How to Gain a Following on Social Media (Before People Even Hear Your Music)

desktop with laptop and marketing book to learn how to gain a following on social media

Having high-quality content on your social channels is helpful when wondering how to gain a following on social media. When people initially see your pages, they should instantly know who you are and why they should follow you. What will they gain by following your page? What can they expect to be given in return? How will you provide value to them?

However, is it essential to have high-quality content and music all over your socials to gain a following, especially when you are just starting out?

Yes, and no. But we’ll get to that later.

How to Gain A following on social media

A misconception that a lot of newer artists have is the ‘if you build it they will come’ mentality. Many artists get really disappointed when they finish a track and upload it to Soundcloud, and wait patiently for the notifications to roll in (that never do). I was guilty of this, too. I thought that just by putting my name on a page on the internet, people would somehow find it and like my one or two songs enough to follow me and become a fan.

But this is not the case and is definitely not how to gain a following on social media. At first, it seems unfortunate. But once you understand why this isn’t the case, you will start to appreciate when you do reach new fans.

Let me explain.

To gain the attention of anyone passing your page, you have to prove you are worthy of their time. How do you prove this? The most obvious answer is by providing content that they will enjoy and value. You need to market to them in a way that encourages them to give you a follow, and eventually press play on your music.

But what if you don’t yet have original music ready to show?

The good news is you don’t need social pages full of music to show people why you’re worth following.

First Impressions Matter

Simple and effective yet often overlooked. You want your social media accounts to all look very professional and have a consistent theme. This is especially helpful when working on how to gain a following on social media.
Consider this: when someone stumbles across your page, (either because you directed them to it or via their own search results) this could be the one and only chance to grab their attention enough to give you a like or follow.

How do we achieve a professional-looking and on-brand social account?

There are four things we can focus on:

Logo/Branding

Branding can be incredibly valuable as a musician. A brand is an identifying mark and aesthetic for your product. What is your product? You are! Your music, your DJing, your artwork, etc. Everything you provide to the public is your product. If you brand this product appropriately, you can create a stronger presence in your market. Your work becomes more recognizable and accessible to your audience.

You can create a brand by having a logo made and using it across your socials. Add to your brand by using similar fonts, imagery, musical styles, etc. Branding helps show you take your work seriously, and in turn, encourages others to take your work seriously too.

If you’re just starting out, you may not have a huge budget to spend on a brand strategist for an entire branding package (if so, awesome!) Instead, look at digital resources like Canva to create your own, or Upwork or Fiverr to look for lower-cost help. You can even reach out to your network and see if you have any graphic designer friends who may be willing to help out for a more affordable price. 

If all else fails, you can choose a font you like and try to use it consistently.

High-Quality Images, Press Photos, and Art

This one is pretty simple. For every person that notices how nice and professional an image looks, many more will immediately notice how awful a low-quality image or artwork looks.

People will take notice if your logo looks like it was made in MS Paint in five minutes. It’s easy to tell when hard work has gone into something, and when it has not. This goes for logos, photos, or anything you will present to the public. If your press photos haven’t been refreshed in a few years, you may want to consider having them done again.

If your page does not look professional, people are much more likely to skip over your work. Even if you are a beginner, you don’t want to appear as someone to be overlooked. It might take you longer to create high-quality music, but in the meantime, your polished image can reflect your ambitious work to come.

Social Structure: Social Media Links, Biography, Similar Artists

Providing clear links to your other social media outlets will allow people to follow you on their preferred platform. You can cross-promote from platform to platform and increase your brand awareness to a much wider audience.

Having a short but impactful biography on your pages will help people understand what you’re about. Provide a brief summary of who you are, what you do, and what you offer. Show people who you are and let them see what they can expect from you, even if you don’t have published music yet.

For example:

‘I’m Dowden, a Progressive House Producer/DJ from Toronto, Canada. I have music signed to over 40 labels and perform internationally.’

If you don’t have any music online yet, you can simply direct them to something that still showcases your sound. A mix you’ve created, a playlist you’ve curated, or even a “similar artists” section underneath your bio. We talk about this more in the next point.

‘I’m Dowden, a Progressive House DJ/Producer from Toronto, Canada. My music is not yet released, but if you are a fan of artists such as Jeremy Olander, Guy J, Hosh, ARTBAT, or labels such as Dynamic, Sudbeat, or Steyoyoke, you may be interested in the music I will be releasing in the future. Feel free to follow to keep up to date.

High-Quality Content (Not Yours!)

You can help people understand your sound and what to expect from you sharing similar content to your own. There are several ways we can do this across multiple social media platforms:

Soundcloud:

Create playlists on your page and put them in your Spotlight (requires paid account). You can also repost tracks and mixes similar to your style and sound. This content, combined with the notice you’ve posted that you are similar to these sounds, will give people an idea of what you may sound like before they’ve even heard your original music.

Mixes:

Mixes are another great way to showcase your style and can be even better than playlists and reposts. By recording and uploading your own mixes, you’re showcasing what style you’re likely to play in a live setting. Keep it consistent with the genre you are writing. You can host these mixes on Soundcloud or Mixcloud.

Facebook:

Share relevant and engaging content on your wall. Create posts and write about similar artists or events. You can even include ‘this track is an influence of my music to be released’. Try to share posts that start conversations, since this is likely to help your content be seen by even more people.

For even more information on working with social media as a musician, make sure you join our FREE digital marketing workshop!

Instagram:

Include some music in your posts and stories, and utilize stories often. Stories are a great way to show a track in progress, even if it’s not complete. This gives people the chance to get a behind the scenes look at your process. If they like what they hear, they’ll be more inclined to follow you to hear the finished product.

Spotify:

Another really great tool for showcasing similar artists and sounds is Spotify. Use Spotify to create playlists which you can refer people to if they are interested in what your sound will be. You can keep adding to your playlists to keep them relevant. Hopefully, your playlists will gain some followers. Then, when you release your own tracks, you can include them in the playlists and get them heard!

Beatport:

Using Beatport charts is similar to creating a playlist on Soundcloud or Spotify. The benefit of using Beatport charts is the chance to have them featured on the Beatport front page! This can be great exposure with the potential to be seen by thousands of people.

As mentioned above, make sure to put a similar artists section in all your socials. If people don’t know who you are yet, they might know the artists you are planning to sound similar. They may give you a follow just in case to hear what you put out in the future.

Putting it all together

Let’s check off this list together on how to gain a following on social media without yet having original songs:

  • Professional looking social pages
  • Similar content in the forms of playlists, reposts, and/or charts
  • Sharing content similar to the content we will be releasing on our socials pages
  • Have a “similar artists” section to notify potential fans to what our music will sound like
  • Logo + imagery with consistent branding
  • Mixes (optional)


With all this being said, original music is still the best way to grow your following. Keep in mind, you won’t see results overnight with these steps. But they can definitely help when working on how to gain a following on social media before you have original music posted.

It’s a slow process, but these steps make it much more likely someone will take notice of you as a serious artist. Even if they don’t hear your music today, they might see your name and remember it. Showing professionalism sets you apart from everyone else who is in the same position as you, but with nothing to show for it.

The sooner you show that you are serious about your artistry, the sooner the public will consider you a more serious artist.

My final note on this subject is to wait until you have original music you are completely happy with before you share it with the public. Going back to first impressions, if this is your first song people will hear, this can totally capture or turn them away from you. Make sure you’re fully ready before taking the plunge into releasing your music to the public.

And of course, good luck!

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