Now that you’ve started a band and built your Facebook fan page here are a few additional steps in your music career you might want to consider:
1. Write Great Songs
If you are trying to attract the attention of music fans it all starts with great songs. It’s understood that this is much easier said than done but it is a critical starting point. Great songs with mediocre / poor marketing will ultimately trump mediocre / poor songs with great marketing when it comes to attracting and keeping the attention of music fans over the long-term. Artists should make sure they have a reasonable balance between the amount of time and effort they spend on social networks, designing merch, creating videos, email campaigns, etc. and the time and effort they spend perfecting their craft.
2. Get a Website
If you are serious about a career as a musician you should own a url that includes your name (or bands name) and have your own website. If you don’t already have a website check out Bandzoogle and Nimbit, they both provide full featured and inexpensive website solutions specifically for musicians. The central point for all marketing activities should be the artist’s website. Marketing efforts that drive fans to Facebook, YouTube or iTunes help foster relationships between fans and Facebook, YouTube and iTunes, instead of directly with the artist.
3. Fan Lists
I firmly believe an artist’s success in achieving a sustainable career in music is tied directly to their ability to build and nurture an ongoing, direct relationship with their fans. Both FanBridge and ReverbNation offer an impressive set of email marketing tools that can help artists communicate directly with fans and drive traffic to their website and live shows. Both companies help gather and provide important information that can be used to better understand their preferences and demographics. To learn more about effective email marketing to fans check out this post 10 Email Marketing Tips for Musicians.
4. Direct Commerce
Buying directly from an artist helps strengthen the direct to fan relationship. Direct commerce also provides better margins for an artist than selling through a third party like iTunes or Amazon. Selling direct also provides the artist with more flexibility and creativity when it comes to bundling sales of music with t-shirts, tickets or unreleased tracks. Make sure fans can easily purchase music, merchandise, tickets and anything else you sell directly from you / your website. Both Bandcamp and Nimbit offer direct commerce solutions for musicians that can be easily added to any website.
Metadata is all the collective information associated with a particular track, release or band, summarized and available in a digital format. Metadata typically includes track titles, track lengths, ISRC codes, album art, genre, band bio’s and publishing information. Accurate metadata is of significant importance since it is the information fans need to identify a particular artist or song in the very crowded digital music world. Not having the titles of your MP3 tracks or CD show up when it’s being loaded into a media player will appear amateurish at best and at worst prevent your songs from ever being played by that fan again simply due to the hassle factor of trying to locate an another unlabeled track in a large digital music collection. Be sure to register the metadata information with the two primary companies that manage metadata databases for the industry: All Music Guide and Gracenote. Both companies have different procedures for accepting metadata from directly from artists. Check out each of their websites for details.
6. Digital Distribution
Even though artists should encourage fans to buy music directly from their website it’s still very important for artists to have their music available for sale at the leading online music retailers and streaming services (Amazon, eMusic, iTunes, MOG, Rdio, Rhapsody, Spotify). These companies have large user bases and fairly good recommendation tools for music fans to discover artists similar to the ones they already enjoy. Retailers typically work exclusively through distributors and don’t accept music directly from artists. There are many very good, inexpensive options now available to artists for digital distribution including CD Baby, ReverbNation and TuneCore.
7. Live Shows
Playing live shows is one of the most important aspects of an artist’s career since it provides a great opportunity to directly connect with fans, sell music and merchandise, add fan names to the email list and (hopefully) earn money from ticket sales and / or the venue’s door receipts. Electronic press kits have emerged as a very effective and low cost way for artists to submit their music, bios, photos and videos to promoters or music buyers at the venues they would like to play. There are several companies now providing electronic press kits for artists including ReverbNation and Sonicbids.
8. Online Radio
Online radio now provides independent artists with unprecedented access to a large and growing audience and promotional opportunities that had only been available to label backed artists. Many of the leading Internet radio stations such as AOL, Last.fm, Pandora and Yahoo accept submissions directly from artists so there is no need to incur the cost of hiring a radio promotions person or firm to work a new release to Internet radio stations.
Another benefit of Internet radio is that artists actually earn royalties. Soundexchange collects royalties from internet, cable and satellite radio stations then pays those royalties directly to the performing artist (and copyright holder) for streamed tracks. Make sure you are registered with Soundexchange!
9. Social Media
Facebook and Twitter are great ways to build fan relationships and add to your fan base. But remember, building relationships is a two-way process. Get involved and communicate in a personal way with fans, don’t just try to sell your next show or iTunes track. Don’t use the auto-responder feature in Twitter. Getting an automated, non-personalized auto-response message from a band I decide to follow on Twitter is as impersonal and unprofessional as it gets. Facebook fan pages also provide some really useful demographic information on fans.
10. Find a Fifth Beatle
Finally, don’t try to do all this online music marketing by yourself. Give serious consideration to Pandora radio Founder Tim Westergren’s Fifth Beatle for The Digtal Age suggestion. Tim suggests finding a hard working, knowledgeable, trustworthy fan or friend to handle your band’s marketing initiatives instead of trying to do it all yourself.