Tag Archives: youtube

10 Fast and Free Strategies To Market Your Band (Without Resorting To Spamming People On Myspace)

I’ve found several near universal truths from dealing with and talking to bands.  First, almost every musician is very willing to spend a significant amount of time to market and promote themselves, which is a good thing.  Second, there is a pervasive and persistent view that the best (only?) way they can do this is by sending out thousands of friend requests on MySpace, which is not necessarily a good thing.  This might have worked in the early days of MySpace but I ask you now, when was the last time you found a band you liked via MySpace?  If you’re like myself it was some years ago (if ever).  Now, sending out MySpace friend requests is not totally without merit but for a musician this is not an efficient use of your time.  If you insist on using this strategy, hire an unpaid intern or enlist a friend/sibling in high school to do it for you. 

If MySpace spamming is not the best way to promote your band then what is?  Listed below are ten ways to market and promote your band that cost nothing and can be done with a minimal investment of time.  If an hour a day is spent pursuing these strategies then the end result will be far more favorable than twice as much time spent on MySpace.

 

Strategies Involving Blogs –

 

       Start Your Own Blog – Twice a week write a paragraph (or more) about what you’ve been doing, what you’re thinking, what you like, what you don’t like, what you want to do, what influences you, share touring stories, ask questions, answer questions, post videos of yourself/band, share unreleased material, and engage with fans (potential and current).  Make sure your blog is linked to your website and a place where your music can be purchased.  Make sure every website you have (Myspace, Facebook, etc) links to your blog.

In 2009 the single most powerful bloc of people in the music industry are music bloggers.  If you are written up by 40 blogs then your album will sell twice as much as it would otherwise (LINK).  Music blogs are a far more powerful promotional tool than MySpace.  This gives birth to two strategies:

 

       Build Relationships With Bloggers By Commenting On Their Blogs – Pick 10 or 20 music blogs that you enjoy and which write about music similar to the type you produce.  Read them every day and at least once a week comment about something they post.  These comments should be genuine and relevant to the post.  Make sure you leave the URL for your website but do not promote yourself or music at all.  These comments are about the blog, not about you.  Their purpose is to make these bloggers aware that you exist and that you are an interesting person.

 

       Send Your Music To Blogs – A great place to find blogs to send your music to is Hype Machine.  They have over 1,500 music blogs on their LIST and you can search them by artist.  Search on Hype Machine for blogs that have written about similar-sounding-but-slightly-more-popular artists and reach out to them.  Send them a personalized message and do not e-mail more than one blog at a time.  Write a short note explaining who you are and why you think they would like your stuff.  This is essentially an “elevator pitch”.  Make them want to check out your stuff.  Do not attach your music but give them a link where they can DOWNLOAD your ENTIRE album for free.  Let them know which song they should listen to if they’re going to listen to just one.  Include a link where they can see your bio and/or grab some pictures.  Reach out to 10 or 20 blogs a week.  Ideally you will have already built relationships with some of these bloggers by commenting on their blogs so they will recognize your e-mail address and will give your music special consideration.  Here is some more advice on how to pitch to bloggers.

 

Other Strategies Involving The Internet

 

       Focus Your Online Efforts On Influential Or High Traffic Websites – There are literally thousands of blogs, social networks, music communities, contests, and other music related websites.  Taking advantage of them is advantageous but can be incredibly time consuming.  Learn to focus your efforts on sites that are influential or have high traffic (these two terms are not always inclusive).  Use Quantcast to see how much traffic a website gets.  For perspective, MySpace gets about 60,000,000 unique visitors a month, Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Brooklyn Vegan get between 150,000 and 250,000, popular music blogs get between 10,000 and 50,000, and smaller but no less influential blogs often get between 5,000 and 10,000 uniques a month.  This does not necessarily mean a site with less than 5,000 uniques a month is not worthwhile.  Also use Technorati to see how influential a site is.  Technorati measures how many people link to a site.  Test out a variety of music sites, popular and not, to see how much “authority” they have.  You will find that some sites have an undue amount of influence compared to their traffic.  You want to focus your time and effort on websites that have either high traffic or high influence.

 

       Start As Many Social Networking Sites As You Can Maintain – Start accounts on sites such as MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, OurStage, PureVolume, ilike, Virb, and as many others as you can effectively maintain.  The more sites the better but if you are not able to keep them updated with timely information then they are useless.  Make sure every site is linked to every other site you have.  This will serve as a basic search engine optimization strategy.  This is also another area where an unpaid intern or little brother can be of use. 

 

       Take Advantage Of Video Sites – One of the most powerful tools in finding new fans can be video sites.  There is an entire world of online video that exists beyond YouTube and bands should use it.  A fancy produced music video is not needed.  Here is a simple strategy to use: Plan to play a cover song at your next show.  Have a friend in the audience record the cover on a decent picture camera or video camera.  You do NOT need some multi-thousand dollar HD camera for this.  I use a $300 picture camera to take live video and it comes out sounding fine.  Upload this video to YouTube and at least five other video sites (some to choose from are Daily Motion, MetaCafe, Yahoo Video, Revver, Blip.tv, Revver, Vimeo, Imeem, Google Video, Spike).  Title the video [YOUR BAND] covers [BAND YOU COVER].  Tag the video with your band’s name, the name of the song you covered, and the name of the band you covered.  Send the link to this video out to your mailing list.  Do a new video like this every couple months.

 

       Use Twitter – Sign up for a Twitter account and post something at least 3x a day.  Like with the blog, post about what you’ve been doing, what you’re thinking, what you like, what you don’t like, what you want to do, what influences you, share touring stories, ask questions, answer questions, engage in conversation with the rest of the Twitter community.  Do not use Twitter as a purely promotional tool for the band.  Your Twitter persona should be your personal persona, the man or woman behind the music.  Make sure you link to your website in your bio but don’t overtly hawk your music.  Maybe once or twice a week casually mention something about your music and provide a link.  There are many fine articles giving musicians advice on how to use Twitter such as THIS ONE by Ariel Hyatt. 

 

Other Strategies

 

       Read “Tribes” by Seth GodinBuy this book, read it, think about it, read it again, and then act upon it.  Start your own Tribe and lead it.  I could write more but the book will do a far better job than I of explaining this idea.

 

       Give Your Music Away For Free – Everybody gives lip service to the idea of “viral” marketing but rarely seize upon the easiest and most effective viral strategy open to them.  Of everything you can do, your music is the thing people are going to be most willing to pass along.  Not some dumb video on YouTube, not some silly contest.  Do not attempt to make money off your music because it has little, if any, monetary value.  Instead, sell elaborate packaging (like the In Rainbows boxset did), a connection to the band (such as the Trent Reznor signed, ultimate fan affirming Ghosts boxset), or a souvenir (a CD-as-a-concert souvenir).  Read further about how Trent Reznor gave away his Ghosts album away for free but still managed to make millions without compromising his integrity. 

 

       Make Amazing Music – This should go without saying but in the marketing process so little attention to it.  The most important part of marketing is to have a great product and the most effective marketing and promotional tool you have is the music itself.  The better it is, the more marketing and promotion will take care of itself.  If your music is not amazing, why are you promoting it?  Create something compelling and, to borrow a line, people will come. 

 

 

 

8 Reasons Why A Hulu For Music Will Fail

Warner Records recently pulled all music videos by their bands off Youtube.  Rumors are abound about a joint-venture music video website, created by the major record labels, much in the vein of what has been done for television shows with Hulu.  For the sake of this essay I’m going to refer to this new site as “Mulu” (Music + Hulu)

This Mulu  is a terrible idea and is doomed to fail.  Here are 8 reasons why:

1 – Traffic.

Youtube has over 63,000,000 unique visitors a month.  Hulu, the television equivalent of what the music industry intends to make, has slightly over 3,000,000.  Hulu, by any account, has been a success yet it has less than 1/30th the traffic Youtube does.  Even if the music video site achieves the success of Hulu, which I doubt it will, it will pale in comparison to the traffic of Youtube.  Because the traffic will be so much less (even if wildly successful), videos are much less likely to go viral and they will have a much smaller potential reach.

2 – Lack Of Synergy

Mulu would presumably only have music videos and the content would be either entirely or overwhelmingly major label in origin.  One of the reasons why Youtube is great is that it functions as a music discovery site.  Because there is so much more on Youtube than just music videos and because the site is so sticky, many people come to Youtube for one thing and end up staying for some time, watching other, random videos.  For example, you go on Youtube to find the Dramatic Chipmunk video and half an hour later you find yourself still on site, watching old Mission of Burma live videos.  Because Youtube is so large and diverse, each video on the site adds value to every other video on the site.  Mulu will not have this synergy and added value.

3 – The “Wikipedia Effect”

Youtube is fantastic because it is a decentralized, user driven site.  Mulu will be a centralized site run by a few administrators.  The net effect is that Mulu will have a less diverse selection of music and the videos that are up there will take longer to be posted than on Youtube.  This is analogous to why Wikipedia is so much better than Encyclopedia Britannica.  Because Wikipedia is the product of its users, it is updated far quicker and is far more wide-ranging than the Encyclopedia Britannica, even though Britannica has superior resources (money, intelligent people to write articles) than Wikipedia.  A decentralized content creation system will always outperform a centralized one.

4 – Mulu Will Likely Be Poorly Designed And Overly Restrictive

If history teaches us anything, it’s that any website created or approved by the music industry will be poorly designed, hard to use, and overly restrictive.  Technology is not what the music industry does and it’s not what it knows.  When they delve into technology, it usually ends up being a mess. 

5- Videos As A Promotional Tool, Not Income Stream

By creating Mulu, the record industry will be losing focus of their prime objective: to make a profit off music.  The point of a music video is promotional.  They are made to promote music; to spread awareness and to create a deeper connection with fans.  Yes, music videos can be art themselves and yes, they are capable of generating revenue.  But that is not their purpose nor should it be.

Record labels spend millions each year promoting their music, often giving great lip service to the need to create “viral” content.  Music videos are the second most viral tool they have (the actual music being #1) and one of the most cost effective (compare the relative cost to reach of Ok Go’s Treadmill video to the cost of a TV or print ad campaign with a similar reach).  Yet, here we have the record labels trying to restrict promotional/viral ability of these videos by removing them from the most viral website online.  By focusing on maximizing revenue on something ancillary rather than using it to achieve higher overall revenues, the record labels are getting off course.  That they were already were receiving money from Youtube, even if it wasn’t much, is fantastic.  They were being paid to promote their bands.  Why mess with that?

6 – Amateur Content?

Mulu will feature official music videos but what about amateur content?  What about all the mash-ups, fan videos, amateur-shot live videos and fair-use remixing videos that make Youtube so entertaining?  One of my all-time favorite videos is a fan video.  Amateur content featuring Warner artists has been pulled down.  Will it resurface at Mulu?  Or is it done for good?  As good of a promotional tool as official music videos are, amateur content is often better and more viral.  A amateur-less Mulu would be a significantly diminished site.

7 – Hulu and Mulu Are Inherently Different

Hulu and Mulu are inherently different in a manner than significantly diminishes Mulu’s chances for success.  Visitors to Hulu have a specific target; they are there to watch last week’s episode of The Office.  There is not a whole lot of lateral movement; you come to the site with a purpose then you leave.  You don’t spend your time finding new content. One of Youtube’s greatest strength is the cross pollination between videos.  Consumers of streaming television shows (specific target) and streaming music videos (often non-specific and tangental) function differently.  Fans often stumble upon music videos at Youtube, not actively seek them out.  A large number of fans won’t even bother going to Mulu. 

8 – Online Video Is More Than Just Youtube

Just because Warner has removed their videos off Youtube does not mean they have removed them from the internet.  There are over 20 other video sites on the web, some of them with very significant traffic (DailyMotion, MetaCafe, Yahoo Video, Revver, and many others).  If you can no longer post major label music to Youtube then it will be posted on these other sites.  This will function to help these sites grow tremendously.  It will be analogous to when Napster was shut down.  Rather than removing the music from the internet, it caused it to relocate to other, less policeable areas of the web.  The same thing will happen with music videos.

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