Some musicians are natural-born marketers, but most of the time they’re not. The musicians I know tend to work odd jobs, play gigs on weeknights, jam in every moment they can, and try to scrape up enough cash to put together a decent sounding record.
With all the creativity and time it takes to write excellent music, it make sense that musicians aren’t by nature marketers, whether it’s in a traditional context or a social media one. That said, most musicians have to figure out how to sell their wares. This happens at shows, on social media, and through word of mouth.
In today’s music landscape there’s one major platform for musicians who are relatively unknown: SoundCloud.
SoundCloud lets musicians upload up to three hours of their tracks for free, and users can listen to any of those tracks for free. There are paid versions for both spectrums of SoundCloud, giving musicians and listeners more options and statistics, but for the most part, people use the free service.
You probably know this, because you’ve come to this article, but SoundCloud is incredibly popular. It stands as one of the most tangible ways to track underground music, and there’s a huge user base (175 million strong) that helps musicians sell out concerts and start to make some real money.
That’s all well and good. A musician can create an account, upload their music, and hope they sound stellar enough to get noticed.
However, the likelihood of that happening all on its own is pretty slim. Just like marketing yourself on the road and online, a musician should plan to market themselves on SoundCloud if they want to get popular.
How to Market on SoundCloud
The way to do this similar to other social media platforms. On SoundCloud there are five main ways to network with other musicians and listeners.
1. Following the User
Sound familiar? Apparently we’re a follow-based world these days, and SoundCloud is no different. Following an artist will keep you updated via a feed, but it will also appear as a metric for their account.
When you follow someone, you increase your likelihood of being found and followed. Basic.
2. Like Their Track
This is also pretty obvious. As a musician you upload a bunch of tracks, and all of those tracks can be “liked”. This shows up as a metric and helps to rank your song in SoundCloud browsing.
When you like another artist’s track you’re giving them digital props, and it will alert them to your presence. The goal is a “like for like.” Unless you’re already popular, you have to be the one to initiate.
3. Repost Their Track
Creating an account on SoundCloud automatically gives you a Profile. That profile functions a bit like a Twitter handle. Sure, you have your own music that people can listen to, but you’re also supposed to be engaged in the community, which means finding and liking other musicians.
Often times users follow musicians because they like their music, but also because those musicians turn them on to even more music.
One of the most clear cut ways to do this is through reposting a track. If you’re a musician and have a friend who just uploaded a great new album, you can repost one of the tracks from that album. This will make it appear on your profile and “feed”, basically amplifying the music to your followers.
This, again, is a way of showing that you care. Repost a track and hope that they will do the same for you.
4. Commenting on the Track
This feature has always been a standout because of the visual way SoundCloud incorporates comments on tracks. You can comment in real-time while listening to the track, and comments appear below the track in a pop-out method.
Just like everything above, commenting alerts the original musician to who you are. An added benefit of commenting is that others can see your comment, and might be curious as to who you are.
If you leave a particularly awesome comment that, perhaps, explores the deep connectivity of space and time in that moment of sonic bliss, you might get some more curious listeners popping over to your account.
5. Send a Direct Message
The last and final way to reach out to people on SoundCloud is through a direct message. This is similar to most other social media’s messaging platforms.
You can look at this in two ways:
Send a message to an artist you like. Tell them why you love them, how they inspire you, and why you think they’ll love your music. This is a way to give props while also directly seeking out new listeners.
Send a message to users. There are a ton of SoundCloud users that don’t upload any music — they’re just there to listen. You can send Direct Messages to these people as well. If you do, you’ll want to be very nice and personable. Mention how you found them, why you think you’ll fit into their listening tastes, and maybe give them a code to download one of your songs for free.
This is the most personal form of communication, but it’s also private, so the community won’t see these or learn more about you.
How to Boost Your SoundCloud Plays with Proxies
There are many metrics that go into an artist being featured on SoundCloud, but in general the concept of “more is better” is applicable here. You want more of everything: followers, reposts, likes, and especially plays.
I’ve gone into such depth above because each of those five components will be key to boosting your SoundCloud plays.
You can break down the ways to court more plays, followers, reposts, and likes into two distinct categories, both of which are greatly helped by the use of the proxies and some SoundCloud specific software.
The first way is more legitimate and will really turn the musician into a marketer, even with the use of proxies. The second way is frowned upon, but very effective.
I’ll discuss the legitimate way first, and then detail the less-legitimate one.
Boosting SoundCloud Plays Legitimately with Proxies
“Legitimate” in this context is a relative term, because the moment you begin to use proxies for anything other than anonymity, you’re talking about automation. That means automation will be used to get song likes, followers, and plays, which, in general, is not really encouraged by SoundCloud, just like Twitter doesn’t allow automation of posts and favorites.
Automation as a method is not allowed but frequently used by people all over the world. As such, it’s legitimate in a sense, and the specific way I’ll be describing below is fine as long as you use it in moderation.
Automation with SoundCloud will typically involve a software program. There are tons of programs out there, typically called bots, but the top contender is SoundCloudManager. It will cost you a one-time fee of around $97, but you can look for deals. You can probably get a cheaper bot, or have a programmer build you one, but I’ll be basing most of this article on SoundCloudManager because it’s comprehensive and easy to use.
While you can perform the five methods of social interaction listed above on your own, automating them saves a lot of time. Instead of spending Wednesday night networking until 1AM, you can write music until 1AM, upload that music on Thursday to SoundCloud, and keep two veritable trains rolling at one time.
The automation of follows, likes, comments, reposts and direct messages can all be handled by SoundCloudManager. You’ll just have to get the software (or something like it), log into your SoundCloud account, and begin to explore the possibilities.
Using Proxies for SoundCloud
When you start using automation there are a couple key concepts to understand. The first is that you need to use proxies.
Proxies are necessary because if you perform a large number of regulated actions from a single IP address, SoundCloud will catch onto you, and your ISP will get upset at the frequency of use. You want to stay well out of both of those radars, and to do that you’ll want to upload either free or private proxies directly into the SoundCloud bot, and then run your actions through those proxies.
Free proxies will work, but are better for a method I’ll describe below. For your routine daily follows, comments, etc., you’ll want a dedicated batch of 10 or so private proxies. These will run without fail, making sure your networking happens night and day while keeping your actual ISP out of the picture.
The second key concept to understand about these programs is that after uploading proxies and figuring out what actions you will take, you need to regulate the frequency.
I can’t say this enough — regulate the frequency!
The best way to get caught robbing banks is to rob the same bank every thirty minutes on the dot until the police are waiting with guns and handcuffs.
When it comes to automated networking, you want to make sure you set your program to perform actions on a somewhat human scale. Don’t follow a thousand people in a minute. Don’t direct message a new person every 3 seconds. Don’t make your actions look incredibly obvious and suspicious, because somebody will notice.
As long as you regulate the frequency of your use, automated social networking will continue to work for you.
Doing all of this will increase your overall plays. By building a broader community you will intrinsically see your play count go up, and once the ball starts rolling it’s hard to stop, because SoundCloud will start to feature you, and then you’ll have more organic plays than ever.
Boosting SoundCloud In Less Legitimate Ways
If you’re looking to give yourself a major boost and don’t care if you’re cheating the system, this section is for you.
I’ll tell you right now that while these methods do work, it’s a bit unfair to all those hardworking musicians who put in the normal hours and time to become recognized on SoundCloud. That said, people do this all the time, with SoundCloud and a host of other networks. It’s the way of the world — if you’re of that mindset, you won’t think twice.
Bots like SoundCloudManager often have the ability to “play” your song as many times as you want. Proxies are even more necessary for this, as the program will be playing your song as if a real person, with a different IP address in a different location, is the one who’s listening.
As I said above, make sure you have a handle on how often to run this program. You don’t need or want 200,000 plays in under a week. That’s not realistic or helpful. See how many plays popular SoundCloud musicians have, and set the program to hit that number in a month.
You’ll want to do this slowly with a batch of private proxies, but this is also a good place to use free proxies. Grab a free list, test them in the program, and then use a combination of the proxies to make rake up the song plays. You want more individual IP addresses than normal, because if SoundCloud traces this activity back to you, it can remove a song or ban your account.
For those who really want to work the system, SoundCloud Manager has the ability to mass create fake accounts on SoundCloud, which you can then program to like, follow, comment, and repost your tracks.
This is exactly what it sounds like — a dirty trick to inflate numbers. All of those numbers will be fake, but you’ll watch as your songs and profile grows in leaps and bounds.
It’s even more important to do this slowly and cautiously, as this is a very serious violation of SoundCloud’s terms and conditions.
That said, if you set everything up so that it’s not traceable, you can become a trending artist in a couple months and start to receive plenty of plays organically. Unless your music sucks. It will be harder in that case.
Set a Goal
The reason you’re probably using proxies, a software program, and some shady tactics to up your SoundCloud account is because you’re ambitious. You know that even if you’re insanely talented it’s hard to get noticed in today’s saturated world.
Just like you might pay a marketing firm to help manage your music, setting up a program to run some of these tasks is, to me, perfectly legitimate.
However, you should start the process with a clear goal in mind. Write down how many followers you want, how many song plays, how much activity in general. Approach that goal slowly and cautiously so you don’t get caught, and once you hit the goal consider slowing way down or stopping altogether.
The point of this is to get noticed, and once you’ve done that you’ll have to let your music speak for itself.