ADN:022 — Viral Marketing 101: How To Create Interest With The Unexpected

Artist Development
4 min readApr 23, 2023

Hey Friends -

Welcome to the Artist Development Newsletter.

Every Sunday, I send an email providing actionable tips for artists and industry on one area of the music business.

Last week we covered “The Music Business Is Hard Enough; Don’t Be An Asshole.”

You can re-read last week’s newsletter here if you want to refresh.

Today we will discuss viral marketing and how to create interest with the unexpected.

Let’s jump in.


Learning from successful artists’ marketing campaigns is a great way to find ideas for how to get more eyes and ears on your music.

Here are 10 strategies, along with examples you can study.

These ideas are all great inspirations for finding the best way to connect with your audience.

Embrace Surprise:

Capture attention by incorporating unexpected timing in your campaigns.

Beyoncé’s surprise album release in 2013 took the industry and fans by storm and created significant buzz on social media, proving the power of unexpected marketing moves.

Read more

Utilize Storytelling:

Share compelling narratives that resonate with your audience.

Taylor Swift often shares personal stories through her songs and music videos, allowing fans to connect with her on a deeper level through her records and on social media platforms.

Check out her storytelling in “All Too Well.”

Incorporate Unique Visuals:

Use eye-catching visuals that reflect your brand’s personality.

Billie Eilish’s music videos, such as “When The Party’s Over,” showcase her distinct visual style, which has garnered significant attention on platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

Watch the stunning visuals

Experiment with Unconventional Channels:

Try new marketing platforms to reach untapped audiences.

In 2018, Lil Nas X used TikTok to promote his hit song “Old Town Road,” which eventually went viral and catapulted him to stardom.

His persistence and belief that he could create a viral moment were critical to his success and a great reminder that just because your song doesn’t take off the first time you post about it doesn’t mean it can’t be a hit.

Learn more about the TikTok phenomenon

Collaborate with Diverse Artists:

Partner with artists from different genres and backgrounds to create fresh sounds, styles, and content.

Justin Bieber’s collaboration with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee on the remix of “Despacito” expanded his fanbase and sparked conversations across social media.

Listen to the chart-topping remix here

Create Shareable Content:

Develop engaging material that encourages social sharing and discussion.

Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” music video became a viral sensation on social media, with fans recreating and sharing their choreography versions.


Tap into Current Trends:

Stay relevant by integrating popular trends into your marketing efforts.

Doja Cat’s “Say So” gained popularity on TikTok as users created dance challenges and lip-sync videos, leading to the song’s rise on the charts.

See the trend

Exclusive Deals:

Attract new fans and engage loyal ones with unique release strategies.

Chance the Rapper offered his album “Coloring Book” exclusively on Apple Music for two weeks, generating excitement and exclusivity.

Read about the exclusive deal here

Encourage User-Generated Content:

Motivate your audience to create and share content related to your music.

Ed Sheeran’s #PhotographMusicVideo contest encouraged fans to submit personal photos incorporated into the official music video, generating engagement on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

View the video

Analyze Data-Driven Insights:

Use data analysis to make informed decisions and optimize your marketing strategies.

Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, and YouTube all have analytics for artists you can use to see the demographics of who and the location of your audience within their platforms.

DSP Best Practices

Keep an eye on where your release is resonating, and consider what you can do in real-time to drive more eyes and ears to your music in that market.

You might be closer than you think to a viral moment with your song.

With the proper attention to detail, you will give yourself a better shot at capitalizing on all your hard work.

I hope this helps you think about marketing your subsequent releases creatively and effectively!

Spotify recently launched a new feature called “Clips,” if you haven’t seen it yet, you can read more about it here.

If you’d like more real-time updates on what new tools DSP platforms offer, email me and let me know.

See you next Sunday!

Neil Mason

Artist Development


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