This is a guest post. Vincent Clarke is a singer/songwriter and Content Marketing Specialist for USB Memory Direct.
If you’re wondering how to promote music on Reddit this article will show you the way. Luckily for musicians with great music, Reddit is an excellent way to promote your music.
It’s difficult to describe Reddit as a forum or website. You could think of it as a social bookmarking site or a social news curator, but it’s really just a popular source for what’s new and interesting on the Internet. You can post links to basically any type of media you like and the content doesn’t necessarily need to be anything original, although originality is best!
You do however need to understand that Reddit is very much a community of users who have their own rules and guidelines for posting and commenting. So if you want to have the chance to share your music with an active user base of over 35 million people, then you’ll want to learn a little bit more about how to properly become an active Reddit user. Here we will discuss a little more about how the site is set up and then show you how to appropriately promote your music on it.
Remember though, no promotion or marketing will work if your music isn’t good enough to win over the crowd. Reddit is extremely hypersensitive about self-promotion as it is. The last thing you want to do is go through the trouble of submitting your content only to find out that it’s terrible. Unfinished or small music pieces just aren’t going to cut it here. Make sure what you submit is your very best work and understand that it’s always going to be a risk to put yourself out there.
Reddit Basics – Let’s break it down
Users on Reddit provide all of the site’s content and vote on what’s good and what’s not. When you post something on Reddit there will be a corresponding up and down arrow next to it where other users can then vote in favor or against it. You click the up arrow for an upvote (in favor) and the down arrow for a downvote (against). Every submission is then assigned a score based on its number of upvotes subtracted from its number of downvotes.
The fundamental thing you must understand about promoting yourself on Reddit is that your efforts are driven by the score your submission earns. Generally speaking, the score your post receives (upvotes and downvotes) determines how visible it is. So the more people like it, the more people see it. Many musicians have had their first submission travel to the front page of Reddit, while many more have had their submissions downvoted to the point where they were only seen by a few visitors. Obviously, you’d rather be the first kind.
To get an idea of how important this ranking could be for you, consider this: Reddit receives 18.8 monthly unique visits. That means about 626,000 unique visitors per day. What could your music do with that type of exposure? Many of you probably know what Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did with it. Here’s an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread that they posted on Reddit to help promote their debut album launch. Their popularity on Reddit certainly contributed to Macklemore being the first unsigned artist in a decade (and second ever) to have a #1 single in the US. Macklemore admitted to being unaware of Reddit when he was originally asked to do an AMA, but his fans had established his notoriety on the site before the AMA. If you are promoting yourself, and are a relatively unknown artist, it would be best to establish yourself on Reddit before doing a thread that relies on people asking you questions. After all, they don’t even know you yet!
The scoring system works like this: submissions are ranked on the site’s front page, and the front page of the subreddit it was submitted to (more on this later), based on its score. As a submission receives a higher score, it will gravitate higher up the ranks. This is also organized based on how many users are visiting or commenting on it, in addition to how new the submission is. This way the front page of Reddit is constantly changing and displaying new and interesting content.
Each post is also assigned a comment thread where users can discuss and contribute to the post. Users are allowed to vote on comments which are ranked based on its “comment” score.
Registration is free and anyone can submit a link to the site. There is however a limit to how many links you can submit within a given period of time. This precaution was put in place to prevent spammers. As a general rule, you shouldn’t be submitting more than 2-3 links in any given hour.
You don’t have to only contribute links though. You can also submit “self” posts, where you simply write a question or propose an interesting topic for discussion. This is great to build yourself up as an engaging and trusted Reddit user, but keep in mind that you won’t receive any “karma” because of it.
“Karma” is simply the way that Reddit ranks each user’s goodwill in the community. You’ll earn two karma scores, one for the links you’ve submitted (“link karma”) and one for the comments you’ve submitted (“comment karma”) and these are directly related to the amount of upvote love your Reddit activity gets.
Many people use the words “karma” to refer to a submission’s current score and in the lingo of the community the terms are somewhat interchangeable!
In the example above of creating a ‘self’ post, you do receive a karma score, but each user can only increase their individual karma rating based on the amount they accumulate through submitting links or commenting. Karma is itself not usable for exerting any increased level of influence (all Redditors from newbie to veterans are equal) but it is displayed as a badge of honour an may lead other Redditors to believe that you have stuff worth listening to! Building up a good dose of Karma before you do much self-promotion is definitely a good thing.
When you create an account you will also get to pick a username. Choose wisely though because once you decide on one you can’t go back and change it later. You can create as many accounts with Reddit as you like, but you can’t transfer karma or submissions between them.
What are Subreddits?
Reddit is made up of a number of smaller communities called “subreddits”. Each of these subreddits focuses on a specific category or topic where you can submit links and self posts.
Over the years Reddit has accumulated thousands of these sub communities, covering a wide variety of subjects. This is because Reddit allows its users to create their own subreddits and assign moderators to them as well. If you want to create your own music related subreddit, make sure you do a quick search for it on the site. Given the large amount of interest the Reddit community has in music, odds are there probably already is a subreddit (or multiple subreddits) related to your topic.
When a new user signs up for a Reddit account they are automatically subscribed to the twenty most popular subreddits by default. You’ll get a lot more out of the site though if you take the time to research and subscribe to different subreddits better tailored to your interests. Each time you subscribe to a new subreddit, your homepage will adjust itself to include fresh links and engaging self posts from that community.
There are a few ways you can find new subreddits. If you already know that topic you’re searching for, or you want to find the most popular subreddit for that subject, then the Reddit search engine is your best bet. On the top right corner of the Reddit homepage you’ll find a search bar. Type in a keyword relevant to your topic and then hit search. At the top of the search results you’ll find the most common subreddits related to your key terms.
Reddit also has a new subreddit-only search system now as well. It’s a pretty basic search bar near the top of the homepage. When you type in a keyword or key phrase it gives you specific subreddit suggestions related to it. You can also subscribe to subreddits dedicated to the exposure of new and interesting subreddits. Here are two of the more popular subreddits that will help you with this:
There are also a few outside sources that have compiled a subreddit search system. These sites provide a better look at related subreddits to your topic and offer some additional search features. Some people find these to be a better resource, but ultimately it’s up to the individual to decide.
Here are a few of the most popular subreddit search sites:
Probably the best way to discover new subreddits though is to start with the general subject subreddits and check in the sidebar for more information on more specific subreddits related to that topic. We’ll talk more about music-related subreddits further below.
You can always browse through a subreddit before you subscribe to it. Check out the content and maybe take a look at its sidebar to see what it’s all about. If you decide you’d like to regularly keep up with posts from this subreddit, click on the subscribe link on the top right side of every page. You can also travel back to this location and click it again to unsubscribe from that community at any time.
You can subscribe to as many different subreddits as you like. However, anytime you visit the Reddit homepage it will only show you up to 50 at a time. This selection is refreshed constantly every 30 minutes. In order to view your top 50 subreddits, look at the top left corner of the page under the heading titled “My Reddits”. From there you can select any of these subreddits to travel to them directly. You can also see all of the subreddits you subscribe to at once, but only by visiting this page.
What do Reddit Moderators do?
Subreddit moderators are actually just average Reddit users just like you. The only difference is that they’re given some additional responsibilities within a Reddit sub community. Usually the initial moderator is whoever created the subreddit. They’re the ones who decide on the rules and purpose for the community, as well as making decisions over how public or private it is.
They are also given the liberty to add moderators and mark their own comments or posts with a unique identifier that allows other members of the community to recognize them as moderators.
Finally, they can remove or ban users, links, and comment from their community if they find them to be offensive, off topic, spam, or otherwise against their rules. Moderators on Reddit tend to be very particular when it comes to following the rules of their subreddits. Because of this, whenever you decide to promote yourself on Reddit, it’s important that you pay attention to the subreddit’s posted rules so that you don’t develop a bad reputation, or worse, get banned from a subreddit that you want to promote yourself in.
“Reddiquette” and why it matters
In order to be well received by the Reddit community, there are a number of general rules that you have to consider. These guidelines are laid out to make the experience better for everyone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of every subreddit. Overall though, follow these tips to avoid any confusion or negative reception. The last thing you want is to submit an excellent link or post and have it downvoted into oblivion because you presented it the wrong way.
Always submit original content. If nothing else, please remember this. It’s probably the most universally accepted rule on Reddit. The whole purpose of the site is to submit new and interesting content. Resubmitting something that’s been on the site before is not only wasting everyone’s time, but it’s degrading the integrity of the site.
If you want to resubmit something that did not receive the attention you believe it deserved and honestly believe it can do better, by all means do so. Sometimes bad timing could cause very interesting content to go completely unnoticed.
You can add the same link to multiple subreddits until you find one that recognizes it for its value. Do not however submit the same link again once it’s been well received by the community. Reddit users will instantly recognize it and dislike it for its unoriginality.
If you’re submitting something that isn’t your own, make sure you give credit to the real author or creator. Many times blogs specialize in reviewing or curating content that has been posted elsewhere. Find the original source of the content and submit that to the site. That way, the site receives the credit it deserves from the community.
The very next thing seems silly but is actually very important. Grammar and spelling are an essential part of properly interpreted communication and discussion. Simple grammatical errors and spelling mistakes can drastically take away the audience’s attention. Take a minute to review and edit the title and description for our submission. It only takes one extra minute and could mean the difference between a highly successful post and an unintentionally hilarious one.
Reddit has it’s own page on Rediquette here which is well worth checking out before you get stuck in.
Next let’s talk about spam. No I’m not talking about all those Viagra and Diet pill emails you get. Spamming on Reddit is as simple as just submitting your own content. It’s not against the rules to submit links to your own website or portfolio in fact in some ways it is encouraged. But keep in mind that if you spend far more time on Reddit submitting your own content than reading, voting, or commenting on it, then it’s highly likely that you’ll be branded as a spammer. If you post your own content and then never participate in its discussion or reply to user questions, then you’re just spamming the community. As a general rule, submit only 1 personal link for every 10 links you submit to Reddit. I can’t emphasize this enough. Do not be all about yourself. Link to other projects that interest you. Share the work that inspires you. There are plenty of ways for you to contribute to the community and share your own work at the same time. It’s called karma for a reason.
If you repeatedly spam a sub community then you will eventually be reported. The report button is displayed on every link and comment and it’s Reddit’s way of universally moderating itself within its community of users. A report sends direct feedback to the moderators of a subreddit that content on the site is either spam or violates the community rules.
Therefore it is especially important that you submit content to the appropriate sub community. For example, a music related subreddit might not allow self promotion of your songs, while other communities will ask that you do so in a very specific way. Make sure you read the rules of a community very carefully before making a submission, and we will discuss more about the etiquette of popular music subreddits below.
You also want to stay away from being labeled a complainer. These individuals will edit their posts to complain about downvotes or about not receiving enough upvotes. This also extends to the comment threads as well. You can’t expect everyone to love what you have to share, and you can’t blame them for not having the same opinions. Don’t try to influence the outcome of your post in anyway, otherwise that would be cheating.
Cheating on Reddit
Cheating on Reddit involves participating in some shady tactics to benefit your own purposes. This ranges from creating multiple user accounts to upvote your own posts, to outright asking people for votes. This kind of activity is dishonest and will quickly get your account banned.
That means trying to manipulate voting in anyway. People have thought of some pretty clever schemes in the past. For example, setting up a voting clique where a private group of people upvote each other’s posts. This also means that you shouldn’t send out tweets, status updates and any other message asking people to vote for your submissions. Some people have even tried to get away with bribing people for their support or votes. Reddit is about sharing content that people honestly and fairly voted for based on its value, not for your shady marketing.
Promoting yourself on /r/music and other music related subreddits
I use the phrase “promote” loosely because it really should be about how to “present” your music to the Reddit community. In other words, getting your music noticed. In order to do so you need to first think of a title that provides excellent context and is incredibly descriptive.
I’m not talking about using cliché marketing terms like “revolutionary” or “amazing” here. In fact, try to stay away from using adjectives completely if at all possible. I’m talking about posting a title that is consistent with the rules of the community and gives the user an accurate description about what you want to share.
Think of a job interview. People don’t want to hear you say how wonderful you are or some sob story about how hard it’s been to get to where you are today. What they really want you to do is get to the point and focus on it. In this case, it’s your music. Talk about the music. Describe it to your audience.
Don’t sell it. Present it.
If you happen to have an interesting story behind your music, add it in the comments or in the description, not the title. Don’t think of it like American Idol and try to get upvotes through sympathy. The main difference is that your title should not be a call to action. So for example, say something like “I did this song for charity,” not, “Please upvote this song I did for starving orphans”.
/r/music is sort of infamous for downvoting self promoters a lot. That’s because the community is so large and involves so many topics at once, that rarely does it allow independent music to gain much popularity from its front page.
For self promotion music-related specific subreddits, try visiting the following:
Make sure you deliver!
A few final thoughts
Promoting yourself on Reddit gives you the chance at an incredible amount of exposure. Even better, if you gain a following on Reddit, your fans will do most of the promotion for you, and you can just drop in to answer questions and thank everyone for sharing your work.
All of this advice relies on the fact that your work is of high quality. Reddit is a large and vocal community. If your work isn’t up to par, you will get your feelings hurt. Luckily, there will more than likely be a few members there that are willing to give you feedback, which never hurts.
Also, it’s important to take your time, subscribe to subreddits that you think are relevant to your music, and follow them for a while. Your country song may not do well on /r/futurebeats, but it could catch the right ears over at /r/OutlawCountry. As you should do with any marketing opportunity, test the waters, interact with the community, and see if they’re right for you.
Another note: consider the medium of your work. Music submissions to Reddit are almost always submitted as YouTube links. For more established (or historical) bands, YouTube videos are okay for sharing audio only with a slideshow or a static image of their album cover. I wouldn’t recommend sharing music that way as a new artist, though. If you’re going to go with YouTube, either make a music video or record a live performance (if your music translates well to a live performance). If not, the most popular audio-only hosting for Reddit submissions is SoundCloud. In the end, the medium is up to you. Just remember that if you can offer your song as a YouTube video, you should.
If you have any questions about promoting yourself on Reddit, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can. Thanks for reading!
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