I recently joined a Facebook group called “Music Bloggers Network” (link below). It’s a collection of artists, industry folks and, of course, music bloggers sharing their work for critique, comments and collaborations. https://www.facebook.com/groups/MusicBloggersNetwork/
When I’m not telling off entitled record labels (see picture), I’m clicking links and reading every article that looks interesting, particularly those that are industry-related. One that caught my interest was on The Somber Lane blog, hailing from Italy. Their editor (and post writer) had just shared an article titled “5 Essential Music Promotion Tools.” read it here: http://www.somberlane.com/5-essential-music-promotion-tools/
It was a light and fun read on which online platforms are absolutely essential to independent musicians. I enjoyed it, but felt like Teo skimmed over some points, and I outright disagreed with him on one. I commented on the Facebook share of the article, we went back and forth, and in the end I decided to write my own article – a response to his.
The five essential music promotion tools he named were: an email address, a Facebook page, a BandCamp page, a YouTube channel, and a website. I’m going to break down each of these.
AN EMAIL ADDRESS
In case you don’t have it clearly noticeable, reachable and usable then you are out.
Social media sites come in and go out of fashion, but what do people use to sign up for the next one? Their email address. You need to be able to be reached professionally (no, industry big shots don’t just DM bands on twitter), so create an email account specifically for your music career. The Somber Lane recommends Hotmail or Gmail, with a leaning towards the former. I recommend Gmail myself, because it’s directly connected to your YouTube channel (we’ll get to that), so that saves you a password to remember there. Also, how can you build that important mailing list with an email address yourself?
AN OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE
Do you really need for me to explain why you need Facebook? Where have you been in the last decade? C’mon guys, everyone uses Facebook these days. Guess why you want to be in there too!
While Facebook has, like, a billion active users, its popularity is beginning to wane. The first people to feel the hit are small pages that aren’t meme-based, such as musicians. Because Facebook is viewed as so personal, many users will hesitate to “like” pages (for example, as of writing this, I have about 150 Facebook likes, but 630 twitter followers) that all their friends will see, even if the content is still family-appropriate. The people who mostly “like” musicians’ pages are super-fans and middle-aged to older people, so if your music appeals to an older demographic, got for it – just know that “the kids” are far more likely to check you out on a hotter social media platform.
However, Facebook does have the advantage of being more text-based than other sites, so if you have something long to say, most prefer to say it on Facebook. As well, the site’s algorithms can bury your important post in a newsfeed, and only make it prominent for actual currency (which they push a lot). All in all, I agree that bands should have one, just keep this information in mind.
A BANDCAMP STORE
For my little experience BandCamp is simply the best platform you want your music available on. Being it for streaming, sharing or selling purposes you cannot find a better place to suit your art.
I think someone’s a little subjective over here.
Bandcamp is essentially an online merch platform. You can upload .wav files of your songs to sell and stream, as well as merch pieces, like physical albums and T-shirts. With the iTunes store slowly giving up, this is probably one of the last places left to sell your audio files, instead of having people stream them.
It’s pretty popular with unsigned artists and those who support indie music (in my country, at least), but it will never surpass the popularity and mainstream of having your album on Spotify for anyone to stumble upon. But getting an account and directing the fans who want to pay you fairly and buy physical merch towards it is a great plan.
YouTube is so important because it is the site where people discover and listen to new music.
“I’m not interested in making videos. What I do care about is music. So, that’s not for me.” Bollocks!
The Somber Lane is right on point with this one. Because it is almost 2017 (as of writing this), the chances of a singer-songwriter playing for their webcam and “getting discovered” without having a multimillion subscriber following already are next to nothing, many indie artists want to throw in the towel and just not use YouTube at all. One more time for the people in the back? BOLLOCKS!!!
You don’t need to classify yourself as a YouTube cover musician to use the platform. Because you write your own music and perform in the outside world, you are not dependent on this website for your career. Instead, YouTube is a platform for you to reach a greater number of people, who almost all are already in the mindset to discover new music.
Not every video you post needs to be a professional music or lyric one. You can post behind the scenes, live shows, you talking about the song, trailers for upcoming events/releases, or even acoustic/a cappella versions of your singles – to get some starting ideas.
If you’re looking for a laugh, watch the parody I made last year, titled “How To Be A YouTube Musician:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44vYGVL0YzU
AN OFFICIAL WEBSITE
For my own experience, I found that the best, free of charge -with the chance to expand it in various ways with some extra fees-, platform to host your own site is WordPress[.com]
No. Wrong. Incorrect. F-minus.
As independent musicians, it is important to cut costs and weigh the pros and cons to any product or service. Whether it be when deciding between two electric pianos, which recording studio to contact, whether to go to school for music business, or buying more expensive (but longer lasting) guitar strings, every spending choice we make is totally personal and needs a ROI in the long run (ROI = business term for making your money back). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to save money when starting a self-employed career, but sometimes, cutting corners will cause more or a headache than it’s worth. What am I bitter about? Domain names.
As many of you noticed, my website looks different now than from two weeks ago. When I first started this online publication, I wanted to do it for free, as it was a school project. After I passed the class and had the epiphany of keeping the blog, I bought my domain through WordPress[.com]. When I realized what I had done and try to buy it out, something glitches and I lost all my work.
Having your own [.com] domain means that no matter which social media websites go out of style, you and your fans will always have a home base. You can stream music, sell merch, link everything else from other social media accounts and websites back to place that it 100% yours.
Wordpress[.com] doesn’t give you that ownership, no matter how much you pay them. You also cannot have an online store integrated in your website, or get rid of ads the host wants to slap on.
Go with WordPress[.org] instead; they are part of the company that will guide you towards owning online real estate yourself. You want to spend the money to officially own your band’s domain, and not taking the horrible winding road I did (which, once again, erased everything I had) will save you money and headaches in the long run.
So there you have it. I broke down the FIVE ESSENTIAL MUSIC PROMOTION TOOLS called out by The Somber Lane, and hopefully they talk to me again 😉
Have a great day everyone, and be sure to check out their website (featuring the original article) here: http://www.somberlane.com/5-essential-music-promotion-tools/