Using Reddit to get 10,000 new listeners

I recently tried out an experiment using Reddit to get new listeners. It worked brilliantly, getting over 10,000 new listeners in just a few hours.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the social news site reddit, here’s a quick overview: Users submit content and other users vote on that content, they can upvote it to say they like it or downvote it to say they don’t. Content with more upvotes becomes more visible and will get more views. This creates a cascading effect. Content with more upvotes gets more visibility, which means it gets more upvotes and even more visibility.

Users can also leave comments on submitted content. These comments go through the same upvoting process to work out their order of visibility. The site has a very high content turnover rate. Popular submissions will get hundreds of thousands of views within a few hours and then quickly fall out of visibility in favour of fresher content.


Using Reddit to get listeners

Reddit has millions of users and if used correctly, has the opportunity to expose content to a very large audience.

My plan was pretty simple: find a good submission and use it as inspiration to write and record a new song in under an hour. I’d leave this piece of music as a comment to the submission and hope that it gets upvoted into a position of good visibility and gets a good number of views.

It does sound straight forward on paper but there’s a delicate balance in finding the right submission at the right time. A good submission has to be found before it becomes too popular. Too late to the party, the comment will get buried in amongst the rest and will slide by, unnoticed.

I devised these criteria for finding a submission where I would leave a song as a comment:

  • from the /r/pics subreddit
  • less than an hour old and with over 20 upvotes
  • still getting upvotes
  • inspired discussion
  • was inspiring enough for a song

I chose the pics subreddit because it’s got over 2.5 million followers, it contains a wide variety of image content and it’s readers seem to reward quality submissions. I also find images to be a much better open inspiration for writing a song than a piece of text. The picture would also need to be interesting enough to invoke questions. If the picture raises questions, people will be more likely to look into the comments and then find my submission.

If the submission has had more than 20 upvotes in under an hour it’s a good indicator that it’s a good quality submission which will continue to get attention. However, many submissions will fail to make it because they don’t continue getting upvotes fast enough. I watched the submission for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure it was still getting regular upvotes.  And if the submission was already more than an hour old and didn’t have more than 50 upvotes, it generally wasn’t going to go anywhere.

Finding these submissions in the first place is a challenge in itself. This required sifting extensively through the new page of the subreddit and also watching /r/risingthreads (although a lot of popular posts seem to be missed there).


Putting the Plan to the Test

After finding this thread I decided it was time to put this plan to the test. The picture met all my criteria and it had already gotten the cogs of inspiration turning in my mind.

Right… No, left… Shit
The Image of Inspiration

I wrote, recorded (on a simple handheld recorder) and uploaded the song in just under an hour and posted up the link in the comments.It seems I’d timed it perfectly. The picture only had a handful of comments, making mine clearly visible to anyone reading them and it only had about 200 upvotes at the time, before continuing on to get over 3,000 and being the top result on the front page of reddit.

The feedback was enormous. Over 10,000 listens in just a few hours and dozens of fantastically encouraging comments were left.

You can hear the original recording of the song on soundcloud: Orrin Hastings – Supertanker.


For the Future

It really was a delicate balance finding the right place to leave the song and there still seems to be a hell of a lot of luck involved. I’ve since tried a few times to repeat it but haven’t again quite managed to find the perfect place to post it and the other recordings have gone essentially unnoticed.

The challenges of continuing this seem to be the:

  • amount of luck involved
  • the low conversion rate
  • and the awkward time zone (for me)

From all the listens only about 15 people subscribed to the soundcloud channel, which is a very low conversion rate but really not too surprising. This could probably be improved with some tweaking.

Living in Europe makes the timing a little awkward for me. The prime time to make a post is late in the evening, when I’m often already out and about. This makes repeatedly following through on this consistently a little more difficult.

I’m going to continue with the project over the next few months since it also has a number of great benefits such as:

  • consistently practice my songwriting
  • work on finding and building an audience
  • improve my home recording abilities

It may also be worth exploring making posts in smaller subreddits where songs will get less listens but may perform more consistently. Any feedback would be most marvelous! I’d also encourage others to give it a go. When done right, it’s a great way to quickly get a large  audience and a load of encouraging feedback.

One Response to “Using Reddit to get 10,000 new listeners”
  1. Rob Kay says:

    OK dude, that is genius… Tempted to give it a try just for kicks! I mean presumably you could write a song inspired by almost anything on reddit, not just other songs?…

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