How To Promote Music Online
A little over a decade ago, the powers within the music industry were completely different. Publishing companies and major record labels were responsible for promoting artists and thereby controlled what was being spun on the radio, reviewed in major music magazines and being played on MTV. In the time that has since passed, the industry has been in a constant state of flux. While the major labels are losing their hold on the music-loving public, independent artists are learning to promote their music, get millions of views on YouTube, book tours and conquer new fanbases without the help of those controlling entities that used to decide whether an act lived or died, or even whether or not their debut album would see the light of day. Anything is possible in this new age of music promotion, and if you (or someone in your band) is a little internet savvy, you’re already ahead of the game.
As a musician, your primary focus is obviously your music. Write great songs and they will register with your audience. Unfortunately, simply writing and recording a great song is not enough; someone needs to hear it! Expanding your music’s online presence is not as difficult as it may seem and any dedicated band or artist should be able to master it.
Have a Great Product – And Know How to Sell It
The first element of online music promotion is simple: promote something awesome. Lead with your best foot forward. As the old saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” The attention span of the average internet user is a matter of mere seconds. If you don’t capture their interest within a few quick moments, they will navigate away from your website, profile and music – and they are not likely to ever come back.
Keep this in mind when choosing a band photo for your website or social networking profile picture. While your album art may be a phenomenal painting that a talented friend made for you, it is unlikely to captivate a casual browser who discovers your music online. Choose a clear, well-lit photo of yourself or your band, and make sure there is something unique about it. Pick an eye-catching color scheme for the photo or choose an unusual setting. Avoid clichés like train tracks and brick walls as a background. You want to stand out. If you have an amazing live shot, use that! A photo that shows your creativity but still clearly depicts you or your band is your best bet. If you saw a thumbnail of this photo, would you be compelled to click on it?
The other element to consider when designing the first impression your band will make is choosing what song will be available first in your website or profile’s music player. Pick a song that is accessible to a wide audience, but special enough to stand out amongst the crowd. A slow-building ballad or a song with a minute-long intro is probably not a good choice. A song with a heavy-hitting chorus that comes in fairly quickly will do much better with a potential new fan. Remember, internet listeners will often only give you thirty seconds of preview before making a snap decision. Impress them!
Once you have a good first impression ready to go, it’s time to put that impression everywhere! There are three top outlets for bands and musicians who are looking to promote their work and connect with their audience: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Facebook – The Social Networking Juggernaut
You probably already know that Facebook is the internet’s most-used social network, so if you don’t already have a Facebook page set up for your music, you’re missing out! Pages work differently than personal profiles in that they have no capacity limits for “likes” and thus are ideal for reaching a wider audience. Pages can also have several admins so that your bandmates can edit the page and interact with fans as well. Many people also prefer to “like” bands and musicians on Facebook because it is a very non-commital way of keeping track of an artist they are interested in. They don’t have to have their e-mail inbox inundated with newsletters, but they can always see when a show is coming up in their town or a new track has been released. The social aspect of Facebook also means that each new “like” is broadcast to all of that person’s friends on Facebook, spreading your name farther across the network and encouraging more activity for your page.
Facebook also contains an effective statistics tracking element for pages so that you can see how many people have seen your post, how many have “liked” it and, of course, how they are interacting on each specific post. This is a very good way of gauging what kinds of posts your fans will respond to so that you can fine-tune your posting style for more effectiveness in the future.
Twitter – What 144 Words Can Do For Your Music
Twitter is the world’s premier micro-blogging website and is great for quick interactions, updates and keeping in touch with your fan base. Twitter is also a great medium for creating viral trends. Getting traction on Twitter does require some dedication, however. Nobody, even fans of your music, wants to see the same post plugging the same track or video over and over again. In order to gain more followers and keep them, you must provide interesting content that makes people know they don’t want to miss what you’re going to post next. Don’t just share your own music, share music that has inspired yours. Share favorite song lyrics or comment on current events. Talk about cities you’re touring through and the people you meet there. Pay attention to Twitter’s list of trending topics and if you have something interesting to add to the conversation, go for it! Twitter can be an extremely useful tool for quick interactions and promotion, but you must remember that the reason it is so successful is that its users have short attention spans! Make your posts concise and interesting and your follower count will grow.
YouTube – Interact for Success
YouTube has made many a rock star because of viral videos. OK Go’s treadmill video (“Here I Go Again”) is a fantastic example of an artist being propelled forward in their career via YouTube. While the most important aspect of getting attention on YouTube is having unique, quality content, there is nothing wrong with posting low-budget videos such as acoustic living room performances. YouTube watchers love intimate videos like that!
There are also a few tricks you can employ to get more views and subscribers. The more you interact on YouTube, the more other users will watch your videos. Comment on every video you see, and leave some of your own videos as video responses (when applicable). Get into insightful discussions with other users via comment threads on other videos. When people interact with one another, they are far more likely to check out the profile of the person they are talking to – and far more likely to watch your videos and share them!
Blogs and Bloggers – Find Your Niche
A less popularized method of promoting your music online is to seek out various music bloggers across the web. Start with bloggers that specialize in a niche genre that applies to your music or bloggers who are from your hometown; this will give you a good starting point for an introductory e-mail. Less-known independent bloggers are more likely to review your music and post about your band. While their posts may have a limited audience, their following is more likely to be dedicated and interested in what the blogger writes about.
Advertise to Your Target Audience
If you have a little bit of money to dedicate towards promoting your music, another option is using Facebook, YouTube or Google advertising. These are low-cost advertising solutions that are keyword-based and can produce relevant results with internet users. These ads are not expensive and you can easily track their effectiveness with the individual sites’ analytics programs. Choose keywords that focus on bands or artists whose fans would enjoy your music.
Monitoring Your Progress
The most important thing in promoting your music online is to know what is working and what is not. A good way of keeping tabs on your online presence is with Google Alerts. If you set up a Google Alert for your artist or band name, you will get an e-mail every time a new web search result shows up that mentions you. This will help you to know who is writing about you or sharing your material and where they’re doing it. Knowing this can help you figure out which vein of promotion is reaching a new audience so that you know where to focus your efforts.
There are so many different ways to promote your music on the Web that it can seem like an intimidating task at first. However, if you familiarize yourself with the websites, blogs and networks you are using to do so, it can be quite fun to interact with your fan base and try to build it. After all, you are sharing music you put your heart and soul into – put your heart and soul back into promoting it!