The following article was originally posted on Music Consultant Rick Goetz’s website – MusicianCoaching.com.
Recently I was approached by an artist through my website who wanted me to listen to his music. His pitch was that he had thousands of fans but just needed help “getting to the next level” with his music. I was kind of perplexed by email because quite frankly if someone has thousands of real fans – they don’t need a music business consultant and they won’t have any problems getting a qualified manager and agent on board if they want them. I did what most people would do – I turned to the web for answers.
A search for his band name yielded only a MySpace page and one reference on a blog that spoke about a show they were on with a dozen other groups. I did get back to this guy, but then again I am in the business of selling a service to musicians – not in the business of finding artists to partner with (like a manager, agent, publisher etc). Had I been a manager, I think the email would not have been returned.
His email reminded me of two things that are amazingly important for all artists to keep in mind these days about their image and their business.
- Don’t B.S., because in the digital age you are going to get caught.
- What comes back on your brand from a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is more and more important every day.
I don’t think I have to elaborate on thought number one – we allegedly all learn not to lie in Kindergarten in spite of forgetting it now and then. The second thought though, your web presence, is something you absolutely have to make a concerted effort at building and maintaining.
I often interview my music industry contacts to get their opinion on getting ahead in the music business pertaining to their niche in the industry. Invariably these people all say the same thing. “What gets my attention is when an artist demonstrates to me that they have built a following.”
The first place people look for signs of life in an artist’s career is online. How many MySpace friends or followers on Twitter does the artist have? Do they blog or vlog and do people comment and interact with them on these pages? Has anyone written anything about the group or posted photos or video of them performing live? Does their website or profile pages have signs of life and provide concrete examples that this artist has a community that supports what they do? That last point is key – pure volume of friends on the social networks can be manipulated. Making sure your fans have a place to interact and behave like a supportive community on the other hand can make all the difference in presenting well online.
Back to basics though, It all starts with what you tell the web to tell people about you. Every artist should have his or her own website. MySpace and Facebook are great tools but they are just tools. Having your own website (and no – not a free one) has tons of advantages.
- Your URL is one of the main things that determine how you rank for the words in your web address (i.e. your band name).
- With Google Analytics you can know for free how many people visit you – where they are coming from and what parts of your site they are most interested in.
- You appear much more professional. While not quantifiable, appearances go a long way.
Your website is the place to host the official press shots, the official bio, and the most current news about what is going on with your music. Anyone who (hopefully) would write about you will be using your official page for reference materials, so it is your job to provide it to them. It is also your way of guiding people to visit you on the social networks and connecting with you there. This won’t detract from your website but it will give people an excuse to have a connection with you in places that they are already frequenting. Keep in mind that a website need not cost more than a few hundred dollars to do its job. All it really needs to do is look professional and convey your information and store your media – that’s it.
Speaking of social networks… Yes, they are a required evil. That said – pick and choose your battles. You do not have to be on every last one. My personal favorites for music purposes are:
- MySpace, because it is an industry standard and because it allows you to search users by what other artists they are fans of enabling you to effectively market to fans of similar music. Yes, I realize it is no longer cool but there is still tons of traffic there.
- Facebook, because everyone I have met from the age of six on seems to be on there.
- Twitter, because it is GREAT at driving traffic to things you want people to see.
- LastFM, because it allows you to see what else people who visit your page were listening to.
You need not update these all the time – in fact you can have Facebook and Twitter connected as well as MySpace and Twitter connected. You can also have every social network and your blog connected if you choose to do so through a free service like Ping.FM.
Having a website and a handful of social profiles is great, but let’s also keep in mind that prospective partners want to see that there is a conversation taking place online – a dialogue between you and people who like your music. The artists who seem to be the most versatile and the most enduring in the last few years are the ones who have harnessed the power of the web to ensure there is two-way communication.
Don’t get me wrong – start by just making sure you show up in search results! That’s is absolutely essential and should be everyone’s step one. But what will ultimately sell you to the music business folks is not that you have set up a virtual podium to address the world – what music execs want to see is a tangible demonstration that someone is listening. If you are sending messages out into cyber-space and you get 50-100 comments per post… that’s a great performance indicator.
These are just examples, by all means be creative in how you interact. I have seen everything from Twitter to blogging, podcasts, and video notes from the tour bus as viable ways to engage and build a fan base.
Rick Goetz is a music consultant and musician coach by way of a fifteen year career at major record labels and various online and television projects. For more articles like this you can visit his site, musiciancoaching.com.