Word Of Mouth
It's easy with all the on line distributors and free spaces and websites that musicians have access to, to forget the most viral and potent form of advertising. Word of Mouth. If your friend sends you something you are more likely to look at it rather than randomly coming across things on the internet. Word of mouth is how my music and art sustain itself. I am a DIY musician and artist so the more my friends and listeners and collectors tell people about my work then the more work I get.
The only threat to word of mouth seems to exist amongst musicians and artists who are infected with the idea of competition. Who believe if they help you then they aren't helping themselves. I have met a few of these over the years and am thankful enough to say that there aren't any in my life right now. I've learned to spot them when I'm out and about there and avoid them at all costs. I am also grateful to say that I have decent friends around me these days who actively support and show others my work. They understand that each person they connect me to helps bring me more.
I also actively support and help local artists and bands I like. I do this by TELLING people about them. I'll send a message, to someone who I think may like their work and I love it when artist get commissions and bands get gigs this way. I really feel like I've helped. I also help by buying from local artists and buying merch and CDs from bands I like. I know myself how each sale can help to fund you so I help as and when I can.
I think that when you invest in a community in this way it also invests in you. If you have friends who are artists, musicians and creatives then please, do what you can to help. A small share of their work, or even better, directly emailing someone you think might like their stuff really does help. And if there are any artists reading this, be kind to each other, help each other. Be the kind of community you want to see out there.