#160: Budi Voogt – How to market your music on SoundCloud

BudiVoogt_webSoundCloud provides artists with a unique ecosystem in which to promote music and build an audience. But like with most online tools, the more musicians that use SoundCloud, the harder it is to cut through the noise. In this episode, Budi Voogt, author of The SoundCloud Bible, provides some tips and tricks for using the audio platform to connect with new fans.

Get more info about The SoundCloud Bible HERE.

  • Thanks for having me on the show!

    If anyone has any questions, I’d be happy to answer them here.

    Also, you can find my writing about the industry here: http://www.budivoogt.com

  • Ryan States

    More and more I’m hearing that it’s more important to increase the frequency of your releases and interactions with fans in general. I think that’s a great idea, and thanks for talking about that.

    My question is about the practical side. First of all, if I release one song per month and then release all twelve songs for an album later (or six songs for an EP for example), won’t the online music stores begin to look cluttered with multiple releases of the same tracks? How do you keep that clean looking? Do you have all of the singles pulled when the album drops?

    Of course there is the added time and work that goes into doing more releases, as far as publishing and paying CD Baby to put it out – that’s par for the course. But it’s the artwork that I find daunting. The art can easily represent up to 50% of your overall budget. And instead of one cover, you now have thirteen. And again, you’ve got two releases of all of the exact same tracks but with different art. Aren’t you concerned about annoying fans who think they are buying something different than they may already own, but with a different cover? And how do you avoid making boring, minimalist, functional art for the twelve singles? You don’t want the artwork to suffer but you can’t spend $13k on art for twelve songs that you recorded/mixed/mastered for, say, $2-15k.

    Doesn’t it just become a contest of who can make friends with brilliant artists, and pressuring them into working for cheap, or free? Or worse yet, songwriters and artists all start marrying each other and now neither partner can pay the rent? It’s not like you would want iTunes to group the singles together into an album after the fact because you didn’t master it as an album. How do you handle these challenges?

  • Chacho Dci

    Hi @budivoogt:disqus, what do you think about uploading to SoundCloud only previews or short versions of a track, so to boost plays in Spotify or downloads in iTunes and monetize? Thx

  • Hey @ginoandreu:disqus, I would recommend against uploading just teasers.

    This is increasingly a thing of the past, users are getting accustomed to comfortable listening experiences, where they have immediate access to the full tracks.

    I would rather put the full tracks up on SoundCloud and then put a ‘SPOTIFY’ or ‘SUPPORT’ button in with a link to iTunes or Spotify, whichever you prefer.

  • Jan Batista Mojdiss

    thank you for very interesting podcast!

  • Thanks for listening @janbatistamojdiss:disqus.

  • Hey @disqus_ostWkl30Ep:disqus,

    1) I wouldn’t focus on the potentially ‘cluttered’ look on the stores, as the probability of users finding your music by browsing directly to your artist page are minimal. Discovery on iTunes / Spotify / Beatport will be via people navigating the charts and homepages, where technically you could argue that releasing multiple products increase your odds of charting.

    2) In many cases we would put the pre-release singles out as auto-grats on a pre-order of the total package. So if you have a 4 track EP coming out, we’d pre-release a single by uploading it on SoundCloud, whilst on iTunes and other stores, the EP would actually be a pre-order, with the single being accessible as an immediate give-away if the pre-order is made.

    3) In terms of artwork, in the pre-order scenario, you’d use the same artwork of the EP on the single. That way, you reinforce the imagery that you want to stick. In the cases of a long time-span between the single and bigger release, or multiple singles, you could opt for different art. Whether you opt for bland artwork is in your own hands. If you have a good artist, there’s no need for that.

    All in all, I’d worry less about what other people think and more about how you can maximize the exposure your work gets.

  • Ryan States

    @Budi Voogt Oh cool. Thank you!
    Does this mean that iTunes, CD Baby, and the like are now allowing artists to reuse the identical cover art on more than one release, for cases such as this?

  • 3 Doors Down

    Great Podcast! I’ve been using soundcloud for about 3 yrs now and it’s a very cool platform/community.

    I’m a singer songwriter/ indie pop artist and I post a lot of materials both originals and covers. I also have a pro account.

    Do you think a pro plan is necessary for a soundcloud artist? I mean it has gotten quite expensive over the last few yrs and there hasn’t been any additional features for pro account users. Also the facebook share doesn’t allow fans/users to play the music directly on their fb page which is a big let down for artists.


    Yeah, Budi totally missed the purpose point of your initial question. Indeed, artwork izza bitch to crank out for every song. So is meta tagging. No, CDBaby will not let you use the same artwork for all of your track releases. And YES, I would use a stream teaser on Soundcloud. If you’re enjoying my music all the way through the halfway point of my song, then you’ll enjoy paying $.99 cents to enjoy the full track. If WE the artists keep spoiling people with the full length audio. who’s gonna bother to pay you for something you just gave up for free? And if you’re an artist like me who doesn’t perform live, yo ass aint payin rent.

  • kbreuner

    If you’re releasing music, I do think a Pro plan is important. The streaming world generate a mechanical royalty that is only captured by having a publishing admin. Plus, if you’re serious about your music, you should have all of your bases covered when it comes to collecting money for your music.

  • Chacho Dci

    @budivoogt:disqus that makes sense. Thanks!

  • Tom Hendricks

    This sounds fine, but the present music industry is set up such that about 5 sound alike pop stars make millions and the rest of us are marginalized into selling a few t-shirts, and selling a few CD’s or playing a mostly empty room. Until we take on the gorilla in the room – the 5 pop stars, the rest of us won’t get anywhere.
    Every musician and even platforms like Sound Cloud, will have to make a choice, be marginalized by a handful of pop stars that make millions and millions on sound alike music, or oppose it and open music to everyone again, like it used to be decades ago.

  • Ryan States

    I certainly agree with going with CD Baby Pro, but from what I can tell Soundcloud Pro doesn’t appear to offer much more. At least it doesn’t cost much.

  • Andreas Arianto

    Hi, living in Indonesia makes it easy for me to befriend a lot of Budi’s around, but definitely your interview here sets you apart from any of them 😀 I can’t resist the urge to drop a cent or two after reading the other comments.

    Having an unfortunate experience setting up a non succesful indie record label in the past enables me to see your points in a brighter point of view.

    I am really glad to have you stated the fact that there are actually more musicians that limit themselves for wider opportunities to make their works of art exposed to a wider audience, simply by putting an unnecessary burden not to “sell out”, only because of their unwillingness to view their brand as a company.

    Soundcloud is really important as well as the other online platforms, but it is just a part of the overall marketing strategy and business plan on how to grow our brand and our products – just like what Budi said. As long as we discourage ourselves from viewing ourselves as a brand, no matter what methods of strategies we are learning to apply, we are still going to hit the ceiling, unable to step out of our own comfort zones and join all the bigger players of the industry.

    I believe this holds true to any other industries as well. If we are comfortable enough to stay where we are, it is still a good choice we make for ourselves though. But everything has its own consequences. As for me, I don’t have anyone else to blame but myself for the things that I can’t reach yet.

    Thanks for sharing, Kevin and Budi!

  • So, let me see if I understand this. If I post a track on SoundCloud and allow it to be streamed (or downloaded) and this track is also listed on my BMI account. Would I get royalties from this stream, via. BMI?

  • Airborne Mark

    Thank you.

  • Good stuff — thanks. Now I get to re-work my Soundcloud page, my website, my Facebook page, my YouTube site, my GigSalad page and etc …………….. 🙂 Then maybe I can get back to writing music 🙂

  • Under no circumstances have I ever felt “marginalized” by the mega stars– and I’ve been making a living at this for 40 some odd years. I’m not interested in making someone else’s money — I’m interested in making my own and if that is enough to pay the bills I’m a happy camper. Besides — how often will Taylor be playing a convalescent center, or a local cafe, or any of the other paying gig opportunities out there that are “beneath” the megastar? Know what ? We are marginalizing them cuz we are the ones getting the music to the people in a way that makes us truly accessable to the people.

  • Tom Hendricks

    Sounds fine for you, but there are thousands of musicians that need some fairness in the music business again, where quality counts over promotion.

  • Okay, knee jerk cynical reaction would be “welcome to the world of Baby Boomers, mass marketing, and rock n roll which all were born at about the same time and have dominated pretty much everything for the past 50 years”. That said 🙂 ………. look, its a symbiotic relationship — always has been since long before the rockin boomers. The mega-stars introduce the tunes to the general public – be it on the stage, or in the movies – but it’s the locally known who get it directly to the audiences who are never gonna go to the “big show”. Oncemponcem time I was the “headliner” act for a small county fair — sure Johnny Rivers showed up an did one set — but I was the one who got the top billing. This should tell you something — the A-List doesn’t do “small” venues because, bluntly, they can’t. Not anymore. They have a mystique and image to maintain in order to be the A-list — and they have an entourage to pay and check-out rags to support. The rest of us — we get to do the music, get the music directly to the people, and otherwise have a normal life. Not everyone is gonna be Taylor, nor at one time was everyone gonna be Bing, or Sinatra for that matter. There just isn’t a lot of room at the top of Everest for everyone to stand on at once. And that’s okay — because everyone gets to try to make the climb. As to promotion — it has always, always, always been part of the gig be it on the national level or the local level — cuz the music biz doesn’t have a career ladder, and a straight career path. The people who last in this business, the one’s who make a decent honest living at it, are the one’s who figure out that the glitz and the glamour and the mega-bucks aren’t as important as they are made out to be. You want fairness ? Then be fair to yourself and decide to want your own life, not someone else’s.

  • There is one thing about this podcast I’ve been pondering. Budi Voogt pointed out that Soundcloud is a very different platform than others because it is about The Music. No video. I think there is more that could be said about that. Soundcloud is about The Music. It is strictly an aural experience. That means your music must be able to stand on its own merits as music. If you think your music has to have visuals to support it then it probably shouldn’t be on Soundcloud. Use those tracks on YouTube. Now, yes, you can include a picture along with your music and you have to give some real thought to that. People are more visually oriented than hearing oriented, though we do take our cues from the combination. So your visual on Soundcloud has to really be about the music it is supporting. I think I would recommend a different pic for each track. You can still have consistency in “branding” by using a small inset of your logo as part of the pic. But what you don’t want to do is have the pic inconsistent with the music — the obvious example being a song about the desert and a picture of an igloo 🙂 This thinking also should translate to your videos — is the visual about the music, or is the music about the visuals ? Be careful here — if the music doesn’t stand on its own merit using a visual to help “sell” the music will result in some very disappointed fans later when they are listening to the music on its own. Just as cranking up the amp doesn’t make up for poor musicianship, so too cranking up the visuals doesn’t help and can be counter-productive.

  • Tom Hendricks

    This head in the sand attitude hurts all musicians – it turns over music to the most promoted, not the most talented. The music business with only 3 companies now is not the music business with thousands like it used to be. You can’t deny that. You can’t say it’s ok for every musician except 5 , to be marginalized out of careers because corporate music wants only their 5. There is nothing about this that is normal or as it was in the past. Nothing. It’s all wrong, bad for music, hurts all, and more and more. See this link for thousands who agree.

  • Trevor Marty

    I think he was taking about the soundcloud pro account and not the cdbaby pro.

  • Ryan States

    I just saw that k-os has the exact same cover art on Yes! and Yes, It’s Yours! (the Indaba remix album). So we see that it’s possible to do that on iTunes, at least with major labels.