A Guide To Digital For Bands & Artists

I work in digital but I am also in a band called Rapids! This is a happy occurance as in this day and age digital marketing is crucial for any band, whether just starting out or playing Wembly Stadium. Now, my band isn’t the most successful, we haven’t played Wembly but we have passed a few important benchmarks. We have for example; played a live session on BBC 6 Music, been played on BBC Radio 1, soundtracked the goals on Soccer AM, toured the UK, been signed to a record label and are about to release our second single and EP!

At no point is this meant to be a “look how good we are” type of post; because you’ve probably never heard of Rapids!…this is purely to help bands who might not have someone who works in digital as their guitarist!

So, without further ado:

Firstly, make sure you have a good set of songs that have been recorded to a reasonable standard. It’s a sad state of affairs, but most people don’t have £100 headphones ora  5.1 professional stereo set up to listen to your music. A lot of people that hear your music will be listening through their generic mp3 player white headphones, or a laptop/PC speaker. Not everyone, but a lot of people. Your music will be the constant factor when dealing with many different people and platform and if it’s not a) good and b) listenable you’ll find it a real struggle. You can record 5 songs in a weekend at a studio for as little as £100 (what we did the first time). A little bit of an investment but well worth it when you consider the next point… 

Once you have these songs recorded you need to make them as widely available for listening as possible, so, at the very least, you need to have a presence on:

Facebook

 Set up an artist page and make sure you create a custom, friendly URL . This will help people remember where your page is and leave less margin for error when it comes to linking to your page. Then make sure you upload your songs to the Facebook music player and add this as a tab. It sounds obvious but there are loads of bands that set up pages, try and get loads of ‘fans’ but either forget, or don’t realise that they can add their music. 

Rapids Facebook is www.facebook.com/listentorapids for example.

– Last.fm

If you have enough fans then someone else may have set up a Last.fm page for you. Otherwise go to Last.fm, set up an account and add your music. The way Last.fm works is that it will recommend your music to other peolpe based on similar tastes/genres so make sure you tag your tunes correctly. Last.fm is a good way to get your music heard by fans of similar sounding artists. I’m not sure of the exact logistics but you seem to stand a better chance of being played alongside the bigger bands if you’ve had more plays yourself. In fact, Last.fm admin will ‘tag’ your band once you pass 1000 plays…2000 plays etc tc. You can get people to listen to your Last.fm by either spamming other users, making sure you link to your Last.fm page from your website and by using Last.fm’s paid for plays. These allow you to pay to have your music played alongside listeners of bigger bands, temporarily boosting the number of play you recieve. However, unless you have a large budget this will only be a short term boost.

– Myspace

myspace rapids

The aging giant Myspace is becoming less and less relevant with every month that passes. However Myspace is a double sided coin as people will in the same breath, dis them and speculate that Myspace is dead and follow this by asking ‘how many Myspace plays have you had by the way?’! So put your music on Myspace and make sure you have a profile that is in keeping with your image. If you do get press mentions or reviews etc they will still invariably add a link to your Myspace so worth keeping this spam riddled dinosaur updated!

– Bandcamp

Bandcamp

With Bandcamp you can upload your music and then allow fans to either stream or purchase it. The beauty of Bandcamp is you can also embed your music play on on platforms such as a website…which you should do…

Website

Get yourself a website and populate it with loads of content (ours isn’t the best example as we always forget to update it!). Embed your music using Bandcamp, integrate a blog, add photos and video. It all helps add substance to your band ‘product’ and will also increase your band’s visibility in the search engines. Make sure all the meta data is correct and plenty of keywords are included. Your website should include links to all of your other web presences (Facebook etc), and it will also be the destination for social network users to find out more/buy music…

To actually make a website you can a) Pay someone b) ask someone nicely that you might know to do it for free c) Use a blogging platform like WordPress or Tumblr as a website. These are free and pretty user friendly for novices like you and me.

Twitter

– Set yourself up a Twitter account for godsake. It’s not scary or boring if used correctly. Follow relevant people, fans of similar bands, key influencers for your genre of music, journalists etc etc. Join conversations, tweet about interesting stuff and link your Facebook to your Twitter. Also link your Twitter to your Myspace.

Soundcloud

soundcloud

– Is being used more and more. It allows you to again, create an account and upload your music. Like Bandcamp, users/fans can then either stream or download your music. Many reviewers/labels/promoters will have ‘dropboxes’ that allow you to ‘drop’ your music directly in to their Soundcloud account for them to listen. With Soundcloud each song or groups of songs can be turned in to an embeddable music player. You may well get bloggers, websites etc asking for a Soundcloud embed code.

Big Cartel

big cartel

-Selling music is only one part of the great enterprise that is music. Once you get going you might also begin to create merchandise such as t-shirts, posters, badges or if you’re Radiohead, newspapers. Big Cartel allows you to sell your physical CD’s, vinyls, tee’s and other merchandise through your own online shop.

3) Email

Yes its as old as the internet itself but still relevant. Social media’s all well and good but it’s incredibley fickle and transient. With email it’s simple – register with an email client, something like MailChimp is good and free up to a certain point. Build a subscriber list by including an email subscribe form everywhere you can on your various digital platforms. Ask your Facebook/Twitter fans to subscribe too. Take a mailing list signup form to every gig you play and make sure as many people as possible give you their email address. Then, when you have something important to say you have a ready made list of people ready to receive your message!

Content

– EVERYTHING, absolutely everything depends on content. Your music is content, the text on your website is content, videos of gigs are content. Take photos of stuff you do, record your practice session on Soundcloud using their iPhone app and share with your Facebook fans. You won’t be releasing new songs every day so a variety of interesting content is key to building and retaining fans.  

Wikipedia

wikipedia

– A bit of a tricky one as Wikipedia is tightly marshalled by a crack team of mostly self appointed moderators and administrators. You can’t state anything but the bare facts but it’s worth doing. If you’re ever played by the BBC then they’ll draw in your ‘about’ section from Wikipedia (they also use a service called Musicbrainz which you’ll need to register with). Plus Wikipedia results come up fairly high in the search engine results page.

You can also get lots of great advice from many other blogs. One of the most useful though, is the Sentric Music blog. They do regular posts to help bands so you should definitely check them out too – plus they got us our first PRS payment! Also follow them on Twitter @SentricMusic

There’s probably loads i’ve missed too so if anyone has any other suggestions then definitely comment below…

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