As musicians and citizens of this Digital Age, we all know that the World Wide Web can be a valuable resource and tool. But that web is endless. It’s so easy to get completely lost in the number of music webpages vying for our attention, waste time on the wrong ones, and get overextended trying to be active on all of the trendy ‘social media’ sites. With so many options available, what are the absolute best things a musician (or band) can do online to boost their career, get more work and make more money?
That’s exactly the question I posed to four influential music insiders . . .
MySpace is dead. Time to make a list.
Brain Hazard passes a wealth of ideas along to musicians on his blog, Passive Promotion. He firmly believes that “a MySpace page doesn’t cut it anymore. An artist’s central communication tool should be their own mailing list. I’d say the #1 thing a musician can do online to boost their career is to nurture their fans. Give them what they want and communicate with them on a regular and consistent basis. Be predictable in your awesomeness. Of course, that’s not a get-rich-quick scheme . . . but it’s crucial over the long haul. That said, most of the traffic to my websites comes from Facebook and Twitter, so an active presence there is important, as well.”
More than just an incredible library of resources, KnowTheMusicBiz is a complete online community for independent musicians. Managing editor David Rose agrees with Brian about MySpace because “online trends and interests change over time. The most important online assets a band or musician can have is their own URL and website. Having your own website will provide fans a central place to find your music, tour dates and latest news. Don’t forget to include your music (streaming and download), tour dates, videos, email sign up, a blog and contact options. ReverbNation‘s website product includes all these features, is reasonably priced and easy to use.”
Video Builds The Radio Star
If you don’t have a copy of The New Rockstar Philosophy book yet, click here and get it now . . . it’s FREE! Co-author Matt Voyno claims that our question “can be answered with one (or two) words: YouTube. I’m convinced that appropriate video content is the ticket to gaining a larger fan base, which gives you all the good things musicians want. Justin Bieber, Soulja Boy and Pomplamoose are just a few of the names that come to mind as artists who’ve utilized YouTube properly to gain more fans. The important thing with video is to make it as original and authentic to you as possible. People identify with being real and the visual element helps create new fans. When you’re authentic, people feel that. So yeah, video.”
Amidst all of this chitchat about the best methods of boosting one’s music career online, Derek Sivers offered “to contribute some contrarian advice.” Founder of CD Baby (the world’s largest online distributor of indie music) and, most recently, MuckWork, Derek knows a thing or two about helping DIY musicians get ahead. His number one suggestion? Go offline.
“My top recommendation is for musicians to turn off their computer. We’re in a world where most people (including musicians) are spending most of their time clicking, surfing, adding friends, posting messages and chatting. The best thing a musician can do to be exceptional and stand out is to not do that. Instead, focus your undivided attention on improving your skills. Don’t just write, but rewrite. Write 20 verses to a new song, so as to keep the best 2. Test a dozen different arrangements of every new song. Practice singing scales and arpeggios. Doing this diligently will give you mad skills that most musicians, who dilute their efforts, don’t have today. And that will lead to more work and more money because your music itself will stand so far out of the pack.”
(I highly recommend checking out Derek’s speech to students at the Berklee College of Music)
Well, it looks like we’ve all got some work to do now! To recap, the to-do list now includes:
1. Start (and maintain) a mailing list. Maybe an old-fashioned clipboard at tonight’s gig?
2. Choose a domain name and get website rockin’ for yourself and/or your band.
3. Begin cranking out some videos!
4. Practice, practice, practice . . .
Many thanks to Brian Hazard, David Rose, Matt Voyno and Derek Sivers!