When it comes to marketing your music, first impressions are everything.
The way you carry and present yourself as an artist is crucial – your branding needs to be on point, your sound needs to be solid, you need to have a consistent “voice” online – but have you ever considered how your links are presented? Or where you’re sending fans, should they be so generous as to click?
I’ve seen a LOT of artists promote a new single, and only link to Spotify.
This is shooting yourself in the foot. It’s like a full-service automotive shop sending potential customers to their ‘brake services’ page. You miss a lot of opportunity.
Although one may argue that most people have Spotify, not EVERYONE does. And when we assume that our current listeners (or prospective fans) are solely on Spotify, we’re limiting our potential reach.
You need to give your fans the option of what retailer they would want to listen to your music through, no matter what platform they’re coming from (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
And NO – I’m not saying to link to every retailer ever when you’re promoting something band-related.
Alls I’m saying (said charmingly, not a typo) to do is to use a smart link.
What is a Music Smart Link?
A smart link is a simple digital tool, presented as a webpage, that can direct traffic to multiple links – think of a smart link like one of those cool wooden sign posts that point to a bunch of different destinations. In the case of music, it usually* directs listeners to their preferred streaming service, such as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc.
*We say usually here because you could technically link people wherever. A link to local dates for a music tour. Merch links. Hell, link to your aunt’s antique store. You’re the boss. Honestly that’s pretty fuckin’ punk rock if you think about it.
This allows the user to decide where they want to stream your music, rather than being sent directly to a Spotify page or a Google Play page when they don’t use the service.
At the end of day, your goal should be to serve your audience and give them the best experience possible. If I’m wanting to listen to your music on Deezer, but all I see is a post linking me to Spotify, I’m going to have a bad time.
I’m going to click the link, be sent to Spotify, then have close it out (because I use Deezer, remember?)
Then i have to open my Deezer app myself, search for your artist name, find your song, and then click on it to play it.
Then I’m going to wonder if this band cares about me on a personal level, or just sees me as some sort of non-Spotify jerk.
That is a terrible listening experience.
And who would go through all of that if they’ve never heard of you before?
Why Should I Use Music Smart Links?
Using smart links for your music not only looks clean in your bio and on posts, it also gives your listeners a pleasant experience.
Smart link services also give you more data than a straight link – such as visits to the URL, geographical data, click through rates, and more.
These are all very useful analytics to gain a better understanding of your audience, know what services they most likely click on, and see what devices they’re using most often.
You can also add retargeting pixels for Facebook, Google, and more for future campaigns by creating custom audiences or even lookalike audiences.
There are quite a few platforms out there to choose from when it comes to creating a smart link for your music. The best overall smart link service for musicians is smartURL due to the customization options and speed.
We’ve created a comparison chart of the most popular smart link services out there for musicians below.
Note – due to the recent Apple vs Facebook thing, some things have changed when it comes to the world that is music marketing.
One thing you may want to consider when selecting your music smart link is whether they offer the ability to use a custom domain or not.
Click here to learn more about how iOS 14 will affect music marketing for 2021 and beyond.
Music Smart Links Comparison Chart
PS - you can download this comparison in a PDF, a release checklist + more in our FREE guide "Get Your Music Heard".
How to Create Music Smart Links
When it comes to music promotion, we use a variety of tools to maximize the effectiveness of our campaigns.
Here are step by step instructions on creating music smart links with the most popular services out there.
How to Create a Music Smart Link with Feature.fm
1. Sign up for Feature.fm and once you are signed in, on your “Welcome” tab, select “Create a Music Smart Link”
2. You will then be taken to the “Link Creation” section. To create your link, find the URL to your release on Apple Music/iTunes or Spotify, copy it, and then paste it in the “Scan Source” section. Feature.fm will then automatically locate it on other retailers and populate it in your smart link. (You can remove services you do not want listed by clicking on the “x” on the top right of each link.)
3. In your “Link Settings” you can adjust your URL, title, image, and more. To adjust your the order in which the services appear, you will have to upgrade to at least the Artist Plan ($19 / month).
4. Once you’ve adjusted your settings to your liking, you can then adjust your Social Icons and Social Cards. Once you are happy with your settings, click “Save” at the top right of your screen, and you are all set!
Note: we recommend signing up for at least the Pro version of Feature.fm to unlock the capability of adding a Facebook Pixel to your Feature.fm landing page. This will allow you to capture valuable audience data to use for future retargeting campaigns and to create conversion ad campaigns in Business Manager.
How to Create a Music Smart Link with smartURL
1. Sign up for smartURL and select the “pivot” option.
2. Find the section “Apple Music/iTunes URL”. Find the link to your release on Apple Music or iTunes, copy it, and paste it here.
3. Adjust your “Product Image” to properly list your release’s name as well as modify the “Product Title 1” and “Product Title 2” to your liking.
4. Under the “Retailer” section, you can add more Retailers such as Spotify, Deezer, and more. First select the retailer from the drop-down menu, and then paste the link in the URL bar
How to Create a Music Smart Link with ToneDen
1. Sign up for an account at ToneDen. Here you will be greeted with a dashboard. The nice thing about ToneDen is that you can have different artists “profiles” (top right of the screen) to keep yourself organized if you are working with multiple artists.
2. On the left side of the screen you will click on “smart links” to create your own link. Then on the top right of the screen, click on “+ create new link campaign” to start the link creation process.
3. Next, you will select the type of link that you will be creating – in which for our example we will be creating a “music” smart link for an “existing release.”
4. Here we are prompted to enter our “stream source” which can be a URL, ISRC, or UPC code. We usually copy the Spotify URL from the release we are promoting and paste it here. Once pasted, ToneDen will search for other services the release may be on (be sure to verify the links before publishing, it ain’t perfect, especially for smaller artists).
Once you verify your links you can go through and adjust settings such as your metadata, landing page imagery, previews + more.
Note: ToneDen allows free pixel tracking – a feature that is usually only available on premium smart link service plans. However, their conversion tracking (at least for Facebook) is not 100% accurate. I learned this the hard way through a pre-save campaign I ran for an artist. They only track when a user clicks on the pre-save button – not when a user successfully pre-saves a track.
How to Create a Music Smart Link with LinkFire
1. Sign up for an account at LinkFire. Once your account is created and you are signed in, you will click on “Create link” at the top right of the screen. You will then be prompted to select your “link type” (for this example we are selecting “release”; other types of links include playlists, tickets, bio + others).
2. After choosing the “Release” link type, you will now paste your release’s UPC or ISRC code. (We generally copy the Spotify URL and paste it). Once you paste your link/code, LinkFire will scan for different digital service providers (DSPs) that carry your music. (Always make sure to check that they are accurate, because these are never perfect, especially for smaller artists).
3. Here is where you can edit your release link, in which the free version allows you to adjust the end of your URL, the title, and add featured artists (if any) to the release.
4. Once you make your edits (if applicable) you will click “create link” and that’s it – easy, right?
Note: when you use the free version of LinkFire, your smart link will have ads, which is a terrible user experience. At least smartURL makes the advertisements very subtle. LinkFire however, makes these ads very “in your face” and obnoxious, making the free version unbearable.
However – LinkFire seems to be the only smart link service tout there that has streaming attribution – in other words, you can see how many streams come directly from your smart link.
This is great for those who want to really see the ROI (the return being streams) from specific marketing efforts.
How to Create a Music Smart Link with Linktree
1. Sign up for an account at Linktree. Once your account is created and you are signed in, you will click on “Add new link” at the top of your screen. You will then be prompted to paste your destination URL and title.
2. Once your link is copied, you will paste it in the URL field and the yellow switch will turn green, activating your newly added link and adding it to your Linktree.
3. If you sign up for their pro version, Linktree does have different themes for you to go through. You also have the ability to create your own, which allows you to customize colors, add a custom background, and more.
The Pro version also allows you to install a Facebook pixel, email/SMS signup and other cool features.
What is the Best Music Smart Link?
Like anything in marketing, it depends.
There are many pros and cons (depending on your needs) between all the services we have covered in the guide.
For example, a major label may favor LinkFire due to its ability to measure attribution (streams coming from the smart link) and run conversion campaigns, which would put them at an investment at about $100+ per month just for the tool.
On the other hand you may have the indie artist who is just starting out, and wants to run pre-save campaigns for Spotify, direct fans to an easy to use landing page. and does not care to run conversion campaigns – they’re better off using Feature.fm or smartURL.
At simpl. we believe that there is no “one size fits all” and take a customized approach with our tool selection and done-for-you-services.
If you need help maximizing your merch sales, streams or just getting your music heard, feel free to reach out.