Beyond Myspace Music (Part II)

The Big Picture

In Part I of this Beyond Myspace Music article I stressed the necessity of enlarging the scope of your career promotion efforts online. DO NOT put all your eggs in one basket by focusing solely on Myspace to promote your career. That is an ineffective strategy. Instead combine the use of Myspace with other free networking resources and you’ll drastically expand your online presence.

Why should you care about an expanded online presence?

Simple: because with it your promotions online become a viable vehicle for directing attention to your professional career. The more widespread your online presence is, the more attention you could potentially receive from increased traffic to your web pages. Previously unavailable opportunities have a funny way of presenting themselves once you have people’s attention. As long as you display a reasonable amount of expertise and knowledge in your particular areas of interest then the information you offer will be valuable to people. This puts you in an excellent position to satisfy the needs of today’s media consumers (and the ones of tomorrow).

In a consumer-driven digital media environment (which is where the future is certainly headed) you must provide your audience with easy access to free content and information. Make your content available to people through as many channels as possible and maintain a high level of quality with all the content you distribute. The quality and availability of your content will boost your reputation and help you build a loyal audience, one satisfied follower at a time.

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This slide (above) from a presentation by media futurist Gerd Leonhard illustrates my point: In a world where customers are empowered your role is to supply their demand for great content and top-notch service.

The Future of the Music Business

Your presence online (otherwise known as your digital footprint) will be crucial to your success in the new music business. Potentially interested parties should not have to work very hard to find you. With all the information and entertainment options available to them it is only natural to assume that the more difficult the discovery process is for the user, the more disinterested they will become. You should be doing everything you can to gain and retain their attention, not lose it.

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It’s 2009 people! We have a wonderfully diverse array of technological tools available to us—which are mostly free!–that we can use to create broader awareness for our careers. As use of these tools continues to grow, more software companies will get into the business of creating them and each succession of new tools will be more powerful than the last.

If you haven’t started using widgets to virally promote your music then you really need to step up to the plate. You should be leveraging useful marketing platforms such as these to create a level of career awareness that’ll enable you to generate new sources of income. If you are diligent at developing your online presence you can expect to establish helpful creative and business connections (often unexpectedly) that lead to the growth of your professional network. You will also gain valuable insight into areas (related to your industry) where you need a stronger base of knowledge to optimize your chances of success.

Obscurity vs. Notoriety

My experience with the research and data collection phase of writing my first business plan vividly highlighted the major flaw in my company’s initial business scheme: a lack of marketing knowledge on my part and no budget to fund professional services to fill this gaping hole in my company. Without a thorough understanding of marketing fundamentals and familiarity with low-cost small business marketing strategies, the creation and implementation of an effective DIY promotional campaign to elevate my professional career was beyond my capabilities. Once I had made this fundamental discovery, from that point on I made marketing a required area of study for myself on a regular basis.

What sacrifices and commitments are you willing to make in order to overcome obscurity in your career?

Arguably the most frightening prospect of all for artists and musicians is obscurity. It requires an enormous amount of time and effort to avoid this fate because the majority of all musicians fall into this category. The harsh reality is that the sheer number of musicians there are makes this an inevitability. The good news it that one of the best ways to prevent this from happening to you is with a well-established online presence.

Show up on Their Radar

Imagine you are a music executive whose job function is discovering new talent for your label (this is what A&Rs do). Though you might use Myspace to discover artist prospects for your label, the odds are low that you have the time to randomly search Myspace for a mystery artist whose music you have never heard before.

Now think for a moment about the flip side to this scenario: Myspace is one of the first places that music industry professionals and potential fans go to look for you when you’re on their radar. So what does that tell you? That first you have to draw attention to your music career in some other way if you hope to make the public aware of the existence of your Myspace page. People aren’t going to look for you on Myspace until you show up on their radar.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Myspace = Your Digital Resume

In order maximize the crucial role that Myspace plays in your career it is best to establish an internet presence across multiple social media platforms. Embrace internet marketing because it can help make up for the substantial ground you lose to musicians who have record label marketing muscle behind them. Internet marketing can be effective for you even on a $0 marketing budget but you’ll definitely have to spend lots of time with it to make it work.

To put things into perspective think of your Myspace profile as a digital resume for your music career. Your page on the site will start seeing real traffic once you have built a significant level of interest in your music. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to regularly update your Myspace and deliver informative, engaging content so that visitors will leave your site with an accurate snapshot of your unique talents and skills and a good sense of your musical identity. Frequent updating shouldn’t be too hard for most of you because I’m willing to bet that you’re addicted to social networking anyway (I am a recovering Facebookaholic myself). facebookaholic

My advice: use this characteristic Gen-Y trait to your advantage and channel your energies into online activities that can make a difference in your professional life.

Maximizing the Use of Social Networks to Promote Yourself Online

There are plenty of great social networks that artists/musicians/labels can use to upload mp3s, videos, blog posts, etc. but you should not take on more networks than you can handle. Your aim is to be a consistent provider of engaging, high-quality content to a group of people who show interest in you and your music. To achieve this you need to:

1) Limit yourself to the networks that are best suited for you and the audience you are trying to reach. This requires some initial demographic research to pinpoint the audience segments who you think will be most interested in your offerings.

2) Choose networks that have lots of enthusiastic fans of your style of music. Think about artists similar to you and the networks where their fans cluster together. There you’ll find a potential gold mine of fans and exposure.

3) Don’t randomly add friends. [Trust me, this approach won’t get you anywhere. I went that route a few years ago and it resulted in an inflated Myspace friends list. As it turned out, many of those “friends” didn’t have the slightest interest in my music.] You have to carefully pick and choose people who you believe (based on their interests and tastes) would enjoy your music. Social networks give you easy access to this kind of information since ‘favorite music’ is usually posted right on peoples’ profiles.

4) Target fans of artists with music similar to yours. Be social. Be open, be real. Once you join a social network, you have to engage the community. Otherwise that social network won’t do much good for you.

5) Establish relationships with new fans and grow your fan base organically, i.e. one fan at a time. When you are marketing try and resist the urge to focus on sales too much; the relationships you establish should be your primary concern. Once customers have a trusting relationship with you, then (and only then) will they consider spending money on your products and/or services. That connection with you and your brand happens first so you must offer your customers value and honesty up front if you want to win them over.

6) Promote great music by other artists in addition to your own. This has the effect of making you a more credible content provider in the eyes of your audience. If you promote your music 24/7 then people get the feeling that you only care about selling to them. If you expose your followers to music they’ve never heard of (by artists other than yourself) and they love it, your cool factor goes way up. If you do this regularly and people enjoy the music that you recommend, the more they will look to you as a source to direct them to new music. Once you have their attention you will become a valuable resource in their lives.

Choosing the Right Mix of Social Media

Some great networks you can use to promote music:

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Each of these networks has a slightly different focus and unique features. The right combination of networks for you depends on your interaction style and where your target audience likes to congregate. Keep in mind that even with great music and content to distribute, if you’re not bringing content to your audience where they’re at then you are going to miss out on reaching them.

With the exception of Facebook, people mainly use the networks above for the purpose of discovering music. Ask yourself: What better place to promote my music career than an online destination that people use to find new music?

In contrast, Myspace is a massive social network with a broad focus that stretches far beyond music. The people that use Myspace aren’t on it for the express purpose of finding artists and music. If you haven’t noticed by now, a lot of people are growing quite tired of being promoted to by bands and artists on Myspace. This presents quite a dilemma for artists who expect Myspace to provide them with an unlimited source of potential fans. At some point you have to take it for what it is and get over it. There are other options (outside of Myspace) available to you for music promotion but if you don’t make use of them you’ll never reap any of the benefits they offer.

Managing Multiple Social Networks

There are so many great social networks out there that it’s easy to be overwhelmed just trying to keep up with them all. You might be wondering how in the world you’re going to manage all the networks that you add to your online marketing arsenal.

For this I direct your attention to ArtistData.com.

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ArtistData is a great tool that makes the process of maintaining and managing multiple social networks simple and reduces your workload considerably. Post content once through ArtistData and it will update your other social media accounts automatically. I strongly suggest you use it to coordinate your marketing campaign online and deliver a consistent brand message across the networks you use. FYI: As an artist, musician, or any other kind of independent professional you are yourself a brand so you must treat yourself and your career as a serious business enterprise. ArtistData is just one of many ways you can handle your business more efficiently (ping.fm is another).

Draft a Plan to Achieve Your Career Goals

According to guerilla marketing principles developed by Jay Conrad Levinson (the father of guerilla marketing), SMART goals are: Sensible, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Setting your goals with these elements in mind increases their practical use for you and enhances your ability to assess and achieve them.

Once you put a deadline on your dreams you have effectively converted them into goals. Map out a plan for the goals you want to accomplish in the next 12 months with the implementation of a multi-dimensional online marketing campaign. Make sure the goals are realistic but they should also be challenging. If you make things too easy on yourself you’re bound to underachieve but if you make it too hard then you risk becoming discouraged. Somewhere in there is a happy medium but you have to feel your way around to find it.

Take Charge of Your Career

Your career is in your hands. To promote it the right way you have to take action. I cannot market your career for you (unless you’re going to contract me for my services–that’s an entirely different story 😉 but I am happy to provide you with advice, helpful resources, answers (as many as I am able to give you) and whatever else I can give to point you in the right direction. Gathering the do-it-yourself know-how to establish a successful career (especially in the music biz) is a lengthy learning process. At times it can be quite daunting but if you keep in mind that the more you know the better off your career will be, this should give you the motivation you need to persevere.

Knowledge is power so go ahead and get some. Below are some insightful resources I highly recommend (the first 2 are free). Enjoy 🙂

HOW TO: Leverage Social Media for Career Success (mashable.com)

How to Call Attention to Your Music (sivers.org)

Seven Days to Online Networking (amazon.com)

Guerilla Music Marketing Handbook (amazon.com)

If you found this article helpful please leave feedback in the comments section. I am always eager to answer any questions you may have and respond to the insights you share.

Dexter Bryant, Jr. (DbryJ)
DbryJ Music

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