. However its borderline impossible to know ahead of time if they’re just running playlists grown with bots.

Technically this type of service could even be organic, if they’re reaching out to playlist curators in your niche via email or through social media and getting your playlist added without paying the owner of the playlist. Even this is barely organic, since it didn’t get added naturally – it involved outreach. However as I said above many companies are just paying other playlist owners a commission or throwing your music on playlists they already own – effectively accepting paying for playlist placement which is against Spotify’s terms of service.

Fake Spotify Playlists

If a company promises you a certain number of streams, look the other way. Promising a certain number of playlist additions can be fine, but try to find out specifically which playlists they own and then look them up on Chartmetric or SpotOnTrack. Another red flag is if the company lets you buy the service directly on their website with no type of approval process. You could make the argument they’ll just refund someone if their music is bad or doesn’t fit anywhere, but in my years of knowing people trying out these services it never happens.

If a company is using bots on their playlists it is impossible to 100% know for sure. Bots can be run from any country or city, or even multiple countries or cities. Ironically while many artists assume that if streams are coming from the USA it must be legitimate, a playlist with a high percentage of USA listeners and not much from anywhere else (especially if its concentrated in a few cities) is more suspicious than a playlist with a global audience.

Organic TikTok Campaigns

Organic TikTok campaigns

In the legitimate case this would involve hiring TikTok influencers to make posts featuring your song on their large following TikTok accounts. This is a legitimate services and many people do it (if you’ve ever seen a product placement or brand video on TIkTok or YouTube, this is the same thing). However calling it organic is a lie.

A true organic TikTok effort would involve crafting a series of videos or sounds strategically to get them utilized in other videos and cause a trend to happen. Paid services that claim this are just doing influencer marketing.

The same goes for this as the Spotify playlist pitching, there are a lot of sketchy services out there that may just run bots to your video or sound. In this type of campaign it would be more obvious than with the Spotify playlists.

Another problem with paid TikTok music marketing campaigns involving influencers is that they don’t really work. If you’re looking for real results with influencer marketing I wouldn’t bother unless you have at least $5,000. Getting a handful of accounts with 100k+ followers to use your sound in a video is unlikely to cause any impact to Spotify streams, social media followers, or any other measurable metric.

Learn More

One staple of all music marketing strategies is releasing music consistently, but how often should artists release new music? My recommendation is every 4-6 weeks, but if you want to know why you can click here.

If you’re looking for free music marketing strategies I made this list of 17 free music marketing strategies:

Additionally if you’re looking for what is in my opinion the best investment for paid music marketing strategies check out this post I made on how you can run a Facebook conversion campaign to promote your music on streaming platforms: I’ve used these campaigns to generate over 3.5 million Spotify streams for my solo music.

Spotify for Artists data from Facebook conversion ads

I also have a detailed course that shows you exactly how to run these campaigns if you’re looking for a more guided video-based tutorial.

Spotify Growth Machine Course by Andrew Southworth