Gaining Soundcloud Followers (Organically)

Over the past year I’ve gone from about 200 SoundCloud followers (accumulated in the course of 4 years) to almost 1,000. These are all (as far as I know) real people, not bots or followers I paid for.  I actually advocate against payola, but that’s for another post. 1,000 followers isn’t a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s allowed me to learn about effective ways to grow my fan base that will hopefully continue to 5,000, 10,000, and even 100,000.

The Basics:

I won’t touch on obvious things like having good music and using tags in this post, but I will say one thing about tagging that applies not only to SoundCloud. If you use a certain artist name or a certain song name, you may be able to get extra listens from someone looking for that type of music. Just make sure your music is that type – don’t use “Beyoncé” to tag a heavy metal song. For example, the most-played song on my profile is a remix of a popular song on the radio, so I made sure to properly tag and title my song so that people looking for the original would find mine as well.

Branding:

Having consistency on your profile is important. Potential followers are more drawn towards a clean, consistent look than a page that looks like someone is just throwing stuff on it for fun. Everything from track titles to artwork to banner art, and even how you comment and interact with the community (comments are public) is important to your brand. Essentially, whether you like it or not, having a SoundCloud profile is a branding statement for you as a music creator. Many of the best producers I follow have a consistent thing they always do, such as a certain tag, a certain look with their art, or even a certain sound in all of their tracks. 

Collaborating:

I’ve had some very successful collaborations come about through SoundCloud, and some of them really helped boost my following. One thing to know up front is most people won’t respond to your questions or requests. This is true for pretty much everything in music, and it’s something you have to get used to. The best plan for finding collaborators is to find people who do similar music to yours and have about the same following. Most people have contact information on their profile, so try shooting them an email and see what happens! Once your song is done, you will have twice the number of people promoting it, and some of the fans/followers will cross over. 

Premieres through channels:

This is probably the biggest way to gain a following on SoundCloud. There are hundreds of SoundCloud channels that aren’t made by music creators themselves, but are actually more like SoundCloud radio stations. Their curators post other people’s music and usually “premiere” songs from producers or artists on their channel. Some of these have well over 100,000 followers, so it’s a great way to get exposure if your submission gets accepted. The trick is finding one that accepts the genre you create and then making sure you feel comfortable with how they work. I’ve noticed more and more channels taking “donations” or straight up charging for reposts, premieres, or releases. To me, this isn’t the right way of doing things (again, for another post), but if you are going to pay, just make sure you understand what you’re getting. 

My strategy is pretty simple. I’ve created a spreadsheet with all of the channels I come across, including what type of music they usually release and the contact information. This way when I have a song I’d like to release, I can send it to the right channels and see what the curators say. It’s probably best to go for smaller channels or labels if you’re just starting out, but once you start to have more and more releases you should be able to get released on bigger and bigger channels.

Follow for download:  

There’s something called a “download gate” or “follow gate” that basically allows people to download a track for free if they follow you on SoundCloud. I think this is a great way to release tracks because I am giving something away for free but also getting something in return. There are lots of third party sites that help facilitate the “follow for free download” function (click.dj, toneden, etc.), so I would suggest signing up for one and trying a release through them. If someone likes listening to your music and has the option to download it for free with a simple follow, they probably will. If you’re going to premiere a track with a bigger channel, ask the channel’s curators if they could do a follow for free download (most of them do this anyway).

Interacting with the community:

Just like with Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, the more you engage with potential followers, the more likely they are to find your music and follow you. On SoundCloud, the best way to do this is through comments, likes, and joining groups. There are tons of public groups on SoundCloud where you can join and post music for feedback. I would suggest getting involved in a few active groups and interacting with the other members (this is a great place to find collaborations too). Commenting on other people’s tracks is another good way to put yourself out there. Likes are the most basic form of interaction, but they are still important. If you’re using SoundCloud as the foundation for your online music presence, promoting your music outside of SoundCloud is important too. Communities like Reddit, music forums, or blogs are good places to start sharing and interacting.    

Wrap up:

Hopefully these ideas will serve as a good foundation to start building up your SoundCloud following in an organic way. If you have any specific questions or want to discuss further, feel free to contact me!