The following post is an article that I’ve written for the awesome people at CD Baby. Find the original here.
This is a guide about the power of Reddit and how you can use it to attract lots of traffic to your music. Recently I discovered this website called Reddit. Sure, I had heard about it, but never really took the time to check it out. Luckily, this time I did. After some Google searches and watching some instructional video, I felt like I was ready to dive in. As I have multiple projects going on, I had plenty of content to share. A music video, a link to my label’s Bandcamp and this blog post I had written earlier. So I found good places to post something about all of these and came up with a catchy catch phrase. Boom…. clicked submit.
Enthusiastically I stared at the screen, hoping to get some responses. F5 (refresh), F5 refresh…. woaaah… responses! People seemed to really like the content and before I knew it, I had two #1 positions and another hit #2 in these very very large Reddit rooms. I tried keeping up with responding to every comment, but that eventually just became impossible. Twitter started going off and emails coming in. I was baffled…. how did I never learn about Reddit before?
The next day I checked some Google analytic reports. Amazing…… over 5000 unique website views and 4000+ plays on a YouTube music video. All from these simple posts. From that point onwards, I was sold. Reddit is an absolutely awesome website that harnesses the opinions of people. And the influence that big crowds can have is not to be underestimated.
In this article I will explain to you exactly what I did, and how you can pull this off yourself. It’s pretty straight forward and you just need to learn about the site, what catches people’s attention, properly submitting content and how to improve your odds at going viral. Off we go!
What is Reddit?
In short, Reddit is a website that acts like a newsfeed for pretty much anything in the world. Users can submit posts in the form or links or text to specific categories (called Sub-Reddits). Other users can then upvote, downvote and comment on these posts. By this process, the posts which are upvoted and commented on the most move upwards in categories, as opposed to the downvoted posts which are commented on the least. People are free to create whatever category they want and there are no official editors.
So, in other words, Reddit filters out the best and most current content on the web, about pretty much everything that exists. There are categories (subreddits) about music, but also about kitten pictures and geography. Fans of every subject group together in these categories, so Reddit also helps focus expertise and knowledge into the spots which concern it the most.
Users of Reddit, called Redditers, can be both anonymous, but also use their own name. The majority is anonymous though, which contributes a lot to the brutally honest filtering that the website does. People feel free to express their most frank opinions and don’t hesitate to leave this in comments. Alternatively, there are many users that aren’t anonymous. Public figures, writers and CEO’s have used the website to announce ideas, start dialogues or promote products. Also there are categories such as ‘Ask Me Anything’ where experts in specific fields, and often public figures, schedule out a few hours to answer any questions that the Redditers ask them.
By now you should understand what Reddit is and have a grasp of how it can be useful for promoting a brand, band or music.
What you should know
Before we get to preparing and submitting posts to Reddit, there are a few things you should know.
Having done a number of successful trials on the site, I have found that there are a number of things that people respond very well to. Simply throwing a random post or video link on the site isn’t going to cut it. Because the site offers its users anonymity and the brutal honesty that causes, you really need to pay attention to how you are going to present your content and yourself.
These are the things I found to work:
- Be honest and human
As the people of Reddit are largely anonymous, they are highly critical. What they appreciate mostly is honesty, humanity and independence. If you are going to promote your own work, you are best off by using an account that is truly yours. Don’t try and pretend like you’re some random fan sharing the content. Stand up for what you’re trying to promote. This has to reflect in the titles of your posts, but also in how you are going to respond to people their comments. Show that you’re a real person, so that people can identify with you. That’s one of the best ways to gain true fans.
- Be unique – Shock
There are tons and tons of people promoting their own content on Reddit. And when you’re looking at music, there’s also a load of people simply posting links to video clips and tracks. The last thing you want to do is post something that gets lost in that homogeneous (google that) mess. You want to stand out. The only and first thing that people see before accessing your content is your post’s title. This needs to attract attention and interaction. Say something that stands out, that shocks and evokes curiosity.
- Content is key
Once you have spiked someone’s attention and they clicked your link, people are going to be sent straight to your content. You better make damn sure that this is top notch, and lives up to your initial claim or promise. If it isn’t, Redditers will immediately punish you for it with full blown criticism. Your music has to be great, well mixed and mastered. If you’re posting an video, the production has to be top notch. How do you check whether it is? Compare it to the people that you want to compete with. If it’s far worse, then you’re better off improving than going on Reddit to get publicly humiliated. Ask some people, get a general consensus. Only once you’re totally convinced that it’s ready to rock should you go for it.
With these things in mind, you should have a better feel for what will work on Reddit and what won’t. It’s important that you deliver content which is great, but also understand how you have to present it to the world (through Reddit) for people to be curious about it and interact with it.
The time to place some posts is nearly here. First we’re going to set up for the actual deed.
I’ll run you through choosing the right content, setting up and account and finding the correct categories (subreddits) to submit to.
- Choosing your content
Seeing as the scope of this article is on music promotion, we’re going to focus on content related to that. What you want to do, is choose content which stands out but that also feels valuable. People are going to attribute more value to a music video than to a Soundcloud upload of a track. It feels more tangible and has a better shot of getting shared. So, my advice is that if you’re going to promote music, you’re best off doing it with a music video. The better it’s production, the better your odds of getting good support. Of course, as mentioned earlier, everything needs to be top notch, including your music. Make sure that the audio exports are correct, nicely mixed and mastered and integrated to the video at at least 320kbps. Also note that whenever you’re sharing a YouTube video, you want to have it available on the highest possible quality setting, so the 1080P options need to be working and there.Alternatively, when I discovered Reddit, I realized that I had plenty of content to share: my record label’s bandpage, a recently produced music video and a blog article I had written. Take a moment to think about content that you have produced that could be valuable to other people. Attracting Reddit’s traffic to your band or act does not need to solely be attained through music. If you’re writing something relevant on a platform that’s related to your band, share it. Same goes for artistic productions, paintings, self released albums. Anything of quality that could be valuable to others, that’s on the internet. Make a list with all this.
- Setting up your account
Because we’re promoting our own content, having a non-anonymous and personalized account will feel more genuine to people. Having an older Reddit account (so created some time ago) will also make you feel more genuine, as it takes away from the ‘i just made this account to spam my stuff’ vibe.If you already have a Reddit account and it’s personalized, great – use that. If you have one but it anonymous, then it could still be worthwhile using it if you have been actively using it for some time. The decrease in your genuine vibe through being anonymous will be overcompensated by the increase of credibility by having been around for some time.I’m assuming that the majority of you don’t have a Reddit account though. Time to create one!
- Go to Reddit.com
- Click ‘Register’ in the top right corner to create your account.
- Fill in the account details. Remember to take something personalized for your account name, such as your band’s name or personal name. Use a correct email address too as you need to verify your account.
- Once you completed the process, go to your email inbox to verify your account.
Good, you now have a Reddit account.
- Finding Subreddits
Now we need to gather a number of categories to post your content to. Where you look for this is totally dependent upon the content that you have found. Logically, you want to match your content to the categories that best suits it. And Reddit being Reddit, there are so many people using it that there’s a subreddit for pretty much anything.Reddit places it’s most popular subreddits at the top of the site. These are the ones with the most people subscribed to them and likely with the highest number of online participants at any time. You want to find the subreddits that are the most crowded, as the effect of a few top ten ranking posts in small subreddits aren’t going to attract as many as a single top ten ranking would in a popular subreddit.Let’s run with the assumption though that we’re going to be promoting a music video, and that you are an independent band. We’re going to locate subreddits, subscribe to them and note down the links to the most important ones.Follow my lead:
- Go to the general ‘Music‘ subreddit. This is the biggest one on the topic and where it’s most important you get your post to go viral. Take note of it.
- In this subreddit they have a huge wiki page with the most relevant subreddits about music. Find it here.Once there, you want to browse for any subreddits that are relevant to the content that you want to post. Take note to look for the ones with the most users, as these can produce the best results. Generally the following holds true: the more specific you go into a niche, to less people will be active there.
- There are a few other big music related subreddits which you should add to you list. These are ‘ListenToThis‘ where underground music is shared and ‘ListenToMusic‘ where more mainstream music is shared. Also you have ‘WeAreTheMusicMakers‘ for anyone that makes their own music (great for bands, producers etc.) and ‘EDMProduction‘. Genre specific the ‘Electronic Music‘ group be relevant to EDM artists.
- Lastly you should execute a few searches using the genres and categories that your music fits in as keywords. For example, if your video clip contains dubstep, then search for ‘dubstep’. A search results window will open with a selection of the best matching subreddits. Go through these to find any worthwhile ones.
If you went through all these steps accurately, then we should be ready to submit your content. Let’s proceed.
Submitting and maintaining
You’ve decided on your content, created an account and filtered out a selection of subreddits in a list. Good.
Time to submit your content, but also to discuss what you can do to improve your odds of your posts going viral.
Follow my lead:
- Check the guidelines
Locate the subreddit that best matches the content you want to share. Once you’re there, you need to read through the submission guidelines. Every specific subreddit has these and some of these are more lenient than others. You can find these in the right side menu, either in the form of a FAQ or just as some written text. Generally the majority of music related subreddits will allow you to post links though, so no reason to fret.
- Think of a great post title
This is the most important part of this whole process. Your title has to be interesting and evoke curiosity. You want people to click and to identify with you. It needs to be personal, human and preferably ‘independent’ as we’re focusing on the modern music community here. You get bonus points for saying that you have self produced something or attempted something innovative. People just work that way.These are post titles that I have used that all went viral:
– “We self produced our first music video. Dutch EDM. Thoughts?”
– “We believe in free music. We’re Heroic Recordings – a brand new label. Our total catalog is available to download. Support the cause!”
– “I am an artist manager and run a record label. I wrote a big post in which I share my experiences into scoring record deals”
– “The unconventional guide to getting signed by a label”
All of these posts did great. I think the reason for this is because they are all brutally honest, a little bit provocative and very personalized. It’s easy to identify with them and they peak your curiosity because they make statements about who I am, what we do and what we believe in.When thinking of your own post titles, try and think of the most evoking way to present your content. Who are you as an artist, how have your made your video and does it hold any deeper meaning? Try and write that out in the most honest, simple and inviting way possible. You’ll get a ton of response.
- Submit your post
Go to the subreddit where you want to place your post. Copy the URL of your content. As we’re discussing posting a music video here, this’ll be a link of YouTube or Vimeo. Make sure the content is uploaded on the account where you’d want traffic to be directed to.The majority of subreddits will allow you to post links, however some will restrict to text. Ideally you want to submit links, and if you can’t , you can submit text and embed links inside that text. In the case of a music video this isn’t going to work though.
Click ‘Submit Link’ on the right hand side menu of your subreddit. Write down your title and paste the link in. The subreddit from within which you clicked ‘submit link’ will be automatically placed in the ‘Choose a subreddit field’. Leave it that way. Then click ‘Submit’.
Boom. Congratulations – you have now placed your first post.
- The first moves
You want to do whatever you can to make your post go up in the Subreddit’s rankings. Reddit indexes this by the post’s activity, based upon upvotes and comments placed. Once you’ve placed your post, click on your account name.
Then select the ‘submitted’ tab. This’ll display all the posts that you’ve submitted in the total of Reddit. Here you can monitor posts that are placed in different subreddits from within a single tab.
Once there, you want to upvote your own post by clicking on the upward facing arrow besides it and place a comment on it.
Click on ‘comments’ below the post’s title and it’ll take you to the post’s specific page. There’s a comment box right below the original post in which you can write some content. I’d use this to explain a little about the music video that you’ve posted and that you are available for questions and will try your best to answer and respond to everyone you can.These steps will create some activity within your post. Chances are people are going to catch on.
- To post duplicates or not
Often times you will find that you have content that fits in multiple subreddits. Take your music video for example… if it’s independently produced, it could fit in WeAreTheMusicMakers, but seeing as it’s dubstep, it also fits in the Dubstep subreddit. The majority of Reddit users don’t appreciate duplicate posts, however as long as you make sure that you don’t post them in overlapping categories, then I feel that it could still be worthwhile doing so. Place that independently produced dubstep video in a subreddit about music, another about music video productions, dubstep and so forth. When doing this, take note to very your post titles according to what would fit the subreddit better. If you want to avoid getting hate for placing duplicates, take some effort to not ‘copy paste’ your original post.
Make sure that you have a few hours set aside to respond to all activity on all your posts. You want to place those initial up votes and comments on all of them, but also want to be there immediately to respond to all comments you receive. I suggest that you sit on your account’s ‘submitted’ tab and refresh it every few minutes. Respond to all comments that come in and up or down-vote these. Sometimes you will get tough criticism or you might be called a spammer for posting your content, but that’s the harsh consequence of interacting with Reddit’s community. Try to avoid being defensive, respond to as much as you can, and with a little luck you will see your post floating straight up to the subreddit’s top 10.
Chances are that if you promoted some quality content, wrote good post headlines and actively maintained your post, that it went viral. Good! This will lead to a lot of traffic though, that you can leverage as well. After all, Reddit is a website which is largely for people that are savvy with the internet, and these people are likely to use Twitter, Facebook and email. When my posts went viral, I suddenly received a wave of emails, Twitter mentions and Facebook love. Capitalize on this.I recommend that you actively check your email, Twitter feeds, YouTube account inbox and place a post on Facebook with a screenshot if you do manage to hit the top #5 of a specific subreddit. These are all ways to leverage the initial attention you’re getting into more attention. Create a hype.
Boom. That’s that, you have now learned how to use Reddit to attract loads of traffic. And hopefully you’ve gone viral in the process.
If you liked this article, you’re in luck. My book ‘The Soundcloud Bible‘ is launching soon and I’m consistently writing articles like these. Want to stay up to date? Subscribe to my newsletter. You’ll get everything delivered straight to your inbox.