I myself have worked at the forefront of this developing field of New Media over 10 years for some of the top Independent Labels like Putumayo World Music, Nomadic Wax and VP Records. Along with other colleagues I have surfed the New Media wave, nearly drowning in fails like Friendster and Kickapps to rising success in Youtube and Facebook. Here in this series of articles we will deliver some tips my colleagues and I have found through experience that can aid you in creating your presence in the digital marketplace to capture an audience that can lead to success for your project.
Now when you consider releasing a new project the work really begins well before you even pick your release date. You need to begin audience accumulation from the start; a fan base can often help bring success and sometimes support the process of your project. The most obvious today is a Social network page with Facebook. We first had MySpace which is still around but was short lived due to its spam based nature. Today the popular medium is by far and large Facebook. They have managed to develop a system that lets you enjoy the social and sharing benefits once brought by the likes of MySpace without the incessant spamming by developing a unique privacy control system and news feed control that allows the user to quickly sort through the clutter to get to what they truly want. Furthermore they have integrated a sharing and recommendation feature that incorporates content between friends and user interests.
This is a great advantage for you as your select sound can be more easily distinguished from the crowd. Your first step is to make an account and then make a fan page. Many people make the mistake of making an account instead of a fan page and then go about adding friends, even people they don’t actually know. This is a no-no and you should really be making a fan page. Here’s why you want a fan page. Accounts are limited to 5,000 friends while fan pages are unlimited. Also when you go about adding people you don’t actually know Facebook’s anti spamming security feature kicks in and will block your adding feature, also the person you’re trying to add may report you as a spammer. With a fan page you can’t go about adding people however you can suggest your page to people you ACTUALLY know. If they’re slow on the suggest a page, then call them up! After all they are your friend aren’t they? Outside of that try using Facebook’s highly affordable ads you can set up a campaign of any budget, I recommend a budget of $1-$2.
Your aim is to get as many people as you can to be fans of your page. Once you have them keep them engaged with what you’re doing, leak a track or a snippet or put up a mix tape or video or just share thoughts, facebook enables you to use your fan page as a user allowing all the same features as an account except for Adding people and some applications of course. This activity serves to garner more fans as fans them selves will begin to recommend your page. Word of mouth, or rather click of mouse is very powerful. You will want to share music or videos, to do so you’ll want to use Facebook apps developed for Facebook with key music sharing programs, the best are Reverbnation and Damn the Radio.
Reverb and Damn the Radio have built in programs that sync right into your fan page on facebook and can act as your default wall. I have been going on here about Facebook as it really is a great tool however, you’re investing yourself here with your time and any dollars spent so like with any investment, diversify. By that I mean crate other social network and online media accounts.
Definitely make a twitter, this is your best tool when moving about, sync your twitter account to your mobile, if you don’t have a smart phone or you have limited texts that only means you have to be more creative with your tweets, the more limited the amount of tweets you can make the more creative the tweets should be. Try releasing quick lines from lyrics, observations on similar musicians. Definitely follow your favorite musicians and comment on their tweets, don’t spam em with your content though, try to create real tweetersations.
Build a Youtube page, video is an extremely important medium and Youtube has an equally large audience as facebook, but as a startup and low to nonexistent budget you’d be hard pressed to make an immediate impact as Youtube is very much like MySpace flooded and does not have the same personalization’s facebook does. Speaking of video, a UStream is recommended as well. With UStream you can make live concerts, or give fans a sneak peak at rehearsals or home studio recordings, which you can then save and post to your Youtube. Post said video to both, it seems redundant to do double the work, but remember you need to diversify. For instance, whenever a new movie comes out, whether it’s from Fox or Disney or WB, it’s advertised on the Networks of all three afore mentioned studios. Additionally the actors from the movie hit every talk show they can, late night, daytime Oprah etc.
This I would say seems to be an old staple of the internet but a very necessary one; you want to have your own dotcom and a website. A dotcom is very affordable; GoDaddy.com provides them as low as $12.00 a year. They suggest hosting for your website however you can just get the domain name and forward it to what you feel is the best website for you. Some of the best choices (especially on a restricted budget) are to use your facebook fan page, or get a blog or a Bandcamp. For the latter two I highly recommend Blogger over WordPress, Typepad or Tumblr. Blogger is more flexible and has a better WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) system, great for most industries especially music, film and entertainment. It is a Google product and readily integrates (and is SEO optimized already, which helps bring you web traffic) with their search engines. Plus their widgets ad services like Adsense, Google’s click to pay Ad network, where you can earn revenue for ads Google placed on your blog or site.
Typepad and WordPress are more for Journalists and Tumblr is a more ideal blog for Photographers, neither of these has yet to include a better click to pay ad network like Google’s Adsense. Bandcamp is like blogger but a) is not Google owned (at the time of this post) and b) is solely music oriented. Bandcamp focuses on helping you sell and distribute your music, by creating a great web interface, cool tools for building a fan base and ways to sell your music content as well as merchandise and other chochkeys. Now I should state that the above mentioned Reverbnation has similar features to both Bandcamp and blogger and was actually built first. It has and continues to be a competitor to MySpace music however it is a music based community with a vast majority of its members being musicians, music venues and music labels from mainstream to independent. They have a similar click to pay ad network. However their bread and butter is their ability to help you promote shows, enter music contests and auditions, CMJ, and The Ernie Ball Warp Tour to name a few. Reverb also includes self publishing your work, placing it on iTunes, Amazon and a plethora of retailers. It’s similar to CDBaby or Tunecore.
What ever your choice in the website area the domain is yours to keep, once you have it make sure to renew it yearly, this is key and you should invest in this. Be sure to have some kind of fan info collection tool at the site, be it a ringtone, mp3, wallpaper or video download upon sign up.
All the above mentioned programs tie into both your Twitter and Facebook. You will want to identify one as your main source. Our recommendation is Facebook as it has the highest concentration of users and with its privacy, interest and its friend based news sharing feature it is the most balanced program, giving the small time musician the same ability to reach the same target audience a megastar (or their label) can with their mega star budgets. After all that is what separates the Indie from the Major is a budget, it is the great equalizer. It is the greatest sharing tool as you can use it to share your videos you have on Youtube, your songs on Reverbnation or Bandcamp, or direct people back to items exclusively on your website. Familiarize yourself with these tools, make sure to use their help systems (note there are dozens of tutorials on Youtube for ALL these programs)
Your final tool in working with all these programs are key words that help describe you and is searched by your potential fan base. For instance if your Hard Rock Emo group similar to Thursday, or Glam Rock like Orgy, or Gangster Pop like G-Unit you’ll want to call up, email, poke message or tweet all your friends you know that are fans of these groups and have them check out your stuff. Have them fan your page and ask them to share with their friends of like mind. Once you have exhausted this measure, consider advertising. Note this is a step to take once you have come to a decision on a budget. From here you will have to take into account SEO and ROI marketing of yourself and your project and capitalizing on all your hard work. We will continue this discourse in our next article “Keywords for the Musical Key”