Get started by building a dedicated fan base
You have just finished your first real professional song recording. When you listen, you hear hours of hard work and dedication packed into a 3-4 minute masterpiece. You are proud to share it with your family and friends, and they really like the music too.
Now for the next step. You start thinking big - record deals, endorsements, international tours, hours of radio airply, everything. There is only one small problem, how do you get signed? It is not that easy. Just ask hip-hop superstar J. Cole what happened the first time he approached Jay-Z.
You realize you need to build a reputation with a fanbase to get noticed by the big music industry players, but that is not as easy as it sounds. You look up the wikipedia of your favorite artist to see how they market themselves and sell millions of songs. Well, they have thousands of online ads, massive billboards all over Times Square, TV commercials, primetime airplay on every radio station, and albums lining the shelves of every supermarket in the country in addition to a front page promo on iTunes. How do they do this? Through the support of their record label. Now you are back to square one.
Perhaps one day...
Don't count yourself out just yet, you are in luck. There are now an infinite number of ways to get known without the support of a label. Think of this as a step in between finishing your song and signing a deal. Here are some ideas:
Build an online presence - You have probably already thought of this. This one is no secret as most people are listening to and discovering their music online now. As soon as your song is ready, put it up on YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes, and any other platform you can find. Making your music as accessable as possible will allow listeners to hear your music.
Connect with your fans on social media - Note the key word, connect. You should not only create a great page on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to post your song, but also use these platforms to engage with your fans. Reply to their comments, retweet their good feedback, and keep them interested by letting them get to know you.
Network with other artists - There are plenty of musicians out there trying to gain exposure. It does not hurt to give recognition to great up and comers that you like, you might even get some shoutouts and free promotion back in return.
Its all about focus
The key to setting yourself up for success is to focus on naturally building a fanbase one step at a time. Develop a relationship with your best fans, give them the ability to share your music, and encourage their involvment. They will turn into promoters for you. Keep on track, and you will have a true, dedicated fanbase that you can boast to record labels once you are ready.