What Is Search Engine Optimization and How Can It Boost Your Music Business?

Imagine this: You put out great music… hordes of fans searching for your genre and style of music soon discover you, streaming and downloading your work. Many fans in your geographical vicinity easily find listings for events featuring you, and turnout at your events grows massively as well. Sound like a dream scenario? With the power of SEO, this dream can become a reality.

SEO for the Music Industry

At its heart, SEO is the practice of tailoring your online content to feature prominently in search engine results. This involves understanding what your potential audience is searching for – the keywords they use, the content they crave. For an indie musician in Austin, it could be as specific as ranking for "folk singer in Austin" or "Austin indie music."

Consider the above example of Jane Doe, an indie folk artist based in Austin. By optimizing their website with local and genre-specific keywords like “Austin folk singer” and “independent folk music in Texas,” Jane increases their visibility in search results. 

They ensure that these terms are in their website’s title, meta descriptions, and throughout their content. When potential fans search for folk music in Austin, Jane’s site ranks higher, leading to more website visits and, ultimately, a growing fanbase.

Jane has taken the right steps in the fiercely competitive world of modern music, where standing out is key. Jane realizes that SEO can make the difference between being discovered and remaining unnoticed. As Ryan Whitfield, SEO veteran and CEO of SparkLaunch Media, puts it, "In today's digital age, SEO is no longer optional for music businesses. It's a necessity to cut through the noise and reach your target audience effectively."

How Music Businesses and Professionals can Benefit from SEO

SEO is not reserved solely for individual artists, however. Practically everyone associated with the music industry stands to benefit tremendously from good SEO decisions and practices. The section below offers glimpses of just a few of the myriad ways in which SEO can be used to grow music careers and businesses.

How SEO can help record labels grow

As you no doubt know, SEO extends beyond genre-specific keywords (such as the “folk singer in Austin” example given earlier). For a record label, SEO can be used to create a robust online presence for the business.

An SEO-driven growth strategy includes:

  • boosting the business’ domain authority and credibility with search engines by developing useful, informative content on various aspects of music publishing
  • growing backlinks – links back to the record label’s website from respected music blogs, online magazines, and artist websites
  • incorporating keywords into website content such as album reviews, artist bios and genre-specific landing pages
  • ensuring internal links between landing pages as a way of improving both user experience (UX) and discoverability of the website in search engine results pages (SERPs)

SEO gains for music studios

pie chart of healthy website traffic sources break-up

Music production studios can leverage both local SEO and technical SEO. Local SEO involves optimizing for location-based keywords, while technical SEO prioritizes aspects such as website loading speed and mobile (cellphone) friendliness.

For instance, a music studio in Nashville might optimize for "Nashville recording studios", "country music production in Nashville" and "recording studios in Nashville." They may additionally update their studio’s listing on all local directories with complete and accurate information. On the  technical SEO front, the studio website’s loading speed may be optimized,  ensuring a smooth user experience for website visitors, which is crucial for converting visits into bookings.

Harnessing SEO for music distribution companies 

Music distributors can benefit from a combination of SEO strategies. Keyword optimization is crucial, focusing on terms like "digital music distribution" or "how to distribute my music online." Additionally, creating informative blog content that can attract backlinks from artists' websites, studio and record label websites as well as music industry forums helps in building a strong online presence and domain authority.

Music venues can also gain an SEO edge

For music venues, a mix of local SEO strategies and SEO-based content marketing can work wonders. Apart from optimizing for local search terms, creating engaging content like upcoming event pages, artist interviews, and performance reviews can attract both backlinks and repeat visitors to their website. When shared on social media, SEO-rooted content can further enhance the venue’s online visibility.

Independent Musicians: Making SEO Work for You

Smaller artists and independent musicians can harness SEO in several ways to boost their careers:

  • Firstly, the artist may create a well-structured website with good internal links among the landing pages for their music singles and albums, previous and upcoming shows as well as merchandise. This enhances user experience and keeps fans engaged longer. 
  • Secondly, optimizing website content for specific music genres and personal brand keywords helps in attracting a targeted audience. For example, a jazz musician might focus on keywords like "contemporary jazz artist", "live jazz performances" or “smoky jazz”. 
  • Lastly, creating quality content like blog posts about their music journey, collaborations with fellow musicians as well as helpful tips and hacks for amateur musicians invites backlinks from music blogs and forums, increasing the site's authority and visibility in search results.

Tip: By choosing the right music distribution agency (such as ThatPitch), an indie artist can not only boost discoverability by being accessible on all popular streaming platforms, they can maximize their chances of landing sync licensing deals by showcasing their work to industry professionals such as producers and music supervisors. 

Can Musicians DIY SEO?

In a word, absolutely. SEO doesn’t have to be either complicated or expensive. Here are some actions you could take to incorporate SEO-driven improvements to your digital music strategy, without having to rely on expert guidance (and paying expert fees!):

  • Use a free tool like Google Analytics to understand how visitors to your website are finding you. Identify the keywords that are driving traffic to your site. This will help you understand what your audience is looking for, so that you can tailor your website content accordingly.
  • Identify keywords relevant to your music and/or music business with the help of free tools like Google Keyword Planner. This can help you understand the terms and phrases your potential fans or customers are using in looking for music such as yours.
  • Update your music website by making sure that page titles and section headers as well as relevant content incorporates the right keywords. Additionally ensure that technical aspects such as meta descriptions and an XML sitemap are in place. Getting these elements right not only helps with SERP rankings, but also greatly improves UX.
  • Make use of more free tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to further optimize your website’s loading speed and mobile (cellphone) compatibility. Google and other search engines prioritize fast-loading, mobile-optimized sites in their search results. 
  • Regularly add high-quality, relevant content to your website to ensure steady growth in website traffic. Content could include blog posts about aspects of music that your fans would find interesting and/or helpful, updates about your own music releases, live event announcements and industry news.
  • Collaborate with other artists, and network smartly to gain interviews and guest posts on music blogs and industry websites; all of these will help you to build backlinks from reputable music-related sites, greatly boosting your own domain authority and SEO.

SEO: A Music Industry Must-Have

In today's digital world, discoverability can make or break a career. SEO stands out as a key tool in this landscape, as it can make the difference between being found by the right audience at the right time and languishing in internet obscurity.

As Ryan Whitfield, CEO of SparkLaunch Media, emphasizes, "SEO is no longer optional for music businesses. It's a necessity to cut through the noise and reach your target audience effectively."

At De Novo Agency, we understand the unique challenges of marketing in the music industry. Better still, we are experienced at crafting custom, SEO-driven solutions that help musicians and music businesses (at least) 10x their online visibility and audience outreach. 

Beginning with a comprehensive analysis of your current online presence, our team at DeNovo identifies areas for improvement, from website optimization to strengthening your site’s backlink profile. 

Then, we go to work to implement a strategy tailored to your needs and your budget.

Given that our twin priorities are (i) measurable results and (ii) keeping our clients in the loop, our approach focuses on:

  • Providing you with detailed reports of SEO moves we are implementing for your business
  • Implementing decisions that are informed and take into account your brand image, operating style and growth targets 
  • Maximizing your return on investment (RoI)

The Right Time for SEO is Now

Without a doubt, SEO can open doors to new opportunities on the digital music scene, paving the way for powerful growth and long-term success. Whether you choose to manage your SEO independently or seek professional assistance, the key is to stay informed, adaptable, and proactive in your approach.

If you would like to know how DeNovo Agency can help you fast-track your music career or help your online music business scale new heights, book a no-strings-attached, free consultation here. You might also like to check out our specialist SEO services.


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