Use QR Codes to Promote Your Music in the Real World

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Scan this code with your QR Code Reader!If you’re not familiar with QR codes (quick response code), they are the little black & white checker-box images that are popping up on posters, kiosks, signs and just about everywhere else information is displayed.  You’ve probably already seen them in use and just didn’t know what they were.  When you spot a QR code, simply scan the code with a scanning app on your iPhone, Android, or camera-enabled smartphone.  The QR code can initiate a number of smartphone functions, from linking to digital content on the web (like your music on CD Baby) to triggering a text message.  One of the more useful functions for QR codes in music promotion is to link directly to digital content that enhances the message on your show poster or flyer.

So how can you actually draw people into your music with a QR Code?

For my band’s recent album release show, we embedded a QR code in the concert poster that took people directly to a mobile-optimized site that immediately played a track from our yet-to-be-released album.  This not only allowed the user to instantly hear new music, but also gave them the opportunity to take info about the band with them to check out later at their own convenience.  QR codes turn your postering efforts into a multimedia experience that leaves a deeper fan impression.  See the images below.

The QR Code in action on the concert poster

After scanning the code, the mobile device is taken to an optimized landing page

Where can you get a QR code?

There are numerous QR code creation tools online.  Just Google QR Code and you’ll find a huge list.  The QR code creation tool I used to create the code in our concert poster is called Kaywa.  It was simple to use and free to create your codes.  URL shortener also has a way to create a QR code that allows you to track links, so if you love to track your QR code scans, they might be your best bet.

Video of the QR code in action

Have you used a QR code in your music promotion?  Tell us how you used it in the comments below.

-Kevin Breuner at CD Baby

Sell your music on iTunes, Rhapsody, CD Baby, Amazon, Spotify, and more!

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  • Slntpsych1

    Yeah, these things are damn near impossible to take a picture of though, and I can't really see people taking the time to stop to take 50 pictures of some code so they can get one clear one just to listen to your song.

  • Good timing, our platform for doing exactly this just launched to the public today 🙂 Check out ShareSquare on the New York Times –

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  • Slntpsych1 – You don't take a picture of the code. You use a scanning app that scans the image. It is super quick and can scan successfully from long distances and while the phone is moving around. You might just need to upgrade your technique.

  • Fonz

    @SXSW people complained of few QR code campaigns behaving correctly. Is that on the end of QR reader or the QR creator? I want to venture into this but want to make sure I can skip the buggy part.

  • Matt

    It also works better with the newer smartphones. My 3g iPhone doesn't work well with these but my wifes iPhone 4 works great. I think these are going to be standard someday. I have even seen them on TV commercials.

  • Joy

    Hi, I think the QR Code is a great tool to utilize in promotion in order to step in stride with the digital evolution of music today. Thanks for the information. I will definately check it out 🙂


  • …one last tip…
    Make sure you take your fans to a site optimized for a mobile screen, not a normal website. Mobile screens are small and iPhone only have a 2-4% market share (also small).

    Rock Hard! Rock Sexy!
    -The Deacon

  • QR codes are going to become very standard. A lot of people still don't know about them so there's a bit of educating to do. But there's a zillion uses for them.

    On the posters, as above, is a good idea. Another idea that I haven't tried yet… As you go around talking to people in the club before the show starts, give them a little card with a QR on it and tell them they can get a preview of your show before the show. Good way to keep the other band's fans around to see you.

    I'll also be doing an exit giveaway of some sort that includes a QR. To catch the people that are walking past the merch table and not buying. Maybe a coupon code good for the website or something.

  • tells musicians exactly how to use QR Codes to promote their music and lets you create, download and print your own QR Codes – even high resolution 300 dpi QR Code images which are needed for professional printing. Bands can also make and print flyers with their QR Codes at the website. And the best thing is that it is totally FREE! Thousands of artists/bands are using QRickit now. QRickit is the nickname for QR Codes which were invented in Japan in 1994.

  • Amazing technology breakthroughs of communication, wow…
    We are so intelligent yet continue to be stupid with fossil fuel energy and war…

  • I do agree QR code is great for the Music business. Being a Music Teacher most of my students will definetly be interested in using these in their promotions

  • I use which creates a page listing all my social media URLs and anything else I want to link. It give me the QR code for that page which I can update at any time and not have to change the QR. Oh, did I mention that it's free!

  • How is a QR Code better than say "text:scrdvr" for more info(rmation) on a GREAT screwdriver (with a picture of the same)? On a poster or billboard?

  • Ed

    Works great; I have it on my postcards.

  • Lemar Charles

    We actually came up with some marketing tools for them, but realized our fanbase was pretty much ignorant to how to use them. So we came up with a video to educate people first…Real-time promoting, wave of the future.

  • Thank you for this article. What's interesting to me about this is how the QR image is digital technology that you don't put on your web site, or anywhere online and ironically needs to be printed in the 3D physical real world.

    Then again the example gives code like this to embed on a site from a QR code (in this example I tried my own site)

    and also gives this 'permalink' <a href="” target=”_blank”>…” target=”_blank”>

    It seems it could become interesting to make (and more importantly WEAR) a T-Shirt that says 'scan this with your smartphone for more information'

    It also might make sense to print inside or outside of a physical CD package!

    I like Eve's example of one that encodes multiple listings of social media and more.

  • A QR Code (aka QRickit) has been a common everyday part of life in Japan for many years now. And it is getting more popular here. A QR Code is simply a tool of convenience. Instead of having to type in a URL into your phone, you just scan the QRickit with your phone's built-in camera using a QR Code reader app (BTW, all mobile phones sold in Japan come pre-installed with one). It is a time-saver. Say your in a hurry trying to catch a bus and you see a poster for something interesting. If it has a QRickit on it, all you do is snap it and hop on your bus. While your killing time on the bus you can check out the content the QR Code leads you to. Anything you can do to make it easier for people to reach your content on their mobile phones is good. In Japan, 90% of all music is bought from mobile phones while only 10% from a computer. QRickits have been making this happen.

    Also, you don't have to print them out to use them. You can display them on websites or store the QR Code images to your mobile phone to share with people. You can scan QR Codes on computer screens, mobile phone screens and TV's as well as printed material. Try it out at

  • Yup! I use em. I have one as big as day on my site 😉

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  • offers a bunch of options for creating and tracking QR codes – all for free.

  • My band, Mace Ballard, has been using them for some time now. We created special mini sites, and posted the Qr codes on our social networking sites to release special content. We just added them to our business cards…goes right to our homepage.

  • Ian

    These work great on my Android based phone (just scans the image, no pictures taken). In the past, Blackberry based phones used to have to take pictures of the barcode/QR code first before analyzing it (but that dates back 2-3 years now)… that certainly may have changed.

    I certainly plan on putting these on my next set of band business cards and flyers.

    People are still very new to it though, certainly may take a little push to make it known. My wife still calls it the "Black and White Scan Box Thingy" (that's a technical term, btw). 🙂

  • will CR codes make me a better guitar player?

  • We made some t-shirts with QR Codes on them for the band "Dreaming in Stereo" for the past SXSW. They're also on CDBaby. The QR Code goes to their special mobile site which has links to their important info, YouTube videos, iTunes, etc. See the QR Code t-shirts at or my blog at

  • QR code seems a different method for promoting your music.It is a great method.I didn’t know about QR code before reading this article.Nice post.

  • Anton

    We did this in my band, SoundRabbit (, and put our music onto T-Shirts so that our fans can wear their favorite song, or a bunch of songs to make it even easier to share with their friends. It downloads the music right onto their device! Viral T-Shirts baby!

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  • The Google link shortener at creates a permanent QR code for every shortened link, which are also trackable, similar to

  • Thanks, Scott.

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  • Sounds great, we’re in Mexico City at the moment, not sure how well known it is here … We’ll have a go though for our website – and see if we get more hits. Sounds excellent though.

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  • Jeremy Gilbert

    Have business cards and CD's at the ready for industry contacts and hand them out. Ya never know, it just might get you a gig, record deal or anything else.

  • Check out how this 13 year old awesome guitar player promoted his youtube:

  • Melissa Savcic

    Which site do you recommend to add a song for the RQ Code? I don’t want to put my website because it’s not iphone friendly. I would like to set up a link to automatically play one song (or several) on their mobil screen with a picture in the background. Kinda like you have it on your video 🙂 Thank you!

  • Melissa, Kevin's QR code leads people to a band page on Check out that site! Pretty cool.

  • I used one to create a free download of one of my songs, and passed them out on promo cards at my last gig.

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  • Anonymous

    My band uses Fanzeye which lets us create QR codes (and regular links) to give away free tracks in exchange for fans following us on Facebook or Twitter.

    So both we the band and our fans benefit. They get a free song, and we expand our fanbase! Here's what the fan sees when they scan the QR code:

  • guest

    These things have all brought us to the point that we can even be haveing discussions like this.

  • Anonymous

    Qr code is mote important.I read this blog.It really informative for us.I get many knowledge for the QR code.Thanx to share with us.

    Soldes 2012

  • QR code is a great invention people made. I'm making mobile apps currently and find it really cool to implement QR codes into them. I'm amazed at QR code coupons app builder allows to create. They are really helpful for small businesses.

  • Springhouse

    Probably. QR.

  • The QR code part I get. Setting up a mobile-optimized site with good download mechanism is a bit tougher. I’m trying out this viinyl site, but my android doesn’t play the song or show the download button. My pal tried on his iphone and he can see the play button, but it says ‘not authorized to play’. He doesn’t see the DL button either. I checked your site out as well, with the droid at least I can’t dl the song. Maybe a newer higher-end droid can. Anyways, any other suggestions out there for how to set up the MP3 dl? I don’t want the link to immediately start downloading, think it’ll make peeps nervous. I like this viinyl thing of a player and a dl button, gives a user more control over it and know what they’re getting.

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