10 Online Music Marketing Priorities – Guest Blog

David Rose - KnowTheMusicBiz.com

By David Rose

I recently participated in a panel discussion on online music marketing with Jed Carlson of ReverbNation, Lindsey Kronmiller of Merge Records, Mike Robinson of the Annuals / Terpsikhore Records and moderated by Heather McDonald of About.com’s Music Careers. The panel was hosted by Secondhand Freespace at The Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC. Below is a recap of some of the topics we covered and my take on the top priorities for successful music marketing.

1. Write Great Songs

If you are trying to attract the attention of music fans it all starts with great songs. It’s understood that this is much easier said than done but it is a critical starting point. Great songs with mediocre / poor marketing will ultimately trump mediocre / poor songs with great marketing when it comes to attracting and keeping the attention of music fans over the long-term. Artists should make sure they have a reasonable balance between the amount of time and effort they spend on social networks, designing merch, creating videos, email campaigns, etc. and the time and effort they spend perfecting their craft.

2. Get a Website

If you are serious about a career as a musician you should own a url that includes your name (or bands name) and have your own website. If you don’t already have a website check out Bandcamp and Bandzoogle, they both provide full featured and inexpensive website solutions specifically for musicians. The central point for all marketing activities should be the artist’s website. Marketing efforts that drive fans to MySpace, YouTube or iTunes help foster relationships between fans and MySpace, YouTube and iTunes, instead of directly with the artist.

3. Direct Marketing

I firmly believe an artist’s success in achieving a sustainable career in music is tied directly to their ability to build and nurture an ongoing, direct relationship with their fans. Both FanBridge and ReverbNation offer an impressive set of direct marketing tools that can help artists communicate directly with fans and drive traffic to their website and live shows. Both companies help gather and provide important information that can be used to better understand their preferences and demographics.  To learn more about effective email marketing to fans check out this blog on Email 101 for Artists.

4. Direct Commerce

Buying directly from an artist helps strengthen the direct to fan relationship. Direct commerce also provides better margins for an artist than selling through a third party like iTunes or Amazon. Selling direct also provides the artist with more flexibility and creativity when it comes to bundling sales of music with t-shirts, tickets or unreleased tracks. Make sure fans can easily purchase music, merchandise, tickets and anything else you sell directly from you / your website. Both Audiolife and Nimbit offer direct commerce solutions for musicians that can be easily added to any website, MySpace or Facebook page.

5. Metadata

Metadata is all the collective information associated with a particular track, release or band, summarized and available in a digital format. Metadata typically includes track titles, track lengths, ISRC codes, album art, genre, band bio’s and publishing information. Accurate metadata is of significant importance since it is the information fans need to identify a particular artist or song in the very crowded digital music world. Digital retailers, MP3 players, computer based media players, online & satellite radio and mobile phones all use metadata to provide their users with information about the songs and artists that are playing. Not having the titles of your MP3 tracks or CD show up when it’s being loaded into a media player will appear amateurish at best and at worst prevent your songs from ever being played by that fan again simply due to the hassle factor of trying to locate an another unlabeled track in a large digital music collection. Be sure to register the metadata information with the three primary companies that manage metadata databases for the industry: All Music Guide, Gracenote and Muze.  All three companies have different procedures for accepting metadata from directly from artists. Check out each of their websites for details.

6. Digital Distribution

Even though artists should encourage fans to buy music directly from their website it’s still very important for artists to have their music available for sale at the leading online music retailers (Amazon, eMusic, iTunes & Rhapsody at a minimum). The leading online music retailers have large user bases and fairly good recommendation tools for music fans to discover artists similar to the ones they already enjoy.  Retailers typically work exclusively through distributors and don’t accept music directly from artists. There are many very good, inexpensive options now available to artists for digital distribution including CD Baby, ReverbNation and TuneCore.

7. Live Shows

Playing live shows is one of the most important aspects of an artist’s career since it provides a great opportunity to directly connect with fans, sell music and merchandise, add fan names to the email list and (hopefully) earn money from ticket sales and / or the venue’s door receipts. Electronic press kits have emerged as a very effective and low cost way for artists to submit their music, bios, photos and videos to promoters or music buyers at the venues they would like to play. There are several companies now providing electronic press kits for artists including OurStage, ReverbNation and Sonicbids.

8. Internet Radio

Internet radio is continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. According to a recent Arbitron study, the weekly online radio audience in the US has grown by one-third in the past year alone. Internet radio now provides independent artists with unprecedented access to a large and growing audience and promotional opportunities that had only been available to label backed artists. Many of the leading Internet radio stations such as AOL, Imeem, Last.fm, Pandora and Yahoo accept submissions* directly from artists so there is no need to incur the cost of hiring a radio promotions person or firm to work a new release to Internet radio stations.

Another benefit of Internet radio is that artists actually earn royalties. Soundexchange collects royalties from internet, cable and satellite radio stations then pays those royalties directly to the performing artist (and copyright holder) for streamed tracks. Make sure you are registered with Soundexchange!

9. Awareness

It’s important to have a presence in the primary places where music fans discover new music. The big social networks, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, are good places to start. It can seem like there are endless options available to artists for promoting music online. What’s the best way to prioritize them? Before signing up for the latest / greatest site for promoting music to fans be sure to check out their site traffic through Compete or Alexa. The data isn’t perfect but it will give you a general idea of whether or not they have enough fan traffic to justify the time required to regularly maintain another presence on their site.

Once you have an online presence established it’s very important to keep the content, especially tour dates, regularly updated. Managing and updating each of these sites is a painful, time consuming hassle. ArtistData is a free service that solves this challenge by automatically updating “artist websites, social network profiles, concert databases, Twitter, official news feeds, iCal, local press, fan newsletters, and even tour books” when artists upload tour dates to the ArtistData site.

10. Hire a Fifth Beatle

Finally, don’t try to do all this online music marketing by yourself. Give serious consideration to Pandora radio Founder Tim Westergren’s Fifth Beatle for The Digtal Age suggestion and you just might have time left over to write some great songs!

*Internet Radio Submissions Info

AOL Radio:

Mail Submissions To
AOL Radio
Pete Schiecke
770 Broadway
4th Floor
New York, NY 10003

Immem:

Artists can build their own profile page and directly upload music

Last.FM:

Artists can build their own profile page and directly upload music

Pandora:

Mail Submissions To
Music Genome Project Submissions
360 22nd St. Suite 440
Oakland, CA, 94612

Yahoo / LAUNCHcast:

Mail Submissions To
CBS Radio
Seth Neiman
1515 Broadway, 46th Floor
New York, NY 10036

http://www.knowthemusicbiz.com/index.php/BIZ-BLOG/10-Online-Music-Marketing-Priorities-by-David-Rose.html

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7 responses to “10 Online Music Marketing Priorities – Guest Blog

    • Thanks for reading. David Rose wrote this article and he did a really great job.

      We’re going to post articles about radio promotion and internet radio this month or sometime in February or March so make sure to subscribe!

  1. I totally agree about having a website. MySpace does not just cut it for the serious band. Your website should be your foundation and link to all your social profiles like myspace, facebook and twitter.

    • Hopefully more musicians realize the importance of having their own website and quit relying on Myspace. I know I’m not the only one that is disappointed and disgusted by Myspace’s lack of care and concern for indie musicians, which is the group that the site was originally built around. Myspace does deals with major labels and keeps us out of the loop, leaving us with less functionality on the site than major labels and their artists.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  2. Pingback: Get Paid in 2010: Focus On Your Fans – Guest Blog « The Hit Music Academy·

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